Champion Will to be inducted into Colorado Ski Hall of Fame
What American skier, who has won more medals and championships in domestic and international competition than any other, will be inducted into the Colorado Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame later this month?Tommy Moe? Phil Mahre? Bode Miller? Stumped?Sarah Will. She’s an Edwards resident who raced on the U.S Disabled Ski team and dominated competition for 15 years. Will is to be inducted Oct. 23 at a ceremony in Denver’s Tabor Center, along with ski pioneers Nelson Carmichael and Stein Erickson; Tage Pedersen, the longtime trainer for the U.S. Ski Team; and John Stevens, who worked his way from the trail crew to chief operating officer of Telluride.Will is the only disabled athlete to be inducted and retired from racing at 39, she’s also one of the youngest. She was nominated by Jimmie Heuga, one of the first two American skiers to win a medal in the Olympics. She will join 164 skiers and ski-industry notables inducted since 1976.”She’s definitely the most-decorated American skier of all time,” said friend and ski museum curator Justin Henderson. “Her consistency is just amazing.”Will’s winding road to skiing excellence started at age 4, when she first skied with her family at Vermont’s Pico Peak. She learned the need for speed as a youngster – it was the only way she could keep up with her four older siblings.At Vermont’s Green Mountain College, she skied in Division III races and graduated with a fine arts degree. Shortly after, Will injured her spinal cord in a skiing accident at Aspen Highlands in 1988 while spending a winter working in construction and being a “ski bum.”She was 25 and began mono-skiing a year later, after her brother, who visited Winter Park where handicapped skiing was pioneered, told her about disabled skiers.She watched some of the top disabled athletes in competition during the U.S. Nationals, and it inspired her to compete and pursue her dream of competing in the Olympics.”I saw them flying down the face at Winter Park,” she said. “They laid down the cleanest arcs. Right there, I knew that’s what I wanted to do.”That became what she calls her “second chance” at pursuing her dream of competing in the Olympics. Instead of using two skis, this time she used one.”It was the dream that nearly got away,” she said. By 1992 she was a member of the U.S. Disabled Ski Team, and she began to post impressive results and make plenty of visits to the awards podium.