A big thanks to all our recent fundraising donations!
Yes, it makes sense in a community like Camrose! By 1911 the local Scandinavian immigrants were doing what they had done in their homelands right here in the Stoney Creek Valley – ski running. They soon added ski jumping, making Camrose the birthplace to ski jumping in Alberta.
The ski club constructed a fifty-foot scaffold tower in the fall of 2011 and held its first competition in 1912. Local skier Adolph Maland won with jumps of 69 and 74 feet. He repeated the win at the 1913 Western Canadian Championship held in Camrose. Ski jumping regularly attracted up to 3,000 spectators to watch the “Daring Norwegian Flyers”. Spectators came by sleigh and cutter and happily paid the 25 cents entrance fee.
Lars Maland first competition – Glenbow Museum collection
“A little glimpse of the Midnight Sun was given the large crowd of enthusiastic supporters who gathered on Wednesday afternoon to witness the exhibition of skiing given under the auspices of the Fram Ski Club of Camrose. The event was presented like a Norwegian holiday and the scene presented to the visitor had a truly Norwegian setting. Towering above the ravine in the rear of Ed Thompson’s farm was the ‘slide’ from the summit of which waved the Norwegian flag. The slide itself had an elevation of fifty feet and from the base of it was taken the flying leap on the length of which the contest depended. Down in the ravine was a large gathering of mostly Scandinavian people who had come from miles around to witness an exhibition of their national sport.
There were seven who vied with one another. The preliminary trials were not very successful but after the contest was opened the sport was thrilling to say the least.
“I wouldn’t come down there on a hand sleigh”, said one who had no desire to be a birdman.
Each contestant took three trials and no jump was less the 50 feet. Great skill was shown by Adolph Maland who won a round of cheers for his leap of seventy-four feet. This was the highest score and entitled Mr. Maland to take the honors of the day.
Second place was taken by Carl Sando whose longest leap was sixty-six feet. L. Maland won third place and O. Engebretson took fourth. The exhibition closed with a daring twin jump by Lars and Adolph Maland who together took a leap of sixty feet.”
Crowds at 1912 tournament – Glenbow Museum collection
As reported in The Edmonton Journal at the time, “The spectators would gasp as a skier came whizzing down the long wooden slide, hit the take off-platform, doubled up like a jack-knife and then flew out into space, landing on both feet in the snow, and speeding down the hill.” The skis were made of oak or hickory with a rat-trap type of Norwegian binding. The word “ski” is a Norwegian word which comes from the Old Norse word “skid”, a split length of wood.
This initial ski jump was replaced several times in the 1920’s and 30’s – they were made from wood and deteriorated rapidly. In 1929 Justein Nordmoe became the Canadian Nordic Combined champion. In 1930 Paul Gotaas, also from Camrose, claimed this honor. Both Justein Nordmoe and Paul Gotaas dominated the Canadian and Western provincial championships from 1927 until 1934. Camrose hosted the Western Canadian Championships in 1932. Camrose was always represented well at the Banff Winter Carnival ski jumping event.
Local skier Jostein Nordmoe competed for Canada and placed 10th in Nordic Combined (ski jumping and cross-country combined) at the 1932 Lake Placid Winter Olympics. As of 2021 Canada has not yet won an Olympic medal in Nordic combined and Jostein’s 10th place in 1932 stands as Canada’s best showing - individual normal hill/18km cross-country.
G. Assen, P. Bjornson and M. Sjolie kept the Canadian and Western championships in Camrose until 1945. The first ever triple ski jump was performed at Connor’s ski jump in Edmonton by Camrose ski jumpers, Harold Larson, Peter Bjornson and Gunner Aasen. In 1947 the Camrose Ski Club reported flooding at the bottom of the ski jump and a grass fire on a hilly parking area.
In 1954 a larger jump was built. The Camrose Ski Club was to remain at the heart of Alberta ski jumping through the 1950’s. Many local ski jumpers who were mentored by those early Camrose jumpers continued on with the tradition. Among them were brothers Clarence and Irvin Servold who represented Canada in the 1956 and 1960 Olympics.
“If you get the right angle to float on top of the pressure of the wind you get more distance.” Clarence Servold.
Camrose Ski Hill – Glenbow Museum archive
The Camrose Ski Club worked to rehabilitate the jump in 1965. Clarence and Irvin along with some of the other old-time ski jumpers coached a new crop of skiers. New skiers like the Osness family, Gord Lund and others carried on the Nordic Combined tradition.
