Last weekend, eight skiing legends were inducted into the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame amidst a crowd of 600 people in Seattle. It was an evening to remember as Nick Badami, Joe Pack, Eva Twardokens, Tyler Palmer, Dick Dorworth, Mason Beekley, Phil Gravink, and Harry Leonard were honored for their illustrious accomplishments.
The late Nick Badami retired from a successful business career when he was 49 only to buy Alpine Meadows in California and, later, Park City Ski Area in Utah. He played leadership roles in the National Ski Areas Association, U.S. Skiing and both the Bid and Organizing Committees for the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics. With his help, the USSA became a respected Olympic sports organization. He passed away in 2008.
“It’s safe to say I wouldn’t be up here to accept this award if my father Craig hadn’t dragged my grandpa out west with visions of getting into the ski business,” said Badami’s grandson Nicholas as he stood in his place. “The two of them made an incredible team.”
Joe Pack shot to stardom after his fantastic performance at the Salt Lake Winter Games, earning him silver in the freestyle skiing aerials event. He made the podium a whopping 12 times at the World Cup throughout his career, and three of those times, he stood on top. Upon retirement, Pack moved to Hawaii and became a professional golfer.
“I didn’t get into aerials because I wanted to get into the Olympics – I got into it because I wanted to catch air,” said Pack, who told a story of how legendary freestyle aerialist Trace Worthington saw Pack as a Nordic ski jumper in Lake Placid and turned him into an aerialist. “The U.S. Ski Team gave me the opportunity to do that. Without the Team, none of us would have had the opportunity to do the things we wanted to do.”
Heading to her first World Cup at only 17 years old, Eva Twardokens was named Ski Racing’s Junior Racer of the Year in 1982 and 1983. She earned three podiums and 34 top tens, including the giant slalom bronze in the 1985 World Championships in her 12-year career. Also on her list of accomplishments are her two Olympic performances.
“I’m so honored to be here,” said Twardokens. “As I’ve moved on through my life, not living at a ski area, I tend to forget about my ski career. This induction has helped me bring skiing back into my life.”
World Cup and Pro Skiing racer Tyler Palmer has many accolades to his name as well. In 1971, he was the first American male to break into the top three overall in the World Cup slalom. And he later raced on Bob Beattie’s World Professional Ski Tour. He has since become a coach for junior racers at Sun Valley before retiring in 2010.
Dick Dorworth was a speed skier who has become a respected coach, author, and journalist. His articles appear in virtually every skiing magazine and journal. Dorworth had a need for speed and set a world record of 170kph in Portillo, Chile in 1963.
Mason Beekley’s legacy is the extraordinary skiing library he created and one of the world’s most extensive collections of ski art leading him to form the International Skiing History Association in 1991, which today has more than 2,000 members worldwide and publishes Skiing Heritage magazine. He died in 2001.
A farm boy from New York State, Phil Gravink, founded an area called Peek’n Peak. Eventually, he headed up Gore Mountain and New Hampshire’s Loon Mountain, developing them into leading resorts. His influence was appreciated and earned him many awards for his leadership.
And finally, Harry Leonard was honored for his organization and advancement of ski shows during the 1960’s and 70’s.
Nominations for the Hall of Fame is managed by the National Selection Committee but is open to the public. A vote by the National Voting Panel, a group made up of over 100 skiing experts and enthusiasts.
The USSA Hall of fame is in Ishpeming, MI, the birthplace of American organized skiing. The National Ski Association, now the USSA was founded here in 1905. The building now hosts a huge collection of artifacts, archives, photographs and films that pay tribute to both sports. Memorabilia from each of the inductees’ careers will be housed here in tribute to their contributions to the advancement of skiing and snowboarding starting this fall.