Breckenridge’s C.J. Mueller among Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame inductees
VAIL — The Colorado Ski & Snowboard Museum will induct four accomplished athletes and one pioneer of the ski industry into its Hall of Fame on Friday, Oct. 17. The ceremony will take place at the Omni Interlocken Hotel in Broomfield. Tickets to the event are still available through the Colorado Ski Museum in Vail.
The Class of 2014 includes Breckenridge’s C.J. Mueller, along with athletes Jeremy Bloom, Mike Brown and Johnny Spillane, and ski industry pioneer Kingsbury “Pitch” Pitcher.
“The five new inductees join a prestigious roster of Hall of Fame athletes, sport builders and visionaries who have made major contributions to Colorado’s ski industry over many decades,” said Susie Tjossem, executive director of the museum’s Hall of Fame. “The annual event is not just about who is being inducted any given year, it is about honoring the institution and all the previously elected Hall of Fame members.”
John ‘C.J.’ Mueller, Athlete
Mueller qualified for the U.S. national downhill championships in 1978 and 1979 and was one of the leading speed-skiing pioneers of the 1980s — becoming the first skier ever to exceed 130 mph in 1987. A three-time speed-skiing world record holder whose top speed was clocked at 137 mph, Mueller was a member of U.S. Speed Skiing Team and a top-10 finisher at the 1992 Winter Olympics in Albertville, France, where speed skiing was a demonstration sport.
To elevate acceptance of the sport, he worked with Swix to perfect wax performance and with the International Ski Federation (FIS) to improve safety. Since retiring from speed skiing competition, Mueller remains one of the most colorful characters in Breckenridge, where a ski run on Peak 7 bears his name: “C.J.’s.” Those initials come from his equally colorful nickname, “Crazy John.”
“C.J. is a strong supporter of winter sports in Summit County and was one of the founding members of the Breckenridge Elite Athletes Foundation that has provided support for several Olympians,” the Board of County Commissioners wrote in support of Mueller’s nomination.
Jeremy Bloom, Athlete
Bloom is a three-time mogul skiing world champion, two-time Olympian and 11-time World Cup gold medalist who now adds Hall of Fame induction to his list of accolades. In 2005, he won a record six straight World Cup events, the most in a single season in the sport’s history. Born and raised in Loveland, Colorado, Bloom was also a standout football player at the University of Colorado. Drafted by Philadelphia, Bloom had a brief career in the NFL with the Eagles and Steelers. In 2008, he founded the Jeremy Bloom Wish of a Lifetime Foundation, which grants lifelong wishes to seniors. Bloom is a college football and Olympic television analyst and has worked for ESPN, Fox, NBC and the Pac12 Network. Forbes magazine called Bloom one of the 30 most influential people in technology under the age of 30 in 2013.
Mike Brown, Athlete
Brown succeeded at the top level of ski racing both as a junior racer and during his 10-year career on the U.S. Ski Team. He placed in the top 15 in World Cup events and was ranked in the FIS’ top 100. After retiring, Brown launched a seven-year career as coach of the U.S. Disabled Ski Team, guiding the squad to its status as the strongest disabled team in the world. During his tenure as coach, Brown worked with two of the most decorated Paralympic athletes in history — Chris Waddell and Sarah Will. A Vail native, Brown also is credited with developing a disabled factoring system, still used today. The system allows disabled athletes to compete against one another for medals, under a points system that accounts for their level of disability.
Kingsbury “Pitch” Pitcher, Pioneer
Pitcher and his family acquired property and in 1951 moved to Aspen, where he joined Friedl Pfeiffer and Fred Iselin as a ski instructor. He later became ski school supervisor and was one of the first certified instructors in the Rocky Mountain Ski Instructors Association. In 1957, Pitcher was informally commissioned to look into a location for a major new ski resort in Colorado and was involved in the planning of Snowmass from 1958 to 1960. Pitcher acquired an interest in Buttermilk Mountain, which was later sold to Aspen Skiing Co., and he was involved in the planning and development of Arrowhead (now connected to Beaver Creek) and potential ski properties near Telluride. Pitcher purchased Wolf Creek in the late 1970s, an iconic Colorado resort still owned by the Pitcher family and operated today by one of Pitcher’s six children, Davey.
Johnny Spillane, Athlete
Spillane is a four-time Olympian from Steamboat Springs who competed in Nordic combined. After successful junior cross-country racing and ski-jumping careers, Spillane first made the U.S. Olympic Team in 1998. Although he didn’t medal in any of his first three Winter Games appearances — 1998, 2002 and 2006 — Spillane gained invaluable experience that ultimately paid off at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics. Spillane competed in three events and won three silver medals, including the first-ever American medal in the sport of Nordic combined; it was only the third American medal ever earned in a Nordic sport. He announced his retirement on April 18, 2013.
About the Hall of Fame
The Ski & Snowboard Museum Hall of Fame is located in the Vail Village parking structure across from the Vail Village Covered Bridge. The museum’s collection is displayed in galleries containing artifacts, narratives and film documentaries. It is open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. For more information, call (970) 476-1876 or go to http://www.skimuseum.net.
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