Meet the Colorado Snowsports Hall of Fame Class of 2019: Jake Hoeschler
Special to the Vail Daily
Editor’s note: The Colorado Snowsports Hall of Fame Induction Gala is one of the most important annual celebrations of the state’s snowsports industry and a unique opportunity to meet, mix and mingle with the men and women who have shaped the industry. Leading up to the event on Saturday, Oct. 26, the Colorado Snowsports Museum will profile the five members of the Class of 2019.
Jake Hoeschler revolutionized the ski retail industry as we know it today through his exclusive ski liability insurance program, which now includes millions of dollars of coverage.
Hoeschler grew up skiing in LaCrosse, Wisconsin, starting his ski racing career on the Junior National circuit up through college, where he skied for the University of Colorado under the legendary Bob Beattie as a walk-on. At CU, he went on to win the downhill at the national championships and be named an All-American.
Jake was selected to the U.S. Ski Team in 1964, racing on the U.S. and World Cup circuits while attending law school at the University of Denver. In 1971, he turned pro and represented Steamboat on the tour, as well as becoming executive vice president of the International Professional Ski Racers Association.
During the 1960s and ’70s, Jake promoted Colorado skiing through TV commercials, ski movies, ads and speaking engagements. He served as director of skiing at Winter Park from 1973 through 1977.
Throughout his racing career, it became clear to Jake that skier safety and general regulation within the industry were not a top priority across the sport. In the absence of standardized release wavers that protect against legitimate and more often, frivolous lawsuits, the ski shops were completely vulnerable.
Hoeschler had many friends in Colorado who owned shops and struggled daily in the midst of this unprotected industry. He decided that if there was a way to help them out, he would. In 1986, he put his law practice on hold, obtained a business insurance license and pursued a career in insurance and risk management.
In 1988, Hoeschler founded the National Ski Insurance Program in an effort to make skiing a safer sport, while also protecting the retailer from an onslaught of unsubstantiated insurance claims. The exclusive liability program started with Gorsuch Limited and Sports Stalker as its foundation.
Jake used his insurance and law background to bring together risk managers from Marker, Salomon and Tyrolia binding companies to implement the indemnification program that exists today. Much of this was accomplished with the help of Peter Rietz, a buddy from law school. This laid the foundation for a comprehensive ski liability insurance program.
The program has its own attorney, adjusters, claims handlers and expert witnesses. The shop personnel are trained and certified through a series of training videos, webinars, risk management manuals and certification testing. Each shop receives a booklet of proven snowsports specific release forms, crash packs and accident forms to help in the documentation of potential claims.
The program now provides liability insurance for almost every ski shop in Colorado and throughout the U.S. It is the largest exclusive insurance program for the ski and snowboard industry in the nation and is still growing. Many shop owners say they would not be in business today if it were not for Hoeschler’s program.
Tickets for the Colorado Snowsports Hall of Fame Induction Gala are on sale, with reserved individual tickets priced at $325 and tables of 10 at $3,750. A $250 general individual ticket is available but does not include seating preference. The gala takes place at the Vail Marriott Mountain Resort in Lionshead Village.
To purchase tickets or for additional information, visit snowsportsmuseum.org or call 970-476-1876. All proceeds from the gala benefit the Colorado Snowsports Museum.