Vail Daily column: Ski Club Vail to honor alumni, leaders

Preparations began over a year ago for Ski & Snowboard Club Vail’s Alumni Reunion Weekend, which takes 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 induction.

The athlete category includes alumni from each of the decades of the club’s 52-year history who were members of the national team or NCAA All-Americans. The leader category recognizes volunteers, staff and community members who worked tirelessly to fulfill the mission of SSCV and provided inspiration and leadership to the kids.

I am proud to announce this year’s Hall of Fame and Wall of Excellence nominees in a two part series, starting with the Wall of Excellence nominees. I am also excited to share with you that there remains an ever-growing lineage of SSCV athletes and leaders who will share these walls and halls with this inaugural group in the years to come.

Athlete category

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Rudd Pyles-Knutzen: Rudd was among the first group of SSCV racers, transitioning to Vail in the early ’60s via A-Basin after Climax Ski Area closed. He was the first SSCV athlete named to the U.S. Ski Team A Team with a specialty in downhill followed by several more exciting years on Bob Beattie’s World Pro Skiing Tour.

Johnny Buxman: Johnny spent his entire youth racing career at SSCV. A slalom specialist, he challenged some of the top ski racers in the world, including Phil and Steve Mahre. Johnny earned U.S. Ski Team A Team status and many top World Cup finishes.

Jeff Gorsuch: Jeff grew up in Vail as a member of the SSCV program. He was named to the U.S. Ski Team, where he competed as a downhill specialist and was also a racer representative on the Ski Club Vail board. Jeff remains involved in the industry as an executive of Gorsuch Ltd. and serving on the Aspen Valley Ski Club board.

Chad Fleischer: Moving to the Vail Valley from Nebraska, Chad began ski racing at SSCV and rose to become a member of the U.S. Ski Team A Team. He competed in multiple Olympics and World Championships and earned a World Cup podium. Chad also served on the SSCV board and started the Chad Fleischer Ski & Tee Scholarship Fundraiser, which raised more than $100,000 for kids during the span of a decade.

Ali Levy: Ali was the first athlete to make the U.S. Freestyle team while training with SSCV. She competed on the Nor-Am and World Cup moguls tour for two years and went on to obtain her undergraduate degree from Middlebury College and master’s degree from BU. She currently lives and works in the Boston area.

Sylvan Ellefson: Sylvan started with SSCV as an alpine racer and added Nordic skiing to his repertoire while at Vail Mountain School. An All-American Nordic athlete at Bates College, Sylvan returned to SSCV’s Nordic Team after graduation and enjoyed multiple World Cup starts and a 2014 U.S. national championship. Recently retired after his Olympic team bid, Sylvan now heads the SSCV Nordic Future Stars program.

Leader category

Tom Pitcher: While living in Texas, Tom and his family took an unexpected ski vacation in Vail when there was no snow in Taos. Loving it, the family spent the next winter here and transitioned to full-time residents the following year. While a pilot for Delta Airlines, Tom’s children ski raced with SSCV and he and his wife, Kay, spent every free moment volunteering at the club. Whether helping build the clubhouse, being a race referee or serving as a trustee and board president, Tom’s leadership and commitment left a mark on SSCV.

Pete Seibert Jr.: As a SSCV athlete, parent, trustee and board president, Pete has not only experienced but contributed to the forward movement of the club in many ways over several generations. His wisdom and direction in facilitating the development of early season snowmaking at Golden Peak has had a huge impact on the club and the community.

Larry Benway: Among his many contributions to SSCV as a trustee and board president, Larry is responsible for the inception and implementation of the early form of SSCV Winter Tutorial. The addition of this academic component to the club has evolved to become today’s groundbreaking Vail Ski & Snowboard Academy

Mike Porter: The day to day leadership, innovation and professionalism that Mike brought to SSCV throughout most of the 1980s as executive director and head coach propelled the club to a new level, achieving great strides as an organization and in the development of highly successful national team and collegiate athletes.

Although the club has evolved a great deal during the past 52 years, our core values of character, courage and commitment have remained steadfast, as have the life-changing opportunities afforded to the youth of the Vail Valley. Please join us Feb. 6-8 to celebrate this legacy.

For details and a schedule of events, go to the “Alumni” tab at, email or call 970-790-5161. Stay tuned next week to hear about our Hall of Fame Nominees and more Alumni Reunion Weekend details.

Aldo Radamus is the executive director of Ski & Snowboard Club Vail. For more information, go to, email or call 970-790-5161.

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