The Sugarbush Wall of Fame
Tuesday, September 17, 2019
Written by Sam Loesch
As part of Sugarbush’s sixtieth-anniversary celebration, the resort started a Wall of Fame honoring those who have made a significant contribution to Sugarbush’s mission of cultivating a spirit of lifelong adventure and camaraderie in the community. Over the course of a few months, community members nominated a range of people for the honor, and four inaugural inductees—Darian Boyle, Dave Gould (who died in January 2019), Marit Tardy, and Wayne McCue—were selected by a review committee. They are a diverse group: a professional athlete, an exceptional ski instructor, a Sugarbush Day School veteran, and “Mr. Castlerock” himself. As part of the Wall of Fame installation, six founders were also recognized, for pioneering the development of Sugarbush: Damon and Sara Gadd, Jack Murphy, Lixi Fortna, Peter Estin, and John Roth. The founders and the 2019 inductees were announced and celebrated during a springtime ceremony led by Win Smith and John Egan. Each year, at least two new inductees will be added. The Wall of Fame, built and designed by community member and local business owner Sparky Potter, can be found in Gate House Lodge.
It may have started with racing her older brothers down the trails at Sugarbush during their weekly stays, but Darian Boyle began making a name for herself as a female athlete in high school in Montclair, New Jersey. Darian was the only girl to play on the boys’ lacrosse team, and also joined the boys’ ski team. About the novelty of this endeavor, Darian simply says, “Well, there was no girls’ team.” Darian chose to spend her senior year at the Green Mountain Valley School in Waitsfield learning to ski-race instead of her other option—to attend a performing arts academy. Years later, Boyle took on the moniker “Digger,” not only for digging headfirst into the snow or dirt (whether from a snowmobile, skis, or a dirt bike), but also for how she stood up after each fall and, as she says, “just got better.”
Darian competed in her first ski race in Aspen, Colorado, and immediately began to pick up sponsors and enter the world of extreme sports. She went on to finish second overall in the 1993 World Pro Mogul Tour, was champion in the 1998 U.S. Open Skiercross Championship, came in second in the 1999 X Games in skiercross, and won the 2000 World Extreme Sports Award for Best Female Freeskier. Darian says that being a sponsored athlete was the most fun she’s ever had, “pushing myself physically and mentally and traveling the world with my friends.” But despite these accomplishments and worldwide recognition, Darian says that her induction into the Sugarbush Wall of Fame is “the best award I have won in my entire life.”
After a crash in which Darian broke her neck in six places, she made the decision to retire from racing; however, she actively participates in the Sugarbush ski community. She is an instructor in the Bush Pilot program, and is regularly photographed for marketing initiatives, often in bright ski gear and with a wide smile on her face, skiing a tough line. While she was talking with me, Darian’s love for the sport was very clear, but even more apparent was her gratitude for all aspects of the culture and community at Sugarbush: for the dedication of ski patrol; for Mountain Operations working on the mountain every day to make even the toughest conditions skiable; and for Win, not only for handing out cookies at the lift, but also for inculcating the community that envelops two, sometimes three generations of families, and continues to attract new members.
After growing up spending weekends at Sugarbush, Darian says that “just waking up here” captures the essence of family and home. Now, Darian and her husband, Jeff, continue to wake up on winter mornings at Sugarbush, and their four-year-old daughter is the first one ready to get onto the mountain, specifically onto her newfound favorite trail, Waterfall.
Dave Gould received a posthumous induction and, not surprisingly, some of the most nominations of any of his peers (over 100 signatures). At the Wall of Fame ceremony, a friend of Dave and his wife Sandra’s, Sue Frechette, echoed Sugarbush’s slogan, “Be Better Here,” in saying that Dave “made us all better here.” During his time at Sugarbush, Dave filled many roles, including as a PSIA-certified ski instructor, a Blazer coach, a Black Diamond Club coach, a supervisor at the ski school, and a Sugarbush Golf Club employee in the summer.
Dave and Sandra met while they were both working in Massachusetts, and they began traveling to the Mad River Valley to ski on weekends and school vacations. The Gould-Cardosis rented a house with two other couples and eventually decided to buy a house, securing a home base and allowing Dave to teach full-time at Sugarbush. Sandra says that he loved teaching skiing so much that he didn’t care what level his student was or what the weather was; he went out every day excited to be on the mountain. “He didn’t care if it was a powder day and he was teaching a brand-new skier.” He simply loved being around people who were interested and enthusiastic to ski. In between lessons, Dave was known to ski “every little jug handle” and truly loved the terrain at Sugarbush. Sandra describes how he was always reading PSIA manuals and talking to other instructors in order to learn new techniques.
