Peak Performers nominee: Trygve Berge, Alpine skiing

Perfect form from skiing legend Trygve Berge at Keystone Resort. Berge, a former Olympian and Norwegian downhill champion, helped open Breckenridge Resort in the '60s.
Casey Day / Special to the Daily

Editor’s note: Readers are invited to nominate their all-time favorite Summit County athletes for Peak Performers: The Mount Rushmore of Summit County athletes. To make a nomination, visit Voting begins Feb. 23.

Nominee: Trygve Berge
Sport: Alpine skiing

It’s safe to say Summit County’s skiing community would not be the iconic place and culture it is without Berge. Before he arrived in Summit County and helped to found Breckenridge Ski Resort, Berge was a champion downhiller for Norway, racing for the country at the 1956 Winter Olympics in Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy.

A few short years after the Olympics, Berge made his way to the Rocky Mountains of Colorado where he’d find his future home: Breckenridge. Working with Kansan Bill Rounds and fellow Norwegian Olympic downhiller Sigurd Rockne, Berge was a mainstay in helping the Peak 8 Ski Area and the town of Breckenridge (a sleepy mining town of fewer than a few hundred people in 1960) grow to the internationally-recognized resort destination it is today.

Along the way, Berge, along with Rockne started Breckenridge’s ski school. In 1961, it started with just 13 pairs of rental skis. Nearly 50 years later, the legacy of the Peak 8 ski school can be seen across the five in-bounds Tenmile Range peaks at the resort.

For years Berge served as the director of ski school at Breckenridge, but his direct influence on Summit County winter sports isn’t limited to Alpine skiing. Posters can still be found across the county of Berge’s front-flip off a self-made jump in front of the Bergenhof lodge at the base of Peak 8 which can now be seen as a sign of things to come in terms of freestyle skiing’s role at Breckenridge and across Summit County. In 1984 Breckenridge became the first ski resort in the state to welcome snowboarders, a move Berge said helped to save the ski industry.

Six decades after he first came to Breckenridge, Berge, now 87, still skis with the same smile at the resort he helped found. Last June — on the latest closing day ever at Breckenridge — he could be seen skiing off the Independence SuperChair at tree line on the resort’s Peak 7, just a short ski north along the Tenmile Range from where he, Rockne and Rounds toasted in 1960.

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