VAIL — The highest award in Colorado snowsports was bestowed upon five people at Vail’s Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater on Sunday at the Colorado Snowsports Museum Hall of Fame celebration.
Four of the recipients — Aspen’s Dave Stapleton Jr., Scott Rawles, James Niehues and Ellen Post Foster — were on-hand to accept the recognition and give speeches. Pam Conklin Pettee sent a representative on her behalf to give a speech.
In attendance were past Hall of Fame inductees including Billy Kidd and Chris Anthony, along with Aspen’s Chris Davenport, who emceed the event.
Showcasing the new public venue for the event — in years past it was held as a private gala — Davenport asked how many attendees had never attended Colorado Snowsports Museum Hall of Fame induction ceremony. Many in the crowd raised their hands.
In the run-up to the ceremony, the fundraising segment of the event saw more than $50,000 donated on the spot by guests in attendance.
Dave Stapleton Jr. or “Stapes,” as Davenport called him, was the first to be inducted.
In accepting the honor, Stapleton said he wished his father and Vail pioneer Dave Gorsuch could have been been there to enjoy the honor with him. Stapleton’s father died in December; Gorsuch died in June.
“It’s such an honor to have my name next to some of the greatest ski names of all time including Heuga, Kidd, Barrows, Marolt, Gorsuch, Mill, Tache, Brown, Vanatta, Fleischer, Tschudi, Kashiwa, and so many more,” Stapleton said.
Davenport, in introducing Niehues, said he had Niehues’ paintings of ski maps taped to his bedroom wall as a kid.
Niehues said knowing that his work has been reproduced millions of times and taped to bedroom walls of people like Davenport gives him much satisfaction.
“It’s been a very gratifying career,” he said. “I did not succeed alone, I greatly owe to many others along the way, but mostly to my wonderful, beautiful, very capable partner and my wife Dora.”
Pam Conklin Pettee’s speech mentioned Billy Mahoney, who was the first person from Telluride to be inducted into the Colorado Snowsports Museum Hall of Fame in 1997. She also mentioned Billy Kidd and Jimmie Heuga as the first men to win medals for skiing at the 1964 Olympics, which she attended, but was careful to include a note which reminded the audience that American women won ski medals in the Olympics in 1948, 1952 and 1960.
She also mentioned working with Vail locals with Paul Testwuide and Chupa Nelson, whom she said were the heroes of the 1976 gondola crash in Vail.
Ellen Post Foster told the crowd that she began learning to be a ski instructor at age 12 when the popularity of freestyle skiing transformed the Jiminy Peak junior demonstration team, of which she was a member, into a freestyle team and led her into the world of freestyle competition.
“But after my last competition, and inspired by my junior team experience, I resumed my mission to become a member of the Profession Ski Instructors of America National Demonstration Team,” she said. “That accomplishment set the course of my life work.”
Scott Rawles wrapped up the evening with some memories from his time spent competing in and coaching moguls, shouting out Vail locals Mike and Emily Kloser, who ran the World Professional Mogul Tour in the 1980s, and their daughter Heidi Kloser, who Rawles coached on the U.S. Ski Team.
Rawles thanked Alan Henceroth with Arapahoe Basin for the nomination.
“Who else sells fewer season passes to their ski area so they don’t have to stand in lift lines?” Rawles said of Henceroth.