Dave’s curiosity and constant research into the ski industry rendered him a true student—and therefore a wonderful teacher. However, his cunning knowledge of the mountain and his sport wasn’t what made him an unequaled ski instructor. Dave’s clients say that he was the “world’s greatest conversationalist” and that he had the unusual ability to make them feel as though they were the center of attention. Because of these qualities and more, Dave was one of the most sought-after private instructors for both adults and children at the ski school.
Dave was seldom seen without a smile and will always be remembered as an eternally positive person, whose standing answer to “How are you?” was “All the better for you asking.”
In 1965, a family in her neighborhood outside of Oslo, Norway, asked Marit Tardy if she wanted to take a nanny job overseas in a town called Warren, Vermont. And, as she says, “the rest is history.”
She was adventurous and excited to see a new part of the world. The family she worked for in Warren ran the Sugarbush Inn, and Marit’s future husband, Philip, had a summer job there. The following year, the two became the Tardys, bought a house in North Fayston, and went on to have three children of their own.
In 1975, Marit began working at the Sugarbush Day School. (She had received a degree in delivery and infant development before she left Norway.) During this time at Sugarbush, there were a lot of Norwegian ski instructors, so Marit was able to speak and socialize with that group. Marit says that she fell in love and remains in love with the Valley not so much for the skiing—she is not as much of a skier as her husband is—but because it reminds her of Norway, with the small-town community, mountains, and farms.
For the past forty-four years, Marit has been in the same building, Monday through Friday during the summer months and seven days a week during the ski season, working ten-hour days. She has seen many employees come and go, and according to the current Day School manager, Sara Hurley, Marit “runs circles around new and young caregivers.” Occasionally Marit will meet mothers dropping their infants off who say, “You watched my mother here.” Marit has cared for thousands of children of employees, guests, and local families. Now, she scans the Harwood High School graduation list in the Valley Reporter and sees the names of many children she used to care for.
For Marit, her position at the Day School is much more than a job. “I do what I love to do,” she says. When I asked her how she spends her time in the Valley when she is not at work, the first thing she mentioned was that she visits with one of her closest friends, who has Parkinson’s disease. On staying in the Valley into retirement, Marit says the brutal Vermont winters have begun to take a toll on her husband and he often inquires about moving to Florida, to which Marit says, “You can go to Florida anytime you want."
In 1997, Sugarbush began the Castlerock Extreme Challenge, and the only person to have skied in every single competition since is Wayne McCue—known in the community as “Mr. Castlerock.” Also known as “the mailman” (referring to his day job), McCue has finished in second and third place in the Castlerock Extreme several times. Despite Wayne’s self-proclaimed “overwhelming” shyness, his photo has been published on the front cover of local Vermont newspapers and magazines, as well as in the sports section of USA Today. If he isn’t captured in midair off an impressive jump or carving a double black diamond, he’s smiling into the camera with a thumbs-up.
In order to keep himself in shape for challenging skiers half his age on one of the toughest trails on the mountain, Wayne admits to doing the “Bode Miller” workout. The grueling exercise consists of pushing a wheelbarrow filled with cinder blocks up and down a small hill “four or five times” in a row. Wayne says he gives his legs a break in the summer, but starts up again in September in order to prepare for ski season.
Wayne has been a loyal member of the Sugarbush community since 1974, when he came to “the ’Bush” for a week of skiing and knew right away that he had “found his home mountain.” In that week he and his group were treated to lake-effect snow every night and skied “knee-deep freshies every day.” Shortly after, McCue bought a cabin in the woods of Fayston, and has been, he says, “living the dream ever since.” Wayne’s favorite trail is Rumble, and he has already deemed it as the place where he wants half of his ashes to go.
Upon receiving this nomination, Wayne said he was “deeply humbled” and “will never forget this day.” Look for Mr. Castlerock at the Challenge or at après at the Wünderbar with what he calls “my hardcore buddies” for many more years to come (and, rumor has it, wearing the same decades-old yellow ski jacket).
Damon and Sara Gadd founded Sugarbush in 1958 and gathered a small team who helped them with the hard work of building the resort and defining its culture and community. The Gadds chose Lincoln Peak as the ideal location for a ski resort after flying over the Vermont landscape with Jack Murphy. Known as the “Jack of all trades,” Murphy partnered with the Gadds and was the general manager of the resort, overseeing the initial gondola construction and helping to design and cut the original ski trails. Damon and Jack recruited Lixi Fortna, a Czechoslovakian-born lawyer, to help run the mountain as the office manager, a position she stayed in until 1982. Peter Estin established the iconic Sugarbush ski school, which boasted expert instructors from all around the world, including ski racers whom Estin recruited during trips to Europe. John Roth surveyed and laid out ski trails on the mountain and helped to design the original golf course. He also designed Sugarbush Village and many of the ski-chalet-style homes there.