Vail’s Harry Frampton named to International Ski Hall of Fame |

Vail’s Harry Frampton named to International Ski Hall of Fame

Vail's Harry Frampton is the newest inductee into the Vail Valley Foundation's International Ski Hall of Fame.
Vail Valley Foundation |


1984 Emile Allais

1985 Birger Ruud

1986 Dick Durrance & Gretchen Fraser

1987 Toni Seelos

1988 Stein Eriksen

1989 Freidl Pfeifer

1990 Karl Molitor

1991 The Werner Family

1992 Andrea Mead Lawrence

1993 Christl Cranz

1994 Christian Pravda

1995 Tom Corcoran

1996 Barney McLean

1997 Anderl Molterer

1998 Nancy Greene-Raine

1999 Pepi Gramshammer

2000 Marielle & Christine Goitschel

2001 Toni Sailer

2002 Billy Kidd & Jimmie Heuga

2003 Gustavo Thoeni

2004 Bob Beattie

2005 Bernhard Russi

2006 Rosi Mittermaier-Neureuther

2007 President Gerald Ford & Family

2008 Franz Klammer

2009 Cindy Nelson

2010 The Crazy Canucks

2011 Phil & Steve Mahre

2012 Marc Girardelli

2013 Tamara McKinney

2014 Anne Marie Moser-Proell

2015 Lasse Kjus & Kjetil Andre Aamodt

VAIL — Harry Frampton smiled and shrugged a little as his name appeared alongside more than 30 of ski racing’s greatest inducted into the Vail Valley Foundation’s International Ski Hall of Fame. That list consists of luminaries including Stein Eriksen, Marc Girardelli, Andrea Mean Lawrence, Pepi Gramshammer, Franz Klammer, Tamara McKinney and former President Gerald R. Ford.

“Other than President Ford, I’m the worst skier on that list,” Frampton laughed.

Vail Mayor Dave Chapin pointed out that it’s right and fitting that Frampton’s induction was on the day and the exact spot of the 50th anniversary of World Cup racing in Vail. Jean-Claude Killy and Nancy Greene won that event’s giant slalom.

“Ski racing has been part of Vail’s DNA since it was founded,” said Doug Lovell, chief operating officer of Vail Mountain.

The ‘Sportmakers’

Frampton is a “sportmaker,” and the newest member of the International Ski Hall of Fame, inducted Friday afternoon in a ceremony that boasted a who’s who of skiing.

Great athletic performances make great events, of course, but sportmakers also elevate their sports by motivating us to take risks of a different sort, said Mike Imhof, president of the Vail Valley Foundation.

“Harry will tell you that over the last 35 years there have been many other people who should be honored and were instrumental in 50 years of World Cup, 30-plus years of Ski Classics, three Alpine World Ski Championships and 20 years of Birds of Prey. And he would be right. They helped and contributed,” Imhof said. “But the common denominator through it all has always been Harry Frampton. He made amazing things happen.”

Bringing the world to us

Before Frampton arrived in Vail in 1982 as president of Vail Associates, he worked in Hilton Head in the 1970s.

“Just like Vail, it was an emerging place,” Frampton said.

Hilton Head hosted the Heritage Classic on a golf course designed by Jack Nicklaus and Pete Dye. It attracted the top names on the PGA Tour and propelled Hilton Head to the top of the golf world.

“Right out of college, I saw what impact professional sports could have on a resort,” Frampton said. “For one thing, it’s a relatively inexpensive way for a resort to get a whole lot of publicity.”

In the 1960s, World Cup ski racing was a big part of Vail’s early success. When Frampton arrived in Vail in the early 1980s, John Horan-Kates was the ski company’s marketing director and made a beeline for Frampton.

“We have to get back to hosting World Cup skiing,” Horan-Kates told Frampton, or words to that effect.

Frampton didn’t need to be convinced.

“I had observed what golf had done for Hilton Head,” Frampton said.

They started hosting men’s and women’s World Cup events, and before long landed the 1989 World Alpine Ski Championships.

Immediate and impressive

The benefits were immediate and impressive.

There were three major benefits, Frampton said:

• “First, it’s a way you can afford to get on a world stage. We cannot afford to advertise all over the world. It’s a way to spread the message of Vail being a fabulous international ski town.”

• “Second, it builds great community spirit. There’s a great sense of pride in hosting an event like this. We had 2,000 volunteers. People were painting their storefronts. The way the community embraced it was incredible.”

• “Third, we as a community have an obligation to promote the industry, and certainly there’s no better way to do that.”

‘Let’s do this!’

Here’s the thing about Frampton and people like him: He doesn’t tend to order people about. Instead, he makes us feel like we’re all in this together.

For example:

In 1985, when others were asking what the big deal was about the Alpine World Ski Championships, Frampton and a few others were saying, “Let’s do this!”

And so we did. The 1989 Alpine World Ski Championships were the first in the U.S. since 1950. It gave great American racers including Tamara McKinney, Tiger Shaw and Vail’s Mike Brown a chance to compete in front of a home crowd.

We had so much fun that we brought the World Championships back in 1999. Not just for a sequel, but for something spectacular.

The downhill course we had was just fine, but just fine is not good enough. What we needed was one of the world’s best race courses.

It was Frampton who said, “Let’s do this!”

And again, we did.

Beaver Creek’s Birds of Prey course opened in 1997 and is now one of the world’s most challenging and celebrated.

That leads us to the 2015 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships, the one where Frampton and Vail Valley Foundation President Ceil Folz wanted to change what it means to host the event, saying, “Let’s do this!”

And once again, we did.

“It has been fun to be a part of that team,” Frampton said.

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and