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Remembering Aspen ski school, ski patrol pioneer Curt Chase

June 10, 2014, 10:11 am

Curt Chase, a member of the Colorado Ski and Snowboard Museum Hall of Fame as a Sport Builder and Innovator since 1989, passed away recently.

A longtime resident of Aspen in the post-World War II years, Chase had more recently been retired and living in Summit County.

Curt Chase

Curt Chase

“I am sad to have to pass along the news of the passing of Hall of Fame member Curt Chase,” Ski Museum Executive Director Susie Tjossem wrote in an email on Monday.

Here’s more on Chase’s remarkable life from his Hall of Fame bio on the Ski Museum’s website:

Curt Chase has taken great pride in being the first “pure ski instructor” to be honored by induction to the Colorado Ski Hall of Fame.

Curt has been an innovator and motivating force in the field of ski instruction for over 40 years. He started skiing at age ten. In the hills of New Hampshire in the 1930’s, Dick Durrance sparked in Curt an interest in skiing, which has lasted a lifetime. Curt became further involved in the sport as a member of the University of New Hampshire Ski Team.

In 1943, Curt became a Survival Training Instructor for the US Army 10th Mountain Division ski troops. He made his home in Aspen after World War II, and became a member of the Aspen Ski School.  In 1946, he organized, trained and directed the Aspen Ski Patrol. As a certified coach and course setter, he set many downhill courses in Aspen, including the Roch Cup and World Cup races. He also authored the original Aspen Ski Instructors Manual.

In 1951, Curt became a Survival Training Instructor for the Strategic Air Command, specializing in skiing and mountaineering. After the Korean Conflict, he returned to Aspen and became a full time ski instructor. Except for a brief time spent in Red Lodge, Montana, Curt has spent most of his adult skiing career in the Roaring Fork Valley, and was Director of the Aspen Ski School for 17 years and Snowmass Ski School for 5 years.

Perhaps his most significant impact on skiing was his work on the development of the “basic turn” approach to ski instruction, now known as the American Ski Technique. As one of the eight founding Directors of the Professional Ski Instructors of America, Curt was instrumental in developing and codifying the standards of the reaching method, which is now used nationwide. As the coach of the American Demonstration Team for the 8th InterSki Conference (the international organization for ski instruction), he was able to introduce the American Technique to his peers from all over the world.

When Curt looks at the Hall of Fame Inductees and those who had an impact on his life, the list is full of recognizable names: Dick Durrance, Steve Knowlton, Steve Bradley, Pete Seibert, Friedl Pfeifer, Billy Kidd, Bill Marolt, Buddy Werner, Jimmy Huega, Darcy Brown, and others. He has been involved with ski instruction for more than 50 years and has been instrumental in streamlining the art of ski instruction. As a student of the art of ski instruction, Curt emphasized the practical and comfortable methods of skiing, as opposed to the sometimes forced and dictatorial style of earlier days. There is no doubt that Curt has had an effect on skiers world-wide, and certainly on the skiers of Colorado.


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