Peak Performers nominee: Gene Dayton, Nordic skiing |

Peak Performers nominee: Gene Dayton, Nordic skiing

Few have shaped Summit County's Nordic ski community as much as Gene Dayton.
Summit Daily file

Editor’s note: Readers nominated their all-time favorite Summit County athletes for Peak Performers: The Mount Rushmore of Summit County athletes. Voting is live until March 7 at

Nominee: Gene Dayton
Sport: Nordic skiing

One of the most important figures in Summit County winter sports history, Gene Dayton is the patriarch of the first family of Summit County Nordic skiing.

Beyond setting the foundation of much of what is Nordic skiing in the county, whether it be at the Frisco Nordic Center or Breckenridge Nordic Center, Dayton has had much influence on other elements of Summit County’s winter sports community, including helping to found the Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center nonprofit organization, originally called the Breckenridge Ski Touring and Ski Mountaineering School.

After the Dekalb, Illinois, native first visited Summit County in 1961, hitting the slopes at Arapahoe Basin Ski Area for the first time, he fell in love with the place. The Florida State University scholarship swimmer found his way back to Summit, for good this time, in 1967.

Once here, Dayton began leading Nordic ski tours before he founded the Breckenridge Nordic Center in 1969. On the Breckenridge Nordic Center trails, Dayton helped groom many young Summit County cross-country racer, including his sons Matt and Josh, the former a 2002 Olympian.

Through the years, Gene, along with his wife, Therese, completed 10 of the world’s ski marathons, including the 31-mile American Birkebeiner in northern Wisconsin nine times.

For nearly three decades, the Daytons also operated the Frisco Nordic Center.

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