The concept of the modern slalom ski race was first pioneered by British skier, mountaineer and writer Sir Arnold Henry Moore Lunn, and first took place in 1922. Prior to this slalom skiing competitions had been based largely on style but Lunn felt that speed should be the factor to determine competency rather than style declaring that "The object of a turn is to get round a given obstacle losing as little speed as possible, therefore, a fast ugly turn is better than a slow pretty turn". From there the competition of slalom racing was born.
In January 1924, Arnie invited the Swiss to compete in the first ever International Combined Downhill and Slalom race at Wengen/Murren for the British Ski Association Challenge Cup, attended by 22 competitors of whom 14 were British and the remainder Swiss. This was an individual race: a Swiss competitor won but an Englishman, Chris Mackintosh, came second. Arnie’s report in the BSYB termed this ‘The Anglo-Swiss Meet’.
In May 1924, during the first ski-ascent of the Eiger in company with Arnie, Walter Amstutz, a Bern University student and native of Murren, declared he would set up the Schweizerischer Akademischer Ski Club (SAS) in the autumn both to race against the newly formed Kandahar Club (1924) and provide a team against Great Britain.
In January 1925, Arnie invited SAS to race against GB in a team race, again in Wengen/Murren, with 6 in each team and 5 to count. The Swiss won but GB were not disgraced. This is considered to be the first Anglo-Swiss team race and the world’s oldest team downhill ski race that has taken place every year since (except the WW2 years, and 3 others for lack of snow).
In December 1925, Arnie formed the British Universities Ski Club (BUSC) so that we could meet the Swiss on equal terms which we did, and won, in January 1926. It was now a true University Race and the Anglo-Swiss race was born.
1927 - SAS racer clearing a fence with a daring jump instead of going through the gate
The race might well have died a natural death after WW2, but the Swiss government, grateful for our defeat of Herr Hitler, took the initiative in March 1946 and arranged for a race at St Moritz, staying at the Palace Hotel, all expenses paid. Thereafter, this incredible generosity was taken up by the Badrutt family, owners of the Palace Hotel, for near 50 years.
1986 - Andrea Badrutt, who disliked long speeches, during his usual short toast to the traditional values of the Anglo-Swiss
The prime achievement of BUSC has been to form a competitive team against SAS in the Anglo–Swiss Race, and have a good party too, as they certainly did in pre-war days! Considering our topographical disadvantages, our 34 to their 52 wins is no mean record; but we could have an edge at the partying!
Thus BUSC was born to compete in the Anglo-Swiss Race, that itself was the baby of Arnold Lunn and Walter Amstutz; and all a part of Lunn’s campaign for fostering downhill skiing as an addition to the prevailing Nordic disciplines. This was finally recognized by the inclusion of Alpine Skiing (Downhill & Slalom) in the 1936 Olympic Games, where Arnie attended as referee and his son, Peter, as captain of the British Ski Team.
1935 - British Ski Legend, Sir Arnold Lunn, in the Palace Stübli next to the Anglo-Swiss Challenge-Cup and the Ice Sculpture, which the host Hans Badrutt had made specially for the Official Dinner
SAS, ably guided by Walter Amstutz, rapidly expanded with Swiss National and International student races but then they had far larger numbers of skiers living in or near the snowfields.
In the early days, almost without exception, British skiers were from Oxbridge. The Oxford v. Cambridge Ski races (initiated by Arnie in 1922) probably provided the further skiing needs of British students, limited by their studies and post-war privations, and may have discouraged widening the scope of BUSC.
Nevertheless, in the winter of 1929-30 a movement was started to put the Club on a more representative basis, followed by adoption of the Revised Rules at a General Meeting in May 1930. Meanwhile, in 1930 a team had been sent to the 2nd World University Games in Davos in both Nordic and Alpine disciplines.
1935 - Postcard of a Poster for Pontresina that shows the members of the SAS-Team training for the 10th Anglo-Swiss
With over 200 active members today, BUSC's goal of enabling international university competition is alive and well. The BUSC is charged with selection and management of a British Universities team that travels each year to participate in the Anglo-Swiss, a competition open to undergraduate and postgraduate university students. Steeped in history this is an event that has helped to shape the face of British Alpine Skiing and university sport with notable alumni that include the Aga Khan; Winston Spencer-Churchill, former Conservative MP and grandson of former Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill; and Squadron Leader Roger Bushell, who orchestrated an escape from Stalag Luft III in the Second World War that rose to notoriety in the acclaimed film 'The Great Escape' with his character being played by Richard Attenborough under the alias Roger Bartlett.
Individuals who have been part of BUSC teams have occasionally competed in European Student Championships and teams have intermittently gone to the World University Games with the support of the British Universities Snowsports Council.
The Anglo Swiss is the highlight of the BUSC calendar and as of the past few years the ‘Old Boys Race’ provides an opportunity for former representatives of the BUSC and SAS to pit themselves against each other in a hotly contested open competition.
Despite the obvious focus on encouraging healthy competition, BUSC is an institution that promotes camaraderie, friendship, respect for tradition within a contemporary context as well as intergenerational interaction between members. We aim to nurture these key themes through social events including the annual dinner and AGM that are open to all members.
Notable champions of the BUSC in the modern era include Mårten Rød, Ian McCormick, Ian Murray, Andrew Steel, Jamie Page and Alasdair Macdonald who have been tireless in their efforts to keep the organisation alive. The BUSC is happy to welcome associate members (subject to acceptance by the BUSC Committee) - non-racing members who are keen to support the club.