There are many Sheikas |

There are many Sheikas

Carolyn PopeVail, CO Colorado
Carolyn Pope/Vail DailyMonica Benderley, Joanne Levy, Sheika Gramshammer, Molly Precourt and Ann Newman.

VAIL Shes the kind of woman movies are made about because no one would believe she really exists. Entrepreneur. Showgirl. Model. Hostess. Friend. Outrageous. Relentless. Loyal. Extravagant. Hard working. Tough as nails.There are many Sheikas, said Elaine Kelton, a longtime friend of longtime Vail resident Sheika Gramshammer. And were here tonight to celebrate every one of them.And many, many friends did come out last week to laud Sheika Gramshammer, who was being honored by the International Ski History Association for her contributions to the skiing world.Sheika may not have been an Olympic racer, a member of the 10th Mountain Division, owner of a ski manufacturing company or even a member of the ski patrol. What Sheika was, and is, is the consummate hostess, party thrower, trendsetter and most formidable creator of memories that this town has ever seen.

The stories flowed: From her way of handling the Vail Town Council when they wouldnt let her chop down her aspen trees (she pruned them to death) to Pepis 40th birthday party, where she went to Denver to find a casket for the party and was pulled over for speeding on her way back. She handled that situation with typical Sheika ease. My husband died, she told the police officer, bursting into tears as she directed his attention to the coffin she was hauling. I have to bring the casket back. For Sheika, the tears probably werent even necessary. Just a bat of those luxurious lashes could reduce the most stoic men to whimpering slaves.Debby McClenahan of International Ski History Association was happy to honor Sheika. Women are under-recognized in the business, and Sheika is an icon, McClenahan said. She is history.Pepi, Sheikas husband, beamed throughout the evening, the pride evident in his face.Im so happy, he said. Shes done so much work. She ran the Crystal Ball for years, raising more than $3 million. She gave so much to the hospital. She had the ideas and she made them happen.Rod Slifer, who has known Sheika as long as there has been a Vail, summed it up.Shes bigger than life.

For more information on the International Skiing History Association, visit its Web site at

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