Vail’s ski race ‘genius’ remembered |

Vail’s ski race ‘genius’ remembered

Melanie Wong
Vail, CO Colorado
Special to the Vail DailyDan Conway helped run the World Cup races in Vail and the American Ski Classic

VAIL, Colorado ” Friends and family of Eagle-Vail resident Daniel Conway will gather Thursday night to honor a man many remember as an integral part of the Vail ski racing community, an avid athlete and a devoted father.

Conway died suddenly on May 21, leaving behind his two daughters, Keely, 16, and Danielle, 9. The Massachusetts native was 45.

“He was honestly the best dad, just an amazing father,” said family friend and neighbor Dana Gosnell. “My favorite memory is of him sitting with (his daughter) Dani on Eagle Drive selling lemonade. She’d make him sit out there for hours, but he would do anything for those girls.”

Conway worked as manager of racing and special events for Vail Resorts, helping run the World Cup races in Vail and acting as cheif-of-race for the American Ski Classic events.

“Dan was an integral and beloved member of our Vail Mountain family for 24 years,” said Chris Jarnot, senior vice president and chief operating officer of Vail Mountain. ” Our hearts are broken over his passing, and our thoughts and prayers are with his family for their loss.”

Those who worked with Conway in ski racing events said he was a whiz when it came to running a race, and that he was both knowledgeable and resourceful when it came to dealing with any problems that arose.

“He was truly a brilliant guy who had an amazing knack for anything associated with holding a ski race, but especially when it came to the electronics and systems associated with timing and handicapping,” Jarnot said.

Vail Valley Foundation president Ceil Folz, who worked with Conway during Birds of Prey races, called Conway a “mini genius” who loved data and electronics and finding complicated solutions to tough problems on the hill.

“There was never a problem Dan couldn’t figure out ” we used to call him McGyver,” she said. “We used to work out of an old race building at Golden Peak. The thing was ancient and things were breaking down all the time. I remember once before the Ski Classic, the timing (electronics) went out. He’d have a roll of duct tape and a penny, patching things together, and seconds later we’d be racing.”

He had a head for facts, whether knowing the detailed history behind World War II bomber planes or recounting the season results of each Birds of Prey racer that hit the course, his friends said.

“We’d go watch the World Cups together, and as every racer went down, he’d tell me what they were doing right and wrong and how their seasons had gone,” said Folz. “We always put together a pool of how we thought the races would turn out ” he won the pool most times.”

Conway was a former ski racer himself, and was known as a great athlete who came in near the top at local snowshoe and trail running races.

“He was an amazing runner,” said Gosnell. “The doctor told him his legs were stronger than any professional athlete he’d ever seen, and he was really proud of that.”

People who knew him also said he was playful and funny, always ready to banter.

“Dan was the most mellow, cool guy ever,” Gosnell said. “He had these sparkly beautiful blue eyes, he was kind and patient and easy going. Nothing ever seemed to bother him.”

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