In the mid 1960s, Grand Valley students didn’t have to go far to enjoy winter sports. When the university first opened, a portion of the ravines on the north end of campus was used by students for skiing. The hill overlooked the Grand River making it a beautiful place to visit even outside of the winter months.
As the student population increased, several expansions were added to the ski slope including a tow rope to bring skiers back up to the top of the hill and, for several years, a nearby ice skating rink. In 1967, a few years after students had been using the ski hill, three members of the Board of Control donated $2,500 for the construction of the ski chalet. Construction was completed quickly, and the ski chalet was open for student and club use in March of that year.
Starting in 1966, during the first few weeks of the winter semester Grand Valley hosted the Winter Carnival. This two week celebration of winter made full use of the season with ice carving, skiing, and dog sled competitions. The ski chalet was also used for winter-themed lectures, like President James Zumberge’s talks about his Antarctic expeditions. The ski slope was the central hub of this event bringing the Grand Valley community together.
The ski hill was free for students to use and equipment was available to rent. Occasionally the ski club would section out time for private practice, but for the most part, the hill was a way for students to take a break from classes during the winter months.
After several decades of use, the ski slope was closed and both the ski chalet and tow rope were removed. None of these structures remain today.
- Lanthorn 1972, https://scholarworks.gvsu.edu/lanthorn_vol4/6/
- GVSU Graduate Bulletin, 1992-1993, https://scholarworks.gvsu.edu/course_catalogs/55/
- Underneath the Arches, 1968, https://scholarworks.gvsu.edu/underneaththearches/57/
- Underneath the Arches, 1970, https://scholarworks.gvsu.edu/underneaththearches/68/