Clif Taylor, fondly known by his co-workers and family as “The Legend,” died peacefully on March 6 in Evergreen. He was 82 years old.
Clif was born with an identical twin, Mark, on Dec. 29,1922, in Providence, R.I. Older brother Richard and the twins joined the armed forces in 1943. Clif trained for the 10th Mountain Division at Camp Hale near Leadville in 1943. He fought in World War II with the 86th Mountain Infantry Regiment in the decisive battles at Riva Ridge and Mount Belvedere in the Northern Italian Apennines. He received the Purple Heart medal of honor in April 1945. Clif was deeply moved by his experiences in Italy and eventually took his family there to revisit many of the locations of his tour of duty.
After the war, Clif enrolled in Western State College in Gunnison, where he raced for the Western State Ski Team but unfortunately broke his leg just before the team won the championship in 1947-1948.
He went on to teach skiing with Klaus Obermeyer in Aspen in 1950. There he met and married Mary Pratt and moved to Brattleboro, Vt., where he developed GLM while working for the Brattleboro Reformer newspaper. He started Shortee Skis with the help of philanthropist Laurance Rockefeller.
He is survived by his three children, Mark, Louise and Laura; and grandchild Morgan Taylor, all of whom he taught to ski before they could walk (well, almost).
Clif was inducted into the National Ski Hall of Fame in 1979 for his contribution to the ski industry as inventor and champion of GLM (Graduated Length Method), which teaches direct parallel technique on short skis. Many other honors followed, including induction into the Colorado and Vermont Ski Hall of Fame (1999 and 2003).
Clif’s buoyant personality was infectious and he took great joy in making the art of skiing easy and fun for all ages to learn. Some of Taylor’s most distinguished students were Gary Cooper, Lowell Thomas, Art Linkletter, Jack Paar, Lorne Greene, Tim Conway, Ann Miller and Laurance Rockefeller.
After tirelessly promoting GLM at more than 300 ski schools around the world, Taylor returned to Colorado to work as a real estate broker for Intrawest at Copper Mountain from 1988-2004. There he made many lifelong friends by treating his real estate clients to a personal Clif Taylor Instant Ski Lesson: “Just bend your knees and turn your skis!” Clif was proud to be teaching skiing on the slopes until he turned 80.
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