Vail’s Bill Jensen named to U.S. Ski & Snowboard Hall of Fame |

Vail’s Bill Jensen named to U.S. Ski & Snowboard Hall of Fame

Ski industry icon and former Vail Resorts exec honored for 45-year career

Bill Jensen, right, is being inducted into the U.S. Ski & Snowboard Hall of Fame. The ceremony is next weekend in Park City, Utah.
Special to the Daily

U.S. Ski & Snowboard Hall of Fame 2019 inductees

Bill Jensen, Vail: During his 45-year career he was involved in every aspect of resort operations, including at Mammoth Mountain, Sun Valley, Sunday River, Northstar, Breckenridge, Vail, Intrawest and Telluride.

Bode Miller, Franconia, New Hampshire: The most successful U.S. male Alpine skier in history. He participated in five Olympics, winning one gold, three silver and two bronze medals.

Andrew Weibrecht, Lake Placid, New York: Spent 16 years on the U.S. Ski Team. He won a bronze medal at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver and a silver at the 2014 games in Sochi.

Hilary Engisch-Klein, Stowe, Vermont: A four-time women’s World Cup moguls champion who has 35 World Cup victories. Skiing magazine named her the “greatest female mogul skier alive.” She is the founder of Kids On Top, a nonprofit that provides winter experiences for kids with serious diseases.

Kristen Ulmer, Salt Lake City, Utah: Known as the first female extreme skier. In 1997 she became the first female to ski the Grand Teton. In 2017 she published a bestseller, “The Art of Fear.”

Tom Kelly, Park City, Utah: Vice president of communications for U.S. Ski & Snowboard for 32 years. He has been active within the United States Olympic Committee and the International Ski Federation, including 14 years as chairman of the FIS PR and Mass Media Committee.

Tom Sims(1950-2012), Solvang, California: In 1963 he built a “skiboard” combining the sports of skiing, skateboarding and surfing. He founded SIMS Snowboards & Skateboards in 1976 and was world champion in both sports. Tom was instrumental in snowboarding becoming an Olympic sport in 1998.

Don Henderson (1924-2018), Fairlee, Vermont:  A true pioneer of ski racing. He was a veteran of WWII and the 10th Mountain Division, a collegiate star at Middlebury in the late 40s and also served as the head coach for the U.S. Ski Team.

Bill Jensen and his crew step back from a completed task and look at it, feeling the warmth of a job done well. Then they apply Jensen’s 5 percent rule.

“If we throw another 5 percent of energy and time at a task, will it help?” Jensen says, explaining his philosophy.

The answer, as you likely already know, is “Yes.”

Jensen has changed his zip code a dozen and a half times in his 45-year ski industry career but never his work ethic.

Next weekend he will be in Park City, Utah — one of the few resorts he has not run — to be inducted into the U.S. Ski & Snowboard Hall of Fame. Jensen will be joined by elite American athletes, as well as other industry giants.

Jensen’s induction into the national Hall of Fame follows his 2010 induction into the Colorado Snowsports Museum and Hall of Fame, located in Vail.

“I am humbled to be inducted into the U.S. Ski & Snowboard Hall of Fame,” Jensen said. “I have been fortunate to work with amazing and dedicated people my entire career, and I share this Hall of Fame honor with each of them.”

“To be inducted into the Hall of Fame with all these elite international athletes and industry leaders is not something I thought could ever happen to me. It seems like just a few weeks ago that I started as a lift operator. I cannot imagine that there’s another industry I could love this much,” Jensen said.

45 years and still going strong

Jensen started his ski industry career swinging lift chairs at California’s Mammoth Mountain. He was moving up in the industry when then-Vail Resorts President Andy Daly spotted Jensen and hired him in 1997 to run Breckenridge.

Jensen spent 11 years as a Vail Resorts executive before heading to Intrawest and later joining Telluride resort owner Chuck Horning as a partner.

Occasionally Jensen looks back over his career, not for nostalgia although there is some of that, but to pull from his vast experience and the experience of some of his mentors such as Bill Healy, founder of Mount Bachelor; Dave McCoy, founder of Mammoth; and Michael Berry, with whom Jensen worked at Sun Valley and the National Ski Areas Association.

Through it all, Jensen and wife Cheryl have kept a home in Vail.

The national Hall of Fame induction ceremony is part of the Snowsport History Celebration, happening April 4-6 in Park City.

The eight inductees include Jensen; the late Tom Sims, inventor of the skiboard; the late Don Henderson, a pioneer of ski racing; Tom Kelly, the leading spokesperson for U.S. Ski & Snowboard, Bode Miller, a five-time Olympian; Andrew Weibrecht, a two-time Olympian; Kristen Ulmer, the first female extreme skier; and Hilary Engisch-Klein, a world dominating freestyle skier.

The new inductees will bring the total U.S. Ski & Snowboard Hall of Fame members to 433.

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