Daily Archives: December 8, 2017

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Gorsuch

In the winter, the Gorsuch house sparkles, light glittering through paned windows on pristine snow. In the summer, the house becomes expansive in its surprisingly rambling outdoor setting in the Vail neighborhood, complete with a postcard view of the Gore Range. It is a beautiful, expressive house, lovingly designed with time-honored grace and craftsmanship. A home for people who love the mountains, love skiing, love life. More importantly, it is a home for family.

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The Gorsuch name is well known in this region. It is no secret that David and Renie Gorsuch come from a deep tradition of skiing—former Olympians at that. Nor does it come as a surprise that they are successful business owners—their Gorsuch stores, renowned and well respected for the fine ski gear and elegant, yet functional, clothing and home lines. The couple found their niche in the mountains decades ago and have built well on that beginning.

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It follows that the Gorsuch home should exhibit the same sensibilities—a pension for fine quality and for the ski life that brought them here.

But what does surprise people is that the Gorsuches are such down-to-earth people, where family comes first. “We have beautiful stores,” says Renie. “People think we are fancy people.” In fact, Dave grew up in Climax, Colorado, where his father worked the molybdenum mine, and Renie grew up in the Adirondacks. The Gorsuch home in Vail, complete with handcrafted details and beautiful antiques collected from around the world, is still first and foremost a family home. From its charming, rough-hewn “tree house” to its grand living area, this is a home meant to celebrate family and friends, a home that embraces the journeys and memories that Dave and Renie have enjoyed with their two sons, nine grandchildren and extended family—their employees. “This house is very well loved,” assures Renie. “It is a great family house.”

Renie explains that the Gorsuch house reflects influences from the Adirondacks and the Rocky Mountains, as well as the pieces the couple has collected from their travels abroad as competitors on the U.S. Ski Team. “Although it is not an Adirondacks’ house,” says Reni, “as, in the Adirondacks. People live with wood and old things in the mountains.

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They don’t have a lot of things, collectibles.” The deeply sloped roof, with its generous overhangs easily could be found in the Alps where its design has offered protection from deep snows and cold for countless generations. Carved corbels and deep, shuttered windows, along with white-washed stucco punctuated by copper gutters, massive timber beams, stone accents and a carved balcony further the classic European appearance. The home is surrounded by an enclosed yard, that one enters through an aspen-faux-painted, heavy wooden gate.

And, the family’s great Saint Bernard, Zeus, is always there to welcome visitors.

Warm Grandeur Inside

Venetian plaster walls, rich paneling, framed tray ceilings and wide-plank floors create an elegant backdrop. At the same time, this is a home that has withstood two active boys and countless visits from a growing family and friends, while retaining its lovely, serene ambiance.

The living area portrays this elegant home beautifully in the summer, and quite dramatically in the winter. In fact, this grand, but not overstated, room seems almost made for Christmas. The vaulted ceilings, with the wide timber supports, and dark wood paneling and floors contrast nicely with the white Venetian plaster walls. Local artisan Rudi Neumayr did much of the woodwork in the home. Classic and inviting furnishings are paired with antiques collected on travels, and artwork that reflects the mountain settings dear to the couple. “When you are married this long,” Renie says, “you acquire beautiful things.” The antiques and armoires found throughout the home “can be Austrian, German, Italian …” The implication is that it matters less where they come from and more that they are beautifully crafted. Gorgeous scenic paintings given to them by their two sons adorn the walls, while a painting of Stowe, Vermont, near where Renie grew up, hangs over the fireplace.

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In the fireplace is a set of vintage, ski shaped andirons recovered from an old ski lodge. Twin, deep-rose sofas sitting center stage are surprisingly bold and invigorate the space, stage-lit by the light pouring through high palladium windows. Dave and Renie bought the sofas in Denver 40 years ago. The sofas have since been recovered several times, and have gone through various incarnations in blue and patterned fabrics. Renie always wanted rose-pink couches, but everyone told her not to get them. Dave finally told her she should have what she wants; and she did.

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“We have winter outside the majority of the year here,” explains Renie. “It brings a little color inside.” With a glowing Christmas tree placed near the red-patterned armchair and matching ottoman during the holidays, it’s hard to find a more picture-perfect Christmas setting. The dining area shows strong European influences, too. The table includes a corner bench, upholstered in green plaid, which wraps around a wide pine table.
The bench design was chosen, not only because it is traditional in parts of Europe, but also because it invites coziness and togetherness. Ivy trimmed curtains and emerald green walls complemented by the Green Leaf Majolica tableware given Renie by her mother, continue the serenity on view through the surrounding windows.

