I had a great day of skiing Thursday at California’s Squaw Valley. The heavens were bluebird clear, the Headwall Express was carrying me to challenging slopes, the snow was soft and forgiving … and my skis actually traveled in the direction I pointed them.
From the top of the KT-22 lift, I stared down mogul-pocked Jonny Moseley’s Run, named for the gold-medalist in freestyle skiing in the 1998 Winter Olympics. I decided not to pound my knees and spine on this particular day. Instead, I cruised down Julia’s Gold, honoring 2006 and 2010 Olympic medalist Julia Mancuso. Both Moseley and Mancuso grew up skiing at Squaw Valley.
And it occurred to me: Why has Mount Bachelor never honored its winter-sports greats as so many other ski resorts have done?
Sun Valley, after all, has runs named for 1948 gold medalist Gretchen Fraser, 1984 silver medalist Christin Cooper, and 1994-1998 double medalist Picabo Street. Steamboat Springs pays homage to 1964 Olympian Buddy Werner and 1992 medalist Nelson Carmichael. Vail trails honor Roger Staub, a 1960 gold medalist, and Charles Minot Dole, founder of the National Ski Patrol in 1938. Jackson Hole boasts Pepi’s Run (for Pepi Stiegler, a medalist in 1960 and 1964) and the fabled Corbet’s Couloir, named for 1960s’ mountain guide and Mount Everest climber Barry Corbet.
And what does Bachelor have? Healy Heights, for founder Bill Healy; Cliff’s Run, for premier operator Cliff Blann; and Atkeson’s Zoom, for photographer Ray Atkeson.
Take a look at a map of Mount Bachelor and you’ll see a trio of unnamed chutes, all double black-diamond runs, extending through the basalt outcroppings just beneath the summit. I’d like to see the ski resort name them to honor a trio of local alpine skiers who made their marks on the international stage … and, at the same time, invite the Bend community to feel slightly more a part of mountain activities.
Jean Saubert grew up near Sweet Home, learned to ski at Hoodoo, and graduated from high school in Lakeview in 1960. She trained at Bachelor through her college years at Oregon State and came home from the 1964 Winter Olympics in Innsbruck, Austria, with a silver medal in the giant slalom and a bronze medal in the slalom. Saubert died two years ago at the age of 65.
Kiki Cutter became the first American skier, male or female, to win a World Cup championship … a 1968 slalom in Norway. Born and raised in Bend, she learned to ski at Bachelor; won the U.S. National Downhill as a Bend High junior in 1967; competed in all three disciplines in the 1968 Olympics in Grenoble, France; and won a total of five World Cup titles before turning pro in 1970. In 2001, she returned to Bend after three decades in Colorado and founded Bend Living magazine.
Mike Lafferty also considered Bachelor his home mountain. A Eugene skier who competed for the Skyliners (now MBSEF) in the mid-1960s, Lafferty was a downhill specialist. He won the national collegiate championship in 1969 for the University of Colorado and raced in the 1972 Winter Olympics in Sapporo, Japan. Although he failed to medal, Lafferty ranked third in the world in the downhill that year.
“Jean’s Jump.” “Kiki’s Cutoff.” “Last Laff.” Those are my proposed names. Do I have a second?
There is one more unnamed run through the mountaintop Cirque. I’m saving that for 21-year-old Tommy Ford, a Bend native who made his first Olympic team in 2010, and who is almost certain to be back on the team in 2014. How about Ford’s Folly?