Ski area founder named to state Ski Hall of Fame

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— Steamboat Springs ski pioneer Jim Temple, the primary founder of the Steamboat Ski Area, has been named to the Colorado Ski Hall of Fame.

He joins four other 2006 honorees and will be inducted at a ceremony in Denver on Oct. 14.

"I'm really delighted to be invited into that group," Temple, 79, said Friday. "I think it's a great group of people that have contributed a lot to the sport."

Every skier or snowboarder who slides down Storm Peak can thank Temple for his contribution.

Temple grew up in Routt County, skiing on the Focus Ranch near the Wyoming border. After spending seven winters working as a ski patroller and avalanche forecaster in Sun Valley, Idaho, Temple began to seriously consider building a ski mountain of his own. Deep snow, a steep drop and railroad access -- with an airport on the way -- led him to look no further than his home county.

Temple began purchasing land at the base of Storm Mountain in 1957, and after several feasibility studies, mountain explorations and the forming of the Storm Mountain Ski Corp., he broke ground on the Storm Mountain Ski Area on July 6, 1958.

"We pushed down a big cottonwood tree," he said about an effort that would take two years to complete. "We opened the mountain in December of 1960 -- that was the beginning."

Racing on the mountain began shortly after the groundbreaking, Temple said, even though the two chairlifts he bought in California were not yet installed.

"When I held races on the mountain those first few winters, we had Jeep Cherokees to take skiers up the mountain," he said. "We did that for the winters of 1958, 1959 and 1960."

Temple said he is not surprised at what the ski area has become today.

"My vision was that it would be a year-round resort," he said. "I knew it was a great mountain and a great site. It took some time, but it grew pretty nicely."

This year's other Hall of Fame inductees are Barbara Ferries Henderson, who won a bronze medal in downhill skiing at the 1962 World Championships and competed in the 1964 Olympics; Aspen resident Mark Tache, a member of the U.S. Ski Team from 1978-85 and veteran U.S. Pro Tour racer; Ray Duncan, who created what would become the Durango Mountain Resort; and Henry Christian Hall, who became the first ski jumper to surpass 200 feet -- on Howelsen Hill in 1917.

Temple said many more people are deserving of the honor.

"I'll be looking to get more people in after I'm in," he said. "There are a lot of people who deserve to be honored for their contributions to the ski world."

Financial difficulties led to the 1969 sale of Storm Mountain Ski Corp. to LTV Aerospace for a reported $4 million.

Temple got nothing from the sale.

"They took all my assets and sold them for millions of dollars," Jim Temple told the Steamboat Pilot & Today in 2003. He was referring to Steamboat Partnership, an investment group formed by Denver banker Hank Perry to finance the struggling ski mountain.

Temple lives in the Boulder area. He returns to Steamboat frequently to see his sons, Jamie and Jeff, and grandsons Parker, 8, and Brandon, 6.

He is in town with family this weekend.

"I'm going to relax a little bit and have some fun up here," he said. My grandsons "are both ski jumpers -- Parker likes to get some big air," he said.

"That's what I built the mountain for, so the kids can have a good time."

-- To reach Mike Lawrence, call 871-4203 or e-mail mlawrence@steamboatpilot.com

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