Aspen skiing pioneer headed to Hall of Fame
July 22, 2005
D.R.C. Brown, who played a pivotal role in transforming the Aspen Skiing Corp. into a national powerhouse, has apparently been pegged for induction into the U.S. National Ski Hall of Fame.A spokesman for the Hall of Fame declined to discuss Brown’s selection Friday; a formal announcement regarding all of the hall’s inductees this year will be made in September, he said.The Aspen Times learned that Brown has been named to the Ski Hall of Fame after a board member from the U.S. National Ski Museum, which is affiliated with the Hall of Fame, called seeking biographical information.
Brown was one of the original investors in the fledgling company that erected the first chairlifts on Aspen Mountain in 1946. And the effort would have been impossible had Brown not leased the company hundreds of acres of patented mining claims his family had acquired on the mountain.When asked if he invested because he saw the potential of recreational skiing after World War II, Brown told The Aspen Times in an interview last year, “I was just tired of walking up the hill to ski.”Brown formally took the helm of the Aspen Skiing Corp. in 1957, commuting from Carbondale, where he and his wife, Ruth, raised five children on their ranch.
During his 22 years as president, he transformed the somewhat anemic company into one of the busiest and best-known ski resorts in North America. He supervised 25 employees when he assumed command. There were 1,200 by the time he left.During Brown’s tenure the Aspen Skiing Corp. fully developed Aspen Mountain, bought and expanded Buttermilk and developed Snowmass Ski Area from scratch. He also led the corporation through some tumultuous times, including the unionization and strike by ski patrollers, local protests about the cost of ski passes and a lawsuit filed by Aspen Highlands developer and owner Whip Jones, which the Skiing Corp. lost.
Brown will join other Aspenites who have gained recognition at the National Hall of Fame, located in Ispeming, Mich.In 2002, Dr. Robert Oden was inducted for his contribution to sports medicine, as was Johnny Litchfield, former owner of The Red Onion.