Skiing into immortality
The Ski Hall of Fame honors individuals who have made a contribution or had a direct impact on Colorado winter sports. Selection criteria focused on outstanding achievement in the areas of skiing competition, skiing innovation, ski sport development, and significant contribution to the overall promotion of skiing.
From 1976 to 2002, the Hall of Fame selection committee has named 144 individuals for the honor and each year, and no more than five inductees are named annually. This year will mark the 25th induction ceremony and will add to the list of 140 previous inductees. The Colorado Ski Museum/Ski Hall of Fame is a nonprofit historic organization dedicated to celebrating the spirit and history of skiing and snowboarding in Colorado. Funds raised through special events are used to create new exhibits and special programs for the residents of Colorado.
Saturday’s event will include a silent auction, dinner and induction ceremonies. The public is invited to attend. Tickets for the Colorado Ski Hall of Fame Gala are $80 for members of the Colorado Ski Museum and $100 for non-members. Corporate table sponsorships are also available.
Also on Saturday, five 8-foot-tall exhibits of each of the 2002 inductees will be unveiled. The exhibits will feature the highlights and accomplishments of each of the inductees and will be on display for a year at the Colorado Ski Museum located in Vail Village.
What: The Colorado Ski Hall of Fame’s 26th Anniversary Banquet and Induction Ceremony
When: Saturday night
Where: Westin Westminster, 10600 Westminster Blvd., Westminster.
Cost (a portion of which is tax deductible): $85 for museum members and Hall of Fame inductees; $100 for non-museum members.
Information:Colorado Ski Museum, 476-1876, 1-800-950-7410 or http://www.skimuseum.net.
Gorsuch: “Skiing gave me everything’
Dave Gorsuch’s family has been part of skiing almost since the invention of snow.
“Skiing has probably supplied me with everything I have,” he says. “It gave me youth, education, international competition and travel, my wife, family and business.”
The Vail fixture will be inducted Saturday into the Skiing Hall of Fame, along with long-time Vail local Cindy Nelson.
“It’s a great honor,” says Gorsuch. “It’s hard to put it into words, and “thank you’ seems like a pretty small word. That’s also what you say when someone hands you a pencil or a salt shaker. It seems like there should be another word for something like this.”
Born in Climax on Sept. 22, 1938, Gorsuch is the son of the mining community and a grandson of Colorado ranchers.
“I remember hunting and fishing in the Vail Valley as a little boy with my father and mother,” he says. “They had great love of outdoors and skiing. That opened the door for everything that followed in my life.”
Gorsuch has a long and successful skiing career, beginning at the junior level and extending through college and into the international arena. He is a past junior national champion, winning the junior national combined championship in 1954 and 1956. He was a member of the 1958 World Championship Ski Team, as well as the 1960 Olympic Alpine Ski Team.
Gorsuch earned his early living as mountain manager at Crested Butte. While living in the Gunnison and Crested Butte areas and attending Western State College, he was a 1963 NCAA champion in the downhill, earned a silver medal in slalom and finished second in alpine combined.
He and wife Renie were still in Gunnison when they founded Gorsuch Ltd., a specialty ski and retail shop in 1962.
They caught a break and expanded to Vail in May 1966, moving into the old Sporthaus space at the crossroads of Bridge Street and Gore Creek Drive. Vail’s second true ski shop, the Gorsuch establishment is one of the oldest businesses in town
The Gorsuches are still going strong, with never a thought they had made a mistake.
“But there were times a lot of snow would make us look a little smarter,” says Gorsuch.
1962 was one, although Gorsuch points out that a late snow made it possible to finish building the ski lifts before the throngs showed up.
It looked bleak in Vail 1976, too, when it didn’t snow, but not as bad as 1980-81, he says.
“It not only didn’t snow, but interest rates were 20 to 22 percent,” said Gorsuch.
In addition to managing Gorsuch Ltd., the Gorsuch family helped build Vail’s hospital, Vail Mountain School and Ski Club Vail.
“I’m real thankful every day to be born and raised in Colorado, to live where I do and do what I do. I still get to do the thing that’s most dear to me – that’s skiing.”
These days, much of his skiing is done with his grandchildren, who don’t have to be much more insistent than just saying “Hey grandpa … .”
“Things all over the world changed last September,” says Gorsuch. “We saw things none of us ever expected to see. Communication has become instant and advanced, and we’re deluged by bad news all the time.
