The Vail Valley has recently lost a good friend: Hadley Gray. Admittedly, I didn't come to know Hadley until 2004, when I was writing a book about the shenanigans professional ski instructors got into while teaching at Vail. Before I began writing, I asked everyone, "Who has the most entertaining stories about teaching skiing?" Without question, I was directed to Hadley Gray.
Hadley worked his way up from the bottom, ultimately becoming a manager at the Vail Ski School. When I approached Hadley about the stories, he immediately threw himself into the task, regaling me with story after story about what it was like to be a ski instructor in Vail's early days.
In those days, it was common to welcome new instructors by filling their lockers with snow or swapping out their uniform pants with a pair two sizes too small. Or when the ski school got overwhelmed with guests, one of the supervisors might throw a ski school sweater on an attractive, well-endowed blonde and direct her to her first beginner's class. Hadley had a million stories like these.
Hadley was the quintessential ski instructor and a wonderful friend off the slopes: warm, generous and caring with a marvelous sense of humor. The consummate pro.
We'll all miss Hadley, but we relished the time we had with him while he was here. Go safely, my friend. We'll see you again making first tracks in the "Back Bowls in the sky."