Vail Daily column: Ski Club Vail honors Schleper, Browns
This is the second of a two part column on Ski & Snowboard Club Vail’s Alumni Reunion Weekend, a community-wide celebration taking place Feb. 6-8, during the 2015 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships. The highlight of the weekend is Ski & Snowboard Club Vail’s first Hall of Fame and Wall of Excellence inductions. We hope you can join us.
Last week we highlighted our Wall of Excellence nominees, and this week we want to introduce you to our Hall of Fame nominees: Sarah Schleper along with Vi and Byron Brown.
Sarah Schleper is as home-grown an Ski & Snowboard Club Vail athlete as they get. She started lapping Vail Mountain from a very young age under the watchful eye of the lift attendants. Joining Ski & Snowboard Club Vail in the early 1990s, success came at a very young age for Sarah, achieving goals that every J3 racer (now U16) in her era dreamed of by qualifying for and winning the Whistler Cup and taking second in Topolino, international competitions for the most accomplished of ski racers her age.
By her first year as a J2 (16 years of age) Sarah was invited by the U.S. Ski Team to participate in camps and projects, enjoying a mixture of Ski & Snowboard Club Vail and national team training. She was selected as a full member of the U.S. Ski Team as a second year J2, continuing to train with Ski & Snowboard Club Vail whenever she was able to return to Vail.
Sarah went on to enjoy a career filled with many World Cup starts and three World Cup podiums, including one World Cup slalom win in Lenzerheide, Switzerland, in 2005. In doing so, Sarah became the first Vail athlete to win an Alpine World Cup. She was also a seven-time U.S. national champion including giant slalom, slalom and super combined wins.
Sarah is a four-time Olympian representing the U.S. with a 10th place career best finish in Torino, Italy, having returned to the sport after her first child.
Sarah is entering another exciting phase of her ski racing career, returning to the sport after her second child, with dual citizenship in hand to represent Mexico in the 2015 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships.
Sarah is passionate about sharing her love for ski racing with young girls through her coaching, inspiring them to pursue their goals and dreams and be the best they can be.
Her great passion is lapping with her 7-year-old son in Ski & Snowboard Club Vail’s Alpine Bank Get in the Gates Recreational Alpine Racing Program. Should his passion carry him in the direction of ski racing she will support him in doing that, too. She is a firm believer that people, including her own children, need to set their own goals, because it is hard to become something if it is not what you want to be.
Vi and Byron Brown
Moving to Vail in 1964 to pursue the opportunities the new resort community had to offer, Vi and Byron Brown and their children became involved in Ski Club Vail in the early years. Vi and Byron were instrumental volunteers in many roles from the late 1960s through the late 1980s. So extraordinary were their efforts that Ski & Snowboard Club Vail’s Volunteer of the Year Award is named after the two of them.
Vi announced races at Golden Peak and served as a gatekeeper on many a cold day. Both Vi and Byron volunteered at Ski Club’s main fundraisers including the Halloween Party and Ski Swap. They were also involved in forming the local Buddy Werner ski league, a perfect introduction for young local skiers who wish to get started ski racing.
Byron did much to advance the sport of ski racing at the local, regional, national and international level. He ran races at Golden Peak setting up timing as well as managing the start. He became a US technical delegate and also served as the USSA Alpine Competition Committee Chair setting race schedules for the five-state region. Byron was involved with Vail Associates and the Vail Valley Foundation in bringing the first World Cups to Vail and was a fixture at the start of World Cups and World Championships in Vail and Beaver Creek for many years. Over the years Byron and Vi were instrumental in making ski races hosted by Ski Club Vail a model for the worldwide racing community.
With the support of fellow parents in seeking financing for this $80,000 initiative and a large number of volunteers on hand from every building trade, Byron oversaw construction of Ski Club Vail’s initial one-story clubhouse on land donated by Vail Associates at Golden Peak in 1977.
Vi and Byron not only rolled up their sleeves to meet the day-to-day volunteer needs of the club but each also each served in leadership roles as trustees and board chairs.
They opened up their homes to visiting racers, both short and long term, enriching the Ski Club Vail experience even further for their family and the community. There is hardly a racer who visited Vail in the ’60s, ’70s or ’80s who didn’t visit or stay at the “Brown Palace”.
Vi and Byron are past recipients of Ski & Snowboard Club Vail’s Zella Gorsuch Memorial Award along with a number of community based awards for their tireless efforts in serving Ski Club Vail and the broader community, always focused on making Vail a great place for people to live and raise their children.
We invite the community to join Ski & Snowboard Club Vail for Alumni Reunion Weekend along with the Hall of Fame and Wall of Excellence celebration Feb. 7 at the Four Seasons Vail. Advance ticket sales only. For details and a schedule of events go to the “alumni” tab at http://www.skiclub vail.org, email sschmidt@skiclub vail.org or call 970-790-5161.