ASPEN - Throughout AVSC's 75-year history, volunteers have been instrumental in the club's success. Here are three past presidents who will be honored during Saturday's Winter Kick-Off Party at the new Elk Camp Restaurant:
• David Stapleton: Chief of course for World Cup races and the Winter Olympics. President of the Aspen Ski Club from 1972 to '75. Father to two national team members and an accomplished skier himself.
The Aspen native learned how to ski on a genuine pair of barrel staves. Tooling around his parents' yard in the West End, he later progressed to the Aspen Mountain rope tow, and eventually, the infamous boat tow. That kick-started a ski career that included a trip to junior nationals.
After serving in the Army, Stapleton returned home, married Sigrid Braun and started infusing his burgeoning family with the enthusiasm he had for the sport. Inspired by renowned coach Willy Schaeffler, he went on to learn the art of timing, refereeing and other technical aspects of racing that took him from New Zealand and Lake Placid, N.Y., to Whistler, B.C., and Calgary, Alberta, as a race official.
• Brooke Peterson: With no kids of his own in the club, it's fair to say that Judge Peterson's interest in AVSC is purely altruistic.
Ever hear the phrase, "No good deed goes unpunished?" Peterson was president of the club for 13 years during a challenging and transitional time when three separate entities were merging in order to create the dynamic organization of today.
"We wanted to build a top-to-bottom organization" that served everyone from beginners to national team members, he said. Peterson, a municipal judge, also worked hard to ensure that international-caliber ski racing stayed put in Aspen. He's married to author and entrepreneur Diane Tegmeyer.
• Dale Potvin: If there was ever someone "born to ski," it would be Potvin. His enthusiasm for making turns remains as pure as when he first arrived in Aspen in 1969.
Most Saturdays during the winter, Potvin leads a group of friends old and new as they explore the mountain playground while doing good for the kids at AVSC at the same time. Potvin and his wife, Sally, are firm believers that competition instilled their own children (now grown) with self-confidence, discipline and "a great perspective."
After serving as AVSC's president from 1995 to '97, Potvin started a ski group called Team Spider, which is directly or indirectly responsible for more than $1.25 million in fundraising efforts to date.
For more on Potvin, Peterson and Stapleton, check out the AVSC Winter Kick-Off Party on Dec. 1 from 4 to 7 p.m. at Elk Camp. Tickets are $50 for adults, $20 for kids. Go to www.teamavsc.org for more information.
With the first World Cup races of the season on U.S. soil now a happy memory, the focus shifts to the Aspen NorAm giant slaloms, which continue through Thursday.
Plenty of star power has decorated the events so far, including Austria's Marcel Hirscher, who won the giant slalom globe last season, and about a dozen of his World Cup colleagues. Hirscher, winner of Monday's race (as well as the same Aspen event in 2011), has to be considered a pre-event favorite for Sunday's Audi Birds of Prey GS at Beaver Creek.
Joining him in the NorAm field was AVSC's Devon Cardamone, whose skiing in Monday's giant slalom impressed his coaches. Starting with bib 96 and moving up to 64th was a huge accomplishment, according to alpine director Greg Needell.
"Devon did a really great job," Needell said. "There are 10 or 12 bonafide World Cup racers in there. It's a serious deal, and he did quite well."
Making the leap to this level of competition is not unlike a junior tennis player taking on Serena Williams in a tournament. Today and Thursday, AVSC's Amanda McDonald will see how she fares against a deep NorAm field.
At Vail, U16 racers Galena Wardle and Sky Kelsey competed in a pair of early-
season slaloms against a strong field that included some college athletes. Wardle, the daughter of two Snowmass ski professionals, was 11th Saturday and 13th Sunday.
Kelsey, winner of the overall title at the 2012 Rocky/Central Junior Nationals, took 18th Saturday.