In 1983, an award was created to honor "an individual whose commitment to excellence and dedication to skiing has profoundly enriched the sport." Fine, was the reaction of some at the time, just what sports needs--another award.
But the nine winners to date have all fulfilled that charge, and the AT&T Skiing Award has become an honor to be coveted.
Today in Aspen, Colo., the 10th recipient will be named. When the envelope is opened, into the spotlight will step Dave McCoy, founder of Mammoth Mountain and patriarch of one of skiing's first families. An elite group will thus become even more distinguished, as McCoy, 76, joins his neighbor, Andrea Mead Lawrence, and the eight other past winners.
Lawrence, a double gold medalist in the 1952 Winter Olympics and now a resident of Crowley Lake, received the award last year. Previously honored were Olympic medalists Jimmie Heuga, Billy Kidd and Stein Eriksen; former Alpine coaches Bob Beattie and the late Willy Schaeffler; filmmaker Warren Miller; World Cup founder Serge Lang, and Marc Hodler, president of the International Ski Federation.
McCoy, who first operated a ropetow for California skiers at 50 cents a day on McGee Mountain in the late 1930s, has devoted his life to making Mammoth Mountain one of the world's major ski resorts. Two of his children, Penny and Poncho, became successful ski racers. Two others, Gary and Kandi, help Dave and his wife, Roma, operate both Mammoth and nearby June Mountain, which the McCoys also own.
After the near-disastrous drought of 1990-91, McCoy installed a state-of-the-art snow-making system, which hasn't really been needed that much this winter. "It's still our $5-million insurance policy," he says.
The recipient of the AT&T Skiing Award is selected by a 30-member committee from nominations submitted by a panel of 70 ski journalists. This year's other two finalists were Diana Golden of Lee, Mass., a world champion disabled skier, and Doug Pfeiffer of Big Bear Lake, a pioneer ski instructor, magazine editor and "father of freestyle skiing."
Aspen will be the site this weekend of a World Cup men's downhill and super-G, with AJ Kitt getting the home-field advantage for a change.
Kitt, who finished third behind winner Daniel Mahrer of Switzerland in last Saturday's downhill at Panorama, Canada, is third in the World Cup downhill standings with 421 points, only 16 behind runner-up Mahrer, whose countryman, Franz Heinzer, has already clinched the downhill title with 602.
Another Swiss skier, Paul Accola, has wrapped up the overall championship with 1,512 points to 1,162 for his closest rival, Alberto Tomba of Italy.
ESPN will televise the Aspen races on a next-day basis, Sunday at 5:30 p.m. and Monday at 5 p.m.
The women will compete in a downhill and super-G at Panorama Saturday and Sunday, before joining the men for the World Cup finals Tuesday through March 22 at Crans-Montana, Switzerland. Petra Kronberger of Austria has all but iced her third consecutive title with 1,077 points, 175 ahead of Vreni Schneider of Switzerland and 246 more than Carole Merle of France.
Sierra Summit, east of Fresno, will play host to the Women's Pro Ski Tour this weekend. Catharina Glasser-Bjerner of Sweden, who tops the standings with 476 points, will be trying to hold off the challenges of Austrian Roswitha Raudaschl, who has 417, and American Lynda McGehee-Walsh, who has 375. Glasser-Bjerner also is the leading money-winner with $28,253. . . . The men on the U.S. Pro Tour will visit Killington, Vt., with Bernhard Knauss of Austria still far ahead of the pack.
Kim Reichhelm will conduct her Women's Ski Adventure, for women of all levels of skiing ability, today through Monday at Bear Mountain. . . . Alpine skier David Kiley of San Dimas, director of Casa Colina's wheelchair sports, recreation and outdoors program, will compete in the Winter Paralympic Games starting March 23 at Albertville, France. . . . The Junior Olympics, sponsored by the U.S. Ski Assn., will be held next week at Mt. Bachelor, Ore.; Sun Valley, Ida., and Bridger Bowl, Mont.
Royal Gorge at Soda Springs, Calif., recently named the top cross-country ski resort in North America by Snow Country magazine, will stage the final event of the Great American Ski Chase Sunday--the 50-kilometer California Gold Rush. . . . Fabrice Guy of France won the Nordic combined World Cup meet at Trondheim, Norway, on Wednesday and virtually clinched the title. . . . Toni Nieminen of Finland jumped 121 meters twice to take the Trondheim, Norway, large-hill World Cup competition.