Grand finale: Vail local John Dakin caps off career with the highest award in Colorado snowsports
The Colorado Snowsports Museum’s 2022 Hall of Fame Celebration kept its final curtain reserved for John Dakin, a longtime Vail local known around the world as chief of press for three World Alpine Ski Championships.
While Dakin’s matter-of-fact personality and background in public relations doesn’t make him the most obvious choice for a grand-finale performance, Dakin did not disappoint on Sunday, delivering a speech that was heartfelt and humorous to close out the evening.
Dakin was inducted into the Hall of Fame for his accomplishments in telling the story of snowsports in Colorado.
“For the past 40-plus years, I haven’t had a job, which my high school guidance counselors thought was going to happen,” Dakin said in receiving the honor on Sunday. “I’ve had a passion, and I was fortunate enough to turn that passion into a career.”
It’s that dry humor and dedication that made Dakin stand out as a public relations specialist, first with the University of Colorado, then the U.S. Ski Team, and finally with the Vail Valley Foundation.
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Dakin grew up in Grand Junction and learned to ski in Breckenridge before meeting Olympian skier Bill Marolt at the University of Colorado, where he became the sports information director for the ski team after graduating.
Marolt introduced Dakin on Sunday, recalling those days from the ’70s at CU.
“That’s where he started his career, he was terrific there in many roles,” Marolt said of Dakin.
In a video, attendees learned about Dakin’s seamless transition from one facet of his career to the next, with Marolt describing how the U.S. Ski Team had been operating without a sports information director before Dakin.
“We needed a PR person,” Marolt said. “The first person that came to my mind was John. So we contacted him, naturally, he was excited to do it, came to Park City, and was there during one of the golden eras of U.S. skiing.”
Dakin said without Bill Marolt and Marolt’s wife and assistant, Connie Marolt, he wouldn’t have been on stage on Sunday.
“Bill and Connie gave me the two biggest opportunities to have a career in ski racing, and to continue to have a career in ski racing, with their offer to be the information director for the CU ski team and later the U.S. Ski Team,” Dakin said.
Dakin also thanked Vail locals Brad Ghent and John Garnsey who, along with Marolt and Tom Kelly, compiled and put forth Dakin’s Hall of Fame nomination.
Kelly took over public relations for the U.S. Ski Team after Dakin left and narrated the video about Dakin which was shown on Sunday.
While with the U.S. Ski Team, Dakin found his way into race announcing, “quickly developing his own unique style with his info-packed race calls and his strong sense of sport production,” Kelly said, and in the late ’80s he moved to Vail and took on the chief of press role at the 1989 World Championships for what was then a new and small organization, the Vail Valley Foundation.
“With him, he brought all this knowledge about ski racing, and obviously the commitment to that, and then that almost instantly gave the foundation gravitas in that sport, we had John Dakin who was a part of the U.S. Ski Team, he brings that with him,” Ceil Folz, the former CEO of the Vail Valley Foundation, said in the video shown to attendees.
Dakin said following the 1989 World Alpine Ski Championships, former Vail Valley Foundation Vice President John Garnsey helped lead the effort to keep Dakin on board as a public relations person for the foundation, a move that would make Dakin a Vail local for decades to come.
Dakin said the original plan was for his position to be eliminated following the 1989 event.
“The VVF would never be the same after the ’89 world championships,” Dakin said. “That decision by John and others resulted in a 30-year decision for me.”
Garnsey, in the video shown to attendees, said Dakin was the first person to hold a chief of press position at three different World Alpine Ski Championship events, as the World Championships would return to Vail and be organized by the Vail Valley Foundation again in 1999 and 2015. In between, Dakin also served as Alpine press chief at the 2002 Olympics and the Alpine mixed zone coordinator at the 2010 Olympics.
“The international press corps loved John,” Garnsey said. “And they loved him because he was knowledgable first of all, so they respected him, they loved him because he was kind and very flexible in dealing with what they needed, and he was funny. Because of that respect he had, he was able to really shape the narrative that was written about our sport and Colorado, and we had so many wonderful stories written over those years about Vail and Beaver Creek and Colorado in general.”