Conway Cup honors Vail’s racing whiz
VAIL – Dan Conway won his first ski trophy when he was 4 years old. In high school, he was a state champ, and as college racer, he was unbeaten.
“He was pretty much a winner from day one,” said his father, Vince Conway.
When he came to work for Vail Resorts in the late ’80s, he started running ski races, and he did it with a fervor, putting his stamp on the races ranging from the youth circuit to the World Cup.
“In a lot of different ways, Dan really embodies ski racing in the Vail Valley,” said Ceil Folz, president of the Vail Valley Foundation.
So it was natural to honor Conway, who died last year, with a ski race. The Conway Cup kicked off its inaugural year Wednesday on Golden Peak on Vail Mountain. The event was part of the annual American Ski Classic, which continues through Saturday.
Teams of four, mostly locals, competed in the race, with the winner – Ski and Snowboard Club Vail – earning an entry into today’s Legends Giant Slalom race.
Village Warehouse Wines came in second, while the Snowell team was third.
But even for the winners – Georgia Wettlaufer, Euginnia Manseau, Tiffany Hoversten and Barrett Stein – the race was more about honoring Conway.
“I don’t think it’s much about how we raced, it was about how everyone got together and did this for the memory of Dan Conway,” Manseau said. “It was really important for us at Ski and Snowboard Club Vail because Dan Conway has been there for us for many races in the past. So we went out there to enjoy the day, and we came out on top.”
A ski-racing MacGuyver
Proceeds from the race went to the Conway Family Fund.
Vince Conway and Dani Conway, Dan’s 11-year-old daughter, awarded the top three teams shamrock headbands, green-beaded medals and big bottles of Champagne, which was promptly sprayed into the crowd in celebration.
It was a perfectly warm and sunny St. Patrick’s Day to honor Conway, a Massachusetts native with Irish roots.
Conway worked for Vail Resorts running race programs and overseeing the terrain park at Vail. He was the chief of race for the women’s events in the 1999 World Championships.
“He was just a very, very creative and passionate guy that got so into the events side of it that really made a big difference,” said John Garnsey, co-president of Vail Resorts’ Mountain Division.
Conway was a “MacGuyver” type of person who could fix a last-minute timing problem with not much more than duct tape, scissors and a paper clip, Folz said.
“Dan’s was this mini-genius kind of guy,” she said. “He’d patch stuff together and say, ‘OK, we’re good to race.'”
Legends race today
Hoversten, of the Ski and Snowboard Club Vail team, said she was really happy with her team’s result.
“I haven’t ski raced in over 10 years, and I ended my career on an injury, so it was really fun,” said Hoversten, who works as financial manager for the ski club.
John Cole also raced for Ski and Snowboard Club Vail in the prelims before Stein stepped in for the finals.
The team will race today against the Olympians such as Daron Rahlves, Franz Klammer, the Mahre brothers, Cindy Nelson and Billy Kidd in the Legends Race.
“We’re excited,” Hoversten said. “We’re just going to go have fun.”
Staff Writer Edward Stoner can be reached at 970-748-2929 or firstname.lastname@example.org.