“It gives you pause to think about what’s really important.”
Nelson’s Rocky Mountain roots run deep
The Nelson family’s skiing roots run as deep as the Colorado Rockies.
Her father, George Jr., was a member of the famed 10th Mountain Division that trained at Camp Hale. Like several others in the Division, upon their return from World War II, George convinced his father to build a ski area on the family’s homesteaded land.
Lutsen Resort and Ski Area opened for business in 1949. There, George met his wife Patti while teaching her to ski. Together they became excellent skiers and instructors. Their romance born on the ski slopes soon gave birth to five children. About the time the Nelson children learned to walk, they also learned to ski.
The middle child, Nelson started her 14-year tenure with the U.S. Ski Team when she was only 15 years old. During her ski-racing career she was named to four Olympic teams, competing at three Olympics and four World Championships. In 1974, Nelson broke the great Annemarie Moser-Proell’s winning streak to become the first U.S. racer to win a World Cup downhill.
She thrilled fans by claiming the bronze medal at the 1976 Olympic downhill at Innsbruck and the silver combined World Championship medal at the 1980 Lake Placid Olympics.
Nelson earned several World Cup titles, plus seven National Champion titles. She also became the first skier to win a World Cup super G. She competed in all five of the alpine disciplines and retired as one of the finest skiers to ever compete.
During her career, Cindy recognized the necessity of living in the heart of skiing, so in 1979 she moved to Vail.
“Colorado has the world’s best skiing and an ideal mountain climate for my passions,” said Nelson. “You can find me on the golf course working on my swing or on the slopes still searching for that perfect turn. Colorado is truly the best and I love it.”
Nelson retired from international competition in 1985. She remained in Vail to take the position of Ambassador of Skiing. Soon after, she was promoted to Director of Skiing for Vail and Beaver Creek Resorts.
Nelson put her international reputation to work as part of the team that landed the 1989 World Alpine Ski Championships in Vail. As part of that event, she became the first woman ever to serve as the chief of course for a major alpine skiing competition.
In 1992, Nelson started her own business, focusing on consulting, television broadcasting, and personal appearances. She’s a board member of the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Foundation and the Steadman-Hawkins Sports Medicine Foundation.
Hall also inducts Litchfield, Oden and Moltere
John P. Litchfield – John P. Litchfield, a Maine native, was an accomplished ski racer and scholar, decorated as a captain in the Tenth Mountain Division by receiving the Bronze Star. Following World War II, he returned to Colorado to help found the Aspen Ski School, serving as its co-director. Litchfield is recognized for his significant contributions as a ski sport builder and athlete, representing the United States as a member of the 1952 U.S. Olympic Team. He was an original investor in the Aspen Skiing Company and was the original owner of the famous Red Onion Restaurant. He was inducted into the National Ski Hall of Fame earlier this year.
Anderl Molterer – Anderl Molterer is often referred to as “The Blitz from Kitz,” a nickname he still bears proudly. His contributions to skiing are legendary. His status as a world-class ski racer, world-class athlete and sports promoter has spans two continents and includes more than 40 years in Colorado as one of the Ski Country USA’s promoters.
“Colorado is a magical word for me because it is synonymous with the greatest skiing in the world,” says Molterer. “I may be Austrian by birth, but Coloradoan by life choice.”
Dr. Robert Oden – A man of great influence on the medical scene, Oden was medical advisor to the U.S. Olympic Committee from 1960 to 1980 and won the Julius Blegen Award in 1985. The next year he won the Rocky Mountain Division Halstead Trophy, making him one of the few individuals to be honored at both divisional and national level for outstanding service to our sport. Elected to the Aspen Hall of Fame in 1995, Oden has been honored at all levels for his service to the sport of skiing.
Many will remember him as one of the founding trustees of the U.S. Ski Education Foundation or as a member of the FIS Medical Committee promoting race-course safety at the FIS and USSA level. Athletes of the 1960s and 70s will remember him as an originator of the U.S. Ski Team doctor pool. He recruited well-known orthopedists from all over the country to serve (at their own expense) traveling with U.S. teams at all FIS events. Oden’s service began before the 1960 Squaw Valley Olympics through his election in 1998 as Sports Medicine Doctor of the Year where he was cited for “his years of service to the United States Ski Team.”
He was inducted into the National Ski Hall of Fame in earlier this year.