Dakin awarded FIS Journalist Award
VAIL — While the athletes take the spotlight during events such as the 2015 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships, it is often the people behind the scenes who make an event and our community shine.
John Dakin, vice president of communications for the Vail Valley Foundation, was recently awarded the FIS Journalist Award for America — an honor reserved for a short and distinguished list of journalism and communication professionals who have brought the excitement of alpine ski racing to the public.
For anyone who has met Dakin, this should come as no surprise. His passion for the sport is overwhelmingly apparent, and a look at his career history leaves little doubt that the ski racing world is the one in which he has always belonged. Dakin started out as a sports information director for the University of Colorado’s (his alma mater’s) Ski Team in the late ’70s. After serving in the same capacity for Lincoln University in Missouri, Dakin went on to handle media relations for the U.S. Ski Team in 1981. He’s worked the 1996 Atlanta, 2002 Salt Lake and 2010 Vancouver Olympics — in ’02 and ’10 as alpine press chief and mixed zone coordinator, respectively — and as the Vail Valley embarks on its third World Championships, so will Dakin, each time as chief of press.
‘Key Member of our Team’
Vail Valley Foundation Board of Directors Harry Frampton describes Dakin as “a rock for years in the foundation and key member of our team.”
On a local level, Dakin serves as resident expert on all things ski racing to his colleagues at the Vail Valley Foundation. Not only is his operational knowledge of how to run a World Championships invaluable, given that he was here for the ’89 and ’99 World Champs, but the Vail Valley Foundation staff has come to look fondly upon Dakin as a “walking Wikipedia” on the sport. He can recall every stat, athlete, the medals they won and the race at which they won them.
According to Sarah Lewis, FIS secretary general, “All three FIS Alpine World Ski Championships have taken place in Vail Beaver Creek with JD running the Communications. JD’s passion for ski racing and knowledge about the sport is legendary, and he is basically a search engine of knowledge about the sport, from well before the Internet existed. It’s been a great pleasure and indeed a lot of fun to work with JD at Olympic Winter Games, World Championship and World Cup events not only in Vail and Beaver Creek, but also Salt Lake City and YongPyeong, Korea.”
The Olympic theme music has been his ring tone for as long as anyone can remember. His media center, run smoothly and with zero tolerance for nonsense, is the stuff of legends (as is the bottle of Champagne he’s known to pop to celebrate the close of another successful media operation at the end of an event).
Having A Little Fun
Known first for his commitment to his post, Dakin is also widely respected for juggling the many responsibilities of head of press with a little fun on the side. As Vail Leadership Institute Founder and Chairman John Horan-Kates remembers it, “My fondest memory of JD was in Falun, Sweden, when John and I were campaigning for the ’99 Championships. It was bitter cold and so the primary way to keep warm was to imbibe in Acquvit. We couldn’t keep up with the Swedes or the Finns, but John was crowned champion of our team.”
With this award, Dakin is formally recognized for being an ambassador of the sport, serving as a keeper of its history and a master storyteller of its greatest moments.
Tom Kelly, vice president of communications for the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association, sums up Dakin’s contributions well.
“John Dakin has been one of the most important history tellers of the U.S. Ski Team,” Kelly said. “His work with the U.S. Ski Team and with the Vail Valley Foundation have put him into a unique position to be a principle storyteller over five decades. The ability of our sport to prosper in the future is dependent on how we document the story of its past. JD has made a difference in documenting some of the greatest athletes of all time.”
The U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association will formally present the FIS Journalist Award to Dakin during the 2015 Alpine World Ski Championships at its U.S. Ski Team Alumni Reception.