Breckenridge ski pioneers deserve recognition
Last year I attended the “Colorado Ski Hall of Fame” induction banquet in Denver which was established to honor those who have made a significant contribution to “Skiing in Colorado”. It was a lavish affair and is always well attended by the “Who’s Who” of Colorado skiing history. It was a great pleasure to see Norwegian skiing great Stein Erickson, among others, get inducted. It was also obvious to all who attended what a gross oversight it was for Stein Erickson not to have been inducted and receive the recognition he deserves much sooner. For those of you who don’t know the history, Stein Erickson was a gold medal ski champion in the 1954 Olympics.As Stein enjoys movie star status within the skiing community, he was continually surrounded by adoring fans, friends, and paparazzi. Despite being in the ski business myself for more than 25 years, there was no way I would get to meet him had it not been for my friend Trygve Berge, who is also a close friend of Stein. Trygve went out of his way to find me in the crowd and then brought me over and introduced me to Stein personally. He even encouraged me to repeat a few of the Norwegian phrases I know (which would get me thrown out of any country within minutes) to Stein. Stein looked at me and chuckled – and then said, “you are one of us.” This is just a prelude, however, to what this letter is really about. It occurred to me that we have some ski pioneers in our midst who have also been sorely overlooked for the recognition that they deserve. I am talking about Trygve Berge and Sigurd Rockne who are part of the living history of skiing in Breckenridge. The story goes like this: Circa 1960 Trygve Berge and Sigurd Rockne, who were also “world class skiers” and were on the Norwegian team with Stein, were living in Aspen and working as ski instructors. Stein Erickson, who was director of skiing, at Aspen Highlands had sponsored them to come over from Norway to help him with his ski school. While in Aspen, they met a gentleman named Bill Rounds, whose family was in the lumber business, and they convinced him to come to Breckenridge with them to explore some business opportunities. Bill Rounds liked what he saw here and opened a lumber yard where the Breckenridge Building Center sits today. Beyond that, and more importantly, Trygve and Sigurd convinced Bill Rounds to develop what is now Peak 8 into the Breckenridge Ski Resort. They even went up on the mountain and designed the first ski trails, Spruce, Rounders, etc. In 1961, the Breckenridge Ski Resort opened for business, and the rest as they say, is history!Trygve and Sigurd both went on to become successful in their own rights. Trygve became the first Ski School Director at Breckenridge and also owned the original Norway Haus ski shop in Breckenridge. He is also a master stone mason and entrepreneur. Sigurd opened one of the first restaurants in Breckenridge called “The Mine,” and he is also a master home builder and real estate entrepreneur. Beyond being world class skiers, they are also world class people, and I am personally honored to be included in their circle of friends. Their contributions also help to personify a sense of the history and evolution of Breckenridge. I would respectfully challenge the Breckenridge Ski Resort, the mayor of Breckenridge, and the Breckenridge Town Council, to come up with an appropriate acknowledgment and recognition for the contribution and legacy that Trygve Berge and Sigurd Rockne have left for us – skiing in Breckenridge. A couple of suggestions that I would put forward might be: possibly a “bust of Trygve and Sigurd” with a written history on the Riverwalk Center, and/or something similar at the base of the new Breckenridge Ski Resort village. A word to the wise: If you happen to run into Sigurd (70-plus years old) when you are out and about, don’t get suckered into an arm wrestling match. He will turn you into a “gurly man” in a New York minute.
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