Still cool after all these years
An icon for an Icon.
Aspen skiing icon Dick Durrance has been selected by Tecnica USA to promote its Icon series ski boots. Tecnica advertisements that are running in current editions of magazines like Ski and Skiing feature a classic 1937 photo of Durrance.
The photo shows Durrance really working the edges of his skis, tilting sideways at a 45 degree angle as he’s ripping down the slope, throwing a rooster tail of snow behind. It’s the kind of photo that suggests Durrance put the “extreme” into extreme skiing about six decades before that catch phrase caught on.
What makes the black-and-white photo really stand out is Durrance’s ski boots. Tecnica used computer technology to adorn Dick with an orange pair of Icon series ski boots.
Leslie Baker-Brown, marketing director of Tecnica USA, said staffers brainstormed last year on who would be fitting to promote the boots. Durrance was among those selected because he was, as the ads say, “America’s first great ski racer.”
She believes Durrance still has high name recognition among skiers young and old.
“I think if they’re familiar with skiing and skiing history they know who he is,” she said. For those who don’t, “the photo shows great technique, especially for the equipment he had.”
Durrance realizes the photo is an attention grabber. “It’s had the hell used out of it,” he chuckled.
It’s been part of a Aspen Skiing Co. marketing campaign and used numerous times in ski publications.
The photo was taken by Steve Bradley while they were skiing on the Ball Glacier of Mount Cook. Durrance, Bradley and a couple of other friends took that summer off to travel in New Zealand and Australia.
By then, Durrance had already made a name for himself in ski racing. He was a four-time national champion at Dartmouth and, according to the book “Aspen Skiing, The First Fifty Years,” he was “the only Yankee ever to beat the Europeans on their own turf.”
Durrance took time off from his studies in 1936 to participate in the Winter Olympics in Garmisch, Germany. He placed eighth in the slalom and 10th in the downhill.
He’s modest about the label of America’s first great ski racer.
“There weren’t many racers then,” he said. “We were just beginning.”
Durrance, 84, went on to make numerous contributions to skiing in Aspen. He put Aspen on the international skiing map when he brought the World Championships here in 1950.
Durrance said Tecnica representatives called him out of the blue one day and offered $3,000 to use his classic 1937 photo in their ad campaign.
“I was surprised. It was really nice of them to do it,” he said.
He isn’t the only Aspen icon that will be used in the Icon ads. Baker-Brown said a black-and-white photo of native daughter Kate McBride participating in the 24 Hours of Aspen endurance race will start appearing in ski publications beginning with the October edition of Skiing.
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International visitors have traditionally accounted for 10 to 20 percent of Aspen Skiing Co.’s skier visits in recent past seasons. Travel fears and restrictions tied to the coronavirus are expected to wipe out most of that market for 2020-21.