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For the week of August 9 through 15, 2000

Barrymore, Gillette named to ski shrine

National Ski Hall of Fame inductees

Ski filmmaker Dick Barrymore and the late ski adventurer Ned Gillette, both with longtime Sun Valley connections, are two of the six newest inductees into the U.S. National Ski Hall of Fame at Ishpeming, Mich.

Barrymore and Gillette are joined by Olympic downhiller Bill Beck, ski equipment innovator Bob Lange, cross-country skier Olav Pedersen and Killington (Vt.) ski area founder Preston Leete Smith.

Richard Goetzman of Long Beach, Ca., president of the 44-year-old U.S. National Ski Hall of Fame, announced the Class of 2000 selections on July 26.

The newest members will be formally inducted Sept. 30 at Ishpeming, birthplace of organized skiing in the U.S. Details of the gala event are available by calling 906-485-6323.

Here are brief biographies of the six inductees, information that was provided in a press release from the Hall of Fame and Express sources:


Dick Barrymore: Born in 1933 in California, Barrymore became one of a small group of ski filmmakers who traversed the U.S. for many years—showing and personally narrating their films with wit and humor at ski clubs, and in school auditoriums and movie houses.

In 1960, he began his career as a ski filmmaker at the Winter Olympics in Squaw Valley, Ca.

His longer movies included "Ski West Young Man," "Wild Skis," and "The Last of the Ski Bums."

Among his star skiers have been locals like Jim Stelling, Charlie McWilliams, Joey Cordeau, Matt Luhn, Dave Woodham, Alan Rickers Scott Curtis and his son, Blake Barrymore. Barrymore also covered the growth of freestyle skiing.

In over 30 years of shooting ski film all over the world, Barrymore delighted untold thousands of snow lovers. He and his former wife Betsy bought a house in Sun Valley in 1969 and moved here permanently in 1972.

Along with U.S. Ski Hall of Fame members John Jay and Warren Miller, Barrymore undoubtedly enticed horses of curious viewers to try the sport of skiing.


Ned Gillette: A Vermonter and graduate of Dartmouth College, Gillette was the 1967 NCAA cross-country ski champion and captain of the Dartmouth ski team. He was a member of the 1968 U.S. Olympic Nordic team.

Gillette headed the cross-country ski school at Stowe’s Trapp Family Lodge, and also served as director of skiing at Yosemite Mountaineering School. He wrote a book about the sport, Cross Country Skiing, which was published in 1979.

Finding new challenges turned out to be Gillette’s main challenge during his life, which ended prematurely.

In more than 20 expeditions starting in the late 1970s, Gillette pioneered routes around Mt. Everest and Mt. McKinley. He upgraded the sponsorship of expeditions, bringing a business-like approach to raising money.

He and three others navigated a 28-foot aluminum boat through the 600-mile Drake Passage to Antarctica in 1988.

He took turns down the highest mountain ever skied from its summit—the 24,757-foot Mustagh Ata in the Pamirs. Gillette also opened new frontiers for skiing, by traversing Ellesmere Island in the Canadian Arctic and cross-country skiing in China’s former Manchuria.

In 1993, Gillette and his wife Susie Patterson of Sun Valley rode camels 6,000 miles on the old Silk Road from China to the Mediterranean Sea. Patterson was a two-time U.S. national alpine ski queen.

Gillette, 53, died Aug. 5, 1998 when he was brutally shot and murdered while sleeping in his tent in Kashmir, the disputed northern region between India and Pakistan. His wife was also shot in the incident, but she survived.


Bill Beck: One of this country’s outstanding ski racers of the 1950s, Beck was a member of the national "A Team" from 1951-57. Among his teammates on the 1952 U.S. Olympic ski team were Jack Reddish, Brooks Dodge and Jimmy Griffith.

In the 1952 Winter Games, Beck finished fifth in the men’s downhill—at that time the best-ever downhill finish by an American male. That record stood for 28 years, until Sun Valley’s Pete Patterson tied it with a fifth-place downhill in 1980.

Beck tied Chick Igaya for the gold medal in the U.S. national downhill on Cannon Mountain in 1955. Beck was named to the world championship team in 1954, then joined racers like Buddy Werner and Tom Corcoran on the 1956 Olympic ski team.


Bob Lange: In 1948, Lange used plastic in a ski boot for the first time. He reinforced a pair of custom-made Peter Limmer boots, using some fiberglass-reinforced polyester resin left over from a boat hull.

He started the Lange Corporation and manufactured products from fiberglass. Beck decided to invent a plastic ski boot in the late 1950s.

Lange started with vacuum-molded ABS sheet and made 750 the first year. Eventually, he switched to polyurethane and the successful Lange boot was born.

That black boot became the benchmark in ski history—marking the jump from early soft leather to the modern boot that bonded ski and leg. Closures, stiffness and height were constantly adjusted and enhanced.

The boot sold by the thousands.

Lange passed away this past June at the age of 74.


Preston Leete Smith: In 1955, at the age of 25, Smith searched New England for a promising ski mountain. He settled on Killington and raised $85,000 in start-up capital.

The resort opened on a shoestring in Dec. 1958. By the 1980s, it had become a major eastern ski operation with skier visits over one million.

One of Smith’s greatest achievements was the expansion of Killington’s snowmaking. It earned the ski area a wide reputation for dependable snow conditions and lengthy seasons, which can run from October to June.

Killington was also the first in the nation to promote GLM, which boomed ski school business.

Smith’s countless hours of volunteer work in the interest of the sport included being a former director of the National Ski Areas Association and long-time chair of the Competition Committee.

Killington, under Smith, produced a fair share of U.S. Ski Team members over the years, including Smith’s daughter Leslie Leete Smith, who raced in the 1976 Winter Olympics, and gold medal-winning mogul specialist Donna Weinbrecht.

When Preston Leete Smith finally sold his publicly-listed company in 1996, it owned and operated six ski resorts in Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine and California.


Olav Pedersen: Born Feb. 17, 1917, Pedersen won his first ski jumping trophy at the age of 12 and spent his youth skiing and competing in his beloved Norwegian mountains.

He served in the Norwegian Resistance during the German occupation of World War II.

In 1963, Pedersen was invited to teach skiing at Breckenridge. Since, he was taught alpine skiing and cross-country skiing at the Colorado resort. He also started a skiing program for visually-impaired people. "Ski for Light" is now in its 25th year.


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