Colorado Ski & Snowboard Hall of Fame welcomes Class of 2016
Special to The Aspen Times
VAIL — The stars of Colorado’s ski and snowboard industry shone brightly on the evening of Oct. 1 as the state’s snow sports elite gathered in Vail to celebrate the Colorado Ski & Snowboard Hall of Fame’s Induction Gala and the class of 2016. More than 25 previous hall of fame inductees were on hand to welcome the six new members, along with a crowd of nearly 400 guests.
The newest members of the Hall of Fame include 10th Mountain Division veteran and Silver Star winner Hugh Evans of Boulder; Steamboat Springs’ Olympic and X Games snowboarding medalist Shannon Dunn-Downing; U.S. Nordic combined athlete and six-time Olympian Todd Lodwick of Steamboat Springs; the late Bob Craig, renowned alpinist, director of the Aspen Institute and founder of the Keystone Center; Charles Smith, a true pioneer in engaging Colorado’s minority ski community and former Ski & Snowboard Club Vail Executive Director Aldo Radamus.
In addition to the hall-of-fame inductions, the evening also featured the Annual Recognition Awards, which included Ann Eggers (Lifetime Achievement Award), the Hot Sulphur Springs Winter Sports Club (Top of the Hill Award), Lindsey Vonn (Competitor of the Year Award), the University of Colorado’s Mads Strom and the University of Denver’s Kristine Haugen (Collegiate Skiers of the Year Awards) and the University of Denver’s Jamie Stanton (Adaptive Athlete of the Year Award).
One of the overriding themes running throughout the course of the evening was the need to reinvest in the next generation of skiers and snowboarders. Hall of fame member Bob Beattie called on the assembled crowd to support the clubs in their area, both financially and philosophically, citing the work of the Aspen Ski Club, while Lodwick and Radamus provided examples of the importance of the ski clubs in their communities of Steamboat and Vail. In addition, Smith was honored for devoting the major part of his adult life focused on providing equipment, lift tickets and opportunities for inner-city Front Range minority children.
The evening also featured an eclectic collection of unique moments and stories, courtesy of the inductees.
Craig, who died in January 2015, was a modern Renaissance man and renowned mountain climber, blessed with the vision to become the chief operating officer of the Aspen Institute as well as co-founding the internationally famous Aspen Center for Physics.
Moving to Summit County in the mid-’70s, he was given the opportunity to launch the Keystone Policy Center, a collaborative problem-solving organization that initially focused on environmental regulatory issues. Prior to his retirement from the center in 1997, Craig was invited to join the board of the Summit Foundation.
“Being where there was skiing was such an important part of Bob’s life,” said his wife, Terry Craig. “Most of the tables here have people that skied with Bob or followed him, as I did. His joy of living in the mountains and being a part of the mountains that he shared encouraged all of us to be a part of that. We were very lucky to have him be a part of our lives.”
Soon to be 93, Evans trained during World War II at Camp Hale with the 10th Mountain Division before shipping out to Italy with his regiment in January 1945. During the assault on Riva Ridge and Mount Gorgolesco, his platoon sergeant was taken down by machine gun fire and died in Evans’ arms.
Enraged, Evans charged to the top of the mountain, single-handedly capturing two German machine gun nests and bringing his 15 prisoners back to camp with no bullets remaining in his gun. He entertained the hall-of-fame audience with a rousing rendition of a 10th Mountain Division song.
“I accept on behalf of my 10th Mountain Division buddies, many of whom are not with us today,” Evans said. “The 10th Mountain Division was known as the ‘Singing Division,’ so you’re going to be stuck with a song.”
Dunn-Downing was an early innovator in snowboarding, both as an athlete and a sport builder. She started snowboarding at an early age and went on to dominate the competition with two ISF World Halfpipe Championship titles, a FIS World Cup win and X Games halfpipe titles, culminating in winning the bronze medal in the first Olympic halfpipe event in Nagano, Japan, in 1998.
