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Sun Valley's elite beginnings: European influence on the American ski industry




Berry, Julie Marie, author
Citino, Nathan J., advisor
Aloisio, Mark, committee member
Cooperman, Matthew, 1964-, committee member

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This thesis examines the international influences on the American West through the creation of the American destination ski resort at Sun Valley, Idaho. The American West cannot be understood without broadening analysis outside of the territorial space of the West. Incorporation of global events and transnational themes add to understanding of the American West as portrayed through one of its key identities--the ski industry. In 1936, Averell Harriman, chair of the Union Pacific Railroad, created America's first destination ski resort at Sun Valley, Idaho. Looking to Europe for inspiration, he imported European ideas and ski instructors to capitalize on the mountains of the American West, fostering a transnational industry. Ski mountains throughout the West built off of Sun Valley's success and modeled themselves after this first resort. This thesis explores the development of Sun Valley while also examining tensions which exist between transnational and national ambitions throughout history. Topics examined in this thesis are the development of Sun Valley and the ski industry, national concerns over the believed Nazi sympathies of Austrian ski instructors, the relationship of Hollywood with destination resorts, the Tenth Mountain Division, and changes in consumerism following World War II.


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