The popularity of ski jumping waned during the 1960’s and the Camrose Ski Jump was eventually taken down in the late 1960’s. The 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics brought a resurgence of interest in the sport (who can forget Eddie the Eagle?) and more serious competitors.
As Camrose prepared to host the 1990 Alberta Winter Games Clarence Servold designed a new ski jump. It was constructed from welded pipes with a wooden slide surface – quite an upgrade from the 1911 wooden structure. Camrose skiers again excelled in the Nordic Combined event.
At the 2018 Winter Olympics the gold medal jumper flew 295.7 meters (970 feet). Of course, he was aided by his skis (252 cm long with free-heel bindings), boots (flexible but firm, cut low in front), ski suit (sleek and stretchable) and of course a helmet.
Given the distances ski jumpers can travel, our Stoney Creek Valley and the ski jump constructed for the 1990 Alberta Winter Games or the jumps at Calgary's Olympic Games were no longer suitable for competition. The Camrose Ski Jump fell into disuse and the structure was no longer safe. In 2016 the Camrose Ski Jump was demolished marking the end of an era.
What is Nordic Combined?
Nordic combined incorporates ski jumping and cross-country skiing. The ski jumping portion of the competition is held first, followed by a cross-country skiing pursuit race later that same day. The top finisher in ski jumping is the first to start the cross-country race in which the start intervals are determined by the scores from the ski jumping. The first skier to cross the finish line is the winner.
Ski jump in action
1990 winter games competition – Camrose and District Centennial Museum Collection
Adolf Maland was born in Furnes Sidmark, Norway and came to Alberta in 1908. He settled in Camrose where he was partner in the hardware firm of Ofrim and Maland for 40 years.
He was one of the best ski jumpers in Alberta and was instrumental in forming the first Camrose "Fram" Ski Club in 1911 and the National Ski Association of Western Canada in 1912.
Maland was the winner of the first Camrose Ski Jump competition in 1912 when he soared seventy-four feet through the air to be announced the winner.
Jostein Nordmoe was born in Målselv, Norway on 23 January 1895. After he relocated to Camrose, he represented the Camrose Ski Club in competitions at local, regional, national and international levels.
In the early days of skiing competitions in Western Canada, Jostein twice held the Western Canadian All-Round Ski Championship as well as the Clark Cup for ski jumping three times. On a national level, he was Canadian Nordic Combined champion in 1929 and won the highest ski honors in Canada - the Canadian All Round Championship and the Sir Henry Thornton Challenge cup - for two consecutive years in 1929 and 1930.
With support from the Canadian Ski Association, Jostein represented Canada at the 1932 Lake Placid Olympics, finishing tenth in the Individual Nordic Combined event. Due to increased interest and participation in alpine or downhill skiing, these games marked the last time that international ski competition was restricted to Nordic events.
Jostein returned to live in Norway, and died in 1965 in Tromsø.
1. Team Canada: https://olympic.ca/team-canada/jostien-nordmoe/
2. International Olympic Committee: https://olympics.com/en/athletes/jostein-nordmoe
3. Olympedia: www.olympedia.org/athletes/95897
4. The Canadian Ski Annual: Season 1928-1929. “Pioneer Days of Skiing in Western Canada” by Rudolph J. Verne, p. 84. http://skimuseum.ca/1928-29_CSA.php
5. The Canadian Ski Annual: Season 1931. “Review of the Year” by H.P. Douglas, pp 6-7. http://skimuseum.ca/1931_CSA.php
6. The Canadian Ski Annual: Season 1931. “Camrose Ski Club” p. 92. http://skimuseum.ca/1931_CSA.php
7. The Canadian Ski Annual 1932. “The 1932 Canadian Olympic Ski Team” by S.R. Lockeberg, pp. 8-10. http://skimuseum.ca/documents/annuals/1932_pt06_pg8-10.pdf
The Canadian Encyclopedia. www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/skiing-alpine
Cross country skier and ski jumper, Clarence Servold was born in Camrose, and lived most of his life in the community. An outstanding competitor, coach and official, his association with the skiing community spanned 35 years at local, provincial, national and international levels.
Clarence and his brother Irvin were ski pioneers in Alberta and Canada, dominating competitions during the 1950’s and 1960’s. They had no coaches, training on their own, and wearing their own clothing and work boots.
After graduating from Camrose Lutheran College, Clarence came to national prominence when he became Canada’s Junior Nordic Combined Champion in 1948, and later came first in the 15K, 30K and Nordic Combined at the 1955 Canadian Championships, and first in the 1956 Canadian and North American 15K Championships.
