Thanks for the link to the membership list, Jamesj.
Like JTNSKIS, I had fun reading through those names of people who have meant so much to this sport we all love. I've been lucky enough to meet and/or ski with quite a few of the skiers on that list and every single encounter was a thrill.
For terms of this thread, my most fond memory would be the day I skied with three future Hall of Famers in a single day.
It was in March of 1984 and the U S Nationals ski races were being held at Jackson Hole. This was a few weeks after Phil Mahre had won his Olympic gold medal in slalom at Sarajevo and it was 20 years after Pepi Stiegler won his slalom gold at Innsbruck. Phil was in Jackson to forerun the races and Pepi, of course, was the Ski School Director at Jackson Hole.
There were two U S Ski Team photographers in town for the races and somebody from the ski team had the brainstorm that it would be cool to get some shots of Phil and Pepi skiing together. I was a backcountry ski guide working for the ski school at the time, so Pepi was my boss.
So this one morning I'm walking by the office and Pepi asks me for a favor. He explains that they want to do this photo thing and the photographers want Phil and Pepi skiing "untracked" snow together - in sunshine. Pepi wanted to know if I could act as the guide to take them out of bounds to some untracked snow. Well, it hadn't snowed at Jackson for at least a couple of weeks and it had been sunny pretty much the whole time. That meant that the only "powder" around would have to be somewhere north-facing and out of the sun, but the photographers wanted their shots to be in sunshine. So, I told Pepi I could take them to untracked snow but I doubted that it would be "powder". We had a little pow-wow with the photo guys and they decided that sunshine and no tracks trumped snow quality, so I say fine - I know where we can go. We made plans to get our stuff together and meet at the tram in half an hour.
When we all gathered at the tram, we had quite an entourage. Pepi thought there should be a patroller with us and one of the ski corp marketing guys came along. A former U S Ski Team member who happened to be in Jackson for a promo showed up as well - Suzy Chaffee! So, our group consisted of me as the guide, the marketing guy as the host, the patroller as the tail gunner, two ski team photographers, and future U S Ski Hall of Famers Pepi Stiegler, Phil Mahre, and Suzy Chaffee.
This was during Suzy's phase as the Suzy Chapstick girl and she was also skiing the freestyle circuit as a ballet skier. Her skis of choice that day were 160cm Hart Ballet skis, which were probably about 60mm underfoot. These turned out to be a relatively poor choice as a tool for the conditions we would encounter. Phil was on his K2 VO Slaloms and Pepi was on Kastle GS skis that had about as much flex as the Washington Monument. This was, of course, years before fat skis would appear on the horizon.
We all went up the tram headed out of bounds. My destination was a big, open snowfield at the top of Pinedale Canyon, which is the third canyon south of the ski area boundary. I knew this would be untracked because I had looked at it the day before from the top of Four Pines. I also knew that the snow would be - at best - zipper crust. But it WOULD be untracked and it WOULD be in the sun.
After a mini-slog of sidestep traversing across Cody Bowl, Rock Springs, and Green River, we finally arrived at the top of Pinedale. It was a brilliant sunshiny day and the snowfield was - as predicted - untracked. I skied down to mark the edge of where they should ski and it SUCKED. A "mild" sun crust could be somewhat skiable on those old skis as long as you crashed through the crust on every turn. This crust was much more solid than zipper crust but not strong enough to hold you up through the length of a turn. At the time, I considered myself somewhat of an afficionado of junky snow, but it was all I could do to flail myself down that slope while barely staying upright. The photo guys came down next and just did a series of connect-the-dots face plants. It was fugly skiing.
Eventually, the photographers got set up and gave the go-ahead to Pepi and Phil, who were going to ski side-by-side. That was the exact moment in my skiing career that I first REALLY appreciated how much better elite skiers are than the rest of us. Phil was arguably the very best skier on the planet at that time and Pepi still had about 94% of his skills. Watching them, I wouldn't have known how bad the snow was if I hadn't just skied it myself. Those two guys skied that crust so fast and so smooth and so solid that you would have sworn they were on corduroy - except for the fact that there were crust chunks the size and consisency of manhole covers flying up behind them.
It was truly amazing. I just stood there with my mouth hanging open.
I don't want to take anything away from Suzy because she was also a fantastic skier in her day, but those ballet skis just weren't the right choice for those conditions. Let's just say that she struggled a bit and leave it at that.
And that's the story of how I skied with three Hall of Fame members in one day.
Thanks, Jamesj, for giving me the chance to stroll down memory lane.