Ski Pioneer Max Dercum Dies at 98

Posted By: The Ski Channel on September 30, 2011 4:52 pm

EVERGREEN, CO - Skiing pioneer Max Dercum passed away Friday at the age of 98 in Evergreen, Colo. Along with his wife Edna, Dercum was instrumental in the creation of Arapahoe Basin Ski Area and Keystone Resort in Colorado. Dercum’s Gulch, a ski run at Arapahoe Basin, and Dercum Mountain, the entire front side of Keystone Resort, were named in his honor.

A forestry professor by trade, Dercum joined with Larry Jump and others in the creation of Arapahoe Basin Ski Area in 1946. Dercum founded Keystone Resort in 1970.

During the early years of Arapahoe Basin, Dercum and his wife taught skiing at the area and ran the nearby Ski Tip Ranch lodging property. He was one of seven men who founded the Professional Ski Instructors of America (PSIA) at a meeting in Whitefish, Mont., in 1961. With the development of Keystone, Dercum headed up the ski school there through 1975.

Both Max and Edna, who died in 2008, are members of the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame and the Colorado Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame. Passionate skiers well into retirement, the Dercums each won numerous ski races as seniors.

Edna wrote a memoir about the couple’s life in the ski industry entitled, “It’s Easy, Edna, It’s Downhill All the Way.” The title was drawn from a memorable quote by Max as he tried to encourage his then-beginner-skier, future wife on the slopes during their courtship.

Upon Dercum’s passing, John Buhler, general manager and vice president of Keystone Resort, issued the statement, “the Keystone and Vail Resorts family is grateful for Max’s contributions and indelible mark on both Summit County and the ski industry. We would like to extend our deepest sympathy and support to the Dercum family, friends and the entire Keystone community.”

Alan Henceroth, chief operating officer and vice president of Arapahoe Basin, wrote on his blog, “Max was always a visionary and imagined just how great skiing in the Snake River valley could be. Our hearts and prayers are with the Dercum family today.”

(Photo courtesy of Vail Resorts)