Race History

The Thunderbolt Ski Run

In 1933, due to the increasing popularity of alpine skiing in the United States an idea was conceived. That idea was to create a world-class ski trail on the slopes of Mt. Greylock.

The concept, initiated by the Mount Greylock Ski Club would become a reality under the direction of the Western Massachusetts Winter Sports Council. In addition, individuals such as Charles Parker, Dwight Francis and Arthur Larkin played key roles in designing the trail in conjunction with the input of numerous colleges and universities in Western Mass.

During the fall and winter of 1934-1935, the Thunderbolt trail was cleared on Mt. Greylock’s precipitous eastern slope at the hands of the 107th company of the Civilian Conservation Corps; however, the original finish line’s sunny southeast exposure often caused problematic ski and race conditions particularly late in the season. The 107th of the CCC would be called upon again to reroute the lower third of the trail northeast in 1936. It was after skiing the rerouted trail that national downhill champion Joseph H. Duncan of Colorado exclaimed: “it’s undoubtedly the most thrilling wooded run yet built in the country, it beats anything in the Rockies.”

With a vertical of 2,050 feet, a racing length of 1.6 miles and a grade of as much as 35 degrees the trail quickly acquired the title of “The Thunderbolt” due to its thrill ride feel similar to the Thunderbolt roller coaster at Revere Beach in Massachusetts. The United States Eastern Amateur Ski Association (USEASA, today known as the United States Ski and Snowboard Association) crowned the Thunderbolt as an Expert-Class A ski trail. It was this trail that would go on to be the location of local, collegiate, state, and Eastern championship races from 1935 until 1959, involving such notable racers as Olympian Dick Durrance and Ski Hall-of-Famer Toni Matt.