Spirit of Red will host their annual Snow Dance on Nov. 19 and hope to break through their fundraising goal of $17,000 to secure a life-size bronze statue of Olaus Jeldness, "the father of skiing in Rossland," for the conspicuous corner of Columbia and Washington in downtown Rossland.
Spirit of Red stoking the furnace to cast Olaus Jeldness in bronze
Event chair Roly Worsfold hopes people will be enticed to the party not only by the rock 'n' roll of No Excuse and the "fabulous" Karli Harrison, but also by a raffle for a free season's pass to Red.
"We'd love to see the place packed to get this thing done," said Worsfold. "This is the last chance for people to participate and support the project."
The Spirit of Red have worked for two years on plans for an Olaus Jeldness statue, securing council support for the project last year and moving forward with fundraising ever since. Worsfold is very optimistic, especially since the Nelson & District Credit Union recently came through with a whopping $5000 Gold Sponsorship.
"Their contribution really brought us to the point where we can go ahead," Worsfold said. "Now we're hoping to raise enough money from the Snow Dance to get us close to what we need."
"It's looking like [the statue's] going to be on the corner of the Bank of Montreal, support is leaning that way," Worsfold said. To help visualize the final placement, ISL designers have already included the statue in their video fly-through (2MB file) of the proposed renovations to the downtown streetscape. Keep your eyes peeled between 0:42 and 0:45 in the video.
Worsfold assembled photographs of Olaus Jeldness and went to the Rossland Historical Museum to shoot multiple angles of artefacts from boots to skis. He sent the photos to artists in China who will soon have produced a mini statue roughly one foot high. Worsfold hopes to show off the little statue at the Snow Dance.
After the mini statue is received and reviewed, modifications will be suggested before the artists produce a wax mould and cast the 9-foot-tall statue in high quality bronze.
The Chinese had a big role in Rossland's history, Worsfold explained. "We want to support the artists in China. We really feel that we owe the Chinese for what they did for us 100 years ago. We didn't treat them very well. This is our chance to try and make it turn around a little bit." The cost will also be about 20 per cent of what a similar statue would cost to make in Canada.
The international flavour of the project also includes strong participation and interest from Norwegians. The possibility of cultural exchanges have created an excited chatter in Rossland, but also in Norway where newspapers have jumped on events such as the Winter Carnival and the Spirit of Red's fundraising activities.
"[Jeldness] is a big hero over there," Worsfold said, noting that Oslo has the "biggest museum of skiing in the world."
Worsfold hopes the Norwegian ambassador to Canada will attend this year's Winter Carnival as part of an opening ceremony for the statue which will also feature UBC professor emeritus and native Rosslander, Ron Shearer. An authority on the history of skiing, Shearer will give a talk at the Rouge Gallery on Nov. 22 at 7:00 p.m. on skiing in Rossland before the Red Chair was built. Tickets are $10.
Jeldness is also a big hero here, credited for starting the Winter Carnival in 1896—Canada's oldest—which he inaugurated with a classic ski race from the top of Red Mountain to the heart of Columbia Ave.
"He won in eight minutes!" said an incredulous Lisa Wegner of the Snow Dance organizing committee. "Can you imagine? In those long skis!"
She explained that the Snow Dance is based on a more recent (and cultish) tradition in the 1970s and 1980s, the annual pile of burning skis sacrificed to Ular, the god of snow. This old event has gone by the wayside for obvious environmental concerns—"We'd have to mock-up wooden skis," Wegner laughed—but the same ski bum verve will be alive and well at next week's Snow Dance.
The annual Snow Dance begins at 8 p.m. on Nov. 19 at the Miners' Hall and will feature the venerable No Excuse and a raffle give-away of a season's pass to Red. Admission is $15 and funds will go towards the Olaus Jeldness statue.
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