Hey, Spike! reveals Tommy Partin’s surfing and skiing tale
We all likely know someone who came here, stayed and hadn’t planned on doing so — Summit County has a way of attracting the not-to-be-attracted.
Ralph Tommy Partin of Dayton Beach, Florida, tells that commonplace story, and he replayed his version recently in January during a ski trip here.
His personal story started in the fall 1980.
“I wasn’t coming here,” says Tommy. “I was on my way to California to hook up with a friend and head down to Mexico on a surfing trip.”
Tommy stopped to see a friend who was stationed with the Army in Colorado Springs for a couple of days. That led to another name and number.
He mentioned Phil Norris was living up in the mountains.
“I called him and he said, ‘Come on up,’” says Tommy.
Phil was living in a condo up in Wildernest above Silverthorne, between construction and carpenter jobs and showed Tommy around.
“I stayed two to three weeks playing cards and shooting pool, and liked the place,” Tommy recalls. “I got a job right away with Blue Valley Glass Co.”
Just before Christmas, Tommy went back to the Sunshine State and “sold most everything or gave it away, putting what little I had left in a U-Haul trailer and moved back.”
Back up here, Tommy was working at Blue Valley Glass, which was on Tenmile Drive in Frisco (behind 7-Eleven), and “Jimbo” Deines had just opened up Precision Ski a few doors down the way.
“I just started hanging out at Precision after work,” says Tommy. “Jim took me under his wing and started to teach me about the ski biz that a surf guy from Florida did not know much about.”
About then Precision Ski became a Montana Sport of Switzerland Crystal Glide equipment demo test center, bringing custom machine ski and snowboard tuning capabilities to U.S. shops.
“At that time we started talking about doing a store up in Breckenridge,” says Tommy. “I borrowed some money from my parents and we did the Breck store with Jim Sadler, opening up inside Kent Johnson’s Pioneer Sports at first. The Village was pretty new and I don’t even think it was completed. Then we got our own location overlooking the Maggie Pond. Then the opportunity came about to do the Keystone store.”
Things were sailing right along when a proverbial monkey wrench got thrown into the works.
On the 1985 grand opening day of Breckenridge’s Peak 10 acreage expansion, the place was packed with skiers. Tommy was there.
His best recollection goes like this:
“I was up on Peak 10 with Bob and Annie Springer and Jerry and Missy Smith. Jerry had a dental practice in Breck at the time. It was just crazy with people and everyone was just nuts. We all decided to go back to Peak 9. Trying to get back, I got clocked by another skier.”
Tommy sustained a massive head injury, requiring a Flight For Lift evac from the Peak 9 bunny hill to Denver.
“I do not remember the day,” says Tommy. “Hell, I do not remember most of the week.”
After getting out of the hospital, Tommy returned to his hometown of DeLand, 20 miles west of Daytona Beach, where he went back to work at the Salty Dog Surf Shop. He sold his partnership in Precision.
Now, he’s been there for about 30 years. He gets a few breaks to do some big sailing on catamarans to the Caribbean, but mostly it’s the surf biz.
When he was here last month, Tommy stayed with Bob Springer and daughter Kara in Breck and visited with his old roommate, Kent Huguelet, and saw Jerry Smith. He also stopped in at Precision Ski and Golf. Other visits included Dick Carlton from Mi Casa, Scott Sodergren at Blue River Sports and Johnny George at Mountain Wave.
Over in Vail, Tommy visited with Jay Larson, a former president of Montana Sport USA.
Needing an alignment tweaking from getting back on his skis, he received adjustments from Dr. Dean Stjernholm, a chiropractor in Frisco.
“It was the best trip back to the Summit,” he says, adding he had not been back for 15 years. “Had a great time — everyone was just super.”
Miles F. Porter IV, nicknamed “Spike,” a Coloradan since 1949, is an Army veteran, former hardrock miner, graduate of Adams State College, and a local since 1982. An award-winning investigative reporter, he and wife Mary E. Staby owned newspapers here for 20 years. Email your social info to firstname.lastname@example.org
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