This winter, take a run in honor of Clif
It was our distinct pleasure last weekend to attend a dedication ceremony at Copper Mountain honoring ski pioneer Clif Taylor, the original disciple of the virtue of short skis and a veteran of the famous 10th Mountain Division.
More than anything right now, Clif, 80 and soon to be 81, is part of the “Greatest Generation” – our World War II veterans who changed the world while at war and again at home as a generation coming of age in the 1950s and 1960s.
We owe author Tom Brokaw, of course, for the term “Greatest Generation,” the name of his best-selling book.
The generation is fast moving on. Those of us who are the sons and daughters of the Greatest Generation cannot do enough to honor the veterans and understand their history.
For many of us, what we took for granted while growing up now needs to be embraced and remembered – before it is gone.
Here in the High Country, we also acknowledge veterans of the 10th Mountain Division for their role in fostering a ski industry.
Many of the mountain fighters fell in love with Colorado and the sport of skiing while training at Camp Hale in Eagle County.
The 10th made its mark in the Italian Campaign.
Those who ski Vail Mountain and encounter the names Riva Ridge and Belevedere should know that pivotal battles were fought at those places in Italy.
After the war, the veterans filtered back to the mountains. Arapahoe Basin, a rejuvenated Aspen and Vail are a few of the results.
Clif was one of those veterans, although he returned to his home state of Vermont for much of his life. Clif’s claim to fame is figuring out in the late 1940s that it was easier to learn skiing on short skis.
By the 1960s, he developed the Graduated Length Method (GLM) of ski instruction with the still-beautiful idea that beginning skiers can learn to parallel from the get-go. GLM caught on for a time, then went out of vogue.
Clif literally barnstormed the world to preach his methods, all designed for one purpose, to make it easier for people to have as much fun skiing as Clif did. Passion is not an overused word when referring to Clif’s love of skiing.
Not too many years ago, Taylor felt forgotten. What’s worse, he saw skiers flailing at the sport he loves. Then came the revolution of shorter, shaped skis.
Clif never profited, but he felt vindicated.
For his efforts, Clif is a member of the National Ski Hall of Fame and the Colorado Ski Hall of Fame. In November, he is set to join the Vermont Ski Hall of Fame.
Clif has never quit being a ski instructor, no matter his real job. In recent years, Clif has worked selling real estate at Copper.
Every client learned as much about learning to ski “in two turns” as they did about real estate.
Copper Mountain and Intrawest deserve a lot of credit for cherishing and honoring the man known as “the Legend.”
That moniker was no doubt coined by Clif himself. When his friends kid him as a “shameless self-promoter,” they aren’t kidding, and Clif enjoys the moment. He truly has a lot of P.T. Barnum in him.
When readers visit Copper Mountain, they should check out the lobby of his namesake building, Taylor’s Crossing in the New Village, and look at the displays installed by Copper and the National Ski Hall of Fame.
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