VAIL — For most people, it would be considered quite an honor to spend a weekend skiing with Warren Miller ski movie star Chris Anthony.
But this weekend, the honor is all Anthony’s as he has been escorting Annemarie Moser-Proell around Vail Mountain, taking turns with the winningest female ski racer in the history of the sport.
From 1971 to 1975, Moser-Proell won the overall World Cup title five consecutive times as part of the Austrian ski team. She said that period was also the last time she visited the Vail Valley, during the 1973-74 season.
“When I visited then, it was just a small village,” she said Thursday, through the aid of a translator. “It’s unbelievable to see how big and more urban is has become. It’s a really wonderful place.”
Skiing Teacup, Sun Up Mongolia Bowl and Blue Sky Basin on Friday, Anthony said Moser-Proell hadn’t lost a step.
“I was blown away,” Anthony said. “I don’t want to get the yellow jackets on to us, but when we were skiing, we were skiing as hard as we could go. You forget she’s a 60-year-old woman, you don’t even think about it because she may as well have been 19 out there. She was on fire, it was so impressive.”
Anthony was also on Moser-Proell’s team in the annual Ford Cup, a pro-am style event that’s part of the American Ski Classic, currently underway in Vail.
“I haven’t raced that hard in years,” Moser-Proell said of her participation in the Ski Classic races this year.
Anthony said while it was fun to be on her team, he really saw her passion for skiing come out while they were freeskiing the mountain.
“She’s here to ski,” said Anthony. “We didn’t have to race until 12:50 p.m. and she said let’s meet at 9 a.m. so we can get plenty of skiing in first. We weren’t hanging out at the 10th or anything, we were just out skiing. She was so impressed with the mountain, we’ve covered a great deal of ground in a short time period of time, it was such an honor for me — like a kid who loves basketball getting to go shoot hoops with Michael Jordan.”
LEGEND OF HONOR
Speaking from Vail earlier this season, Lindsey Vonn said Moser-Proell’s record is the most significant accomplishment in ski racing.
“When you look back in the record books, there’s many Olympic champions,” Vonn said. “But to be the number-one winningest female World Cup racer of all time, you’re just alone on that list”
With 62 World Cup victories, Moser-Proell’s closest competitor is Vonn, who has 59 wins. Moser-Proell has also won the World Cup downhill title seven times, the World Cup overall title six times, the World Championships four times, the World Cup giant slalom title three times, and won Olympic gold once.
All this and more, says the Vail Valley Foundation, has led to Moser-Proell being flown in to Vail this weekend and recognized with the American Ski Classic’s annual “Legend of Honor” award. Created in 1983, the Legend of Honor award is presented annually, in conjunction with the American Ski Classic, to recognize an outstanding individual or group that has had a profound impact on the sport of skiing and ski racing throughout the course of their career, both on and off the racecourse, according to the Vail Valley Foundation. Each year’s Legend of Honor is nominated and selected by a panel of Vail Valley ski enthusiasts, including key leadership representing the Vail Valley Foundation and Vail Resorts.
“We are incredibly excited to have this opportunity to honor Annemarie,” said Ceil Folz, president of the Vail Valley Foundation. “This is going to be a wonderful celebration of one of the true legends of our sport.”
The award will be presented to Moser-Proell Saturday, as part of a joint ceremony that will also see the ski legend inducted into the International Ski Racing Hall of Fame.
“It’s such an honor, and I am so proud to be here for this,” Moser-Proell said. “Very, very special.”
An invitation-only event, the American Ski Classic’s Legend of Honor banquet will take place Saturday at the Vail Cascade Resort and Spa at 7 p.m.