Knox Williams being inducted to the 2008 Colorado Ski Hall of Fame is terrific news. Among other contributions to backcountry and resort skiing, Knox is most importantly the man behind Colorado’s statewide avalanche hazard forecasting.
Our forecast system began in 1982 when Knox took over an avalanche research project, which then evolved to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center as we know it today. Throughout that time Knox was heavily involved in avalanche safety education and research — to the extent of co-authoring a nationally recognized avalanche safety book (see below). As his Hall of Fame bio says: “Almost every ski Patroller from Wolf Creek to Steamboat knew who Knox was. He taught at almost every National Avalanche School since they began in Denver in 1971. It’s not far fetched to say that almost every avalanche worker in Colorado learned a great deal of what they know from Knox Williams.”
From myself and WildSnow.com associates, a hearty CONGRATULATIONS to Knox on his HOF induction. You deserve it Knox — enjoy the accolades and the induction event, they’re special parts of Colorado ski culture!
Everyone, please congratulate Knox by leaving blog comments.
And for the rest of the story, here is the official press release, lightly edited:
VAIL, Colo. (May 27, 2008) â€“ In announcing its inductees for the Class of 2008, the Colorado Ski & Snowboard Hall of Fame celebrates the careers and lives of five distinguished individuals whose contributions to the sports of skiing and snowboarding have helped shape the snow sports industry as we know it today.
The five inductees – Paul T. Bailey, Chuck Ferries, Merrill G. Hastings Jr., Bill Jensen and Knox T. Williamsâ€“ have left a lasting legacy for future generations of snow sports enthusiasts. They will be honored at the 32nd annual Colorado Ski & Snowboard Hall of Fame Induction Gala on Oct. 18 in Denver.
â€œIâ€™m absolutely thrilled to welcome this esteemed class of Hall of Fame inductees,â€? said Hall of Fame Executive Director Susie Tjossem. “The Colorado Ski & Snowboard Museum and Hall of Fame has grown exponentially over the last year and while I look forward to honoring our newest class, I also look forward to the opportunity to share both recent accomplishments and future endeavors with museum members and attendees of the Induction Gala.”
The black-tie induction gala will be held at Denver Marriott City Center and serves as the major fundraiser for the nonprofit. Tickets are $150, and attending the event is a great way to honor the current class and the Hallâ€™s previous 169 members.
In addition to honoring the 2008 class, the Hall of Fame will give two awards – “The Top of the Mountain Award” which recognizes institutions or entities that have contributed to the development of skiing in Colorado and “Competitor of the Year Award” to recognize an athlete with Colorado ties who has distinguished him or herself in international competitive snow sports. The Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club at Howelsen Hill will be honored with the “The Top of the Mountain Award” for producing more Olympic athletes than any other ski club in the United States. Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club at Howelsen Hill has been in existence for nearly a century and has the oldest ski jump still in use in Colorado. Lindsey Kildow Vonn will be the recipient of the “Competitor of the Year Award.” In 2008 Lindsey Vonn won the overall Alpine Skiing World Cup title to complete the first American sweep of the men’s and women’s overall titles in 25 years. She also won the US Alpine Championships Combined (downhill and slalom) title, marking her best ski season to date.
To attend the Oct. 18 Colorado Ski & Snowboard Hall of Fame Induction Gala or for more information about the Colorado Ski Museum Ski & Snowboard Hall of Fame, call (970) 476-1876 or visit www.skimuseum.net.
The Colorado Ski & Snowboard Hall of Fame Class of 2008 includes:
Paul T. Bailey – Paul was a founding member of the Copper Mountain Ski area and Chairman of the Board from Copper Mountain’s inception in 1972 through 1978. Paul was president of the Loveland Basin Ski Team and treasurer of the Rocky Mountain Division. He helped bring World Cup skiing to Copper Mountain and continues to be an active supporter of ski-related organizations such as Colorado Ski Country and the U.S. Ski Team. Paul started racing at the age of 58 and has enjoyed much success on the racing circuit.This past season he was the National Nastar Champion in the 85 and over category.
Chuck Ferries â€“ Chuck has had an outstanding career as a U.S. Alpine ski racer and U.S. Ski Team coach. Chuck was a member of the Squaw Valley U.S. Olympic Ski Team, a member of the U.S. World Championship Team, and a member of the Innsbruck U.S. Olympic Ski Team. He contributed his time, skills and financial resources while serving as president of the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association from 2002-2006 and brought recognition to Colorado and the ski industry while serving as president of Scott USA. He was inducted into the U.S. Ski Hall of Fame in 1989.
Merrill G. Hastings Jr. – Merrill served in the 10th Mountain Division of the U.S. Army and after returning to the U.S. a decorated hero, joined the construction crew in building Arapahoe Basin. Merrill was a Berthoud Pass ski school director and a national ski patrolman starting the ski association that evolved into the Rocky Mountain Division of PSIA. He started Skiing Magazine in 1948 and successfully ran it for 16 years. In March of 1998 Merrill was named to Ski Industry Hall of Fame by Skiing Magazine.
Bill Jensen â€“ Bill began his career working as a lift operator. He quickly rose up through the ranks landing at the helm of Vail Resorts serving as the President and CEO. He helped to secure and successfully host the Alpine World Championships and annual Birds of Prey World Cup races. Bill’s sharp insight, customer service focus and implementation of innovative programming helped him make Vail one of the most popular resorts in the world today.
Knox T. Williams – Knox developed an avalanche safety program recognized throughout the world. He built the Colorado Avalanche Information Center, the oldest avalanche forecast center in the United States, into one of the most respected centers in the world. He developed a methodology for archiving weather and avalanche data which has allowed for more accurate mountain weather and avalanche forecasting in Colorado and managed to preserve the CAIC through 35 years of government cutbacks.
Knox Williams Books from our Backcountry Skiing Book List
Williams, Knox and Betsy Armstrong. The Avalanche Book. Fulcrum Press, 1986.
(Excellent overview, should be in every backcountry skier’s collection.)
Shop for The Avalanche Book
Williams, Knox and Armstrong, Betsy. The Snowy Torrents: Avalanche Accidents , United States, 1972-1979. Teton Bookshop Publishing, 1984.
(This classic of accident reporting changed the way we look at avalanches, includes many of the famous early accidents that helped inform today’s avalanche safety methods.)
Shop for Snowy Torrents: Avalanche Accidents in the United States 1972-1979
WildSnow.com publisher emeritus and founder Lou (Louis Dawson) has a 50+ years career in climbing, backcountry skiing and ski mountaineering. He was the first person in history to ski down all 54 Colorado 14,000-foot peaks, has authored numerous books about about backcountry skiing, and has skied from the summit of Denali in Alaska, North America’s highest mountain.