Our valley lost a most beloved and respected member of our community early Monday morning, Feb. 24. Eric Smith was 37 years old. He was diagnosed in October 2002 with an extremely rare form of cancer, which he fought courageously, with integrity and dignity.
Eric lived in Snowmass Village for the past 14 years and was a loyal Aspen Skiing Co. employee. He started as a snowboard instructor and worked his way up to become snowboard training manager for all four mountains, and the driving force behind the snowboard school. His innovative ideas, technical knowledge and magical skills made him the center of gravity and the role model for all of the instructors – young and old.
It is very rare that one man could imprint his style on an entire industry. Everyone tries to emulate Eric’s style and grace when they ride.
Eric was born was born in Norfolk, Va., and grew up surfing in Virginia Beach. During a vacation to Aspen, Eric fell in love with snowboarding and the community he later impacted.
Eric moved to Aspen/Snowmass permanently 14 years ago to be close to his sister, Erica Groover. He spent his winters snowboarding and his summers in Dominical, Costa Rica, running Wild Waters Surf Camp – doing what he loved – teaching kids how to rip up the waves.
He excelled at every sport – snowboarding, surfing, mountain boarding, skateboarding – if it was a board – E was on it. Eric was born to be a teacher. His unending patience and passion for his sports shone through.
Eric and I [Sarah Smith] were married on June 7, 2002, on a beautiful beach in Maui, Hawaii. The waves peeled behind us as we said our vows and felt so blessed to have found each other and to be making such a beautiful commitment in front of our closest friends and family.
There was not a day that Eric didn’t wake up and state how much he loved every single aspect of his life. He loved every moment to the fullest and appreciated all the little things in life. He never took one moment for granted. E’s priorities were perfectly aligned.
Eric is survived by his loving wife, Sarah, his loyal sisters – Erica and Shane, his parents, Eric Sr. and Pat Smith, bother-in-law Sean Groover and 91-year-old grandfather – Pop Smith. But, truly, Eric is survived by this entire community and the most amazing circle of special friends who are our family as well.
Eric’s life force is so powerful that he will always be felt. We are all mourning the physical loss of Eric, but his spirit and soul are so pure and filled with brilliant light he will never be gone from any of our hearts. His beautiful face, radiant smile and empowering energy surround us at all times. Eric’s infectious sense of humor will keep a smile on all of our faces, forever.
Eric, we love you will all our hearts and souls. Your life example will always be the gold standard on which to measure our own. We know you are surfing the most perfect point break and riding champagne powder through the trees. Our hearts break from missing you and we can’t wait to see you in heaven. Forever in our hearts.
Mother Nature — and some unfortunate training injuries — completely changed the vibe around the women’s halfpipe skiing final on Saturday at X Games Aspen.