Recalling Banana George, Steamboat’s most colorful snowboard ambassador | SteamboatToday.com

Recalling Banana George, Steamboat’s most colorful snowboard ambassador

The daughters of Banana George Blair, who became a Steamboat snowboard ambassador in his late 70s, have produced a book about his remarkable life.

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — The daughters of the late Banana George Blair have collaborated on a newly published book about the man in a screaming yellow ski outfit, who for many years, lit up the slopes of Mount Werner before his death in 2013 at 98.

The book is appropriately entitled: "Banana George! Don't Wait for Life to Happen, Make it Happen."

Daughter GeeGee Blair said she and her sisters felt they needed to preserve their father's story in print and enlisted the help of author Karen Putz to produce a book centered on their dad’s will to become an athlete in spite of a physical defect he battled from birth.

"It's just 200 pages, but it's written by his family along with Karen," GeeGee said Feb. 27. "It's basically a biography."

More famous for his remarkable ability to bare-foot water ski while grasping the tow rope in his teeth – well into his golden years – Banana George was also an unmistakable character on Steamboat's Vagabond trail, with his canary yellow helmet, ski suit, and you guessed it, banana yellow snowboard.

Blair had a condominium in Steamboat and spent the majority of the year in Florida.

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In 2000, Blair explained his devotion to one certain color. He told Steamboat Today, “God gave me the gravitational pull toward yellow."

Blair, who was the holder of five Guinness Book of World Records, didn't learn to snowboard until he was 75, and it didn't take him long to become a Steamboat snowboarding ambassador.

A child of the Depression, Blair suffered from severe scoliosis, and at the age of 40, opted for a spinal fusion in hopes of conquering the pain that had prevented him from participating in sports.

The successful surgery exceeded Blair's wildest dreams in terms of the athletic — some would say, daredevil — activities he was able to pursue.

Just before a visit to Steamboat in 2000, he had spent three days at a rodeo bull riding camp in Denver. Blair rode a mechanical bull, then climbed over the rail of a rodeo chute and got on the back of a live bull. Just before they opened the chute and turned a ton of furious beef loose, a cowboy looped an arm around Banana George and swept him off the brute. Blair was furious, but that cowboy probably saved him from another broken back.

The story of Banana George Blair is like no other.

To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205, email tross@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @ThomasSRoss1.

Copies of “Banana George! Don’t Wait for Life to Happen, Make it Happen,” are available through the website BananaGeorgeBlair.com.