The kitchen is wide and generous, with all the modern accouterments for feeding family and friends. Carrera marble slab countertops and wooden cabinets continue the traditional look. Rows of cheery cows look down on the setting. Renie explains the family loves cows. In fact, a painting by Ford Ruthling in the room states, “Cows Have an Inner Light.” A sunny seating nook faces a welcoming fireplace. An antique pine table with an intriguing pullout extension and hidden drawer, is paired with a carved bench and keyhole-cut chairs.

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Dave and Renie’s master bedroom is secluded, reached through wooden doors and a wide, plaster archway. Inside is a homey mix of cheery colors and beautifully crafted furnishings, such as the impressive cabin bed and the grandchild’s diminutive bed in one corner, as well as more fine examples of Neumayr’s woodwork. Blue-and-white gingham-upholstered walls and matching bed skirt are
inviting, topped with a crisp, white coverlet.
Gunmetal-and-brass railings lead to a lower landing, where a wall of photos, mostly black and white, tell a story of a life filled with skiing and family. There are pictures of David and Renie ski racing, an old gondola and treasured memories. There is a picture of David with his father; David with his son, John; David’s mother and father; and Renie and David relaxing.

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Downstairs is both Renie’s mother’s room, and what used to be David Jr. and John’s room. In the boys’ room, some of John’s early artwork, along with a framed, illustrated poem hang on the wall. “John is a great watercolorist,” Renie says. A charming antique armoire from Austria in here is one of many found throughout the home. A sunken, two-story room this level now holds a gym and library, but once held a trampoline for the kids, where they used to do flips off the half-wall onto the trampoline below.

Out back is the wide-stone patio, with built-in fireplace and stone bench, that opens onto a rambling yard sloping downhill. Fifteen years ago, the Gorsuches remodeled their home to accommodate two growing boys. Gordon Pierce was the architect and Shaeffer Construction that also built several of the Gorsuch stores, built it. Marilyn Nicola, interior designer and owner of Pinecones in Edwards, helped with the interior design.

A Skiing Life

It was skiing that first brought David and Renie together. They met as teenagers in 1960 as members of the U.S. Olympic Ski Team. That casual encounter began a lifetime of ski dreams. Both grew up skiing: Dave on the small Climax Ski area, built for its tiny, but then thriving mining community at the Climax Mine, and Renie on hills near the Great Lakes, where she would skin up to take runs and where she had one day off from school a week to ski. Long after David’s mother died, Renie still had a copy of a Country Gentleman magazine that featured Dave’s mother and father poised for skiing on its cover. Later, a friend found the original painting in a store in New York.

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It now hangs in the Gorsuch’s living room, a beautiful, vintage reminder of their family and its skiing roots.

When Renie graduated high school, she recalls her mother asking, “Well, you’re a good skier, but now what are you going to do?” When she told her mother she was going to marry David, her mother protested that he had no money. But her grandmother saw something else. “He’s crazy about her and will always be good to her,” she said. Renie and David married after the 1960 Olympics.

Renie attended Middlebury College in Vermont, before transferring to Denver University (DU). David also went to DU until he transferred to ski for Western State Colorado University. It was that move that led to the couple to open their first store in Gunnison. And it’s a great story.

It began with a store that was in a space attached to a garage, when David was attending Western State. The store opened at noon for the college crowds

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Becoming Dorothy Hamill

In the beginning, we were drawn to her eyes. Those bashful eyes, much like the pure, innocent look that we saw in the eyes of Diana, Princess of Wales, when she was first introduced to the world by Prince Charles. And like Diana became England’s revered princess, this fresh-faced young woman would become our pride and joy. Our princess. America’s first sweetheart.

Even her haircut spoke. It said “young, carefree.” Dubbed “The Dorothy,” it inspired a generation of young women who not only wanted to look like her, but who wanted to skate like her as well. Yet, underneath that unassuming appearance was a determined, young woman who would soon show the entire world her strength and determination. Soon Dorothy Hamill would become a World Cup and Olympic champion—and, to this day, has remained a champ in more ways than one.

It all began one winter day when the shy, eight year-old Hamill grabbed whatever skates she could find in the basement of her Connecticut home so she could “go down to the pond” to ice skate with her sister, Marcia and a neighbor. “I just remember skating,” recalls Hamill, of her first time on ice. “Well, I wasn’t really skating, but I thought I was and I loved the feeling of the wind in my face. I was one of those kids who didn’t swing on a swing rather I’d twirl and untwirl. I loved that feeling.

