Vail Daily column: The core of our ski town
Editor’s note: This column originally ran Oct. 9, 2015. This year’s Colorado Ski & Snowboard Hall of Fame Induction Gala is Saturday. This year’s inductees include former Ski & Snowboard Club Vail Executive Director Aldo Radamus. For more information, call 970-476-1876.
As dress-up affairs go, I like this one best.
We can debate cause, organization, setting, fare, creativity, fundraising success. And plenty of these gatherings are great.
But you can’t beat the Colorado Ski Hall of Fame induction night purely for the lore so central to why we are here.
I break the categories of inductees into standouts among the athletes, the thinkers and the doers.
The ski industry is big on the doers, the grunts, the backbone of our lifestyle. And of course, these lines are crossed easily. How many leaders began as lift ops and ski patrollers? Athletes who later introduced game-changing innovations? Chiefs who got off their butts and greeted the crowds in person? OK, anything to get out on the slopes. That’s not such tough duty, I guess.
That’s the other thing. I don’t know of an industry more invested in fun. Sure, providing it can be serious business. Certainly we have our share of tragedy springing directly from the dangers inherent in skiing. It’s one of those sports that get more dangerous the better you get at it.
The life selects for fun-loving people. Also, bright, fundamentally optimistic, outdoorsy, action-oriented, can-do types. My kind.
This is the essence of the ski town family we’ve all joined and helped shape. The folks you see on induction night. This is their element on nights like last Friday when Jack Eck, Ceil Folz, Bud Marolt, Kent Myers and Bob Singley joined the Hall.
They stepped into history with their inductions, too. Skiing as we know it still is a young sport. Many of the key resorts are only a half-century old, snowboarding isn’t much older than my 20-something kids, many of our pioneers are still around and contributing.
I am biased, naturally. But I’ll note here that Vail represents skiing’s golden age, built out of pure pluck, where a president made his second White House, America’s recurring host with Beaver Creek to alpine skiing’s world championships, home of the hall, keeper of the flame.
Outsiders can joke about the Bavarian building theme, the lack of a ruined mining town’s “authenticity,” the pedestrian-friendliness, the popularity clogging the freeway in from Denver, the sheer expense.
Fine. Vail takes its knocks and retains the crown. At least in my mind. In any case, it’s really about the people even more than the slopes themselves.
Just being able to chat with pioneers and members of the longtime families makes the night for me. Or 10th Mountain guys like Sandy Treat Jr., a Hall of Famer (2010) who raced into his mid-80s and whose flame still burns bright at 93.
The Brown family might be the epitome of what the Hall of Fame ethic is all about. Vi and Byron have seen it all from Vail’s beginning and been the ultimate doers. This includes their efforts with Ski & Snowboard Club Vail and 51 years of leading Community Rummage Sale and Auctions, which more than anything has taught generations of volunteers a little something about community. Son Mike is a Hall of Famer as athlete and coach, and wife Jen leads the Beaver Creek Resort Co., no small job.
Among this tribe runs a bit of mischief, too. I ended the night loosely conspiring with Tom Boyd, among the next gen royalty, on whom we might nominate for the, um, alternate Hall of Fame of characters. You know, folks we’d recommend to resounding “hell no’s” from the selection committee.
Not villains, mind you. I’m thinking more about the nonconformists, the mavericks, the pirate types who can’t keep the twinkle out of their eye or pretension in their heart.
Of course, plenty of these merry souls have found their way into the regular Hall, too, as I think about it. You gotta love a community like that.
Don Rogers, former Vail Daily publisher, is now publisher of the Union in Grass Valley, California.