Eric Smith’s ‘gentle’ spirit remembered

Jennifer Davoren
Aspen Times Staff Writer

Powder hounds in Snowmass Village have Eric Smith to thank for the snow that fell early Tuesday – according to popular opinion, anyway.

“We’ve got a lot of snowboarders running around the hill today who are pretty sure this storm was brought by Eric,” chuckled Weems Westfeldt, director of operations at the Ski and Snowboard School of Aspen.

Smith’s friends like to think they’re being watched from above – it makes his untimely passing a little easier to handle.

Smith, 37, died at his Snowmass Village home Monday from epitheliod sarcoma, a rare form of cancer. He had been diagnosed with the disease just five months ago.

“He just waged a ferocious battle – he’s one of the most courageous men I’ve ever met, and we miss him,” Westfeldt said.

Smith’s family has planned two memorial services this week to honor him.

The first, a service featuring a Mass and rosary, will take place at 5 p.m. Thursday at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Aspen. The second, organized a bit closer to Smith’s stomping grounds at the Snowmass Ski Area, will take place at 5 p.m. Friday at the Bedford Ballroom on the Snowmass Village mall.

The 14-year valley resident was perhaps best known as a snowboard trainer for the Aspen Skiing Co.

Skico CEO Pat O’Donnell knew Smith in two capacities – as a friend and teacher.

“He was a gentle guy and a superb athlete,” O’Donnell said. “I just know that, when I rode, he was my mentor. He taught me almost everything I know.”

Smith fulfilled both those roles for quite a few aspiring boarders, O’Donnell said.

“Everybody wanted to ride like Eric and wanted to look like Eric,” he said. “His passion for what he did just rubbed off on anybody. Little kids worshiped him. I think that’s why so many people are touched now [by his death].”

“Eric was just an enormous hero of mine. He was my snowboard teacher-master,” Westfeldt agreed.

O’Donnell also described Smith as the type of person who “made people laugh on a regular basis, and lived life on his own terms.”

“I think he was a wonderful young man. He personified all the ethics and values and kindheartedness that all of us would like to arise to in life,” O’Donnell said.

Smith’s family want friends and colleagues to bring stories of their own to Thursday’s memorial service. Family members will collect stories and photos of Smith from mourners to create an album celebrating his life.

“Please bring written stories of what Eric means to you, his impact on your life, and other life-affirming experiences,” an announcement regarding the service reads.

In lieu of flowers, the Smith family asks that contributions be made to the Eric Smith Medical Fund at Alpine Bank.

[Jennifer Davoren’s e-mail address is]