Friday, February 1, 2013

At induction, jokes told, tears shed

Six legends join Sun Valley Ski Hall of Fame


By BRENNAN REGO
Express Staff Writer

Ski-racing legend Dick Dorworth presents a Ski Hall of Fame award to Corey Reddish, daughter of inductee Jack Reddish.
Express photo by Roland Lane

     Amid applause, tears and the telling of several mildly embarrassing stories, the Sun Valley Ski Hall of Fame welcomed into its fold six more titans of the area’s ski community on Wednesday.

     The Ketchum-Sun Valley Historical Society held the induction ceremony at the nexStage Theatre in Ketchum. The theater was packed with about 300 people, and the vibe was fun and lively, though attendees also demonstrated great respect and admiration for the men and women of the hour.

     Muffy Ritz, Rick Kapala and Bob Rosso were inducted into the Nordic Hall of Fame and Jack Reddish, Bob Smith and Picabo Street were inducted into the Alpine Hall of Fame.

     First up was Muffy Ritz, best known in the Wood River Valley for launching the increasingly popular VAMPS (Vomen And Muffy’s ProgramS) Nordic ski club for women in 1996. Several VAMPS members attended the ceremony in support of Ritz.

     “I feel so honored to be here with all the other inductees,” Ritz said at the ceremony. “And guess what? I bought a new dress! Thanks to the VAMPS for helping me shop because I don’t buy dresses.”

     She said the VAMPS members have been an “amazing family” to her and she thanked them for supporting her at the event. She also thanked fellow inductees Kapala and Rosso for helping her “get there.”

     The limelight was then directed toward Kapala, director of the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation’s Cross Country Ski Team since 1990. Kapala said he’s been “truly blessed” to work with an “amazing array” of people on the Cross Country Ski Team and thanked those who hired him originally.

     “I want to set the record straight,” Kapala joked during the ceremony. “[Then-Cross Country Ski Team board member] John Wells asked during my interview, ‘What are your defining traits?’ He says I said, ‘I’m wicked organized.’ But I actually said, ‘I’m wicked organized for a ski coach,’ and those are different things!”

     In an interview before the ceremony, Kapala said he was “psyched” and “honored” to be included.

     “But it’s a team effort,” he said. “We have amazing coaches and athletes. Every one of them is instrumental to the program’s success. I’m just glad I didn’t screw it up.”

     Bob Rosso, owner of The Elephant’s Perch sports shop in Ketchum and longtime Blaine County Recreation District board member, was next. Working with the Recreation District, Rosso helped develop many of the valley’s more than 200 kilometers of Nordic ski trails.

Rick Kapala, director of the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation’s Nordic ski team, smiles as he accepts his award from the Ski Hall of Fame.
Express photo by Roland Lane

     “This is a great honor,” he said at the ceremony. “I’m humbled by it. Unfortunately, it means I’m going to have to work even harder now.”

     In an interview before the ceremony, Rosso said it was particularly meaningful to be inducted along with close friends Kapala and Ritz.


“This is such an amazing community. To be honored like this, I’ve been honored a lot, this takes the cake. I’m so beyond words to accept this.”
Picabo Street
Olympic gold medalist


     On the Alpine side, two-time Olympian Jack Reddish was inducted postmortem. Reddish is widely considered America’s finest male alpine ski racer of the 1940s and ’50s. He lived and worked in the Sun Valley area at the time.

     “He was quite a character and quite a badass,” said daughter Corey Reddish, who accepted the induction with her brother Don Reddish and Jack Reddish’s nephews Patrick and Jon Reddish. “He was one of the scarriest ski instructors of all time. I learned my fundamentals really well.”

     In an interview after the ceremony, Corey said that on the way there, the family had joked that it’s “about time.”

     “It’s a huge honor,” she said. “Sun Valley was a really important place for my dad.”

     Bob Smith, founder of Ketchum-based sports eyewear firm Smith Optics, was also inducted postmortem. He is known for inventing the double-lens goggle, which greatly reduced lens fogging. His wife, Jean Smith, accepted the induction with their sons Andrew and Colby Smith.

     “This is just wonderful,” Jean Smith said. “I thank everybody who came tonight.”

     She said skiing was Bob Smith’s passion and he would be “so proud” to receive the honor.

     Last, but not least, 1998 Olympic super giant slalom gold medalist and three-time Olympian Picabo Street took the stage. Though Street has topped numerous podiums and been inducted into the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame and the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame, of all the inductees, she expressed the most emotional reaction to Wednesday’s ceremony.

     “It’s overwhelming,” she said, breaking into tears. “When people ask me where I’m from, I proudly say ‘Sun Valley.’”

     Street, who currently lives in Birmingham, Ala., with husband John Reeser and their four young sons, said she misses living in Sun Valley.

     “Cupid has a big sense of humor,” she said. “I miss the mountains and try to come back as often as I can.”

     Street thanked her family and also thanked the community for supporting her financially early in her racing career.

     “This is such an amazing community,” she said. “To be honored like this—I’ve been honored a lot—this takes the cake. I’m so beyond words to accept this.”

     In an interview after the ceremony, Street said she was overwhelmed and nervous at first while accepting the induction.

     “But then I saw familiar faces in the audience and that made me feel more comfortable,” she said.


Brennan Rego: brego@mtexpress.com




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