Colorado Snowsports Hall of Fame reveals Class of 2019
Olympian Gretchen Bleiler, retailer Jeff Gorsuch, Steamboat visionary Martin Hart among inductees
VAIL — The votes have been cast and counted and now the Colorado Snowsports Hall of Fame will begin preparations to welcome its Class of 2019. The five newly-elected members will be formally inducted October 26.
Topping the list of new Hall of Fame members is Aspen’s Gretchen Bleiler, an Olympic silver medalist in halfpipe at the 2006 Turin Olympics and Colorado’s most successful snowboard athlete. She will be joined by Jeff Gorsuch, an Aspen ski retailer
These four new inductees will be joined by the 2019 Pioneer Hall of Fame selection, Jake Hoeschler of Winter Park, who revolutionized the ski retail industry with his exclusive ski liability insurance program, which now includes millions of dollars of coverage.
“We are extremely excited about our incoming Hall of Fame Class,” Jennifer Mason, Executive Director of the Colorado Snowsports Museum and Hall of Fame, said in a statement. “We have all aspects of snowsports represented, with athletes, sport builders and inspirational inductees.”
Tickets for the gala are currently on sale, with reserved individual tickets priced at $325, while tables of 10 are available, starting at $3,750. A $250 general individual ticket option is also available but does not include seating location preference. The 2019 Gala will be hosted at the Vail Marriott Mountain Resort in Lionshead.
To purchase tickets or for additional information, please visit the museum website at http://www.snowsportsmuseum.org or call (970) 476-1876. All proceeds from the Hall of Fame Gala will benefit the Colorado Snowsports Museum.
About the Class of 2019
The five Hall of Fame inductees were elected from a field of 14 nominees that also included Johnny Buxman (Vail), Tracey and Tim Canaday (Denver), Eugene Dayton (Breckenridge), Rik Heid (Vail), Bob Kunkel (Durango), Ted Martin (Vail), Ellen Post Foster (Vail), Scott Rawles (Breckenridge) and Annie Varielle-Savath (Telluride).
Hall of Fame candidates are nominated under the established criteria of Athlete, Sport Builder, Inspirational or Pioneer categories, with the Hall of Fame Nomination Committee evaluating and confirming the nominees to move onto the final ballot. The 140-member Hall of Fame Voting Panel is comprised of current Hall of Fame members, key ski industry representatives and Hall’s board of directors and Nomination Committee.
Colorado’s most successful snowboard athlete, Gretchen Bleiler, has made her mark as an athlete, an entrepreneur and an advocate for causes important to her. In a professional career that spanned nearly 20 years, Bleiler was the top star in her sport of halfpipe from 2002 through 2010. At the age of 18, she was invited to compete in the Winter X Games. Four years later she was on top of the world, winning her first of four X Games gold medals, world superpipe championships gold
Following her Olympic medal, she used the platform to build a business base as an athlete-entrepreneur, designing a signature clothing line for Oakley and providing creative input to K2 Snowboards. Since retiring as an athlete in 2014, Bleiler has turned her attention to blending her entrepreneurial and advocacy interests. Through her entire career as one of the world’s greatest snowboarders, Gretchen Bleiler has represented the face of Colorado and her home of Aspen.
Jeff has been a Sport Builder his entire life. A third-generation member of Colorado’s iconic Gorsuch family, Jeff was exposed to the ski racing and retail sides of the ski industry since he could crawl. Jeff moved to Aspen after college and has run the family’s Aspen retail operation for the past 25 years. Growing up Gorsuch, Jeff inherited a deep appreciation for the trailblazers of the ski industry and has devoted his spare time to
From an Aspen community perspective, his philanthropic focus is on kids, working with local organizations like the Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club, the Aspen Education Foundation and the Aspen Community School. He has been lauded for his
Martin Hart envisioned and implemented a vision for community collaboration, international air access and financial success for the Steamboat Springs community and resort. In 1970, LTV Recreational Development purchased Steamboat Springs Ski Area with the plan to modernize and make it a year-round resort. Ultimately though, it was Martin Hart who laid the foundation for what Steamboat is today.
Within three seasons, $15 million was spent to make Steamboat a first-rate ski area. By the end of 1986, more than $30 million in improvements had been made and Steamboat was considered one of the top four ski areas in Colorado. The expansion of the Hayden airport was a game-changer, allowing greater access to Steamboat. Throughout his involvement with Steamboat, Martin worked hard to have Steamboat hold onto its old west charm. Martin T. Hart believed in the importance of building a ski area that was good business for everyone — investors, townspeople, skiers, and Colorado as a whole. Martin passed away in 2014.
Jake Hoeschler revolutionized the ski retail industry with his exclusive ski liability insurance program, which now includes millions of dollars of coverages. While racing on the World Cup and Pro Race Circuits throughout the ’60s and ’70s Jake noticed how ski shops were struggling to stay in business because of their liability exposure to the threat of frivolous lawsuits. In 1988 Hoeschler founded the National Ski Insurance Program to make skiing a safer sport while also protecting the retailer from an onslaught of unsubstantiated insurance claims.
Hoeschler used his insurance and law background to bring together the Risk Managers from top binding companies to implement the indemnification program that exists today. The Program now has its own attorneys, adjusters, claims handlers and expert witnesses. The shop personnel
Steve Raymond co-founded the Colorado Adaptive Spirit organization in 1995 and has served for 25 years as its volunteer chairman. He was also part of the group of Denver cable television leaders who created SkiTAM in 1995. The annual three-day fundraising event brings together world-class adaptive racers with telecommunications corporate sponsors and their guests. To date, more than 20,000 business executives and guests have participated in this event. Financially, Adaptive Spirit accounts for 45% of the USOC Adaptive Ski Team operating budget.
With Adaptive Spirit financial support, the USOC Paralympic team has excelled in international competition. Under his leadership, Adaptive Spirit has raised $20 million which has had a significant impact on the success of the United States Olympic Committee’s Paralympic program. Steve’s efforts have played an important role in the success of Colorado adaptive athletes. Their success, in turn, gives Colorado a world-class reputation as the North American epicenter for adaptive skiers to live, train, compete, and win.