From ranching to Olympic skiing: Tabernash native, Walt Evans, inducted into Colorado Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame
Fraser Valley native Walt Evans was inducted into the Colorado Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame on Saturday, a fitting culmination to his impactful 46-year career in the Colorado and U.S. ski industries.
Evans, who would go on to serve as the national competition director for the U.S. Ski Team, found his love for skiing nurtured from a young age. He frequently skied in carnivals thrown by the school districts and followed his grade school friends to the slope.
Evans grew up in Tabernash where his parents were ranchers in the valley. He said they bounced around to several different ranches throughout the 1950s and 60s, and that his parents worked at Winter Park Resort during the winters when work was light.
“We were fortunate in those days in that we had these little three-room school houses,” he said. “The teachers arranged for us to get together about three or four times through the winter. We’d have these little carnivals so all the kids would ski slalom or giant slalom. All the kids did everything.
“It was just a great way to grow up, and I wouldn’t trade that heritage for anything.”
Evans grew serious about a career in skiing during his senior year of high school, after he was recruited to the University of Wyoming on a full scholarship. He joined the university’s alpine ski team while he earned his degree in agriculture, and helped Wyoming win its second NCAA title in skiing.
“It was a magical moment in my athletic career for sure,” Evans recalled fondly. “It was cool because the University of Denver hadn’t been beaten in the NCAA Skiing Championships for 12 years, and it was pretty fun to take that title away from them.”
Evans married his wife, Pam, and had one of his three children while in Wyoming. After graduation, he moved his family to Steamboat Springs, where he put his agriculture degree to work as a ranch foreman. Taking a note from his parents, Evans used the winters to ski professionally and begin his coaching career. He turned to the ski business, as he put it, full time in 1978, and worked at Steamboat until 1983.
Evans then went to Colorado Springs to work with the U.S. Ski Association and the U.S. Olympic Committee, where he stayed until 1988 when the U.S. Ski team and the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association merged. He followed the merger to Park City, Utah, and was promoted to national competition director in 1998. He was promoted to alpine development director in 2002 following the team’s success at the Salt Lake City Olympic Games.
“It was a great opportunity to nurture athletes and help them find opportunities where they could really emerge and be contenders,” he explained. “I enjoyed managing athletes and trying to really help them get to the right events. And I feel like I’ve played a little part in the success of the U.S. Ski Team.”
Evans left the national scene to take the position of director of excellence with the Aspen Valley Ski Club in 2012. He retired from the industry in 2016.
Today, Evans lives in Park City with his wife, where they own a small farm and raise horses. Evans still also does some consulting work for the Utah Olympic Legacy Foundation, but mostly enjoys skiing with his grandchildren and pursuing his other hobbies of camping and music.
When he looks back on his time in the ski industry, Evans said he is grateful for the athletes and coaches he was able to work with, and pushed young people from Grand County to pursue their goals, too.
“I encourage those students that are at Middle Park or West Grand to follow their dreams and chase something that they love for careers,” he said. “My passion was ski sports and it’s been really good for me. I urge those student athletes out of Grand County to chase their dreams.”
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