Over the years, the WV Governor’s Cup Ski Race has played an important role in the ski history of Tucker County, WV. Considered the longest-running race throughout the southeast, for the past 3 years, it has also expanded to include snowboarding in addition to alpine and telemark skiing. Alpine Festival, Inc. a local non-profit that has been in charge of organizing the race over the years, will be presenting its 64th race in 2024. Hosted at Timberline Mountain from March 9th-10th, 2024, racers will have a chance to win some amazing prizes and only a select few will get their names placed on the infamous WV Governor’s Cup Trophy. Presented at the awards ceremony, this trophy displays 1st place overall winners dating back to 1960 and can be viewed year-round at the Tucker County Visitor’s Center.
During the WV Governor’s Cup awards ceremony, the Bob and Anita Barton Award is also presented. Bob and his wife, Anita were leaders in the local ski industry in Canaan Valley during the early 1950s. Since the late 1980s, the Bob and Anita Barton Award has been presented in their honor at the end of the Governor’s Cup award ceremony. “We try to recognize someone in the ski industry who has been influential. The winner is always a surprise and they can be from any WV ski resort, not just from Tucker County,” says Jessica Waldo, board member of the Alpine Festival.
To learn more about the local ski history, one may visit the WV Snow Sports Museum in Canaan Valley at its new location adjacent to the BFS gas station. At the museum, you have an opportunity to review artifacts of local ski history, including old ski gear, photos, and video; and discuss the history with local historians. Cary Reed, a local historian at the WV Snow Sports Museum won the Bob and Anita Barton Award in 1999. Reed, who has lived and skied in the valley for over 40 years, proudly displayed his award outside of the WV Snow Sports Museum at its new location in Canaan Valley.
(Long-time resident and ski historian Cary Reed displaying his Bob and Anita Baron Award received in 1999.)
According to John Lutz, a well known ski instructor and avid skier of the valley for over 50 years, “the Governor’s Cup started with the Ski Club of Washington D.C. It had its first year of skiing in the 1953-1954 season. The first race was on Cabin Mountain, which was the Ski Club of Washington D.C ski area. This historic area is currently located at Canaan Resort. According to Lutz, “ If you turn onto the access road to the Canaan Valley Ski area and look to your right, there is a ridge there. Cabin Mountain, It was there. That area was all cleared. There were no trees and the wind drifted snow into there. It got 15-30 ft. deep in there at times. It’s directly across from the state park maintenance garage,” Even to this day, there are ski runs at Canaan State Park named in its honor.
In addition to being a member of the Ski Club of Washington D.C, Bob Barton is also known for starting 2 commercial ski areas. Weiss Knob was first opened in 1955 until 1958 and then he opened Weiss 2 in 1959. These ski areas have now become the Canaan State Park ski area and White Grass Ski area, respectively.
(Local ski historian John Lutz holding a photo of Bob Barton skiing. At 6 ‘8”, Bob was impressive in height as well as in his impact with the development of the Canaan Valley’s ski area.)
During the following season in 1954-1955 was the 1st annual Winter Carnival. It is said to have been a costumed event, following European custom.
In the 1955-1956 season, it is estimated that over 3000 people showed up for the Winter Carnival. “A lot of it was in Davis. Some of it was in Thomas and of course, the skiing in the Valley. They had polka dances and a crowned queen of the carnival. The crowning of a Winter Carnival queen was a practice that went into the early 80s. They had ice skating races, skiing events. I mean it was a true winter carnival. In 1956, that same year, Governor Marlin was here to present an award. So that’s that I’ve known of a Governor being here for the races. But 3000 is a lot of people in Davis! A Lot of local people came just to watch, but the real core came from Washington, D.C. through the Ski Club of Washington D.C. In 1958, WV Governor Cecil Underwood proclaimed Ski Week in WV and he was the governor who was here to give the awards during the Winter Carnival. In Winter of 1961-1962, it was the last year that the Ski Club of Washington D.C. held races and they ceased to operate at Cabin Mountain. The reason that went under was because they had two rope tows there. During that 10 year time span when skiing started to grow, there were areas starting up closer to D.C. that had lifts and people wanted skiing in places like that rather than ski areas with a rope tow. So it had to do with progress pretty much,” says Lutz.
Impressively, there have been several ski areas in Canaan Valley over the years:
Cabin Mountain:(1951-1962) Started by the Ski Club of Washington, D.C. in an area that is currently in the Canaan Valley Resort area.
2. Weiss Knob: (1955-1959) Established by Bob Barton and located where the meadows are (currently known as the Canaan Valley Ski area)
3. Weiss 2: in 1959-?, established by Bob Barton after moving his previous location to where White Grass is located now.
4. Canaan State Park Ski Area (1971-present): the location of the old Cabin Mountain (near the Canaan Resort) and Weiss Knob ski area (Canaan State Park Ski Area )
5. White Grass (1979-present): the location of the old Weiss Knob
- Timberline Ski Area (1982-present): developed by David Downs in 1982, then purchased by Dr. Reichle and family in 1985, and most recently purchased by the Perfect Family of Perfect North in 2019
A unique part of this area’s history is the involvement of paratroopers in the U.S. Military. During 1963-1964, in conjunction with the Governor’s Cup Event, U.S. paratroopers from the U.S. military raced on Weiss Knob 2. They were timed from the moment they jumped from the plane until they finished their ski race.
(Parachuters at Weiss Knob 2, in the early 1960s.)
The history of skiing in West Virginia is certainly as vast as it is deep. Thanks to years of leadership in the ski industry- leaders such as Bob and Anita Barton, ski races, such as the WV Governor’s Cup were able to develop into what they are today. For further information about skiing history in West Virginia, visit the WV Snowsport Museum at its current location in Canaan Valley next to the BFS gas station during its business hours or check out its website: (add link: snowsportsmuseumwv.org)
Thank you to John Lutz and Cary Reed from the WV Snow Sports Museum for sharing your ski knowledge!
(Cary Read, (left) and John Lutz, (right) sharing memorabilia at the WV Snow Sports Museum)
To learn more information and to register for the 64th WV Governor’s Cup Ski Race on March 9-10, 2024, visit (enter website link: https://www.skisignup.com/Race/WV/Davis/GovernorsCupSkiRace). Please note that this event will be online registration only! Online registration will open from February 1st, 2024 until March 8, 2024, at 9:00 pm. Registration will close at 250 participants so register early!
Note: This article was written by WV AmeriCorps AFNHA Member, Kristin Winebrenner
(Serving with Alpine Festival and ArtSpring, 2022-2024). For more information about AFNHA Americorp and its affiliated service sites, visit, (insert Link: https://www.appalachianforestnha.org/).