While studying engineering on a scholarship at the University of Denver, Clarence became the first two-time NCAA Cross Country Champion and earned All-American honours in 1958 and 1959. He was described by the Denver Post as “the best cross country man in college history.” During his time in Denver, Clarence also held the U.S. Nationals 15K Cross Country title in 1959 and 1960. The University inducted him into their Ski Hall of Fame in 2004, where he is described as “one of the most decorated athletes in the history of the University of Denver, a true pioneer for the skiing program.”
Clarence represented Canada at two Olympic Games. At Cortina, Italy in 1956, he finished 19th in 15K, 22 in 50K, and 37th in 30K cross country events. His 15K event performance was the highest record placing for a North American cross country skier at that time and only challenged thirty-two years later at the 1988 Olympics.
At the 1960 Olympics at Squaw Valley, USA, he finished 28th in the Nordic Combined, 35th in 15K and 36th in 30K events. Clarence declined participation in the 1964 Olympics at Innsbruck, Austria due to career commitments.
In subsequent years, Clarence continued to compete nationally, taking first place in the 15K events at the 1962 and 1964 Canadian Championships. In 1967, he became the first Veteran’s 15K cross country North American champion. He won six national senior men’s championships and is 11th on Cross Country Canada’s career metal list.
Irvin coached the Canadian Nordic or Cross Country teams at the 1960 and 1966 World Championships, with the team attaining first place in Norway in 1966. In 1963, Clarence was the first Canadian to be nominated by the Federation Internationale de Ski (FIS) to their Cross Country Committee.
Clarence utilized his engineering and ski skills in the development of several ski facilities, including those for the 1971 Canada Winter Games at Black Strap Mountain in Saskatchewan, the 1975 Canada Games in Lethbridge, and the 1990 Alberta Winter Games in Camrose. He served on the Calgary Olympic Development Committee for the 1988 Olympics. He also inspected venues across the world for possible World and Olympic Games.
Recognition and awards
In recognition of his many contributions to Nordic skiing, Clarence was inducted into the Canadian Ski Hall of Fame in 1984 and the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame in 1990. In honour of his dedication to Nordic skiing, the International Olympic Committee invited him to light the Canmore Nordic Centre’s Olympic torch at the 1988 Olympics. He received the Augustana Distinguished Alumnus Award in 2001. In 2012, Clarence and his brother Irvin were among the first inductees to the University of Alberta Augustana Campus Athletics Wall of Fame.
9.Canadian Ski Hall of Fame: http://skimuseum.ca/biodata.php?lang=en&id=116
10.Camrose Canadian, 21 Feb 1990 Alberta Winter Games ’90 Special Edition
11.Camrose Booster, 14 Jan 2014, “All you want to know about the Olympics” by Dan Jensen.
12.Team Canada: https://olympic.ca/team-canada/clarence-servold/
13.International Olympic Committee: https://olympics.com/en/athletes/clarence-servold
14.Alberta Sports Hall of Fame, Honoured Members. www.albertasportshallmembers.ca/honoured-members-1/servold%2C-clarence---1990
15.University of Denver Athletic Hall of Fame, Class of 2004. https://denverpioneers.com/sports/2018/6/5/2004
16.Augustana Athletics Hall of Fame, www.govikings.ca/information/hall_of_fame/articles/Clarence_Servold
17.Clarence Servold Obituary: https://burgarfuneralhome.com/tribute/details/7168/Clarence-Servold/obituary.html
Cross country skier and jumper Irvin Servold was born and grew up in Camrose, later moving to Devon, Alberta. He and his brother Clarence were ski pioneers in the establishment of skiing in Alberta. With little or no coaching, training on their own, and using homemade equipment, they dominated competitions during the 1950s and 1960s.
In his own words:
“My dad made me a pair of oak skis from old wooden barrels, which were common in those days in the early 1930’s. The bindings consisted of a leather toe strap with a buckle into which I could slip my foot, so that the toe of my leather ankle-high school boots would extend far enough forward so that a rubber band – donated by my mother from her fruit preserving supplies – would stretch from the front of the toe strap to the back of the heel. My ski poles were made from small poplar trees, with a nail in the lower end and a piece of twine for the handle”. (Ski Trax, 24 April 2011)
Irvin began his competitive ski career in 1939 at age seven. He progressed rapidly to win many Alberta and Canadian championships in cross country skiing, ski jumping, and Nordic combined.
While a student at Camrose Lutheran College, Irvin won Canada’s first ski jumping championship in 1950 with a Canadian Junior title. Between 1955 and 1972, Irvin placed first in eight Canadian Nordic Combined championships and won the North American Nordic Combined title in 1967.