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I remember, on that particular day, I wanted to skate backwards. I watched my sister skating backwards, but neither she nor my neighbor would help me. So, I went home crying to my mother, ‘I want to take skating lessons. I want to skate backwards,’ I insisted. So, after much badgering and begging my mother signed me up for lessons, and that was it! I was hooked. I just loved the challenge of it. I always thought that I wanted to be a tap dancer, a singer. I would practice on the floor of the living room and, I suppose, skating was a combination of dancing and music. Well, maybe not tap dancing.”

And so began this champion’s skating life. On weekends, Hamill’s parents, Chalmers and Carol, would drop Hamill off at Playland, an indoor skating rink in Rye, New York, where she would spend hours skating in public sessions. “It was just glorious,” recalls Hamill, with a gleam in her eye. “I was eight. My brother, Sandy, was one of those brainiacs and my sister was beautiful and very outgoing. And I was shy and really didn’t want to talk to anybody. So I fell in love with skating. It was where I could express myself and I ended up in my little cocoon.”

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Soon everyone began to notice how well Hamill skated and suggested to Carol that she enter her talented daughter in a skating competition that was being held at the Wollman Rink in Central Park. “It was just a small meet, so my mom enrolled me. And believe me, it was a learning experience for all of us,” shares Hamill. “All the little girls in my pre-juvenile division had been skating a long time. And I’d only been skating about six months. Not even. To begin, I fell in the warm-up rink, which was outside. And this was springtime, and I got all wet. I didn’t know to bring another pair of tights. I had one dress. I had one pair of tights and so right after the warm up it was time for me to skate. When I would spin around, the water was flying everywhere and I had water dripping down my legs. And I wasn’t just a little damp, I was soaking wet!

“I was pretty embarrassed about it, but I still came in second, which surprised everybody, including the other little girls. They were all perfectly dressed and had the same teacher. They all knew what they were doing—and I didn’t. I couldn’t spin and jump the way they did. But the judges said they liked my interpretation of my two-minute program. What I think they liked was the musicality and the choreography. That was a good learning experience.” That summer, Hamill took swimming lessons and the following fall, once again, began group skating lessons. However, she also had a private lesson once a week. Her mother soon learned that if one wanted to compete in skating competitions, one had to be part of U.S. Figuring Skating, the national governing body for the sport of figure skating on ice in the United States, which had regionals, sectionals and national group competitions.

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So Hamill began learning compulsory figures in order to compete. “Everything was based on those figures,” says Hamill. “Once I placed in the regionals and the sectionals—you had to place in the top three—then I got to the nationals. I won ‘novice’ nationals. I have no idea how. You know, it was just one of those things. Everybody was so much better than I. At least, that was my perception.”

At the time, Hamill was being coached by Sonya and Peter Dunfield, who had taught Vera Wang, a pair-skater-turned- clothing designer. “It was a great life. I got to travel a bit. My first plane trip was to Seattle, Washington,” Hamill remembers. “The competitions just snowballed, and I never really thought of the Olympics. I watched them on TV and I was able to see some of the Olympic champions in Lake Placid, where I summer skated, so I saw what the elite skaters were doing and that was very inspiring.”

Each Saturday night, Lake Placid presented ice shows in which they’d feature a guest skater. “Everyone was an amateur, in those days,” says Hamill. “The national champions and the world champions didn’t get paid, so they would come and skate in that wonderful show. I would see stars like Peggy Fleming, (1968 Olympic champion), Janet Lynn (1972 Olympic Bronze medalist) and some men like John Misha Petkevich (1971 U.S. National Champion) and some of the Russians. So, I was able to watch the performances of really top-notch skaters and I think I learned and saw what I thought was very glamourous. And I loved the performance part of it—always.

“It was a great experience for me to be able to see those champions perform and, as well, to watch them practice. It’s hard for youngsters to do that nowadays. There are so many competitions and they don’t really get to watch the top skaters practice and perform. They’re all sort of in it together. So, Lake Placid was my summer camp.” Hamill was immediately dedicated to her sport, sometimes heading to the ice rink at 4:30 a.m. to practice. She was an alternate for the 1972 Olympics, but contracted the swine flu beforehand and was unable to attend. She was in bed with a fever for 14 days and lost 14 pounds. “It was right before nationals, and I was pretty weak. I came in fourth that year.”

