Tage Pedersen, 1926-2016

Erica Robbie
The Aspen Times
The Aspen and skiing communities mourn the loss of former U.S. Ski Team trainer Tage Pedersen, who died at the age of 90 on Tuesday.
Courtesy photo |

Many in Aspen and within the ski industry are mourning the loss of Tage Pedersen, who died Tuesday at his home in Ashland, Oregon, at age 90.

Pedersen was inducted into the Aspen Hall of Fame in 1999, and the Colorado Ski Hall of Fame in 2004.

In an email to her sisters Wednesday, Pedersen’s eldest daughter, Sonja Oss, wrote:

“He gave everything he could to everyone that needed what he had to give. Mostly that was his friendship, subtle humor, time and his hands — those great big strong hands. He helped so many hurting people with those hands, and the kicker is, he did it voluntarily. If you needed him, he would help. End of story.”

World champion ski racer Billy Kidd said Wednesday that he wouldn’t be a World Cup Championships gold medalist without Pedersen, who was his U.S. Ski Team trainer.

At the 1970 FIS Alpine World Championships in Val Gardena, Italy, Kidd said his back was so injured he could not bend down to buckle his ski boots.

With no back braces on site, Kidd recalled that Pedersen drove hours through the Italian Dolomite Mountains to the closest city in search of one.

While Pedersen couldn’t find a back brace, he came across a women’s corset and raced back to Val Gardena with no time to spare.

After instructing Kidd to take the longest, hottest shower he could tolerate, Pedersen cinched the athlete into the female garment, which Kidd wore underneath his race suit upon winning his first gold medal at the World Championships – and the last race of his ski racing career.

“I am forever grateful for Tage Pedersen,” Kidd said. “He was the absolute best trainer and friend that an athlete could have.”

Born April 13, 1926, in Denmark, Pedersen and his wife, Pauline, immigrated to the U.S. with Sonja in 1956.

Pedersen lived in Aspen for most of his life, which he devoted to Pauline and their three daughters Sonja, Lorna and Karin, and to helping people both professionally and voluntarily.

A pioneer in the field of sports medicine for ski racing, Pedersen was a founding member of the Aspen Club Fitness and Sports Medicine Institute and of the Colorado Governor’s Council for Physical Fitness, according to his friends and family.

In addition to serving as the U.S. Ski Team’s trainer, Pedersen also developed and conducted dry-land training and conditioning programs for the Aspen Ski Club junior racing team.

“A very important part of my father’s legacy was his extensive volunteer work,” said Pedersen’s second-eldest daughter, Lorna.

“And he wouldn’t take any money — but he would take sweets,” she said.

Lorna said her father had a sweet tooth but her mother was a nutritionist, so people would bring cakes and cookies to him at the health center, where he worked at the time.

Pedersen also wouldn’t accept credit for his accomplishments and is remembered as an incredibly humble man.

A few other words that come to Sonja’s mind about her father are brave, honest, competent, gifted, caring, loving and selfless.

Pedersen and his wife moved to Mountain Meadows, a retirement community in Oregon that was modeled after an award-winning retirement community in Denmark, in 2001.

“Everybody loved my father,” Lorna said, noting that he touched the lives of many.

“Skiing is a very difficult sport, and the support that you get — whether it’s from your family, your friends, your coaches — is very important in a ski racers’ life,” Kidd said. “And that’s why Tage was so important to me.”