After attending last year’s Colorado Hall of Fame induction Gala as an inductee, I vowed to attend as many future ceremonies as possible as it is a truly fun event that bursts with mountain culture and skiing spirit. So my wife and I headed down to Denver yesterday and attended the shindig last evening.
This year’s crop of inductees is a good cross section of Colorado ski culture. Hometown favorite and one of the nominations I seconded is Mark Tache, an Aspen ski racer with quite a career under his belt. He was named to the U.S. ski team in 1978, and after a stellar career as an amateur racer went on to the pro circuit and did a good job there as well. Mostly, Mark remains an enthusiastic lover of skiing — he shines with delight whenever you get him on the subject of any mountain sport, be it rock climbing or sliding, and he’s spent years working with up-and-coming racer kids.
Story about Mark that was related at the event: Tache and racer kid are riding the lift up the mountain for a downhill race (the kind where you hit 80 mph). Mark plays around with his ski poles knocking snow off the lift towers onto the kid, who retaliates by reaching up with his own poles and dusting Mark. Only kid doesn’t have it quite down and gets his ski poles stuck in a sheeve. He’s getting lifted up out of the chair as his poles are lunched, so Mark grabs him around the waist so he doesn’t get thrown out of the chair. Kid is saved by Mark’s quick move, but the ski poles are pretzeled. Kid asks Mark what he’s going to, he needs to race. Mark says, “hey, it’s a downhill, you don’t need ski poles for that.” Cool guy, honor well deserved.
The other inductee I especially like is Henry Christian Hall, who was honored posthumously for his amazing career as a ski jumper. In a nutshell, Hall’s Norwegian father brought him up as a jumper and instilled a life-long love of the sport. Proof of love: After breaking the world record once (203 feet at Steamboat Springs, CO) Henry went off to fight in WWI, then returned to set another world record by flying 229.5 feet, again at Steamboat. For years he jumped in competitions, with his final flight off a jumping hill in 1972 at 79 years young. But according to his daughter at the Gala he was building jump structures in his yard and jibbing long after that (I didn’t ask if he listened to hiphop while doing so).
And here is the “kicker.” At 90 years old Henry was asked to attend a jumping event at Steamboat, not to compete but to lend his presence. His hearing was probably a bit iffy but his spirit was intact. How do we know? Henry brought his jumping skis fully expecting to launch himself of the big hill. He didn’t get to huck that day, but was allowed to schuss the outrun for honor and old time’s sake. Henry passed away in 1986. Just amazing. I hope I can ski a fourteener when I’m 79!
More info about these and the other inductees is available at the Colorado Ski Museum website.
Colorado weather: WS5 dumped more snow yesterday and last night, driving back from Denver through Front Range we can see white everywhere. Incredible.