A HISTORY OF RACING AT STEVENS PASS:
Stevens Pass ski racing began with a group of racers who loved gliding and racing on Mt Rainier and needed a permanent site for their club. In 1935, Stevens pass was chosen and the Penguin Ski Club was formed. Work began on the Penguin cabin, and the club worked to clear the ski runs that would eventually become their race hills –Skyline & Hogsback – which we still use for training today.
During World War II most of the ski racers from Stevens went to war in the 10th Mountain Division. After the war, in the late 1940’s and early 50’s, that’s when ski racing really took off at Stevens; known for the best terrain and the best skiers.
Stevens Pass Penguin racers represented the US in two early Olympics. Dave Faires represented the US at the 1948 Olympics and Dorothy Surgenor went to the 1952 Olympics.
Another local, Jack Nagel also represented the US and Stevens Pass at the 1952 Olympics. At the same time the Penguins club was paving the way for ski racing at Stevens Pass, Nagel started the Gashouse Gang – a group of ski racers from Skykomish. It was this team that evolved into the first iteration of SPAC then standing for Stevens Pass Athletic Club: Yellow Jackets. From its inception Stevens Pass Athletic Club was the top Junior-aged race club in the Northwest. Its racers competed and medaled in the US Nationals, on the World Cup and in Olympics through 1962 when Jack Nagel and most of the Athletic club members moved to the new ski area, Crystal Mountain and formed the Crystal Mountain Athletic Club, CMAC.
Stevens Pass Athletic Club continued under the direction of Art Audett and was renamed the Green Hornets. The club continued their success as Junior racers and remained a top PNSA club.
In 1963 Jean Lyon a retired school teacher and former member of the Canadian Ski Team started the first Mighty Mite Program in the Northwest, based on the program her friend and confidant Nancy Green was developing in Canada. Started specifically to engage young children aged 6 to 12 in alpine ski racing, her club known as Stevens Pass Buddy Werner and later briefly included a Junior team known as Ski Vite. The Stevens Pass Buddy Werner team dominated Mighty Mite racing throughout its history eventually traveling extensively outside PNSA to challenge clubs in other areas of the country.
1970 – SPAC combined with the still powerful Penguin Ski Club to form the Stevens Pass Alpine Club – a nonprofit corporation. Just after that, in the mid 1970’s SPAC and Lyon combined efforts. While maintaining separate clubs, a bridge was built where developing young racers clubs began in the Lyon program and moved to SPAC for Junior racing. Kids from these two programs went on to phenomenal success in ski racing at the US Ski Team and college levels as well as later on in their adult lives in positions in the ski industry. They were a highly regarded group at the time and continue to be respected serving in the key positions of influence they hold in race clubs throughout PNSA.
In the 1980’s the club continued to grow. SPAC parents cleared our present slalom training hill I – 5. Years later the SPAC permanent race building was built at that site. Also in the late 80’s Lyon retired her Mighty Mite program and focused solely on her ski school. SPAC was then the primary race program at Stevens Pass for the next 10 or so years during which time the Mighty Mite team in particular, became a powerhouse.
In the mid 1990’s Lyon’s son Dave returned to the area and re-started the alpine race program his mom had begun, this time as part of Lyon Ski School. Team LYON Alpine Race club grew quickly. Racing was a very popular past-time at Stevens Pass where both clubs (SPAC & LYON) had over 100 participants. For the next 10 years the two clubs thrived, pushed each other to be their best and together represented the best of Stevens Pass.
In 2011 Team LYON Alpine Race Club director, Dave Lyon was hired as Program Director and head coach for Stevens Pass Alpine Club and the two clubs merged.
Our club history and the history of ski racing continue to be written at our beloved mountain. We enjoy a great relationship with Stevens Pass who supports us in all our efforts. The 2015 season marks the start of a new chapter at SPAC. Thanks to the support of Stevens Pass and our many sponsors and friends, we will be racing on new terrain on the backside and have been approved to host a Downhill that will no doubt prove to be legendary for its terrain and technical requirements.