Poulsens honored Saturday at Squaw event | SierraSun.com

Poulsens honored Saturday at Squaw event

Kara Fox
Sierra Sun

Kara Fox/Sierra SunSandy Poulsen gives an interview Saturday at the Squaw Valley Olympic Chapel for local public television and for a video honoring the Poulsen family. Wayne and Sandy Poulsen were key figures in the early development of Squaw Valley and were honored Saturday for their contributions to the area, including donating the land where the Squaw Valley Olympic Chapel was built. The event was held to honor the first anniversary of the naming of Poulsen Peak after Wayne Poulsen and was a fundraiser for the chapel.

Singing “Sound of Music” classics in lederhosen and telling stories of being the first Americans to ski in Russia is all in a day’s work when honoring Sandy Poulsen and the legacy of Squaw Valley that her husband, Wayne, left behind.

Such was the scene Saturday when old friends gathered at the Squaw Valley Olympic Chapel to celebrate the Poulsen family, in honor of the first anniversary of the naming of Poulsen Peak after Wayne Poulsen, who died in 1995. The event was also a fundraiser for the chapel, which was built for the 1960 Olympics after the Poulsens gave the land that the church now sits on.

“The key here is the Squaw Valley chapel is really worth supporting,” said Russell Poulsen, the youngest of Sandy and Wayne’s eight children, when asked how he felt about his family being honored. “Their goal is to bring people together. You can be Muslim and be welcome here. It is a great community event.”

Sandy Poulsen, the matriarch of the family, happily sat on the chapel’s stage in front of family and friends while her life story was set to a back-drop of classic songs, old stories and her grandchildren singing like the Von Trapp family.

She told of how she and Wayne, a professional skier and pilot, met in Sun Valley and then he whisked her to Squaw Valley to start his dream of building a ski resort. They first slept in a tent at the base of the mountain and then made a life for themselves, building a home that is now the site of Christy Inn and Graham’s Restaurant and raising their brood. They eventually developed Squaw Valley and helped bring the 1960 Olympics to Squaw.

“It is incredible,” Sandy Poulsen said of the event. “I’m seeing so many old friends. We have a gorgeous day in this beautiful valley and this beautiful chapel.”

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The event, which was planned in a month and chaired by Carol Schleicher, included an early-morning hike to Poulsen Peak, a luncheon with food donated by Graham’s Restaurant, a skit and an ice cream social. Friends and family members were also asked to give testimonials on video to be aired on local public access television and for a video for the Poulsen family.

Guy Perman, a parishioner of the Squaw Valley Olympic Chapel, said the church plans on holding the fundraiser as an “annual celebration of the Poulsen family and Squaw Valley.