The stars of Colorado’s ski and snowboard industry shone brightly on the evening of Oct. 14 as many of the state’s snowsports icons gathered in Vail to celebrate the Colorado Snowsports Hall of Fame’s Induction Gala and the Class of 2017. Over 20 current Hall of Fame inductees were on hand to welcome the five new members, along with a crowd of nearly 400 guests.
The newest inductees to the Hall of Fame include Aspen backcountry and ski mountaineering legend Chris Davenport, SKEA Ltd. owner, president and designer Diane Boyer of Vail; recently retired Steamboat Ski Resort president and author Chris Diamond; and former U.S. Ski & Snowboard National Competition Director Walt Evans. In addition, Aspen ski racing administrator and official Dave Stapleton was inducted into the Hall of Fame as the 2017 Pioneer selection.
In addition to the Hall of Fame inductions, the evening also featured the Hall of Fame’s Annual Recognition Awards, which included Jimmy Dunn (Lifetime Achievement Award), Adaptive Spirit and Steve Raymond (Top of the Hill Award), Mikaela Shiffrin (Competitor of the Year Award), the University of Colorado’s David Ketterer and Petra Hyncicova (Collegiate Skiers of the Year Awards) and Vail’s Thomas Walsh (Adaptive Athlete of the Year Award).
Legendary ski coach and 1986 Hall of Fame inductee Bob Beattie received special recognition, in conjunction with the introduction of all current Hall of Fame members on hand, for his significant contributions to the sport on numerous national and international levels. These achievements have included renowned success with the University of Colorado Ski Team, U.S. Ski Team, the creation of the World Pro Ski Tour, the co-creation of the World Cup circuit, NASTAR, ABC and ESPN expert ski commentary and his unwavering support for local ski club programs throughout Colorado.
The evening also featured an eclectic collection of unique moments and stories, courtesy of the inductees.
Dave Stapleton: Stapleton grew up in the Aspen that is familiar only to those who actually experienced it, long before it became a ski area. A fifth generation Coloradan, Stapleton had a passion for ski sport that evolved from his time as an athlete, coach and official, punctuating these efforts by focusing on producing premier international competitions at Colorado ski resorts. His work in the area of racer safety helped to form many of the practices that are in place today in the ski industry regarding risk management.
Stapleton recalled his early years of participating in the sport in Aspen. “I started skiing at the age of six on barrel staves and tire tubes,” explained Stapleton. “My mom and dad used to kid me all the time that I was born bow-legged and pigeon-toed. They put me on skis with the hope that my feet might straighten out. It didn’t work.”
Walt Evans: Evans was involved in Colorado and U.S. ski racing for 46 years until his retirement from the Aspen Valley Ski Club in 2016. In 1983, he went to work with the United States Ski Association as Alpine Program Director for the Rocky Mountain Division, becoming U.S. Ski & Snowboard National Competition Director in 1997. Walt returned to his Colorado roots in 2012, taking the position of Director of Excellence with the Aspen Valley Ski Club.
“I was 10 or 11 years old and living in Tabernash,” remembered Evans, “and my dad arranged for me to go to Durango for a Nordic race. I didn’t have good cross country equipment. My mom and dad were ranchers and we sort of scraped together any ski equipment that I had. So dad took a pair of the old Army surplus skis and he ripped them with his table saw to make some pretty nice cross country skis. Dad was really proud of them, but I wasn’t all that sure that they were going to work.”
Fortunately for Evans, Hall of Fame coach Adolph Kuss saw him inspecting the cross country course on his “new” skis and encouraged him to train and race on his “real” equipment. Walt never forgot this generous gift.
Chris Davenport: Chris Davenport’s career encompasses nearly every aspect of skiing and, in each one his participation has brought visibility to aspects of the sport that would grow into major segments. For most of the last decade, Chris ‘primary focus has been on backcountry skiing and ski mountaineering. In 2007, he became the first person to ski all 54 of Colorado’s 14,000-foot peaks in one year. His accomplishments have brought tremendous visibility to the sport that makes Colorado the desired destination for skiers from all over the world.
Davenport asked the audience to describe themselves in one word. “Some of you might say that you are a businessman or a physicist or a doctor,” offered Davenport. How many of you would say you’re a skier? I’ve been a lifelong skier and it’s been the thing that’s been the constant in my life since I was little. As a kid, 13 years old, I remember thinking to myself on the chairlift, if I could just ski every day of my life that would be incredible.”
Chris Diamond: Diamond began his ski industry career in 1972 at Killington, Vt., rising quickly through the ranks until moving to Steamboat in 1999 to lead that resort as President and COO. Diamond has led Steamboat through challenges and successes, parlaying one of the strongest brands in the destination industry into a new generation of year-round resorts. He retired in 2015 following decades of helping promote the industry, including serving as past chairman of the National Ski Areas Association, along with a similar role with Colorado Ski Country USA for six years.
Looking back on his career, Diamond thanked his family for being a part of the journey. “In the ski business, when you do what I do, you have more than one family,” said Diamond. “You have your blood and then you have the rest of the ski area; the employees that report to you, the folks at City Market, the season pass holders and all your constituents. It’s basically a huge extended family that subtracts materially from that first family. So, thanks to my first family for sticking with me.”
Diane Boyer: Boyer has been a mainstay in the ski industry since 1972, back in the days when the business was very much a “boys only” club. She has made a career of actively promoting skiing for women and families through her company SKEA Ltd., along with her involvement in SnowSports Industries America and the Colorado Snowsports Museum. Her Colorado and national industry influence are born of her tenure on the SIA board of directors (1998 – 2009), including serving as the first female chair of SIA. She was instrumental in convincing SIA to move the annual January trade show from Las Vegas to Denver in 2009.
Boyer ended the evening with some heartfelt words for those in the room and those that have come before. “This has been a road and a journey,” explained Boyer. “It doesn’t take a village, it takes an industry. Skiing is my life. Well, my family is my life and all of you are my life, but skiing is part of my fabric. Just like everyone else tonight, I am so honored to be part of this team. We are all here for a reason and that is because we love the mountains and we love skiing and everything that it brings to our family and friends.”
Release courtesy of the Colorado Snowsports Hall of Fame