Vail’s Mike Brown leads next month’s induction into Hall of Fame
VAIL — The Colorado Ski & Snowboard Museum will induct four outstanding athletes and one pioneer of the ski industry into the Hall of Fame on Oct. 17 at the Omni Interlocken Hotel in Broomfield. Tickets to the event are still available at the Ski Museum.
The Class of 2014 includes Vail’s Mike Brown along with athletes Jeremy Bloom, John “C.J.” Mueller, Johnny Spillane and pioneer Kingsbury “Pitch” Pitcher.
“The five new inductees join a prestigious roster of Hall of Fame athletes, sport builders and visionaries who have made major contributions to Colorado’s ski industry over many decades. For anyone who lives and works in a ski town, the Colorado Ski & Snowboard Hall of Fame is especially deserving of their attention and support because, face it, we are all beneficiaries of the good deeds and accomplishments of Hall of Fame members who have made the ski industry in Colorado what is today,” said Susie Tjossem, executive director of the Colorado Ski & Snowboard Museum Hall of Fame. “The annual event is not just about who is being inducted any given year; it is about honoring the institution and all the previously elected Hall of Fame members. “
Mike Brown, athlete
Brown succeeded at the top level of ski racing as a junior racer and during his 10-year career on the U.S. Ski Team placed in the top 15 in World Cup events and the top 100 in the FIS world rankings. A Vail native, Brown had the honor of competing in the super-G on home snow during the 1989 World Alpine Ski Championships in Vail. He retired from competition soon thereafter but jumped right into coaching for the U.S. Disabled Ski Team, which he helped guide during the 1990 World Championships.
During his seven-year stint as coach of the U.S. Disabled Ski Team, Brown helped steer the squad to its status as the strongest disabled team in the world. He coached two of the most decorated Paralympic athletes in history — Chris Waddell and Sarah Will — and is credited with developing a disabled factoring system that allows disabled athletes from different disciplines to compete against one another for medals.
Brown is clearly proud of how disabled athletes such as Waddell and Will progressed during his tenure: “We went from being six seconds behind the world to being 12 ahead in a year and half’s time,” Brown said.
Jeremy Bloom, athlete
Bloom is a three-time mogul skiing world champion, two-time Olympian, 11-time World Cup gold medalist and a member of the U.S. Ski & Snowboard Hall of Fame. In 2005, he won a record six straight World Cup events, the most in a single season in the sport’s history. Born and raised in Loveland, Bloom was also a standout football player at the University of Colorado. In 2008, he founded the Jeremy Bloom Wish of a Lifetime Foundation, which grants lifelong wishes to seniors. Bloom is a college football and Olympic television analyst and has worked for ESPN, Fox, NBC and the Pac12 Network. Forbes Magazine called Bloom one of the 30 most influential people in technology younger than 30 in 2013.
John ‘C.J.’ Mueller, athlete
An amazing athlete, Mueller twice qualified for the U.S. national downhill championships (in 1978 and ’79) and was one of the leading speed-skiing pioneers of the 1980s — becoming the first skier to exceed 130 mph in 1987. A three-time speed skiing world record holder whose top speed was clocked at 137 mph, Mueller was a member of U.S. Speed Skiing Team and a top-10 finisher at the 1992 Winter Olympics in Albertville, France, where speed skiing was a demonstration sport. To elevate the acceptance of the sport, he worked with Swix to perfect wax performance and with the International Ski Federation (FIS) to improve safety. Since retiring from speed skiing competition, Mueller remains one of the most colorful characters in Breckenridge.
Kingsbury ‘Pitch’ Pitcher, pioneer
Pitcher and his family acquired property and moved to Aspen in 1951, where he joined Friedl Pfeiffer and Fred Iselin as a ski instructor. He later became ski school supervisor and was one of the first certified instructors in the Rocky Mountain Ski Instructors Association. In 1957, Pitcher was informally commissioned to look into a location for a major new ski resort in Colorado and was involved in the planning of Snowmass from 1958 to 1960. Pitcher acquired an interest in Buttermilk Mountain, which was later sold to Aspen Skiing Co., and he was involved in the planning and development of Arrowhead (now connected to Beaver Creek) and potential ski properties near Telluride. Pitcher purchased Wolf Creek in the late 1970s, an iconic Colorado resort still owned by the Pitcher family and operated today by one of Pitcher’s six children, Davey.
Johnny Spillane, athlete
Spillane is a four-time Olympian from Steamboat Springs who competed in Nordic combined. After being a successful junior cross-country racer and ski jumper, Spillane made his first U.S. Olympic Team in 1998, and although he didn’t medal at successive Winter Games in 1998, 2002 or 2006, Spillane gained invaluable experience that ultimately paid off in a big way. At the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics, Spillane competed in three events and won three silver medals, including the first ever American medal in the sport of Nordic combined and only the third American medal ever earned in any Nordic sport. Spillane announced his retirement on April 18, 2013.
About the museum
The Colorado Ski & Snowboard Museum Hall of Fame is located on the third level of the Vail Village parking structure adjacent to Vail Village Covered Bridge. A rich treasure trove of ski and snowboard history with themed galleries displaying artifacts, narratives and film documentaries, the museum is open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. For more information, call 970-476-1876 or visit http://www.skimuseum.net.