Celebrities on Snow
Tuesday, February 2, 2016
I was talking with a co-worker, Tom Montemagni, and we landed on the subject of celebrities who have skied at Mount Snow. The more we talked and the more people we added to the conversation, the more the list grew. So here we go, in chronological order (to the best of our ability.)
Suzy "Chapstick" Chaffee worked at Mount Snow – this photo taken on Fountain Mountain in the 1960’s. She was the airline attendant on the short-lived Mount Snow Express flights on Friday nights from NYC to MS.
Pictured below, Manfried Kreig was a ski instructor from Austria and taught at Mount Snow and he was also a pro racer
Rex Trailer flew his helicopter into Mount Snow and did some sort of TV thing - but I am not sure what.
Merv Griffin shot a show here in 1968
1960's - pictured above, Bonnie Prudden (left), TV's "trim and slim" physical fitness expert on Dave Carroway's "Today" show, explains the trail map to her blind friend Thelma "Toni" Keitlen, one of only a few blind skiers in the world, at that time. On Bonnie's arm is the Swiss sheep bell that she used for guidance down the difficult trails.
An episode of RT 66 was shot here at Mount Snow in the early 60’s. The storyline was Tod and Linc are employed at the Snow Lake Lodge and there is a love twist, of course.
Mohamed Ali took a lesson here in 1970. Tom remembers that day well and describes Mohamed as a tall, athletic. Tom joked that Ali almost ended his career here when he could not stop at the bottom of Mixing Bowl and hit the fence. Ali pictured below with his instructor,Bob Grattan.
Buddy Hackett owned a condo at the North Branch Club and skied here quite a bit. North Branch was located where Trails Edge stands today. I was also able to find that the Shah of Iran’s wife also was an owner at the North Branch Club. The Shah’s family (but not him) skied here – private lessons for all the kids – big tippers.
Her's a few of Tom's top few memories: Not exactly celebrities but a bunch of us ski instructors did a commercial for (I think it was) Sanka coffee filmed at the Forge – we had photos of the shoot but never saw the finished product. Connie (Tom's sife) and I sat at a piano – pretended to play then drank from a steaming coffee cup.
Also, we did a photo shoot of a mock torch light parade on Mixing Bowl hill that was blown-up and was displayed one winter in Grand Central Station. I happened to be in the front for the shot and that whole season strangers at the resort would come up to me to say – are you the guy in that big photo at GCS?? – I always answered – no that is my “older” brother.
Bo Derick was here for some outside shots for a movie – the movie crew was headquartered in that big motel on Main Street in Bennington. Tom remembers going to Bennington to get costumes and ski equipment and then he was the "co-star" of the photo shoot. Only problem is that he only got to ski with Bo Derick's double. He hope to see her but never did.
I believe that much of the celebrity presence in the early years was in part due to founder, Walter Schoenknecht, and his promotional abilities. Walt used to send season passes to all sorts of people, like the Kennedy's.
Doug Kaufman, who runs our Mountain Camp program, is always one of my go-to historians and helped me with the 70's and 80's.
Wayne Wong was brought in to help our ski school and training center staff who taught freestyle. Doug Kaufman and a handful of other fresstyle coaches got to ski with Wayne for a day.
Jean Claude Killy – won first pro race at Mount Snow in 1973.
Spider Sabich – His last win on the pro circuit was in January, 1974 at Mount Snow. Two years later Spider was shot dead in Aspen Colorado. Claudine Longet was convicted of misdemeanor negligent homicide in connection with the death of her boyfriend. Pictured below are Spider and Claudine at Mount Snow for his last win. Tragic.
Rudi Wyrsch, pictured below, was the self proclaimed Pied Piper of skiing and taught children not only how to ski but how to have fun on and off the snow. From Piperville to his 12 foot stilts, Rudi was a master at engaging children with entertainment. Once a member of the Swiss national team, Rudi worked at Mount Snow in the 60's - 70's. Click here to plunk yourself into a 1975 SKI Magazine and go to pg 52 if you want to read up on Rudi and all that he did to get kids skiing at Mount Snow. Or if you are like me, spend an hour just looking through all of the memorable pages.
The Mahre brothers (Steve and Phil) - were both here on the pro ski race circuit - probably in the early 90's. Kaufman told me that he was a mode, in a photo shoot, with the Mahre’s, for a sportswear line they had created. Doug also remembered that Mount Snow held the Ski Pro race finals here, at least once. Some pro races were seen on Major network [CBS, NBC, ABC] TV. Doug thinks we had the likes of Ingemar Stenmark and other notable Olympians here. Help us out - someone has to remember this.
If you know Doug, you know that he saved that jacket from the Mahre Bros photo shoot and here it is, pictured above.