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However, in 1974, Hamill made a breakthrough at the World Championships in Munich, Germany, when she won the silver medal. In 1975, she won silver again at the World Championships in Colorado Springs.

The following year, the 19-year-old Hamill stole the hearts of millions of Americans by winning the gold medal at the 1976 Winter Olympic Games in Innsbruck, Austria.

Sports Illustrated writer, Steve Wulf best described Hamill’s win in his article 1994 article, titled “Cinderella Story”. “In four nearly flawless minutes at the Olympic Ice Hall in Innsbruck, on February 12, 1976, she walleyed, toe-looped, salchowed, axeled and lutzed her way into our hearts, finishing her performance with the signature Hamill-Camel (a camel spin into a sit spin). The nearsighted girl in the pink dress further endeared herself to millions by squinting to see her scores (eight 5.8s and a 5.9 in technical merit, all 5.9s in artistic interpretation). The gold medal was hers, and as she stood shyly, demurely on the platform, she seemed to have stepped out of a storybook. And what a storybook name: “Dorothy.”

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At the time Hamill competed, compulsory figures, or school figures, as they were sometimes known, were included in skating competitions. Carving specific patterns or figures into the ice, all deriving from the basic figure eight, was the original focus of the sport. These figures accounted for 30 percent of a total score, with 20 percent for the short program and 50 percent for the free skating.

However, when the Olympic Games and other skating competitions began to be televised, figures were not considered to be exciting or appealing to television audiences. To begin, World Championship judges would sometimes take up to eight hours to complete their analysis of the figures. As well, skaters who excelled in the compulsory figures, but were not exceptional at free skating, sometimes accumulated such a large lead from performing school figures that they won the overall competitions. This, of course, left the viewers stunned, because only the free skating had been televised, so they knew nothing about the compulsory figures. Over the years, the proportion of compulsory figures as part of the completion was reduced and by 1997, U.S. Figure Skating voted to end domestic competition of figures altogether.

And, although compulsory figures are no longer a major competitive event, there are still those who want to keep the sport alive. In fact, in September, Hamill was a judge at the World Figure and Fancy Skating Championship, which was held at Dobson Arena in Vail. The competition requires multiple levels of proficiency and there are many who still enjoy the challenge of the control and mental stamina required to master the various figures.
Getting ready to compete in skating competitions in the ’70s was far different than how ice skaters train these days. “My coach, Carlo Fassi’s (an Italian figure skater) strength was in compulsory figures and that’s where I really needed help,” remarks Hamill. “I also worked with someone who had done choreography for Peggy Fleming. And the year of the Olympics I trained with a fun, enthusiastic man in Toronto, which was a good break for me. You know, when you work in the same rink day in and day out, seven hours a day, it’s hard.

“These days, the skaters have to do so many competitions, that I don’t know how they find time to actually work on choreography. They have media training camps and costume designers and separate choreographers. It’s all so different. They have off-ice training and access to sports medicine. There was no sports medicine when I competed. At least not in figure skating. I really don’t know how they have time to do it all.” Winning the Olympics certainly didn’t end Hamill’s career. On the contrary, she joined the show, Ice Capades and toured from 1977 to 1984. “Working with the Ice Capades was a huge adjustment,” Hamill admits. “We performed at least 9 to 13 shows a week and toured 10 months out of the year. It was a grind! Trying to perform at a certain level for all of those shows was mentally and physically very difficult. We did three shows on Saturdays: each show was two- and-half hours long. And it was the same routine for the entire season.

“I always wonder about Broadway stars. And the energy it takes. But, at least they don’t have to travel. We had only Mondays off and that was spent getting to the next city. And our practice was limited, perhaps an hour a day. On top of that, there were the interviews. We were a big family, so that was the good part.”
In 1983, Hamill won a Daytime Emmy Award for her performance in Romeo and Juliet on Ice. She’s been inducted into the Olympic Hall of Fame as well as the Figure Skating Hall of Fame and ran the torch into the Olympic Stadium at the 2002 Olympic Games in Salt Lake City. As well, there is a Dorothy Hamill Skating Rink in Greenwich, CT, her hometown.

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Over the years, Hamill’s love of ice skating continues to keep her involved in many aspects of the sport. While living in Baltimore, she created an adaptive ice skating program called I- Skate for the Kennedy Krieger Institute. The program was created to allow children with physical disabilities to learn how to ice skate, not only improving their health and independence, but also providing important social interaction with their peers. Skaters use specially designed adaptive ice skates, walkers, ice sleds and helmets.

