Mountain Views - Sugarbush Personalities
Friday, April 7, 2017
Written by John Bleh
Last week was one for celebration and closure...
A poignant closure for many of us in the Sugarbush community was the loss of Rumble, our mascot for the last almost nine years. He represented the resort in many ways, from his portrait inhabiting the Castlerock Pub sign (thank you, Sparky Potter), to being named after one of the most technical trails on the East Coast. The office has much more floor space, now that he is not lying on his back on the carpet, with his huge paws splayed up in the air - one of his favorite positions, and one that truly disarmed visitors. We'll certainly miss Rumble. But rather than mourn, we want to celebrate lives, and the stories they create here at Sugarbush. Many big personalities have cut wide swaths across this resort, affecting our history and community in unique ways.
Our friend and ski metaphor master, John Egan, has been a member of the Sugarbush community for over forty years, and is getting some well-deserved recognition when he is inducted into the Ski & Snowboard Hall of Fame this weekend in Stowe. Thank you to the many friends who helped us send John off this past weekend in the Lincoln Peak Courtyard, and to those of you who joined us for his celebration party in the Castlerock Pub earlier this winter.
Other major ski personalities to leave their mark on Sugarbush include Stein Eriksen and Sigi Grottendorfer. Stein, who passed away last winter, ran our ski school for several years in the 1960s and contributed to Sugarbush's Mascara Mountain years. Stein entertained guests with his Bogner-accessorized aerial flips on Sunday afternoons on Moonshine. We continue to honor him with our Stein's Challenge event, this year on Saturday, April 22nd, where competitors complete as many laps as they can in a four-hour period. (Flips not encouraged!) Austrian ski instructor Sigi Buchmayr followed Stein as director of the ski school, and earned great respect from his staff and guests. Denise McCluggage, race car driver, journalist, and skier, made a great impact on the Sugarbush ski school in the 1970s with the publication and teaching of her book The Centered Skier, which blended sports psychology with Zen Buddhism. Some of our veteran instructors still quote McCluggage in their teaching methods some forty years later.
Henri Borel, proprietor of Chez Henri, is another iconic personality who came to Sugarbush in the early 1960's and never left (excepting his discoteque days and his frequent visits to France). Many of you attended Henri's 90th birthday celebration in the Back Room of Chez Henri this January, bringing back (reliving?) memories from those days. Henri was responsible for managing Club 10, bringing French cuisine to the Valley, and contributing that je ne sais quoi to Historic Sugarbush Village. Henri's annual ski days qualify him as a bonafide ski bum, and his race results intimidate contenders half his age.
Longtime Valley resident John Roth passed away recently. John played an integral part in the evolution of Sugarbush and Sugarbush Village. Working alongside Damon Gadd, Jack Murphy, and Walt Elliot, John contributed his land surveyor skills to help develop trails at both Lincoln Peak and at Mt. Ellen. He also contributed to the planning and development of Historic Sugarbush Village, along with the road design and many home sites.
Barry Simpson, another Warren resident who was a big proponent of the Valley and the mountain, also passed away recently. Barry sat on many boards and committees that green-lighted a number of development projects at Sugarbush.
The Green Mountain Valley School has brought a host of well-known personalities to Sugarbush, from Olympians like Doug Lewis and Daron Rahlves to up-and-comers like recent graduates Nolan Kasper and Drew Duffy. Lewis, Kasper, and Duffy are all current residents of the Valley, when they are not training, racing, or broadcasting.
It's all these great personalities, and many more, that help make Sugarbush and the Mad River Valley what it is today. We will continue to remember and celebrate the many characters that contribute to our little slice of Paradise.
So this month, join us as we celebrate our history and our personalities, from the Gelandesprung Championship and John Egan's Send-Off Party this past weekend, to Pond Skimming this SUNDAY the 9th, Easter celebrations on the 16th, and Stein's Challenge on the 22nd. Let's not forget our famous beer makers like Warren resident Sean Lawson, who we honor with a Lawson's Finest Anniversary Kick-Off Party this Saturday in the Castlerock Pub (guess what we're serving?).
As we continue to create new memories among our community, don't forget that season passes are now on sale at their lowest rates through May 4th. The deadline to purchase a Mountain Collective Pass at its lowest rate, along with $1 kids passes, is this Friday.
Some of my best memories each year come in April. It's hard to beat some soft bump runs down Stein's or cruisers down Spring Fling, followed by après beers in the Courtyard. I hope many of you get a chance to enjoy the ski season's warmest month.
See you on the mountain,