MEMORIES NOT SHARED UNTIL NOW
If you’re strictly into Alpine skiing, hopefully you’ll find this article parallels (no pun intended) at least some of how skiing also may have begun and evolved for YOU. Regardless, in stages and what those stages wrought, following is what happened, chronologically:
MARCH, 1955 – While in the U.S. Air Force, based in Denver, one of my sergeant bosses asked if I’d ever been skiing. I told him “No”. He then kindly invited me to learn, driving yours truly and a couple other Air Force pals to Berthoud Pass Ski Area. Berthoud then had only Pomas and ropes. In a nutshell, my first skiing lessons and experience with them that day was unpleasant for me, at best. I was awkward on the rented skis and the boots were nowhere nearly as comfortable as today’s fare. Bottom line for me that day: If I never saw another ski, it would be fine with me.
JANUARY, 1963 – At this time, my broadcasting career had taken me to Idaho Falls, Idaho, as TV weatherman and talk show host. I received a call from Art Linkletter’s producer, John Guedel, asking if I would interview and film Art and his family in Sun Valley, Idaho, as they were learning how to ski. Their instructor was to be Sigi Engl, best in the world. Long story as short as I can make it, while spending several days with Art, his wife Lois, daughters Sharon and Diane, Art also stated I should learn how to ski with them for at least one of the days, learning the basics. That’s where I received my first professional ski instruction.
Also skiing there at that time were Jimmy Stewart and his wife, Gloria. Spending social time with all of them was, of course, a non-pedestrian treat. The film we shot was aired on HOUSE PARTY a couple weeks later. My interviews with Art and his family were aired on KID-TV at about the same time. One can still watch one of them on the Internet.
DECEMBER, 1965 – My broadcasting life took me to Seattle-Tacoma at this time. I was on-air talent at then KTVW, as well as a producer and Program Director. One of the shows I produced was a ski show whose host was a man named Bob Gill, now deceased, but the biggest part of my ski life from then until now. Bob was the world’s first African-American ski instructor, who taught on Snoqualmie Pass. He not only taught me how to ski, but gave me a 16MM camera (which I still have) and told me to start producing ski films for various countries and ski resorts. It all happened because of Bob. There’s a LOT more to tell, all good, but will have this suffice for now.
NOVEMBER, 1971 THROUGH NOVEMBER, 1974 AND BEYOND – After hosting my own SKI SCENE show on television in Las Vegas from 1968 to 1970, KSTP-TV in the Twin Cities had me fill those same duties for four seasons, from 1971 through 1974. We did 500 half-hours in those years, followed by hosting in D.C. and Detroit.
One of those who became my best skiing friend, the late Stein Eriksen, taught me how to ski deep powder at Deer Valley, with just him and me on that mountain early one morning in the 1980s. Times with Stein were numerous. I was blessed, to say the least. Jean-Claude Killy and I also became friends. The most exotic place I skied was when I took Billy Kidd and Suzy Chaffee (still good friends to me) to Iran in 1977 to do a ski film for the Shah to attract U.S. ski tourists/skiers there. I filmed my film and also took the now late Dick Barrymore there, too, to create a film for the big screens. (All of this is told in full detail in my book, available on Amazon.)
From North and South America to Europe and Asia, thanks to Bob Gill and my little 16MM camera, skiing became a major part of my very blessed life. I hope the sport has done that for you, too.
Editor’s Note: See a link to Barry’s book at https://www.amazon.com/Barry-ZeVan-Giants-Memoir-STILLER/dp/1617662658