Dick Durrance started his dominance in the ski world when he won the German Junior Alpine Championship in 1932 at age 17. Two years later, he became the first American to dominate a major European ski race when he won at Sestriere, Italy. In the 1936 Olympics he placed eleventh in downhill, eighth in slalom and tenth in the combined. Durrance was a 17-time national champion and a three-time winner of the Harriman Cup in Sun Valley. In 1939, he helped cut the original trails on Bald Mountain in Sun Valley.
In 1941, Durrance bought and operated the lodge and lifts at Alta, UT, where he hosted U.S. Army paratroopers to train to ski. In 1945 after a brief stint at Boeing in Seattle, Durrance and his family relocated to Denver where he worked for Thor Groswold, designing and testing Groswold skis—the nation’s premier skis at the time. At the same time, he sold J-bar and T-bar ski lifts for Ernest Constam, the inventor. Durrance sold his first T-bar to Aspen resort and in 1947 was hired to manage Aspen Ski Corp. He turned around the then struggling resort when he brought the 1950 World Championships to town, which helped put Aspen on the map as one of North America’s most popular ski resorts. Durrance also produced a number of ski films and dedicated his life to the promotion of skiing.