Vail Resorts’ Garnsey earns spot in hall of fame
Ryan Summerlin May 9, 2011
VAIL, Colorado – John Garnsey knew he’d been nominated for the Colorado Ski & Snowboard Hall of Fame, but didn’t think much about it until he got word a few days ago that he’s one of the five people to be inducted this year.”It was a big surprise,” Garnsey said.On the other hand, if you’ve had a hand in bringing three World Alpine Ski Championships to Vail, as Garnsey has, there’s a good chance someone will notice.Garnsey, who isn’t particularly comfortable talking about himself, said he hadn’t told anyone but his wife about his hall of fame selection, although he’d had a few congratulatory emails from co-workers.”You think of the poeple in there now, and it’s hard to compare yourself to those people,” Garnsey said. “There’s a lot of real leaders in the industry there.” But looking at Garnsey’s career, it’s easy to put him in the “industry leader” category.According to information sent out by the hall of fame, Garnsey’s career in the ski industry started at the Waterville Valley Ski Resort in New Hampshire in the early 1970s.He came to Vail in 1974, and was responsible for various mountain operations on Vail Mountain and at Beaver Creek Resort. Garnsey moved to the Vail Valley Foundation as vice president in the 1980s, and in 1985, was named senior vice president for the 1989 World Alpine Ski Championships in Vail. As president of the organizing committee, Garnsey headed the successful campaign to bring the World Championships back to the Vail Valley in 1999. Garnsey became president of the Vail Valley Foundation in 1991, and led the effort to bring the 1994 World Mountain Bike Championships to Vail. In May of 1999, Garnsey was named executive vice president and chief operating officer of Beaver Creek Resort. While there, the resort earned five consecutive Best Overall Guest Service awards from the National Ski Areas Association. The resort also earned nine consecutive safety honors from National Ski Areas Association on Garnsey’s watch, including Best Overall Safety recognition over three seasons. Garnsey was named co-president of Vail Resorts in 2008, overseeing both Vail and Beaver Creek. He also co-chaired the committee that secured the winning bid to bring the World Alpine Ski Championships to Vail and Beaver Creek for a third time in 2015. Garnsey is a former member of the International Ski Federation, and has served on the boards of the National Ski Areas Association, the Vail Valley Foundation, Ski Club Vail, the Vilar Performing Arts Center, and the Beaver Creek Resort Company.The rest of this year’s inductees are:• Chris Klug. A snowboard racer, Klug has won several World Cup, Grand Prix, National, and U.S. Open titles. Klug competed in snowboarding’s first appearance in the Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan in 1998. As he raced at Nagano, few knew Klug had contracted a rare liver disease in the early ’90s, and was on the transplant waiting list in Colorado. After successful transplant surgery in July 2000 Chris reported that he felt “1,000 percent better immediately – it was like a new engine was dropped in, and a V-8 at that,” he said. Klug was named to the US Olympic Team again in 2002, and won a bronze medal at Park City. He is the only organ transplant recipient to ever compete in the Winter Olympics. Klug ended his racing career at the Winter Olympics in Vancouver in 2010. Living in Aspen with his wife Missy, Klug has devoted his “retirement” to spreading the message of organ donor awareness. • Ron Allred. Telluride collapsed in 1978 when the 100-year-old mining industry closed its doors. Literally the next day, Allred started an effort to create a new economy based on Telluride becoming a year ’round mountain resort.• Jack Benedick. After losing both legs during the Vietnam war, Benedick turned to skiing as a form of rehabilitation. Once he learned to ski, his passion, innovation, drive and leadership have created a lasting impact on adaptive skiing; specifically, the evolution of the U.S. Disabled Ski Team to the U.S. Adaptive Ski Team, and the success of the athletes. Bendick won numerous medals in the Paralympics, after which he become adaptive sports’ most influential advocate.• Charles Elliott. From 1936 to 1944, Elliott was the driving force behind the growth and interest in skiing in the San Luis Valley, specifically Wolf Creek. His accomplishments include construction of shelters, fundraisers, establishing and training a local ski patrol, installation of rope tows, and serving as coordinator for Wolf Creek’s early operations. Now 98, he is the oldest member of the Grey Wolf Ski Club.