Early beginnings in Vail

Sharon Schmidt
Special to the Daily
Chad Fleischer was inspired to become a ski racer after moving to Vail with his family from Nebraska.
Special to the Daily |

Ski & Snowboard Club Vail honorees

Ski & Snowboard Club Vail began preparation over a year ago for its Alumni Reunion Weekend, which will take place Feb. 6-8 during the 2015 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships. This community-wide celebration features the first-ever Hall of Fame and Wall of Excellence induction on Feb. 7 at the Four Seasons Resort Vail. For Hall of Fame and Wall of Excellence along with Alumni Reunion Weekend event details and tickets, call 970-790-5161.

Hall of Fame, Athlete Category

Sarah Schleper

Hall of Fame, Leader Category

Byron and Vi Brown

Wall of Excellence, Athlete Category

Rudd Pyles-Knutzen

Johnny Buxman

Jeff Gorsuch

Chad Fleischer

Ali Levy

Sylvan Ellefson

Wall of Excellence, Leader Category

Tom Pitcher

Pete Seibert Jr.

Larry Benway

Mike Porter

Ski & Snowboard Club Vail is naming six people to its first Wall of Excellence in the Athlete Category and four people to its Leader Category on Feb. 7 at the Four Seasons Resort Vail. Among the Athlete Category nominees are Chad Fleischer and Jeff Gorsuch.

Chad Fleischer

Having recently relocated to Vail from Nebraska, a classmate of Chad Fleischer’s at Vail Mountain School told him about a U.S. downhill racer named Bill Johnson. From that point on, the boys would sneak into an establishment at the top of Bridge Street to watch Johnson race. In 1984, not long before the Olympics in Sarajevo, Johnson won the Lauberhorn downhill (the first American to do so) and boldly exclaimed to the world that he would win an Olympic gold medal in downhill. Sure enough, Johnson did. This chain of events sparked Fleischer to announce to his father that all he wanted to do in life was be a downhill racer.

And so Chad Fleischer’s father took him to Ski & Snowboard Club Vail to sign him up. Charlie Adams and other staff on hand that day just about laughed them out of the building, according to Chad, when this “little kid from Nebraska” told them he was going to be the next downhill great. Well, you just never know.

Support Local Journalism

Pursing his passion, Fleischer showed up at SSCV’s downhill camp at age 11, only to be told he was a “danger to himself” and that he would need to wait another year to participate in the camp. Although this remains Fleischer’s most crushing boyhood memory of the club, it gave him an entire year to determine what he wanted to be and how he was going to get there, fueling his passion and his dream even further.

You must fast forward to truly understand where a passion and a dream can take a child. Fleischer went on to become a 10-year member of the U.S. Ski Team, a two-time Winter Olympian in 1994 and 1998, a five-time World Championship Team Member in 1993, 1995, 1997, 1999, 2001, a two-time National Downhill Champion and a silver medalist at the 1999 World Cup Finals in Sierra Nevada, Spain.

Fleischer gives back to his communities in so many ways. He has served on the board of SSCV and started SSCV’s Chad Fleischer Ski & Tee Scholarship Fundraiser, which raised more than a $100,000 for kids throughout the course of a decade.

Fleischer remains involved in the industry through his business, Fleischer Sport. He also gives back to the sport as a coach at the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club and a member of their athlete advisory board, watching his own children’s passions and dreams and those of their teammates unfold in front of him.

Jeff Gorsuch

A true Vail local from a family of ski racers, Jeff Gorsuch grew up in Ski & Snowboard Club Vail. He recalled the wonderful era he was part of, being raised by the mountain, among fellow athletes including John Buxman, Mike Brown, Karen Lancaster (Ghent), Amy Livran and David Veile. Together, they discovered the brilliance of sport through training at the club, a place that gave children a chance to go after their dreams.

Gorsuch was a member of the U.S. men’s downhill team in 1983-84 and was selected to the Men’s Europa Cup. He remains grateful for the support of Dr. Richard Steadman and Dr. Courtney Brown , both U.S. Ski Team doctors who helped him recover from an injury in a downhill in 1984 in Meribel, France. He was also a racer representative on the Ski Club Vail board.

As an SSCV alumnus, Gorsuch felt the club gave him a real foothold into his entire life and is very grateful for the values the organization brings to its families and to the community as a whole.

Making his home in Aspen, Gorsuch enjoys coming back to Vail to watch his own children race, viewing it as a privilege to come home. He continues to be proud of the stellar athletes coming out of the club, the active and committed board and the evolution of the club in so many ways.

Gorsuch remains involved in the industry as an executive of Gorsuch Ltd. and serving on the Aspen Valley Ski Club board.

Sharon Schmidt is director of admissions and communications for Ski & Snowboard Club Vail.

Support Local Journalism