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Colorado Ski Hall of Famer still chasing the powder

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January 25th, 2010
YLi0210_Skiier2
YLi0210_Skiier2
[caption id="attachment_7602" align="alignright" width="229" caption="Skiier Harold Horiuchi is in his element as he takes in the view at Wind Crest, where he lives. (Photo by Beth Brandenburg)"][/caption] With the 2010 Winter Olympics set to begin later this month in Vancouver, it will undoubtedly spur many to try the sport of skiing (or at least watch it on TV!). But forWind Crestresident and Colorado Ski Hall of Fame member Harold Horiuchi, skiing has been an integral part of life for more than 60 years. Horiuchi speaks about the sport he loves with a gleam in his eye and an unrelenting passion in his voice. It s a sanctuary, really, in the powder, he says. You re setting your own tracks. You are doing the same moves, but every run is different, every run is new. Horiuchi received his first set of skis in high school. It started at prom, he says. I won a door prize some skis, boots, and poles. I never knew it would have gone this far. During World War II, he mastered the art of skiing in the Alps, and upon returning stateside, continued to cut his teeth in the wet snow of northern Washington State s Stevens Pass. Eventually, he came to Colorado looking for the best powder. You wanted to be here because the snow conditions were better than anywhere else, he says. The ultimate experience is powder skiing. Horiuchi got even more serious about the sport when he joined the Ski Patrol at Colorado s Winter Park resort. As a weekend volunteer, he did trail checks after fresh and old snows to ensure the trails were safe for skiers. He also served as a general member of the snow patrol, assisting skiiers who were stranded or injured. And while he reveled in Colorado s snow, he chased the powder all over the world. One of the most notable trips, he says, included being helicoptered and left on top of uninhabited mountains in the British Northwest with nothing but his skis to get him down. I was only caught in a (snow) slide there once, but luckily I was able to ski out of it, he recalls. Being in the ski patrol, you learn to be aware of those things and look for the signs like the big thump before a slide. In 1988, Horiuchi was inducted into the Colorado Ski Hall of Fame for contributing to the organization, promotion, [and] development of the skiing and snowboarding sport in Colorado. Even so, says James Bredar, a former ski patrol member at Winter Park, He is humble and self-deprecating. He is a quiet guy with an unflappable personality. You figure out early that he is a compassionate man, careful, and very knowledgeable of all of the technological aspects of the sport. He is probably the most extraordinary man I ve ever met. At Winter Park, he became part of the place. Though he doesn t volunteer there anymore, Horiuchi still hangs out in the ski-patrol hut and skis with current members of the ski patrol when he visits Winter Park. It s been an all-consuming thing, Horiuchi says of his love affair with skiing. He has already been skiing a few times this season. He also reports that he s discovered a number of his neighbors atWind Crestwho share his passion. And while Horiuchi hasn t hit the slopes with them yet, he says, It s nice to have those common interests. That scene always has a funny way of spilling into your social life, into your conversations.

Olympic point of view

A great skier in his own right,Wind Crest sHarold Horiuchi served as an official at the 1960 Olympics in Squaw Valley, Calif. He is the coauthor of Manual Timing, the standard guide for competitive ski officiating in the U.S. Manual timing isn t used as much anymore, Horiuchi says. But in 1960, it was the first year that the Olympics used electronic timing. So we were there to manually time everything and back them up in case their system didn t work or had any problems. Working the Squaw Valley games and manually timing skiiers wasn t as glamorous as you would expect. Horiuchi says it was a complicated and sometimes monotonous process that included synchronizing watches, graphing times, and doing a lot of paperwork. He says he will be watching this year s Winter Games with enthusiasm on TV. I ve been there, and it s really easier to watch on TV. That way, you can see every event and you re not standing out there in the cold all day. Plus, he says, They re going downhill at 70 miles an hour, so if you re there, they go whizzing by you anyway. And he ll have no problem feeling like he s there in person. Having skied where these games are taking place, in British Columbia, he explains, I ll get a kick out of seeing those mountains again.

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