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Sunlight Mountain dedicates Buckmaster Lane

Kim Doose

Tom Cruise is good at it, Mel Gibson is shy about it, but Morris Buckmaster has mastered it.

When Sunlight Mountain renamed one of its ski runs to Buckmaster Lane in honor of the 84-year-old ski instructor on Feb. 17, there was one thing that everyone wanted to do.

Find out why all the women love Buck.

Buckmaster’s friends and colleagues hoped that in all the stories and tales that surround him, the secret would emerge.

And it did.

“Buck was quite the ladies man,” said Joe Simms, who is director of Sunlight’s education center.

Besides being a local ski legend, Buckmaster is a ski instructor, former army lieutenant colonel, photographer and faithful Presbyterian, which is plenty to keep him busy.

But after 30 years as a ski instructor at Sunlight, Buck isn’t ready to leave the slopes.

“Buckmaster is part of the history here of skiing,” said Sunlight Mountain general manager Tom Jankovsky.

While Buck has no plans to retire, a recent injury has sidelined him this year. “I haven’t been able to get a boot on,” he said.

But that doesn’t stop Lt. Col. Buckmaster. Not only does he still show up, he’s always on time and dressed in his favorite uniform ” his ski jacket ” and lately, he’s been seen shooting pictures for the resort.

He learned to ski in the late 1930s as a student at Glenwood Springs High School. “We kids used to get together and teach each other. We walked up Red Mountain and skied down.”

For 30 years Buck has been the most-requested private instructor in Sunlight’s history. At the dedication, when others were sitting around a table telling stories about him, he opened his wallet and showed a picture of his wife, the late Connie Shaw, who died in 2000.

He also likes to talk about his former ski students. “I’m proud of Cindy Lundin. She’s a beautiful skier,” he said. But it’s not just the women who appreciate Buck.

Years ago a family from Alabama was so grateful Buck taught their father how to ski they bought a condo at the Bretteleberg.

“The big thing about Buck is that he is always a professional,” said Peggy Swank.

“I thought I was going to be a ski bum,” remembers Buck. But it wasn’t quite like that.

One winter he taught 250 ski lessons and last month the Professional Ski Instructors of America gave him a prestigious award for his dedication to teaching others with patience and understanding.

And as far as skiing instruction goes, no one is out of the Buckmaster’s sight as Bob Wolfarth remembered the first thing Buck ever said to him.

“You were skiing too fast; you need a lesson!” he said. The two have been friends ever since, and it was just one of the many relationships Buckmaster built through skiing.

But if you want to know why women love a man then ask a smart woman, because she probably has a story about him.

When Tillie Fischer’s 75-year-old mother wanted to learn how to ski, Fischer hired Buckmaster.

“He was just so gentle and sweet to her,” she said.

While humbled by all the attention of a ski run, a city council proclamation and an award from PSIA, Buck finally revealed his secret weapon.

“I developed a technique that a lot of people like,” he said.

He held out his hands, which were soft and tender like a favorite baseball glove.

“I hold their hands to give them confidence,” he said.

“It’s hard for some people to learn. Everyone learns differently, especially in skiing, but when you say the right thing you see the spark in their eye and you know you’ve succeeded.”

And that’s why everyone, women especially, loves Buck. The Master.

Some of Buckmaster’s family, from left, stepson Cris Shaw, of Glenwood, is a builder; stepdaughter Robin Jackson, of Carbondale, works for State Farm Insurance, and Jesse “Action” Jackson, of Snowmass, works at Gene Taylor Sports.

From left, Facundo Lopez, of Glenwood, is a ski instructor at Sunlight Mountain; Carolyn O’Donnell is a ski instructor; and Danny Pagni, of Glenwood, owns Pagni Lawn Inc.

From left, Bill Swank, of Silt, is retired; Peggy Swank, of Silt, teaches part time at CMC; and Bob Brosky, who was visiting the Swanks, is a painter from Clearwater, Fla.

Norm Wheeler, left, of Rifle, is ski patrol director at Sunlight Mountain, and Joe Llewellyn, of Glenwood, is a member of the Sunlight Ski Patrol.

Tom Jankovsky, of Glenwood, left, is general manager of Sunlight Mountain Resort, and Bob Wolfarth, of Glenwood, is a ski instructor at Sunlight Mountain.

Ed Odell and Tillie Fischer of Glenwood are retired.

From left, Larry and Linda Eggers and Ron Perry, a retired teacher.

Jeff Tuttle, left, of Glenwood, is a surveyor and former ski school director at Sunlight, and Glenwood Springs city councilman Joe O’Donnell, of Glenwood, is an investor.


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