Personal Story...

I hope I get the dates correct.  In 1969 I got a skibob as a Christmas gift from my boyfriend, John O’Neil.  As a long time skier, I was skeptical but we took it up to Snoqualmie Pass, outside of Seattle, and it was so much fun that we fought over it the whole day. The next day John bought his own and we put our skis away and started to skibob exclusively. In those days, it was truly a fledgling sport, so our skibobs had wooden skis and were not built for anything but fun. We met some other skibobbers from the Northwest Skibob Association and started competing against each other.  Luckily one skibob friend, Neil Sherod, owned an auto repair shop in Seattle, so we regularly spent time there fixing and trading equipment with the other skibobbers.


As time went on, we found out about the ASBA - American Skibob Association (changed later to the USSBF-US Skibob Federation) and signed up for some races. My first sanctioned race was at Mission Ridge, WA, Feb. 6-7, 1971.  I won the Women’s Combined race and John won the Men’s Division-Combined.  That qualified us for the National Championships at Jackson Hole, WY, Feb 26-27, 1971.  I won the Women’s National Championship- Combined and was awarded a large silver bowl.  John won 4th -Combined in the Men’s Division.  That qualified both of us for the U.S. Skibob Team. While at the National Championships we met Gene Zenger, Jerry McDonald, Art Korngiebel and others.  Art won the 1970 National Championships -Men’s Division.  


Unfortunately, in 1971, the decision was made to only have a Men’s U.S. Team, so I would not be racing in the World Championships.  Gene Zenger, our coach, brought over Corrado Gyer (Konnie) from Europe to train the U.S. men’s team for the Third World Championships in Reno, NV., March 22, 1971.  He was ranked 5th in the world at that time.  It became very clear early on, that many on our team were lacking in racing-level skibobs.  The race results showed that.  It was a harrowing course and luckily nobody died, but after the race, our team asked the European team members if they would sell their skibobs to us. At that time, Hari was the top of the line racing skibob, so we got “equipped”.  

Once back home, It didn’t take long for the rest of our skibob friends to see how much better we were skiing and they wanted Hari skibobs too.  We were frequently breaking the aluminum front angle piece that connected the ski to the handlebars and getting replacement parts was almost impossible.  John and I decided to go into business and started importing the skibobs and parts directly from Hari-Austria.  Our company was called “Hari-West” and we demonstrated the skibobs at different ski resorts and sold them throughout the Northwest.  Skibobbing was a fairly new sport in the U.S. and it was not easy to get skibobbing accepted into the ski resorts.  Anxious to introduce the sport to different ski areas, we went to Colorado and became certified Instructors through the American Skibob Instructors Association (ASIA).  Jerry McDonald was our instructor and was not only a highly regarded racer but was also a great teacher.  We then added skibob instruction to our activities.


The next Regional for the NWSBA was at Mission Ridge, March 19th, 1972 and I won the Women’s- Combined.


Our 2nd National race, the US National Skibob Championships were held March 10, 1973 in Park City West, Utah.  It was snowing hard and we were asked to go onto the course and pack it down with our short skis before the race.  (the good ol’ racing days.)  Well, that did me in.  I got halfway through the GS race and fell.  I won silver in the Downhill but I had to give up the big silver bowl.  I have no idea where that is now!


John O’Neil continued to race and went to Europe for the next World Championships.  Unfortunately, he was in a bad auto accident while he was traveling and had to return home without racing.

In mid 1972, I moved from Seattle to Minnesota for a job with the Airlines.  It took me in a different direction and since there wasn’t a challenging place to train near Minneapolis, it became more difficult to keep racing.  John and I sold the remaining skibobs and went our separate ways.  It was a really fun and dynamic time for skibobbing and I am so glad I was a part of this fledgling sport in the U.S. for this short time.


I do have some memorabilia.  A poster of the 1971 World Championship in Reno, the commemorative bottle, an award for winning at Jackson Hole along with the start list and final position lists, my racing bib, medals, some Hari brochures, certificates, etc.    


*Joan Mansfield Dean

Joan Mansfield

My Skibobbing Story...