Trail names often offer a glimpse of skiing heritage and history
By Bob Berwyn
SUMMIT COUNTY — Lindsey Vonn’s gold medal downhill run at the Vancouver Olympics will be memorialized with a trail name at Vail Mountain, according to a press release from Vail Resorts.
The expert “International” trail on Vail Mountain will be renamed Lindsey’s. A new trail sign will greet skiers and snowboarders today.The trail was used for women’s speed events during the World Alpine Ski Championships at Vail and Beaver Creek in 1989 and 1999.
Read more about historic ski trail names after the break.
Along with her Olympic medals, Vonn has been one of the most successful U.S. Alpine racers of all time, winning two World Cups by showing consistency in all events during the past few seasons.
“We could not be prouder of Lindsey and her success at the Olympic Games. She truly embodies the Vail spirit with her perseverance in the face of adversity, dedication and hard work, and commitment to excellence – both on and off the snow,” Vail Resorts CEO Rob Katz said in a press release.
Vonn was born in Minnesota but considers Vail her hometown after moving there in the late 90s. She spent her formative years on Vail Mountain, honing her racing skills in all alpine disciplines with the Ski & Snowboard Club Vail.
Other runs named for Olympians and ski racers include Moe-mentum, at Big Mountain in Montana, named for Tommy Moe, America’s first male downhill gold medal winner at the 1994 games in Lillehammer, Norway. Moe learned to ski at Big Mountain, where his father was on the ski patrol, and later moved to Alaska. He now is a ski ambassador at Jackson Hole Ski Area.
In Colorado, Aspen has a trail named for André Roch, a Swiss avalanche research pioneer who laid out some of the first trails on Aspen Mountain, and Buddy’s Run, at Steamboat, is named for Buddy Werner, a native son of the town who was one of the top U.S. ski racers in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Werner died in avalanche Switzerland in 1964, shortly after the Innsbruck Olympics.
At Australia’s Perisher Blue ski area, there’s a trail named after Zali Steggall, winner of a slalom bronze medal at the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan, and Copper Mountain, in Summit County, has Rosi’s named after German ski legend Rosi Mittermeier.
Thanks to our friends at TelemarkTips, we’ve also learned that Gabl’s, at Mount Baker, is named after Austrian skier Franz Gabl, a silver medalist in the ’48 Olympics in St. Moritz.
Thanks to another TelemarkTips reader, we hear that Big Sky has a “Commy Wall,” with Marx, Lenin, Dictator 1-2, and the Castro wall, and that there is a run at Sugarbush named after Norwegian ski legend and ’52 gold medal winner Stein Eriksen.
Jackson Hole has Pepi’s, named for Pepi Stiegler, winner of slalom gold and GS bronze at the ’64 Innsbruck games, and some folks in Maine are thinking that Sugarloaf may name some terrain for Seth Westcott, who defended his snowboard cross gold at Vancouver.
We’ve also learned that Blackcomb named a run Ross’s Gold, for Ross Rebagliatti, who had the honor winning the first-ever gold medal awarded in an Olympic snowboard contest, and Alpental has a trail named Debbie’s Gold, for Debbie Armstrong, winner of Super-G gold in Sarajevo, 1984.
From another Telemark Tipster, we learned that, out in California, Squaw has Jonny Moseley’s Run (West Face of KT). Mosely won gold in the moguls event at Nagano in 1998 and became the first skier to win medals in both the Olympics and X Games. Squaw also has a run named for Julia Mancuso, Julia’s Gold, while Sugar Bowl named a run for Daron Rahlves, who retired from World Cup racing at the end of the 2006 season with 12 World Cup victories and a world championship.
Rahlves earned three World Championships medals, a gold in 2001 in the Super G and a silver and bronze (downhill and giant slalom) in 2005. His best year in the overall World Cup standings was in 2006, when he finished fourth. His best years in the downhill standings were 2003 and 2004, when he placed second.
He was named to the US team in January 2010 for the 2010 Winter Olympics as a freestyle skier competing in skiercross.
And then there’s the Canadian resort of Powder King, which apparently names its trails after Beatles songs.
Visit TelemarkTips here to see the full discussion thread on trail names, not all related to Olympic medal winners but educating and entertaining in any case.
Ski areas trail names often evoke the history of the area, with many names at Keystone, for example, named to reflect the area’s mining heritage, or early ski pioneers.
In Taos, New Mexico, there are a series of steep chutes named for members of a conspiracy to try and kill Adolf Hitler, while another steep trail is named for Mathias Zdarsky, an Austrian who was one of the first to adapt Scandinavian skis for use on steeper Alpine terrain.
And Vail, or course, also has Riva Ridge, memorializing the heroics of the 10th Mountain ski troopers of World War II, many of whom returned to become pioneers in the U.S. ski industry.
Visit the International Skiing History Association online for more information.