Ishpeming, Mich., July 27, 2000--Six skiing pioneers andindustry leaders were named yesterday to the U.S. National Ski Hall ofFame. The class of 2000, which will be inducted into the Hall on September30, includes Dick Barrymore, Bill Beck, Ned Gillette, Bob Lange, OlavPederson and Preston Leete Smith.
In 1955, 25-year-old Preston Smith searched New England for a promising skimountain. He settled on Killington, Vt., and managed to raise $85,000 openin December of 1958. Beginning with a shoestring budget, he eventuallymanaged the area to prominence as a major eastern ski destination. Part ofthat prominence was a result of Smith's push for expanding snowmaking atKillington, earning it a reputation for dependable conditions. Killingtonhad often been regarded as the standard setter for other resorts whileunder Smith's direction. He is a past president and treasurer of theVermont Ski Areas Association, former director and treasurer of theNational Ski Areas Association and long-time chair of its CompetitionCommittee. When he finally sold his shares in S-K-I, Ltd in 1996, thecompany owned and operated six ski resorts in Vermont, New Hampshire, Maineand California.
In 1948, Bob Lange reinforced a pair of leather boots custom-made by PeterLimmer, with some fiberglass-reinforced polyester resin left over from aboat hull. It was the first recorded use of a plastic in a ski boot and ledLange, who died this past June at the age of 74, to invent a vacuum-moldedABS ski boot. After many setbacks, Lange switched to polyurethane andcreated a black boot that became a benchmark in ski history. Afterexperimenting with different stiffnesses, cuff heights and adding bucklesin 1963, racers flocked to the design and by the 1968 Winter Olympic Gamesin Grenoble, France, almost three-quarters of the racers were wearing Langeboots. As a result, five gold medals were won in Langes. Lange also heldpatents on a number of other ski equipment innovations, including the firstself-molding inner boot, the first boot buckle with a micro-screwadjustment and the first thermoplastic polyurethane boot. He also addedbright colors to ski boots and knew how to market his company's products.In the ensuing years, other boots were successfully manufactured andmarketed but Lange's black plastic boot marked the first time the ski wastruly bonded to the leg.
Among the new members of the Hall of Fame are three former athletes. BillBeck was a member of the U.S. Ski Team from 1951 to 1957. In 1952, hefinished fifth in the downhill at the Oslo Winter Olympics, at that timethe best Olympic downhill result ever by an American male. (He was tied byPete Patterson in 1980 and finally beaten by Bill Johnson's gold-medal runin 1984.) Again in 1952 he finsished fifth in the prestigious A-K Downhillin Chamonix and tied Chick Igaya for first place in downhill at theNational Championships on Cannon Mountain, N.H., in 1955. His race resultsback then led to him being named to the World Championship team in 1954 andthe U.S. Olympic team again in 1956. Olav Pedersen was born on February 17,1917 and won his first ski jumping trophy at age 12. As an adult he usedhis skiing skills as a member of the Norwegian Resistance during the Germanoccupation in WW II. In 1955, he chaired the organizing committee for theNorwegian Nordic Ski Championships and in 1963 moved to Breckenridge,Colo., where he taught alpine skiing until 1980. Inspired by a blind friendin Norway, Pedersen also started a skiing program for visually impairedpeople in the U.S. Launched in 1975, Ski For Light is in its 24th season,hosting participants from around the world. Ned Gillette, a member of theU.S. Cross-Country Ski Team from 1967 to 1969 and an Olympic competitor in1968, pioneered ski routes around mounts Everest and McKinley, navigated anoversized rowboat to Antarctica and helped establish 24,757-foot MustaghAta in China as the highest mountain ever skied from its summit. He openednew frontiers for skiing, traversing Elleesmere Island in the CanadianArctic and cross-country skiing in the former Mancuria. A Vermonter andDartmouth graduate, Gillette was 1967 NCAA cross-country champion, laterheaded the cross-country ski school at Stowe's Trapp Family Lodge andserved as director of skiing at Yosemite Mountaineering School. He wrote abook about the sport, "Cross Country Skiing," published in 1979. Gillettechanged the way adventurers solicited expedition sponsors 20 years ago bybeing the first to present sponsors with real business plans. Tragically,during an expedition in Pakistan in August of 1998 he was killed by abandit's shotgun blast while he and his wife, Susan, were asleep in theirtent .Susan, who was wounded in the attack, later recovered.
Dick Barrymore was born in California in 1933 and became one of a smallgroup of ski movie makers who traversed the country for many years showingand narrating their films at ski club gatherings, school auditoriums andmovie theaters. He primarily filmed 90-minute shorts for his club showings,but also produced longer movies, including "Ski West Young Man," "ElevenMinutes and 59 Seconds of Skis and Skiers" and "The Last of the Ski Bums."Two films completed for K2 and an independent project called "ThePerformers" were early depictions of freestyle skiing..