While attending the University of Alberta, he led the ski team to national prominence, capturing three intercollegiate cross-county titles in 1958, 1959, and 1961. In 1959 he was the first skier to be awarded the Wilson Challenge Trophy and named the university’s Male Athlete of the Year.
Irvin represented Canada at two Olympic Games. In the 1956 games in Cortina, Italy, he placed 27th in the Individual Nordic Combined event. At Squaw Valley, USA in 1960, he ranked 25th in Nordic Combined, 40th in 30K and 47th in 15K Cross Country events.
Involvement with ski organizations
Irvin served on numerous provincial, national and international ski bodies. He was a member of the Canadian Olympic Association. He was one of the founding members of Cross Country Alberta, and was an influential member in the Canadian Amateur Ski Association (later called Canadian Ski Association), serving for several years as chair of the Cross Country committee, and later as chair of the Nordic Combined committee.
He shared his technical expertise as advisor for many national and international competitions including the Canadian cross country and jumping, Nordic Combined and senior cross country championships as well as the Canada Winter Games. Irvin was involved with initial site selection for the 1988 Calgary Olympic Games and served with the study group for the Nordic World Ski Championships held at Oslo, Norway.
A member of the Canadian Association of Nordic Ski Instructors, Irvin coached at provincial, national and international levels in Nordic combined, cross country, and ski jumping including serving as coach of the National Cross Country team and the Federation Internationale de Ski (FIS) World Cup competition in Nordic Combined on the Scandinavian circuit. He is regarded most highly for his record in developing downhill skiers into Nordic Combined competitors which involves both cross-country and jumping. He also shared his expertise with other coaches by instructing at national coaching courses, and was instrumental in organizing a program for the certification of cross-country instructors. Closer to home, Irvin and his brother Clarence coached many Camrose athletes who went on to national and international competitions.
Awards and recognitions
Irvin’s contribution to skiing in Alberta and Canada has been recognized many times. He was inducted into the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame in 1980, and Canadian Ski Hall of Fame in 1985. He was recognized by the University of Alberta with placement on their Wall of Fame in 1987. The University of Alberta Augustana Campus recognized him with a Distinguished Alumnus Award in 2001 and in 2012 Irvin and his brother Clarence were among the first inductees to the Augustana Vikings Wall of Fame.
Irvin continued to ski in his senior years, skiing for pleasure and competing in Canada and internationally in the World Masters Championships. For example, in 1999 he was awarded the Ole Hovind by the Canadian Birkebeiner Society as best representing the spirit of the Birkebeiner – skiing for the sheer joy in it, having fun, and getting out there and enjoying it. In 2005, the Birkebeiner publicized that at age 73, he would be participating with his children and grandchildren before going on to compete in the World Masters Championship in Russia and other ski competitions in Norway. Ten years later, Irvin participated in the 55 km event at the 2015 Birkebeiner. In 2016, at age 83 years, Irvin raced 24 km in the Foothills Nordic Ski Club Annual Cookie Race.
Irvin Servold has spent a lifetime in dedication to skiing. In addition to being an outstanding competitor, he has represented Canada as a coach, judge, and technical adviser in many national and international competitions.
1. Canadian Ski Hall of Fame: http://skimuseum.ca/biodata.php?lang=en&id=117
2. Camrose Booster, 14 Jan 2014, “All you want to know about the Olympics” by Dan Jensen.
3. Team Canada: https://olympic.ca/team-canada/irvin-servold/
4. International Olympic Committee: https://olympics.com/en/athletes/irvin-servold
5. Alberta Sports Hall of Fame (profile missing, will be reinstated as per email)
6. Alberta Sports Hall of Fame: 22 Jan 2016, Interview on YouTube: www.youtube.com/watch?v=aNopVfqAkoo
7. Canadian Birkie Ski Festival: Ole Hovind recipients: https://canadianbirkie.com/ole-hovind-recipients/
8. Foothills Nordic Ski Club: https://foothillsnordic.ca/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/2016CookieRace-February27_2016.pdf
9. Ski Trax, 24 April 2011, “Memories of the Development of Skiing in Alberta” by Irvin Servold. http://skitrax.com/memories-of-the-development-of-skiing-in-alberta/
10. Augustana Athletics Hall of Fame: www.govikings.ca/information/hall_of_fame/articles/Irvin_Servold
11. University of Alberta: https://bearsandpandas.ca/sports/2020/11/13/green-gold-awards.aspx
12. University of Alberta Sports Wall of Fame: www.ualberta.ca/swof-kiosk/index.html?sport=Skiing&details=irvin-servold