“I loved doing that program,” says Hamill. “And the parents loved it as well, because they could see their child moving out there. The special equipment allowed the kids to move on their own and have freedom and independence. I’d like to create a similar program in Vail.”
Hamill is also on a mission to keep alive the dream of Debbie Gordon, a dear friend, who recently passed away. Gordon’s focus was to create, Ice Dance International (IDI), a classical and contemporary ice ballet company to feature the world’s top ice skating talent. She had accrued some of the most brilliant stars of the ice skating world to work with her,
including figure skater and well-known television analyst, Dick Button, legendary dancer and choreographer, Edward Villella and choreographer, Douglas Webster, who worked such shows as “Disney on Ice” and “Holiday on Ice”.

“I hope to keep Debbie’s dream alive,” says Hamill, reflectively. “She gave IDI her heart and soul. She wanted to bring back the beautiful artistry and power of ice dancing.” Hamill and her husband, John MacColl moved to Eagle County to be closer to their children, Katie and Robin who live in Colorado. Daughter Alexandra lives in California and son, Tim resides in Pennsylvania

Hamill still has that bashful look in her eyes. Still has “The Dorothy,” her signature haircut. And still skates like no other. “I found something I loved to do and it took me places I never imagined.

“All I know is skating,” she tells me.
“I beg to differ with you,” I say

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Snowdays! 2017

Vail Snow Days, otherwise known as the signature kick-off event to the 2017-18 ski and snowboard season, returns this December 8 – 10, 2017. Over the course of three days, Vail welcomes guests and locals alike to revel in free live music, wellness and transformation opportunities, family-friendly happenings, a sponsor expo village and so much more.

Free Concert Saturday, December 9th, presented by Bud Light
Solaris in Vail Village
The Greyboy Allstars
Eminence Ensemble

FRIDAY, DECEMBER 8:

Free Mountaintop Yoga
Eagle’s Nest at top of Eagle Bahn Gondola

9am upload Eagle Bahn Gondola

9:30am class start time (1-hour class)

Free to participate. Must have a valid lift ticket.

 

Bring your yoga mat and bottle of water

Session takes place on 3rd level of Eagle’s Nest

Going straight to ski/board after yoga? Lockers available for $6/day

Michelob Ultra to provide swag and free beer voucher for The Tavern at the Arrabelle later that day (for those 21+ years of age)

Guided Snowshoe Tour
Golden Peak, 3:30pm

 

Snowshoe across the base of Vail Mountain from Golden Peak to Lionshead with our Pros from the Vail Nordic School. Your guide will talk about flora, fauna, local area history and more.

Route: 1.5 miles from Golden Peak to Lionshead
Time: Meet at 3:30pm at Golden Peak Nordic Desk located off the lobby of Larkspur Restaurant in Golden Peak. Snowshoe from 4-5pm
Age: Recommended for ages 14 and above
What to Bring: Snowshoes provided. Wear warm clothes and boots
RSVP: Call 754-4390. Space is limited to the first 50 to RSVP

After your snowshoe, warm up in Lionshead Village. Visit a restaurant like Tavern on the Square for a warm drink and delicious food. Are you a season passholder? On Friday, December 8th only, flash your pass at The Tavern on the Sqaure at The Arrabelle happy hour from 3-6pm and enjoy a Buy 1-Get 1 Free drink.

Aprés Parties

3pm-6pm: Aprés Party at The Tavern on Vail Square at The Arrabelle in Lionshead with live music. Passholders, flash your pass and get buy-1/get-1 Bud Light draft.

 

SATURDAY, DECEMBER 9:

Sponsor Expo Village
Lionshead Village, 8:30am – 3:30pm

Family Skating ‘n S’mores
The Arrabelle at Vail Square Ice Rink in Lionshead, 4pm-5:30pm
Enjoy free ice skating and s’mores roasting at The Arrabelle at Vail Square Ice Rink


3pm-6pm: Aprés Party at The Tavern on Vail Square at The Arrabelle in Lionshead. Full live band featuring Mr. Brent Gordon and Friends.

Free concert presented by Bud Light
The Greyboy Allstars
Opener: Eminence Ensemble

Solaris in Vail Village
3pm: Après offerings
5:30pm: Venue opens
6pm: Free Concert starts

SUNDAY, DECEMBER 10:

Sponsor Expo Village
Lionshead Village, 8:30am – 3:30pm

 

For more info CLICK HERE