It’s not where you might think, but here’s why it matters — and why family matters, too.

Chris Davenport has stood atop the world’s most awe-inspiring peaks. But tonight, he’s humbled just walking around the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame’s Honor Roll gallery.

Erik Schlopy’s mind wanders back to that magical day in St. Moritz when he won his World Championship medal as he reflects on his own stature as an honored member.

Kristina Koznick Landa, who won six World Cup slaloms, tries to hold back a tear as she spots the plaque honoring her own coach, Hall of Famer Erich Sailer.

Ross Powers, who won Olympic gold in Park City, sees the pride in his mother’s eyes as he’s formally enshrined.

They are among 10 new members of the Hall of Fame, which is found hundreds of miles from the Rocky Mountains in Ishpeming, Mich. But this is the birthplace of organized skiing in this country, and has recognized nearly 400 luminaries in our sport since 1956. Last month, Davenport and others traveled here to be part of another historic recognition ceremony.

“When I walked into the Hall I immediately saw some familiar names from my hometown — Carrol Reed, Tyler Palmer, Hannes Schneider, Brooks Dodge and Toni Matt,” said Davenport. “Being associated with these greats made me extremely proud of my heritage and upbringing in New Hampshire. Then I began seeing Hall of Fame members from Aspen, where I have lived for more than half of my life. Folks like Klaus Obermeyer, Christin Cooper, Dick Durrance and John Clendenin have made a big impact on me as a skier and as a professional. Reading all of the stories of these amazing individuals, and knowing that I would have a place next to them, was almost overwhelming.”

Skiing is a family sport. Kids get started by Mom and Dad or older siblings, often skiing together their entire life. Schlopy shared the story of the ski sweater he wanted so badly. He got it one Christmas. In his first race in the new sweater, he made a big mistake the first run and came into the finish vowing to quit the sport. He reflects on the impact his dad had that day. “‘Yes, son, you can quit,’” his dad said. “‘But you have to take one more run first.’” Schlopy did. And he didn’t quit. And he became a World Championship medalist.

Jeannie Thoren grew up a stone’s throw from the Hall of Fame in Ishpeming. In her career, she made a difference for skiing by pioneering women’s-specific gear. “Walking through the door, I was finally a member of the ‘locker room’ that I’ve always wanted to belong to,” she said. “Like Andrea Mead Lawrence, I feel I made a difference. I finally achieved my lifelong dream — to have helped others love the sport like me.”

When you think of skiing today, your mind travels to places like Vail, Aspen, Park City, Stowe and more. In 1905, Ishpeming was the center of the American skiing universe. Today, the small Upper Peninsula community still takes deep pride in its role. And when newly named inductees come through the doors and into the Honor Hall, it simply takes their breath away. There is so much history in that building.

“I was honored to be inducted Hall of Fame — I mean, who wouldn’t be, right?” said Koznick Landa. “But the true gravity didn’t hit me until I walked into the building. There were no crowds, no people to greet, just silence. I got to see the history of skiing in our country unfold, right before my eyes. I got chills reading about the men and women who had been inducted before me. I felt very humbled to know that my name would be among them now. Every direction I looked, every name and plaque that I read, we were all intertwined, as if one of us could not be there without the others. It was a moment I will never forget.”

“I always told myself that if my legacy in skiing could simply be a positive contribution to the sport, then I would be happy,” said Davenport. “And I am.”

Article Tags: Premium Opinion, Top Rotator, USSA

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Tom Kelly
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- Tom Kelly is a veteran of nine Olympics and serves as Vice President, Communications for the Park City-based U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association. Each week he takes you Behind the Gold to tell you the inside story of our nation’s top skiers and snowboarders.
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