Colorado’s Ski & Snowboard Hall of Fame includes athletes, sport builders, pioneers and a president
In 1977, the Colorado Ski & Snowboard Museum Hall of Fame inducted its first class.
Among the Class of 1977 was George Cranmer, a native Coloradan who became the manager of Denver’s parks and recreation system in 1935, later bringing skiing to Winter Park and concerts to Red Rocks.
“Colorado has millions of dollars ready for taking. … I’m not referring to gold or silver,” he envisioned, “but our natural resources — an area for a wonderful winter playground.”
The Colorado Ski & Snowboard Museum, located in Vail Village, has been inducting men and women into its Hall of Fame each year since 1977, celebrating accomplishments and contributions to the ski and snowboard industry in the state.
On Saturday, Oct. 14, five more will join the list that includes former ski racers, sport builders, pioneers and even a president.
“The key to the Hall of Fame is it’s our opportunity to annually celebrate the ski and snowboard industry in the state of Colorado and the role the industry has played in the development and promotion of Colorado throughout the United States and the world,” said John Dakin, vice president of the Ski & Snowboard Museum, “because skiing and snowboarding is such a huge part of the recreation in this state.”
In 2015, Ski Country USA and Vail Resorts announced the findings of a comprehensive economic impact study of the state’s skiing and snowboarding industry, finding Colorado’s ski industry generates a $4.8 billion annual economic impact.
The study two years ago also found that in addition to the 500,000 Coloradans who hit the slopes during the 2013-14 season, more than 7 million skier visits were generated by skiers and snowboarders from around the U.S. and the world.
From flights to lodging to lift tickets and rentals, the ski industry is a large part of Colorado — and in some way or form, all of the Hall of Fame inductees have helped get the industry to where it is today.
“Each year is special because it provides the ability to honor more of the men and women that have built and shaped the ski industry in Colorado,” Dakin said.
Inductees at Saturday evening’s ceremony at the Vail Marriott will join the likes of Peter Seibert (Class of 1980) and Earl Eaton (Class of 1998), two of the men behind the founding of Vail; Billy Kidd (Class of 1986), the first American male alpine racer to win an Olympic medal; and Jimmie Heuga (Class of 1987), who moved to Vail in 1983 after 10 years with the U.S. Ski Team and later founded the Jimmie Heuga Center (now Can Do MS).
President Gerald R. Ford (Class of 2001) loved to ski at Vail and Beaver Creek and helped make the nation — and world — aware that Colorado was the place to ski. Many of the people riding up Strawberry Park Express at the Beav’ know they are passing the former president’s home (with the pool house in the back designed for Secret Service).
Ford helped bring two Alpine World Ski Championships to the state of Colorado, giving Colorado a chance to promote ski racing in this country by taking one of the sport’s main events and placing it in the U.S. twice — in a 10-year period.
He also served on the Vail Valley Foundation board for over 20 years. Along with his wife, Betty, the Fords played a large role in helping form the ski industry in Vail, and Colorado.
“The Hall of Fame really gives us the opportunity to recognize a lot of different people,” Dakin said.
For more information about the Colorado Ski & Snowboard Museum — undergoing a remodel and set to reopen in January — visit http://www.skimuseum.net.
THE CLASS OF 2017
◆ Diane Boyer
Born in Houston, Diane Boyer discovered her passion for skiing at age of 4 during trips to Vermont. She moved to Vail in 1977 and hasn’t looked back since.
A passionate skier and outdoor enthusiast, Boyer actively promotes skiing for women and families through her company, SKEA Ltd., and her involvement in SnowSports Industries America and the Colorado Ski & Snowboard Museum.
She also served on the SIA board of directors from 1998-2009 and was the first female chair of SIA from 2005-’07.
◆ Chris Davenport
Aspen’s Chris Davenport’s career encompasses every aspect of skiing, including becoming the first person to ski all 54 of Colorado’s 14,000-foot peaks in one year — adding another 46 13,000-foot peaks to the record in 2015.
He’s authored two coffee table books that celebrate Colorado’s mountains, “Ski the 14ers” and “Fifty Classic Ski Descents of North America.”
Davenport has skied and guided on six continents, helping a client summit Mount Everest in 2011 — skiing the rare descent of the Lhotse Face along the way.
Most recently, he was named one of ESPN’s 10 Greatest American Freeskiers of all time and was inducted into the U.S. Ski & Snowboard Hall of Fame in 2015.
◆ Walt Evans
For 46 years, Walt Evans was involved in Colorado and U.S. ski racing until his retirement from the Aspen Valley Ski Club in 2016.
He was a member of the Wyoming alpine ski team the won the NCAA title in 1968 before returning to Colorado to head up the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club’s alpine program, while also spending time as a rancher.
He would later become Steamboat’s first executive director before going on to work with the U.S. Ski Association.
◆ Chris Diamond
Beginning his ski industry career in 1972 in Vermont, Chris Diamond served as the president and COO of Steamboat from 1999 until retiring in 2015.
Transitioning from running a major ski area, he wrote a new book, “Ski Inc.,” providing a behind-the-scenes view of what it takes to manage a successful resort in a constantly changing industry.
◆ Dave Stapleton
A fifth-generation Coloradan, Dave Stapleton grew up in Aspen and spent much of his youth attending school, skiing and working on the family ranches. His career took him from athlete to coach and official, focusing on producing premier international competitions at Colorado resorts.
Both Stapleton and his wife, Sigrid, were actively involved with the Aspen Ski Club, Dave serving 20 years on the board of directors with three of them as president.
He was named the first World Cup race official from Aspen and served as either chief of race, chief of course, race chairman, TV coordinator, starter, timer or start/finish referee for every race in Aspen from 1968 to 1991.
He served as women’s downhill chief of course at the 1980 Lake Placid Olympics.
Stapleton’s work in the area of racer safety helped from many of the practices still used today.
Entertainment & Outdoors editor Ross Leonhart can be reached at 970-748-2984 and email@example.com. Follow him on Instagram at colorado_livin_on_the_hill.