Marolt lived ‘the perfect life’ |

Marolt lived ‘the perfect life’

When Max Marolt died while skiing in Argentina last month, a living icon became an instant legend.

Husband, father, brother and a phenomenal skier – he loved and was loved by his family, friends and community. As his brother Bill said, “He lived the perfect life.”

“He loved the mountains and he loved to ski,” Bill Marolt continued. “You couldn’t have gotten him out of this town with a team of horses.”

The magnitude of Max Marolt’s life was in full display Thursday, as hordes of family and friends from the valley and beyond attended his funeral service and reception at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Aspen.

“He was one of my heroes when I was growing up in Stowe, Vermont,” said Billy Kidd, who spent many nights sleeping on the Marolt family couch as he trained for the U.S. Ski Team in Aspen in the early 1960s. “He set a good example for a lot of us of how to ski fast and live a good life. He was a great guy – outstanding, quiet and gentle.”

Kidd, who won a silver in the slalom and a bronze in the alpine combined in the 1964 Olympic Games, credits a lot of his success to Marolt.

“We all used to ski and train together, us young guys would try to keep up with Max,” Kidd said. “Max was a really good ski coach. His idea of coaching young kids was to say ‘Follow me.'”

Max Marolt was born in Aspen in 1936 to Bill and Celia Marolt. His brothers Bud and Bill quickly became competitive skiers and were fixtures of the Aspen junior ski-racing team. In 1951, Max placed third at the National Junior Meet in Stowe, Vt. Three years later, he would qualify for the U.S. Ski Team. In 1960, Max competed in the Olympic Games in Squaw Valley, Calif., placing 15th overall in the downhill and giant slalom events.

For Max, skiing, and life, would only get better. He recently told his son Mike that he loved skiing more now than at any point in his life. Max will be inducted into the Colorado Ski Hall of Fame in October.

Max and his wife of 43 years, Betty, raised their four children – daughter Marlis, and sons Roger, Steve and Mike – in Aspen. The twins, Steve and Mike, recently returned from a summit attempt on Mount Everest.

In a tribute to his father, Roger Marolt wrote about the recent family celebration of his parents 43rd wedding anniversary.

“Max was as happy as anyone had ever seen him,” Roger wrote. “He told Betty he was proud of what they had accomplished together.”

One week later, Max died after suffering a heart attack on his final ski run of the day at Las Lenas ski resort in Argentina.

In 1995, he became a member of the Aspen City Council. In 1997, he ran for mayor, losing to John Bennett. He also served briefly in the 1970s as a Pitkin County commissioner, but resigned after suffering his first heart attack.

Longtime friend and downhill legend Moose Barrows said Max is one of the reasons he became a ski racer. Years later, Barrows would repay his hero by introducing him to skiing in South America.

“Since I’ve been 10 years old, Max has been teaching me everything he knows about skiing – which is a lot,” Barrows said. “He and Billy [Kidd] are the reasons I became a ski racer.”

Barrows remembered a recent trip to Portillo, Chile, in which a number of skiers were standing atop a ridge above an enormous field of untracked powder. Everybody was standing around talking about the line they were going to ski when Max just took off and effortlessly carved the entire slope from top to bottom.

“He was just great, a great skier,” Barrows said.

Kevin Cassidy, an Aspen local who knew Max for 40 years, remembers his gentle demeanor.

“He had this lilting tone of voice, it was melodic. You could be talking about the end of the world and [his voice] could calm you down. I’m going to miss his voice,” Cassidy said.

“‘One of a kind’ is the best way to describe Max,” said friend Ned Cochran, of Snowmass Village. “You always think a guy like Max is going to live forever.”

His son Roger wrote about skiing with his dad.

“I will miss him dearly now as I wait in the late winter afternoons for him to come flying around the corner at the bottom of Lift 1A to ride up with me for one last run. The shadows of Aspen Mountain will seem a bit longer now. But if heaven is anything it’s cracked up to be, you can bet that Max is taking a couple of runs today.

“I love you, Dad. Thanks for everything. Save some powder for the rest of us.”

Steve Benson’s e-mail address is

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