History: Race area named for ski hero
Vladimir “Spider” Sabich Jr., the namesake of the Spider Sabich Race Arena in Snowmass, made his home in the area during his late racing career. His birthday is this month, and he would have celebrated 69 years. Legend has it he gained his nickname from his father due to his long limbs as a premature baby. Those limbs took him on to a prosperous racing career, starting with a scholarship to the University of Colorado Ski Team and then on to the U.S. Ski Team, with which he competed in the 1968 Winter Olympics. He spent two years on the World Cup circuit before turning professional and becoming the lead money winner in 1971-72. He continued to compete into 1976, although a back injury in the last race of the 1973 season at Aspen Highlands against Jean-Claude Killy limited his success. Unfortunately, Sabich may be best remembered by his tragic death more than his skiing. In March 1976, after skiing and preparing for a shower, he was shot by his partner Claudine Longet in his home, dying on the way to the hospital. The very high-profile incident and trial led to a final conviction of criminally negligent homicide, a misdemeanor, for which Longet served a total of 30 days in jail.