Colorado Snowsports Hall of Fame honors seven award recipients as part of 2022 induction ceremony
The Colorado Snowsports Hall of Fame honored seven award recipients on Sunday, Aug. 21, in Vail as part of the Class of 2022 induction ceremony.
John Dakin, Ron LeMaster, Peter Rietz, Jeannie Thoren, and Chester “Chet” Upham were inducted at the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater at Sunday’s celebration of inspiration.
The Hall of Fame’s annual honors includes the Lifetime Achievement Award, Top of the Hill Award, Competitor of the Year Award, Collegiate Athlete of the Year awards, and the Adaptive Athlete of the Year Award.
The Lifetime Achievement Award recognizes individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the museum, while the Top of the Hill Award recognizes entities that have contributed to the development of skiing in Colorado.
All proceeds collected at the event support the Colorado Snowsports Museum, a nonprofit organization, and Colorado’s official snow sports museum.
Lifetime Achievement: Chan and Melitta Bergen
The Bergens are the embodiment of the Colorado Snowsports Museum and its mission, according to museum officials. The priceless artifacts in the museum’s permanent collection tell the story of the birth, rise and explosion of snow sports in Colorado. Throughout the last few decades, the Bergens recognized and generously embraced the institution’s cultural importance. Through an endowment set up by Chan and Melitta in 2021, the Colorado Snowsports Museum has been given an opportunity to develop meaningful exhibits, preserve our collection, and continue to honor those that have pioneered within the snow sports industry.
Top of the Hill: The National Brotherhood of Skiers
The National Brotherhood of Skiers is a nonprofit group that represents Black skiers, riders, and snow sports enthusiasts across the nation. The National Brotherhood of Skiers is comprised of dozens of clubs in the United States — including the Slippers-N-Sliders Ski Club of Denver, Ski Noir 5280, BIPOC Mountain Collective, and the Ski Ambassadors of Colorado Springs.
At a time when African Americans on the slopes were a rarity and Black ski clubs were an exception, the founders Ben Finley and Art Clay met in 1972 and were not deterred from their vision to create a national Black summit for skiers. One year later, the historic first Black Ski Summit gathering took place in Aspen in 1973 and was attended by over 350 skiers from all over the country.
The overall sense of camaraderie and connection that pervaded the event then still holds true today, with their 50th Anniversary Summit slated for Vail for the 2022-23 season. The National Brotherhood of Skiers’ mission is “to identify, develop and support athletes of color who will win international and Olympic winter sports competitions representing the United States and to increase participation in winter sports.”
After decades of bringing together and empowering thousands of Black snow sports enthusiasts across the country, the groundbreaking organization continues to promote positive change in the outdoor industry and change perspectives about who belongs on the slopes.
Competitor of the Year: Mikaela Shiffrin
Mikaela Shiffrin, born in Vail and a resident of Edwards, is on track to become the greatest U.S. Alpine skier of all time. A two-time Olympic gold Medalist and a four-time overall World Cup winner, she has also captured six World Championship gold medals including four straight slalom golds. Her 11 World Championship medals make her the most decorated U.S. Alpine skier in history.
Collegiate Athlete of the Year: Filip Forejtek
Filip is a senior Alpine skier with the University of Colorado. In 2022, he was the NCAA Champion in giant slalom and the National Men’s Collegiate Skier of the Year. He’s a three-time First Team All American, and giant slalom MVP in the Rocky Mountain Intercollegiate Ski Association. Competing in both slalom and GS, he has skied in 35 of a possible 39 races in his career, finishing 25 with 24 top-20 results, 20 top-10 results, and 18 top-five finishes.
Collegiate Athlete of the Year: Katie Hensien
As a senior, Katie was recognized as one of the University of Denver’s MVPs in 2022. She was named National Women’s Alpine Skier of the Year by the U.S. Collegiate Ski Coaches Association after placing on the podium in six of the eight races that she participated in and in the top five in all seven events she finished. In addition, she was 2022 First-Team All-American in both women’s slalom and giant slalom, 2022 NCAA National Champion in women’s slalom, 2022 All-RMISA First Team in women’s Alpine, and the RMISA Skier of the Meet for Women’s Alpine at the 2022 RMISA Invitational. She made her first U.S. Olympic Team for the 2022 Beijing Winter Games, becoming the first DU student-athlete to represent Team USA in Alpine skiing since Eric Poulsen at the 1972 Olympics in Sapporo and the first woman to do so since Gladys Werner in the 1956 Olympics in Cortina.
Adaptive Athlete of the Year: Thomas Walsh
Thomas Walsh is an eight-year member of the U.S. Paralympic Alpine Skiing National Team and competes in the disciplines of slalom, giant slalom, super-G, and super combined. Born and raised in Vail, he began racing with Ski and Snowboard Club Vail at the age of 5. A diagnosis of metastatic Ewing Sarcoma at age 14 propelled him to continue his dream of skiing as a cancer survivor.
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