2012 U.S. Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame inductee Tyler Palmer will receive the New England Ski Museum's eighth annual “Spirit of Skiing” award during the group's annual meeting and dinner Saturday, Nov. 2 at the Attitash Grand Summit Hotel in New Hampshire.
Palmer, 63, served as an alpine ski coach for the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation (SVSEF) for 11 years prior to his retirement in 2010. Suffering from the effects of Addison's disease, Palmer left Ketchum and returned to his native New Hampshire.
The Nov. 2 ceremony will be held in the hotel located at the base of Bear Peak at Attitash Mountain Resort in Bartlett, about 95 miles north of Manchester, N.H. The ski museum itself is located in Franconia, N.H. next to the Cannon Mountain Aerial Tramway in Franconia Notch State Park.
U.S. Ski Team alpine racer Palmer, brother of another national ski team racer Terry Palmer of Ketchum, skied on the World Cup circuit from 1969-72. In Jan. 1971 Tyler Palmer won a World Cup slalom at St. Moritz, Switz. It was the first-ever World Cup win for an American male in Europe.
During his career he had two World Cup victories, four podium finishes, and nine top-10s, all but one in slalom. A trail is named for Tyler Palmer at Waterville Valley, N.H.. It is called “And Tyler Too,” which is adjacent to his ski racing brother's trail, which is called “Terry's Trail.”
At the time of his retirement as a ski coach here, the SVSEF said that Tyler Palmer had been a cornerstone of the SVSEF because of his energy, focus and passion.
The SVSEF added in the retirement announcement three years ago that Palmer’s normally high energy level had flagged during the winter of 2009-10 and he had experienced back pain and fatigue. It resulted in a diagnosis of Addison's disease.
The prestigious New England Ski Museum award honors a figure from the sport of skiing who embodies the axiom originally voiced by Dartmouth and St. Lawrence ski coach Otto Schniebs—that skiing is not just a sport, but a way of life.
As a “Spirit of Skiing” honoree, Tyler Palmer will join such ski greats as Stein Eriksen, Tom Corcoran, Georg Capaul, Penny Pitou, Bernie Weichsel and Herbert Schneider.
In a recent interview reported upon in a ski museum newsletter, Tyler Palmer attributed a good deal of his success to his family, friends, fellow skiers and coaches over the years. He spoke particularly about the influence of 2009 Spirit of Skiing honoree Herbert Schneider.
“Herbert had a quiet demeanor...he had his finger on the pulse of everything in skiing, and being Hannes' son I think it probably came to him naturally....he was like the king of the sport, he handled it with such humility and respect, and he cherished it, and he taught me to cherish it too.”
Palmer's family moved to North Conway, N.H. about 1957. He and his brother skied all the local areas—Intervale, Black Mountain, Wildcat, and especially Cranmore, which hosted the junior program in which school children all skied for an afternoon each week.
His first race was at Black Mountain in Jackson. Tyler's younger brother Terry was heavier and faster for much of their youth, and Tyler credits his brother as a huge motivational force in his racing career, the ski museum said in its newsletter.
Austrian coaches Edi Mall and Putzi Frandl, who both taught at Cranmore for several years when Tyler and Terry were young, were also influential instructors for Tyler. As a ski team member, Bob Beattie, Billy Kidd, Spider Sabich, Billy Heuga and Bobby Cochran all helped Palmer with various aspects of his racing.
During his April 14, 2012 induction into the national ski shrine, Tyler Palmer said, “I want thank the men who helped me and let me become one of them: Spider Sabich, who taught me how to live my life to be able to win ski races and be myself; Jimmie Heuga, who schooled me on how to setup a day of ski racing, who organized my mind for me; and Billy Kidd, who I grew up idolizing and roomed with on my first trip to Europe and who had an infinite amount of patience and taught a scatter brained kid how important the mind can be in ski racing.
“Without these giants, I wouldn’t be here. What an awesome trio of teachers—I owe a great deal to all of them! And then there was Beats—Bob Beattie, who had meant so much to the generation before me and, even more, to my generation.”
A 1969 junior champion, New Hampshire's Tyler Palmer was a dominant racer on the newly formed World Cup ski racing tour in the 1970s.
Later, he was a five-time race winner on Beattie’s World Professional Ski Tour. A National Masters Champion several times over, Palmer was a coach for junior racers at Sun Valley until his retirement in 2010.
Following his stint with the U.S. Ski Team at the 1972 Winter Olympic Games in Sapporo, Japan, Palmer traveled with the pro race circuit until 1980, then served as a ski coach at Holderness and later Sun Valley.
Palmer has also reflected on the importance of his upbringing in the Mount Washington Valley and the racing success that his generation enjoyed, several decades after Olympians Brooks Dodge, Imogene Opton and Paula Kann emerged from the same milieu.
He said, “Looking back on it, the thing I’m most proud of is three of us from North Conway (Tyler, Terry and David Currier) made the 1972 Olympic team. On an eight-man team, that was huge.
“I’d also like to thank all the ski area operators who supported and encouraged us in the sport of ski racing that has meant so much to me.”
The event Nov. 2 is open to the public. Tickets for the dinner buffet are $55 prior to Oct. 1 and $65 thereafter, available by calling the ski museum at 603-823-7177. Visit skimuseum.org.