Allyn Harvey: An influence from afar
I grew up with Max Marolt, and my life continues to be affected by him. But the funny thing is, I never met him.
Max, a third-generation Aspenite, was born here in the 1930s. He grew up to become Aspen’s first Olympian, racing in the 1960 Winter Olympics. Last weekend he was inducted into the Colorado Ski Hall of Fame.
Max lived here his entire life. He raised a family on Cemetery Lane. He earned his living, at least for awhile, as an equipment rep, convincing ski shops and other outlets around the West to sell things like Look bindings and Nordica ski boots. He could also be found daily on Aspen Mountain, cutting his way down the Ridge of Bell, or at Aspen Highlands, on Steeplechase.
But, like I said, I never saw Max do any of that stuff.
Max showed up in my life when I was in the third grade. I think I was 9 that year. My classes were in what is now quaintly referred to as the Red Brick. Back then it was called the upper elementary school and was filled with third- and fourth-graders.
Two of those third-graders were twins Mike and Steve Marolt. The fact that each, in his own right, was bigger and more confident than most of the other third-graders made them intimidating. That there were two of them meant they were truly a force, especially when the teachers weren’t around.
I have no doubt that it was Max’s confidence that made the twins so sure they were right about things. And one thing they were sure of was that if you didn’t wear Puma tennis shoes – their dad’s brand – you were a big, fat wussy. So I bought a pair of Pumas from Ozzie’s.
Another thing Steve and Mike were sure of was the superiority of Nordica ski boots, especially Banana boots. The boots were bright yellow, just like a banana skin. And whoever wore them or any other Nordica equipment – their dad’s brand – was cool.
I remember having a big poster of bright yellow boots surrounded by bananas on the wall of my room in the second-most prominent spot over my bed. For one season, they were the buzz at school. I remember really wanting a pair and admiring them daily in the picture on my wall but never realizing my dream.
But at least I had the poster. Mike and Steve used to give away a lot of stickers and posters and T-shirts of the equipment Max sold. I don’t remember if they gave me the poster, but the Marolts were the reason it was placed so prominently next to my poster of Farrah Fawcett-Majors.
As we grew older, Max and Mike and Steve became less influential in my life. I moved away to college. My focus turned to the Seattle club scene during the early years of grunge. My life in the city, and later on a small island in the middle of Puget Sound, took me far from here and from Max.
But there he was again in 1998, just as soon as I moved back to the valley.
My second contact with Max came through the persona of County Commissioner Mick Ireland, whom I met when I was covering the commissioners as a reporter.
Mick has been elected to the BOCC three times, in 1994, 1998 and 2002. But the only one he ever really talks to me about is his 1994 besting of Max Marolt. Sometimes Mick brings that distant election up out of the blue and emphasizes to me how his positions are different from Max Marolt’s. He doesn’t talk much about his opponents from subsequent elections.
I think that’s because Max had substance and staying power.
Max has the kind of substance that made his family so proud at the Hall of Fame induction ceremony last weekend and the kind of staying power that makes me still want a pair of Nordica Bananas.
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