Erik Barnes, our Director of Resort operations told me that in the late 80’s he remembers saying, "hello" to Christopher Reeve. I have it on good authority that Christopher Reeves would stay at Two Tannery when he skied here.
Ron Howard could be spotted from time to time in the late 80’s/early 90’s. He owned a house in South Newfane, up the road from where I was living at the time. I never saw Ron at Mount Snow but I saw him a few times when I was out for walks with my kids. I remember him always having a lot of kids in tow. Tom saw Ron at Mount Snow and tells this story. Ron asked me if he was “…going in the right direction…” I smiled and said “that depends on what direction you want to go in”. We both laughed and I said, looking at the kids - I am guessing you are looking for child care – he said yes and I walked them around to the front of the building wishing them a nice day.
Billy Kidd - When American Skiing Company owned Mount Snow and Steamboat, Billy Kidd toured the resorts and stopped by Mount Snow. In the photo below L to R:
Carl Swanback, Fred Rolon, Billy Kidd, Keith Rodney and Doug Kaufman.
Lance Armstrong showed his versatility and impressed us all by jumping on his mountain bike and coming in 6th in our NORBA National Championship short track in 1999, just after his Tour De France win.
During the X Games we had some pretty big names at Sundance – (2000) Eminem and Godsmack. (2001) Bare Naked Ladies?
Dee Snider, Twisted Sister, visited Mount Snow and his kids took lessons with us.
Jonny Moseley was our ski school “spokesperson” for a few years when we were owned by American Skiing Company. Checkout Jonny's Olympic gold medal run in Nagano - remember those hats?
Richard Gere visited Mount Snow frequently, within the last 10 years, and often took lessons (privates with ski pro, Steve Goldfarb.) His wife at the time, Carey Lowell (Bond Girl and Law and Order) accompanied him.
Cynthia Nixon (played Miranda – Sex in the City) took a lesson with Doug Daniels, our Resort Services Manager.
Chris Rock was here with his wife and daughters a few times. His daughters took lessons. I remember a very busy day and I was in the base lodge helping to bus trays. I came around the corner, by Tony’s pizza, and there was Chris sitting by himself at the Tony’s Pizza condiment table. I guess that was the only spot he could find to eat his pizza. I wondered what he was thinking at that moment and felt it could be some good material for a future stand-up. Hopefully, it never made the stage.
Bobby Valentine (pro baseball player and former manager of Red Sox) still comes to Mount Snow.
Gordon Ramsey stayed at the Grand Summit in 2014 when he was here to shoot Hotel Hell down the road at Layla’s Riverside Lodge (see photo below.) Our staff discovered that he liked good wine and was training for an Ironman. Josh (The Grind and Mtn Bike Shop) helped the renowned chef out with his bike so he could get some training in while he was here.
I think the celebrities that resonate the most with us are some of the athletes who have trained on our slopes and have become the best in the World.
Kelly Clark (Snowboard - halpipe) Mount Snow's first hometown hero, when she won Olympic Gold in 2010. We couldn't be prouder of Kelly - not only because she has more wins in halfpipe than anyone, male or female but because she sets a good example for young athletes who dream of following in her footsteps. Pictured below, Kelly in 07 with a win at the US Open.
Devin Logan (Freesyle) Devin is another "local" who grew up skiing at Mount Snow with her brothers and knows each trail like the back of her hand, especially, Carinthia Parks. Devin has also earned her Olympic Silver and exemplifies everything one could only wish for: talent, determination and the ability to have fun while getting the job done. Devin blogged back in November and is currently back east for the Polartec Big Air at Fenway, where she will compete.
Pictured above, Devin showing off her medal during the parade the Town of Dover organized to celebrate her success.
Eliza Outtrim (Freestyle - Moguls) Growing up, Eliza and her family were familiar faces over at the Training Center, where she was on the freestyle team. She went on to be a World Cup top contender and placed 6th in the Sochi Olympics.
Nick Goepper Nick has a truckload of medals to back up his dominance in freestyle, including a bronze from the Sochi Olympics and plenty of X Games gold. Nick grew up in Indianna but spent years at Carinthia and was a member of the Carinthia team before the Olympics. Like Kelly, Devin and Eliza, Nick's personality is as attractive and down-to-earth as his athletic ability.
It is interesting that back when Mount Snow first opened celebrities were deliberately photographed and promoted, probably as a way to draw more skiers to the new resort. Today it seems just the opposite. When I saw Chris Rock I walked away, trying to provide him and his little condiment stand table-for-one some privacy. Old school or new, whenever a celebrity hits the slopes word quickly gets around...as the bullwheel turns.
Thank you to my contributors Tom and Connie Montemagni, Doug Kaufman and Erik Barnes. Your memories are fantastic!