Vail Valley Voices: Brother remembers Charlie Tuft as ‘skier’s skier’
Vail, CO, Colorado
On a winter’s day in 1962, my brother, Charlie Tuft, and I made one of our typical weekend mountain trips to the newly open Vail ski area.
We made that trip most winter weekends, not just in 1962, but for every year thereafter until Charlie went on to teach skiing at Alpe d’Huez, a French ski area.
Charlie was a skier’s skier. I remember days at 3:20 p.m. when he would race to get the last run on Forever after skiing some 35,000 vertical feet that day.
Then there was the powder day when some Aspen greats came to ski with Charlie and at 2 p.m. they left with their tail between their legs while Charlie kept skiing.
Charlie could ski. He was maybe the strongest skier Vail’s ever seen. On a powder day, he was always waiting at the Vista Bahn before it opened. He missed very few of these days.
He gave Vail Mountain his all, even befriending Bill Jensen to communicate Vail’s poorly operated days.
We both used to speak of the old days when Sgt Brown ran a power skier’s mountain and we were always upset with corporate Vail and the cluster … openings.
I spoke with my brother just a few days before this year’s opening and as usual he asked me what I was doing to get into shape for opening. I did not make this opening, but Charlie did, like he had for the last 20.
Charlie was a rock, mine and others. Let’s make sure that no one would think that Charlie could not make a turn with his always freshly tuned skis. I have thoughts of a typical opening, sheer ice and way too many skiers on the white ribbon of death.
Charlie died from massive internal injuries after a freak accident on opening day of Vail Mountain.
Charlie Tuft lived and now died for his sport, on his mountain, after 51 years and some 30,000,000 vertical feet of fun.
Mimicking Charlie’s great smile and a tear,