Aspen ski pioneer Litchfield inducted into Ski Hall of Fame |

Aspen ski pioneer Litchfield inducted into Ski Hall of Fame

Brent Gardner-Smith
Aspen Times Staff Writer

John P. Litchfield, one of the pioneers of ski instruction and partying in Aspen, was recently inducted into the U.S. National Ski Hall of Fame.

Here are the reasons why, according to the Ski Hall of Fame:

“In 1945-46, Friedl Pfeifer, Percy Rideout and Johnny Litchfield, all 10th Mountain Division veterans, established Aspen’s first ski school as co-directors. No contracts, no guarantees. Pay was whatever revenue the ski school generated. Jean Litchfield, Johnny’s wife, was an associate.

“Aspen’s first chairlift opened unofficially on Dec. 14, 1946, but the official opening occurred on Jan. 11, 1947, with a parade of 10th Mountain Division veterans and a ride up to the almost finished Sun Deck. Johnny Litchfield presented a plaque to the Tenth’s veterans.

“Friedl Pfeifer, befriended by Averell Harriman, had also contracted to run the ski school at Sun Valley, a drive of some 800 miles. Aspen was barely paying its own way at the beginning and Sun Valley became Friedl’s bread and butter.

“Back in Aspen, Johnny Litchfield purchased Tim Gallagher’s small, run-down saloon, the Red Onion, and converted it into Aspen’s prime gathering spot.

“With Pfeifer so often gone to Sun Valley, Litchfield became interim, but unofficial, director of the ski school. When informed that Friedl Pfeifer actually owned the school and remained as official director, Litchfield resigned, eventually moving to Sun Valley himself and becoming director of that resort’s ski school.

“Johnny Litchfield was a prime-time player in the early days of Aspen’s development as a ski center and richly deserves induction into the U.S. National Ski Hall of Fame.”

The Hall of Fame also notes that Litchfield graduated from Dartmouth in 1939, where he was Dick Durrance’s roommate. Durrance would go on to become one of America’s best early racers and the first full-time general manager for the Aspen Skiing Corp.

Litchfield was also on the American A Team and the World Championship teams of 1937 and a member of the U.S. Olympic jumping team of 1940.

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