During World War II, Jo Marillac avoided a Nazi firing squad by scaling down a prison wall. As a teenager he set a record that still stands for the fastest ascent of the Aiguille des Drus’ North Face. A biathlon champion, Marillac was awarded the Medaille d’Argent as France’s greatest athlete in 1950. His toughest accomplishment, however, may have been to help Squaw founder Alex Cushing secure the 1960 Winter Olympics. The French-born Marillac, who died in January at 80, moved to Squaw Valley, Calif., in 1953 and ran its ski school for 17 years. In 1955 he traveled to Europe to lobby for the Squaw Olympics. The resort had one chairlift, two rope-tows and a small day lodge. “They kept saying Squaw Valley can’t have an Olympics. I told them, ‘I’m here to tell you we can,'” Marillac later recalled. Trusting the war hero’s advice, I.O.C. delegates backed the young California resort, which won its bid, 32-30, over Innsbruck, Austria.
Ban Bombed Starting April 1, Aspen’s Ajax Mountain will end its controversial ban on snowboarding. As with all changes in America’s most contentious ski town, this move comes with attendant yammering. The downtown mountain will be transformed “from a sophisticated, gentle place to a rutted garbage pit,” a local skier predicts. More likely, “I think it will bring young people to town and lift our entire operation, although I don’t know by how much,” says John Norton, Aspen Skiing Company’s chief operating officer. Aspen’s embrace of boarders leaves Taos, N.M., Mad River Glen, Vt., and Alta and Deer Valley, Utah, as the only major resorts that still support slope segregation. Is it a concern that Aspen’s new policy starts on April Fool’s Day? (See Forum, page 28.)