John Russell's sports column appears Sundays in Steamboat Today. Contact him at 871-4209 or email jrussell@SteamboatToday.com.
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Steamboat Springs I never took the opportunity to get to know Marvin Crawford, and I regret it.
From what I’ve read and heard about Marvin, it seems to me like he was a pretty standup guy. The kind of guy who left a mark on our community that can still be felt, the kind of man whose legend still echoes in the halls of Howelsen Hill and is written in the history of the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club, and the kind of person who loved his community.
But my respect for Crawford does not come from the written words of the stories that he has left behind. My respect for the man comes from the actions and the dedication of his son, Gary.
I can’t remember when I first met Gary Crawford, but if I had to guess, I would say it was close to 20 years ago on the side of the ski jumps at Howelsen. Or maybe it was on the practice greens at the Sheraton golf course, now called Rollingstone Ranch Golf Club.
It really doesn’t matter where our paths first crossed, but throughout the years, I’ve come to know Gary as a great person.
He’s reliable and always seems to be going the extra mile to help me and others in our community. His love of ski jumping and helping young people reach new heights is well-documented.
I’ve come to know him as a dedicated coach, a valuable community member and the type of person who is well on his way to leaving his mark on our community.
I didn’t know Gary’s dad very well, but I have no doubt he would be proud.
This week, Gary will board a plane for a flight to Eau Claire, Wis., where he'll witness his father’s induction into the Ski Jumping Hall of Fame.
It will be the fourth time that Gary’s father has found his way to a Hall of Fame induction ceremony. The Steamboat Springs skiing legend was named to the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame in 1979, to the Colorado Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame in 1981 and to the University of Denver Athletics Hall of Fame in 1996 — honors that his son doesn’t take lightly or for granted.
“It’s pretty special because this one is a national Hall of Fame,” Gary said.
But the truth is that all of the honors are special to a family that takes so much pride in skiing and in Steamboat’s long-standing traditions.
It’s not surprising that Gary takes so much pride in his father’s accomplishments, even the ones that come years after his death.
Gary’s pride shows in the way he lives his life, in the dedication that he shows every year as a coach at the Winter Sports Club and by his belief that there is no place on earth like Steamboat Springs.
It’s great that Marvin will be honored along with Zane Palmer, Jon Elliot, Kris Severson and Crosby Perry-Smith this weekend.
But the truth is that Marvin and Gary already have taken their places in the most important halls — the ones inside Howelsen Hill where those who strive to live up to Marvin’s example carry on the spirit of the Winter Sports Club.
To reach John F. Russell call, 970-871-4209 or email jrussell@SteamboatToday.com