With new inductees, ski hall of fame points ’em in right direction
It’s Dawson time. And high time, at that.Local ski pioneers Lou Dawson and Ed Lucks will be among the five inductees this year to the Colorado Ski & Snowboard Hall of Fame. Their admittance – Dawson was nominated last year but did not make the cut the first time around – is well deserved and speaks loudly for both their achievements and the museum’s direction.First, the achievements of homeboys Dawson and Lucks. Each is a pioneer in his own right. Lucks moved to the Aspen area in 1969 and soon after started the resort’s adaptive skiing program. He could often be seen on the slopes wearing a blindfold or skiing on one leg in his quest to constantly improve the methods used to teach skiers with severe physical disabilities. He also played an important role in developing and modifying gear to improve disabled skiers’ experience.Dawson is something of an accidental pioneer. He climbed and skied down his first 14,000-foot peak, Castle Peak outside Aspen, in 1978. Over the next 13 years he continued to climb up and carve down Colorado’s tallest peaks, managing to make turns from the highest possible point on all the state’s 54 14,000-foot peaks. (To be just as exacting as Dawson is, that high point, owing to unskiable blocks or cliffs, was the true summit on all but four peaks). Fifteen years later, his accomplishment is still unmatched.The hall of fame’s decision last year to pass up Dawson was a bit of a surprise to local mountaineers, as they understood just how difficult it is to ascend snowy peaks carrying a pair of skis, then strap them on and make turns down some of the gnarliest terrain imaginable.The resulting outcry was probably good for the hall of fame, because it forced the administration to look again at backcountry skiing, which is becoming a bigger and bigger part of the skiing world.Skiing and snowboarding are intimately tied to Colorado’s culture. A fair number of Coloradans define themselves through winter sports. And for many mountain towns, the ski and snowboard season is the engine behind their economic well-being.Many of the inductees up to this year have played critical roles in the development of the state’s alpine resort industry, developing ski areas, manufacturing equipment, running ski schools. It’s refreshing to see that two of the newest members of that elite crew took skiing and snowboarding in directions few could have imagined 35 or 40 years ago.By inducting a pair of pioneers like Lucks and Dawson, the hall of fame has moved in the right direction.Now what about some jibbers, halfpipe designers and cliff-huckers?
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