Council & League History
by Helen Navoy Harris, Don Diego Ski Club
The Far West Ski Association (FWSA) board of directors scheduled its summer meeting at
the Town and Country Hotel in San Diego on Saturday, August 17, 1963. Joe Harris ,
Convair Ski Club, was asked by Lee Klein , Executive Director of FWSA, to arrange an
informal, social get-together with the presidents of the San Diego ski clubs. These clubs included
Convair, Don Diego, San Diego, Torrey Pines, Astronautics, Solar, Aztecs, and Trolls of
In addition to introducing the various presidents, Joe related the many and varied activities
that took place for skiers in San Diego. This proved to be a noteworthy session for San Diego ski
clubs and FWSA.
On September 9, 1963, Len Speicher , FWSA president, notified Joe that the San
Diego Council was officially declared a part of FWSA. Joe was welcomed as the head of the new
council and was given a position on the FWSA board.
This was an historical event for the San Diego ski community. But the stepping stones and
building blocks leading up to this momentous occurrence were based on Joe's initiative and
that bonded the various activities of the clubs, such as:
(1) Encouraged (i.e., strongly persuaded) each club he helped in its formation (and there were
many) to be 100% FWSA members;
(2) Formalized the ski club's individual swap meets into a single giant swap called the Ski Trade
(3) Established a Sno-Ball (now Annual Gala), with all the ski clubs participating, where the club
princesses were judged and a queen was crowned; and
(4) Promoted racing by having the two strongest clubs at that time, Convair and San Diego, each
host an open race so other clubs could participate.
Joe was able to accomplish most of these activities with the assistance of San Diego Club
members Bob Dean and Jim Wehsener .
As time went on, the San Diego Ski Council (ed.note: currently named San Diego Council
of Ski Clubs) was organized with officiating members, such as president, vice-president,
secretary, and treasurer. It was also incorporated as a non-profit organization through the pro
bono efforts of Tom Becca (lawyer and Torrey Pines member) with established articles
The first Sno-Ball was held in 1960 and continues on today as the Annual Gala. In 1977
both a king and queen were crowned and, then, in the early 80s the King & Queen pageant was
upgraded to the Woman & Man of the Year competition.
The San Diego Skier was introduced in 1969 and published for many years until it was
incorporated into the newly reconstructed Far West Skier's Guide.
The first FWSA convention to be held in San Diego (1971) was announced at the
Phoenix/Scottsdale convention when San Diego with the Bahia Belle (Mission Bay sternwheeler)
won over the Queen Mary in Long Beach.
The Council's Ski Trade (swap meet) outgrew its location at the YWCA and was transferred
to the Convair Missile Park for many years until the demise of Convair. Later, thanks to Earl
Lewellyn, the swap continued for several years at Ranch Craft Ski Shop. (Ed.note: Ranch Craft
no longer exists and Earl has retired.)
Racing participation grew due to the formation of the Intramural (inter club) racing program
which is now the Alpine League. San Diego competes in Far West races.
Perhaps, the biggest innovation has been the Council Travel program. In the early days the
mode of transportation was generally carpools, then came the availability of bus transportation
(remember the Kopecky bus trips), and finally the advent of flights. Through the efforts and
expertise of Tom Boren , Travel Director, Council trips were organized, club trips were
coordinated, National Ski Weeks, and later Far West Weeks, were supported.
New ski clubs have been formed and some have disappeared. Currently, 40 years after its
inception, the San Diego Council is composed of twelve active clubs.
Feb 20, 1920 - Feb 3, 2002
Founder SD Ski Council
Joe, born in Chicago, moved to San Diego as a young boy. He started skiing in his 30s,
San Diego Ski Club had their rope tow in the Cuyamacas. One of his instructors was Henry
Joe was employed in Convair's High Speed Tunnel. In 1952, Joe was asked to start a ski
club at Convair and insisted that Convair be a 100% Far West Ski Club. In the early 60s, because
the Southern Council of the FWSA was too far away, Joe formed an informal association of San
Diego ski clubs. With these clubs, he established a Sno Ball, Trade Night (Swap), Race League,
and Dry Land Lessons.
In 1963, FWSA asked that this association become a Council of FWSA. Joe was nominated
as the first Chairman and served as President for the next eight years. Joe actively participated in
the Far West Ski Association, being a member of the board of directors, and chairman of the San
Diego Ski Council.
Joe was asked by Bruce Bar to teach a dry land ski session at the YMCA in 1959.
Interest in learning to ski exploded at such a rate that Joe, Bruce and the Y moved the Dry Land
Ski School to Balboa Park, opening it to the public via the Park and Recreation Department. All
this endured for over 10 years. Stanley Andrews Sports and later Ranch Craft donated the use of
their technicians and ski equipment. Convair and Don Diego Ski Clubs supplied the volunteer
Joe was involved in the promotion of Junior Racing programs locally. He also spearheaded
many convoys to Sun Valley where he won the coveted Silver Ram and Gold Ram awards.
FWSA presented Joe with the Terry Smith Award in 1979 for standardizing the Far West
race rules and the Hans Georg Award in 1982 for his life-long contributions to organized skiing.
In 1988, USSA awarded Joe the Fred Braun Award for his handbook "National Alpine Rules for
Recreational Racing" which standardized rules across the country for recreational club races.
We are proud to have had Joe Harris in San Diego.