Yvan Tache, Aspen ski legend, town’s first golf pro, dies
Special to the Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
Yvan Pierre Tache passed away peacefully, at his home in Carbondale on Oct. 11 while he was surrounded by his loving wife and five children. He was 86 years old.
Born April 16, 1925, in the village of St. Jovite, in Quebec’s Laurentian mountains, with nearby Mt. Tremblant rising into the sky, Yvan was one of seven children of Roland and Edna Tache. He grew up playing hockey and skiing, attended Laval University in Quebec City, was a member of the Royal Canadian Air Force during WWII, and began his ski teaching career instructing at Tremblant near his childhood home from 1944-1948.
Yvan was one of Canada’s pre-eminent ski racers in the late ’40s and early ’50s, competing in the FIS World Alpine Ski Championships at Aspen in 1950, taking third in the U.S. Nationals downhill and combined and fifth in Sun Valley’s famed Harriman Cup that year. He would win the prestigious Silver Belt in 1952, after finishing second and third the two previous years, both times behind his best friend and Quebecois “Gold Dust Twin” Yves Latreille.
Yvan married Marie Carter on July 5, 1952, in Sun Valley, Idaho, where he would teach skiing for the Sun Valley Ski School from 1949 through the ’50s, the first few years under his mentor and ski racing coach, the great Emile Allais. He would decamp for California, in 1952 to run a ski school, with Latreille, in Snow Valley in the Big Bear Lake area, but return to Sun Valley in 1953. He worked as greenskeeper for the SV Golf Club in the summers, working to become a PGA pro by serving an apprenticeship under U.S. Open Champion and Hall of Famer Tommy Bolt at the Knollwood Country Club in Los Angeles in the late ’50s, getting his PGA card in 1959.
In 1960, Stein Erikson invited Yvan to come teach under his direction at the Aspen Highlands Ski School. Yvan agreed, provided he was made supervisor and received head golf pro position at the soon-to-be-completed Aspen Golf Course. Stein went to bat for Yvan with Wally Mills, the designer and builder of the course, who agreed to Yvan’s demands. Yvan spent three years with Stein at Aspen Highlands before moving to Aspen Mountain and Snowmass. He was an Aspen Ski School supervisor for 31 years. Yvan retired from ski teaching in 1993, after 49 years of lacing (then buckling) his boots every winter day, never once, his children insist, taking even a Christmas Day off. He had a growing family to feed and holidays are “go” time for ski professionals.
As Aspen’s first-ever golf pro, Yvan ran the Aspen municipal course from 1961-1979, while Marie ran the restaurant and bar, and the kids picked range balls after school and helped in the clubhouse. He was a key figure in establishing golf in Aspen, founding the Junior Golf program that continues to flourish today. In 1984, he earned the status of Lifetime PGA Pro and in 2010 was honored by the PGA as one of a select group of 39 men to have been PGA professionals for more than 50 years. When Yvan retired as head pro in Aspen in 1979, he continued to teach, play and repair golf clubs well into his seventies.
Yvan had a pioneering spirit, coming to America from Quebec with minimal English but an abundance of charisma, an irrepressible sense of humor and a joie de vivre that will be remembered by all who were charmed, and disarmed, by his warm, friendly, fun-loving personality.
His longtime friend and Aspen Ski School instructor, Weems Westfeldt, described Yvan this way: “He was a prototype – handsome, dashing, foreign accent, jet black hair, shining eyes, open and friendly smile, conspiratorial laugh and a clean, elegant ‘how-does-he-make-it-look-so-easy?’ ski technique.
“Former colleagues remember that, even at full speed, Yvan sailed so smoothly that you imagined his class could be following safely and trustingly behind him. They also recall that his warm friendliness and happy outlook, in an era with more than a few prima donnas, almost overshadowed his ski racing accomplishments,” recalled Westfeldt.
A traditional Catholic funeral service and Mass will be held in Aspen Monday, Oct. 17, at 11 a.m. at St. Mary Catholic Church for family and close friends. All are welcome. Also, there will be a more casual celebration of Yvan’s life and spirit to be held at a later date; that event also is open to the public. Details to be announced.
Yvan is survived by the love of his life and wife of 59 years, Marie Carter Tache; adoring children Yvan Jr., Danielle Irons, Mark, Chris and Michael Tache; grandchildren Bruce Irons and Hunter Tache; great-grandchildren Kaimila Irons and Axel Irons; brothers Gaby and Bernard Tache; and sister Marcelle Vanderwald.
Yvan was preceded in death by his parents, Edna and Roland Tache; sister Mariette; brothers John and Leo; daughter Deborah Tache and grandson Andy Irons.
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