Where it all began: Winter Park’s Hall of Fame trails | SkyHiNews.com

Where it all began: Winter Park’s Hall of Fame trails

Tim Nicklas
Grand County Historical Association
Barney McLean (left) and George Engel set a race course on the Hughes trail at Winter Park resort for the NCAA Championship. courtesy photo

Examining the trail map at Winter Park to determine a good line down a powdery run reveals many interesting names from history.

This year, Barney’s Run makes its debut at the top of the Olympia Lift, continuing a long-honored tradition that few ski areas can claim in a way that Winter Park does. The named areas at the resort read like a walk through the hallowed corridor of the Colorado Ski Hall of Fame. These trails are a tribute to those who went before and created “Colorado’s Favorite” ski area.

Barney’s Landing joins Mulligan’s Mile, Butch’s Breezeway, Balch, Cranmer, Hughes, Bill Wilson’s Way, Over ‘N’ Underwood, Retta’s Run, Engeldive, and many others. The list is extensive and some names of honor are not readily apparent (Ski Papa for example).

Also, to go into a biography of all those Hall of Famer’s that have been honored on Winter Park’s slopes would take an entire volume to do justice. For example, two of the oldest named runs are a tribute to the “grandfather” and “father” of the area.

Hughes is named for Barrien Hughes, a member of the Denver Arlberg Club who helped bankroll some of the development of structures and cut the runs that inspired the building of Winter Park Resort. Due to the work and urging of the Arlberg Club in the 1930s, Denver Parks director, George Cranmer led the city to add Denver’s Winter Park to their inventory of mountain parks, which debuted in 1940.

Two personalities honored at Winter Park that had among the most enduring impact on Winter Park and Grand County as a whole were Barney McLean and George Engel. Engeldive, located under the Pioneer Lift, was named for George and was built in 1964. In addition, there are other names (Mt Maury and the Eskimo Lift come to mind) that directly owe their existence to Engel and his long-running ski school.

George Engel settled in the Fraser Valley in 1944. In 1945, He was hired at Winter Park as the first paid ski patroller. When Gordy Wren left for the 1948 Olympics, Engel took over the ski school at Winter Park and would remain in charge for several decades. He also had several other influential roles, such as owning a ski shop, helped found the Eskimo Club, helped found the National Sports Center of the Disabled, and raised two daughters with his wife, Joyce.

George Engel struck a friendship with legendary Grand County skier Barney McLean in the late 1940s and early 1950s, when the two were involved in race course setting at Winter Park. McLean, who grew up in Hot Sulphur Springs and rose to the top echelon of American skiing in the late 1930s and 1940s, had been a competitor on Winter Park’s slopes since before the area opened.

In Winter Park’s inaugural year of 1940, Barney won the Winter Park Open Cup in the first ever race held at the resort. Following the 1948 Olympics, in which Barney had been the captain of the ski team, he retired from completion and set his sights on coaching and course setting for the next generation.

Barney McLean and George Engel shared long friendship that reached the slopes of Winter Park and beyond for the rest of their lives. They set courses together at Winter Park and flew with their wives Margaret and Joyce on trips with Barney at the controls. McLean died in 2005, having skied the last 84 of his 88 years, and Engel passed away three years later.

This year Barney McLean joins his old pal George Engel at their favorite resort again as Winter Park unveils Barney’s Landing, just a few turns and a ride from Engeldive.

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