Force behind Squaw Valley 1960 Winter Olympics dies
Nevada Appeal News Service
Alexander C. Cushing, founder and chairman of Squaw Valley USA and the force behind bringing the 1960 Winter Olympics to California, died Saturday from pneumonia at his summer home in Newport, R.I.. He was 92.
The New York City-born lawyer first saw Squaw Valley and its mountains in 1946 as a guest of Wayne Poulsen. Two years later, they formed the Squaw Valley Development Co., and in 1949, the ski resort was opened with a double chairlift, a rope tow and a 50-room lodge.
“Alex has left his vision for Squaw Valley USA’s future with his wife and current president of Squaw Valley Ski Corp, Nancy W. Cushing, as well as the board of directors to fulfill,” David Robertson, Squaw Valley Ski Corp Trustee, said in a press release.
Cushing graduated from Harvard University in 1936 and Harvard Law School in 1939. He practiced law in New York and for the U.S. Department of Justice, where he argued a case before the Supreme Court.
Following service in World War II, Cushing went West on a ski vacation. At Sugar Bowl Ski Resort, he met Poulsen.
In 1954, Cushing submitted a proposal to the International Olympic Committee to host the 1960 Winter Games. European Olympic delegates, led by Albert Mayer of Switzerland, claimed that Squaw Valley was a “business corporation run by private interests and therefore not eligible to stage an Olympiad.” Olympic rules state that the games can only be awarded to a town or municipality; at the time, only a small lodge and a few houses were in Squaw Valley.
The IOC had already decided to award the games to Innsbruck, Austria. Then Cushing gave the delegates what IOC Chancellor Otto Mayer called “a brilliant explanation of municipal organization in the United States.”
In June 1955, a second IOC ballot gave Squaw Valley a narrow victory of 32 votes, versus 30 for Innsbruck.
In 1959, Cushing was on the cover of Time magazine and heralded as the pioneer of skiing in the U.S.
In 1999, he was inducted into the Ski Industry Hall of Fame.
Cushing installed North America’s largest aerial cable car in 1969, and in 1985, the resort constructed several high-speed, detachable quad chairlifts. In 1998, Squaw Valley installed North America’s only Funitel lift.
Cushing is survived by his wife, Nancy; daughters Justine Cushing, Lily Kunczynski and Alexandra Howard; six grandchildren and three great grandchildren.
A memorial service will be held at Squaw Valley at a later date, according to Savannah Cowley, spokeswoman for Squaw Valley USA. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Tahoe Forest Hospital or the Squaw Valley Ski Team.