Summit County’s Rod Hebron inducted into the Canadian Hall of Fame after an illustrious Alpine skiing career
Summit County resident Rod Hebron was recently inducted into the Canadian Ski Hall of Fame. Hebron was inducted into this year’s hall of fame class alongside seven other snowsports legends, who, like Hebron, made a significant impact on the snowsports community in Canada.
Hebron was honored with a virtual ceremony on Thursday, Nov. 24, — Thanksgiving in the U.S. — for being a two-time Olympian and eight-time national champion in Alpine skiing. Beyond having an illustrious career, Hebron was known for being an influential leader of the Alpine ski teams he was a part of.
Before making a career for himself in the sport of Alpine skiing, Hebron first learned to ski around the age of 2 in Vancouver, British Columbia, in Canada.
“My whole family got me into skiing,” Hebron said. “We lived on a local mountain there so there was nothing else to do. I grew up on Grouse Mountain which is a local mountain range in Vancouver.”
Hebron — who is now 80— says his father built him a lift which allowed him and his family to ski on Grouse Mountain.
“He had an old Model T Ford and he took the tire off and put rope tow on it so I could ski,” Hebron said. “When I was about 6 years old, they built a chairlift up there so you could really access the mountain, but before that you had to hike up.”
After spending much of his childhood skiing up mountains with skins made out of seal skin, Hebron emerged onto the junior competition scene as a well-rounded skier in his teenage years.
While he was a young adult, Hebron remembers competing in cross-country skiing, ski jumping, downhill and slalom skiing. Hebron hated cross-country skiing, but enjoyed both ski jumping and Alpine skiing.
At the age of 16, Hebron placed second at the Canadian Junior Championships and from there a lifelong career in Alpine skiing was truly born.
“After that I was going like ‘wow’ because we used to ski jump too when we were kids, “ Hebron said. “I said I think I am a better Alpine skier than a ski jumper so I am going to keep Alpine skiing.”
Hebron went on to make his first Canadian national team at the age of 17, before being named as an alternate for the 1960 Winter Olympics in Squaw Valley. After being an alternate for the 1960 Winter Games, Hebron stacked stellar performance after performance in the slalom, downhill and giant slalom.
Hebron attended the 1964 Innsbruck Winter Olympics and the 1968 Grenoble Winter Olympics. Hebron also won eight Canadian national titles with a total of 14 medals at the Cadanation National Championships. At the World Cup level, Hebron had two top-five finishes.
Hebron says he was pushed to the highest level of the sport because it was better than the alternative.
“It was better than getting a job,” Hebron said. “We didn’t make any money, but they paid all our expenses. It was also fun — ski racing is a lot of fun. We got all our expenses paid to have fun while everybody in my hometown was working or going to school.”
Hebron eventually went on to get a degree in business from Oregon State University, which he attained while attending school in the summer.
Beyond having an illustrious career, Hebron was commended by the Canadian Hall of Fame for being inspiring and influential on every Canadian ski team he was a part of.
Hebron states he didn’t do anything extraordinary to be characterized in this way, but just skied fast and competed.
“If you are one of the best ones on the team, you are really setting an example for everybody else,” Hebron said. “Just go fast, go as fast as you can.”
After having a hall of fame worthy career, Hebron moved to Summit County close to 50 years ago. He wanted to move to the area because of the prospect to own businesses in an area where he could readily ski on a daily basis.
“I was in Boulder and this friend of mine said there was a bar for lease at Keystone,” Hebron said “I went up the next day and got the lease on it. It is still there today — the Last Lift Bar at the Mountain House.”
Hebron went on to own and operate Virgin Island Ski Rentals in Silverthorne and Murphy’s Food and Spirits in Silverthorne. Virgin Island Ski Rentals was sold in 2014 and Murphy’s was sold about four years ago.
After an entire career in the sport of Alpine skiing, Hebron says he looks back especially fondly at one of the oldest ski races in the world, the Parsenn Derby.
He remembers skiing from Davos, Switzerland to Kublis, Switzerland and then taking a train 30 minutes back to the top of the mountain in Davos.
“The race was like 7-and-a-half miles long,” Hebron said. “You’d go through farmers’ fields and they would open the gates for you. You would maybe get two runs a day. It was really fun. I won my class, I was only 18. That was a real thrill and I still have the trophy from 1961. It was probably the most fun ski race.”
Hebron felt extremely honored to be inducted into the Canadian Hall of Fame as part of the 2022 class.
“It means a lot,” Hebron said. “There are not too many people in it so it is great you know? Especially when you are 80 years old.”
Still residing in Summit County, Hebron enjoys the beauty the are provides on a daily basis. The full 2022 Canadian Hall of Fame induction video can be seen at SkiMuseum.ca.
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