Dunn-Downing also has the distinction of having helped create the first women’s-specific snowboard with Tom Sims as well as co-creating the first women’s specific clothing brands, Prom and Tuesday.
“I just want to encourage the young and old to pursue their dreams and make the most of every opportunity because you never know how it can inspire others,” Dunn-Downing said. “To the young girls out there, you can do more than you can dream or imagine. When you do pursue your dreams and when you accomplish them, look for opportunities to encourage others. Everyone needs a little bit of a smile and a thumb’s up.”
Lodwick ranks as one of the most successful Nordic combined skiers this country has ever produced. During the course of his international career, initially spanning from 1993 to 2006, he participated in six World Championships, four Winter Olympics and 162 World Cup events, with a total of 28 World Cup podiums, including six wins.
He returned to competition in 2008, winning two gold medals the following winter at the World Championships in Liberec, Czech Republic. He captured his first Olympic medal with a silver in the team event in 2010 at the Vancouver games and, in recognition of his illustrious career, his teammates selected him to carry the U.S. flag at the opening ceremony of the 2014 games in Sochi, Russia.
“I was in the under part of where we walked out in the stadium in Sochi, and they handed me the flag and said ‘here you go’” Lodwick said. “I turned around and just put it in the air behind me so that the rest of the athletes that were there could see it. One of the coolest things that has ever happened to me was the chant of ‘USA’ that erupted. That’s the stuff that you guys don’t always get to see.”
A native of Texas, Smith moved to Denver for a summer job and never returned. He discovered skiing with a group of friends at Loveland in 1966 and immediately fell in love with the sport, although he noticed very few African-Americas at the resorts in the early years. Then, in 1972, he met Bryce Parks and Floyd Cole, who would go on to organize the Slippers-N-Sliders Ski Club, with a primary objective of promoting skiing in the minority community.
Through the Slippers-N-Sliders, Smith reached out to inner-city children who could not afford the clothing, equipment or ski passes and, through is fundraising activities and generous in-kind contributions from merchants, every child was properly clothed, equipped and funded. From 1974 to 1999, he served as program director for the Ski for Kids program that introduced 1,500 youngsters to the sport of skiing.
“Hello everyone, and thank you for that amazing introduction,” Smith said. “I am that Charles Smith and I approved this message. I grew up in Lubbock, Texas, but now call Colorado home. Boy, if they could see me in Lubbock now.”
Radamus has been a leader in the ski and snowboard competition arena for more than 30 years, holding key management roles in numerous governing bodies that oversee the sport of ski racing. As a ski coach, he served five tours in varying capacities with the U.S. Ski Team, most notably as head women’s slalom and giant slalom coach at the 1985 World Championships.
Under his leadership, Ski & Snowboard Club Vail entered into a partnership with Vail Resorts to build and operate the world’s leading early-season training venue at Golden Peak, with private funding responsible for the purchase of the state-of-the-art snowmaking and safety systems. Radamus also spearheaded the first dedicated public school snow sports academy in North America in Minturn.
“You can’t imagine how unlikely it is that I am here tonight,” Radamus said. “My parents weren’t skiers and my parents weren’t from America. They were refugees after the Second World War and repatriated in Argentina.
“Every year for 17 years, they applied for an immigration visa to come to the United States because every refugee’s dream is to become an American,” Radamus continued. “It was because of the sponsorship of Hubert Humphrey, who was then a senator from Minnesota, and my father’s trade and skill as a violin maker that we were able to emigrate as a family.
“You can only imagine the disappointment when, as a 15-year-old high school senior, destined for something great in life, I announced that I was going to postpone college to become a ski racer,” Radamus concluded. “While no longer with us, tonight I hope that they can rest a little easier.”
The Colorado Ski & Snowboard Hall of Fame is managed by the Colorado Ski & Snowboard Museum. For additional information on the Colorado & Snowboard Museum and Hall of Fame, visit http://www.skimuseum.net.
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