New name for Hall of Fame
It was an unusual — but poetically fitting – blessing.
“And if it would be in your will, Father,” the speaker solemnly said, “please bring us some snow!”
So began the ceremony, Oct. 18, recognizing the 2003 inductees to the Colorado Ski Hall of Fame. The 27th annual banquet promised to be a groundbreaking one, with a unique group of inductees and an end-of-the-evening surprise.
The five inductees, joining 144 other outstanding contributors to the ski industry, included snowboarding pioneer Kevin Delany, U.S. Ski Team member and Olympian Max Marolt, esteemed ski jumping coach Frank Penney, Vail founder and ski school champion Morrie Shepard, and the father of freestyle skiing, Park Smalley.
Not only will this particular class of inductees inspire future generations of mountain enthusiasts, but they also made history that night, with the first ever snowboarder and freestyle skier joining a group of more traditional downhill athletes.
The crowd was moved intermittently to tears and laughter as the accomplishments – and often, also the embarrassing moments – of each inductee were shared with several hundred of their peers. Reflections of family members, peers and proteges – plus a little yodeling – made for an entertaining, touching evening.
Delany accepted his award with a humble air, saying that his peers and mentors “gave me the chance, and I just took the ball and ran with it.”
He also took a count of how many people in the audience had tried snowboarding, and at a weak showing, encouraged more to strap their feet to the big board.
Marolt, who passed away in August, was honored for his great contributions to the sport and for the gall with which he approached skiing – the same gall which resulted in an Alaskan mountain being named after him. Marolt’s children accepted the award on his behalf, speaking of their father’s drive to “perfect the effortless turn.”
They also acknowledged the euphoria they knew him to be in at the moment he passed away, on the mountain, doing what he loved most – cutting a perfect turn.
Penny was honored with such words as “commitment,” “enthusiasm” and “patience” as his success in building ski-jumping programs was touted. And Penny’s acceptance speech reflected the presence of these qualities in him – he emphasized the “commitment to a family it takes to do some of this.”
Shepard, one of the core group of friends who founded Vail, reflected upon a time standing before a run with friends Pete Seibert and Earl Eaton.
“Oh, this looks good!” he recalled saying. Shepard also spoke of his anticipation to join the other accomplished honorees of the evening and of the past 26 years.
Park Smalley, the “father of American Freestyle Skiing,” broke out his self-proclaimed “grandfather glasses” in order to read his acceptance speech, which included a jab at all those who along the way had told him that “short skis suck and long skis truck.”
He thanked many for their help in turning freestyle skiers from “hotdoggers” to “elite two-sport athletes,” and also made it a point to “thank goodness for soft snow.”
The evening concluded with a surprise – Katie Bartell, director of the institution – announced the renaming of the museum as the Colorado Ski and Snowboard Museum and Hall of Fame.
Delany and other prestigious snowboarders were given credit for their commitment to advancing the sport and for “fighting” hard for the honor represented by the renaming.
For more information on the Colorado Ski Museum and Hall of Fame, call 476-1876 or visit the museum on top of the Vail Transportation Center.