Friday, February 3, 2012

Hall of Fame honors local ski legends

Hundreds turn out to share laughter and tears

Express Staff Writer

Former ski racer and coach Dick Dorworth greets Olympian Pete Patterson with a hug and a smile after Patterson was inducted into the Sun Valley Ski Hall of Fame. Photo by David N. Seelig

Sun Valley's illustrious alpine and Nordic ski history was celebrated Wednesday at Forest Service Park in Ketchum when the Sun Valley Ski and Heritage Museum inducted 10 new members into the Sun Valley Ski Hall of Fame.

Old-timers and new members of the ski community gathered to honor local legends, drink Norwegian glogg and reminisce.

The awards ceremony invoked many laughs and a few tears of appreciation from the inductees and their supporters.

Jannette Burr Johnson, a member of the U.S. Olympic Team in 1952, shared a tale of her misadventure when she was working as a double for actress Lucille Ball while filming a Hollywood production.

Johnson said she performed a stunt wearing Ball's red wig and wound up in surgery with a severely broken leg.

"I had an out-of-the-body experience, drifting over the surgery table and saw Desi Arnaz, comforting me," Johnson said.

Ntala Skinner, who was a member of the Olympic Biathlon Team in 1994 and 1998, said that after the intensity of training for international competition "real life was easy," thanking the positive influence of her parents and coaches.

Legendary coach and restaurateur Michel Rudigoz, who coached both the U.S. Women's Ski Team and the U.S. Men's Alpine Team, was inducted along with his former charge, local ski racer and world climbing and skiing guide Pete Patterson, who once raced with Andy Mill and Phil Mahre.

Former Scott USA sports-equipment designer Charley French was honored by The Elephant's Perch owner Bob Rosso for his extraordinary bump skiing and longstanding determination as a master's class cross-country skiing competitor.

Annie and Bill Vanderbilt took honors for their contributions during the early days of Nordic skiing in the valley. Several people in the crowd recalled Annie's delicious brownies served at the valley's first Nordic ski center.

"In all the places we've lived and traveled, we've never been to a more welcoming and generous community," Bill Vanderbilt said.

Jenny Busdon, who was instrumental years ago in saving Galena Lodge and the Nordic trails, accepted the honor by recalling her father, who won an award for community service from the royal family of England.

"He always told me if you find a community you love, find a way to give back. I think he would be proud of me today," Busdon said.

Ski legend Dick Durrance was honored posthumously for winning many prizes in the 1920s and '30s, including the Harriman Cup three times.

Warren Miller was inducted in absentia for his inspiring and humorous ski films and books promoting the sport.

Ski Hall of Fame organizer Megan Murphy directed staff to take photographs of the crowd of about 200 to send to Miller as a gift.

Former Sun Valley Ski School Director and bike racer Hans Muehlegger was the last honoree to speak at Wednesday's event.

He thanked the many people who have made the ski community what it is today, and extolled the virtues of getting teenagers "off the couch and away from drugs and alcohol" and out skiing on the miles of slopes and trails in the Wood River Valley.

"You will have something you can enjoy for the rest of your life," Muehlegger said.

Tony Evans:

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