John Jay, the inventor of the ski film in its modern form, has been sharing his unique humor and style in travel-adventure ski films, books, and magazine articles for over sixty years. Jay is recognized world-wide as a legendary ski-film maker who inspired many to try and to enjoy the passion of skiing.
Jay began his ski adoration in the winters of 1933 and 1934 while studying at St. Paul's School in Concord, New Hampshire. In 1935, then a freshman at Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts, Jay spent weekends at the first U.S. rope tow at Woodstock, Vermont. Jay's first ski film began here with the family camera and some entertaining shots of his winter skiing adventures. Jay projected his first footage for friends in his family home, narrating live over the console Victrola.
During his undergraduate winters, Jay filmed numerous local events to include the Williams
Winter Carnival, the Dartmouth Winter Carnival, the second Inferno Race down the Headwall of
Tuckerman's Ravine, and the Madison Square Garden's Winter Sports Show. Time, Inc. hired Jay
to write commentary for the prestigious March of Time. But Jay soon grew tired of
the job that left him little time for skiing, so he applied and won a Rhodes Scholarship to
Oxford College in England. With nine months to spare before he was to arrive to Oxford, Jay
was asked to produce a film on the Canadian Rocky Mountain powder skiing. The result was
Skis over Skoki, the first American film of its kind capturing skiers gliding through
Jay then set out to immortalize South America's only ski resort, Farallones, located up the Andes outside of Santiago. By the time of his return to the States, World War II was on and the Oxford College Rhodes scholarship was postponed. So he put together his epic, Ski the Americas, North and South. The film packed in over 50,000 viewers during its tour and enlightened many to the thrills of traveling the world to ski.
In January, 1942, Jay received his orders to report to 1st Battalion, 87th Regiment at Fort Lewis as the Second Lieutenant to the ski troops. Jay led an eight-man detachment of the 1st Battalion on the first winter ascent of Mount Rainier and won a commendation for his troops' success. That year, now Captain Jay married Lois Goodnow, published Day in the Life of a Ski Trooper in the Boston Globe, and began what became known as the 10th Mountain Division. Jay soon began putting together his second film, Ski Patrol, finishing it in the fall of 1943. The film drew 75,000 viewers and helped produce a wealth of recruits.