Commissioned by The Frisco Art Council in 1997 to honor the 80th Birthday of Ski for Light founder in the USA, OLAV PEDERSEN.
Instillation of the Bronze
The Bronze Skiers depict a Sighted Female Guide and a Blind Participant at a SKI FOR LIGHT event. Olav Pedersen, founder, stands with Richard Dahl, the Sculptors son and helper. Osmundsen and his son trucked the 5,500 lb block of White Vermont Marble along with the Skiers which were cast in Bronze by the Artist at his New Hampshire Studio. It was installed with the help of the Frisco Art Council.
FRISCO ARTS COUNCIL
Placed August 2, 1997
Dedicated to Olav Pedersen, father of Ski for Light
Artist: William Barth Osmundsen
The "Ski for Light, Art for Sight" sculpture of two figures, a female and a male, portrays a sighted cross country skier leading a visually impaired skier.
By D. Quincy Whitney, Boston Globe Correspondent
Reprinted with Permission from The Boston Globe and D. Quincy Whitney 1998
North Conway: (Edited for Clarity)
Last week, in the lobby of the Four Points Hotel in North Conway, as about 100 blind and physically challenged athletes gathered for the 23d annual Ski for Light event, New Durham sculptor Bill Osmundsen was working on his sculpture "Sit Skier." Jeff Pagels, an international sit ski champion and vice president of Ski for Light, provided Osmundsen with details about the "chair built on skis," which allows paralysis victims who have lost the use of their lower body to ski. Pagels, a veteran sit skier who sit skied 55 miles over the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range in 1993, leaves for Nagano next week to coach the US Disabled Hockey Team.
Originally formed 30 years ago in Beitostollen, Norway, the American Ski for Light program was founded in 1975 in Summit County, Colo., by Olav Pedersen. The event has been held in Colorado, California, Michigan, Minnesota, Vermont and, for the first time this year, at Great Glen Trails in Pinkham Notch, at Gorham facilities hailed by Pagels and Pedersen as possibly the best in the country.
Osmundsen became connected to the Ski for Light program indirectly through his Norwegian heritage. As a young boy, he boarded the tall sailing ship Christian Radich with his Norwegian-born grandfather, a yacht captain and rigger boss. In 1976, when the Christian Radich pulled into Boston Harbor honoring the bicentennial, Osmundsen returned to the ship to plan a series of sculptures on cadet sailing, and he met Einar Bergh.
In 1978, Osmundsen serendipitously saw Bergh in a photograph standing with a blind skier in a country ski magazine article about Ski for Light. At the invitation of Bergh, Osmundsen attended the 1979 Ski for Light event in Squaw Valley.
"It was the most fulfilling experience that I have ever had," Osmundsen said. "We tend to focus on our own problems. We think we can't do something because of this obstacle or that, not enough time, or money. Here were people who had real obstacles. Yet I met a blind woman whose hobby was gourmet cooking and a blind woodworker. They make up their minds to do things and go through the sight barrier."
The experience inspired Osmundsen to create a plaque of a blind skier and his guide, which he presented to Ski for Light. Despite unsuccessful efforts by the Ski for Light organization to raise the money to fund the bronze fabrication of the "Ski for Light, Art for Sight" sculptures, Osmundsen created wax models in 1982, fiberglass models in 1985. So in December of 1996, when the Frisco, Colorado Arts Council raised the money to put the bronze sculpture in its park, Osmundsen was ready. His "Ski for Light, Art for Sight" sculpture was dedicated last August.
Osmundsen is perhaps best known in New Hampshire for his large copper weathervanes installed atop the State Liquor Store in North Hampton. He continues to create original bronze sculptures, mostly portraits, from his Studio on the Ridge in New Durham.
He hopes that his sculptures can educate people across the country about blind skiers and sit skiers. "I would love to see Ski for Light sculptures go into North Conway. And I would love to see a set of these sculptures eventually go to Norway, but it all takes the funds to make that happen," said Osmundsen.