February has been a rough month, yesterday I learned that I lost a friend, inspiration, and important contributor to the ski industry in the avalanche at Stevens Pass. While I did not know Chris Rudolph as well as some people, I feel especially heart broken because Chris was so welcoming to me from the moment I made the decision to move to the Pacific Northwest. He consistently sent me job postings that he thought I might be interested in and suggested often that I come up to Stevens Pass to take some turns with him.
When we finally met in person this fall, he introduced me to his whole team and told me about some of the marketing strategies that he had been working on throughout the summer at the resort including the huge success of the introductory bike park. When funding was pulled for the downhill mountain bike park at Stevens Pass, Chris used his creativity and innovation to raise enough money to keep the bike park idea alive and in about 36 hours at that. Keep in mind, this was still an idea at this point, dirt hadn’t even been pushed yet. By this point, it was already late in the summer season, and when the park did finally open it was only for one weekend. However, Chris pushed forward, receiving major kudos from mountain bikers both locally and throughout the bike community. This story speaks to the passion that Chris showed for the ski resort industry as a whole, he understood already that Stevens Pass would have skiers and riders flocking to their slopes during the winter, but that bringing those crowds for the summer time was possible as well.
I learned about Chris first, and when the news of Jim and Johnnie followed, I found myself feeling like a disaster. Three ambassadors to our sport that I am sure were mentors, leaders, and inspirations in their own right each. My heart goes out to their families.
This blog is dedicated to finding the positivity in each day, and as very sad as I feel, what I can say is that I am glad that I had the opportunity to meet Chris at all. I will continue to be inspired by his passion, his welcoming and kind personality, and the power that the tight knit ski industry has to support each other.
Before we know it, March will be here.