Franci Peterson - Sport Builder - 2001
Skiing requires skill, stamina and grace; teaching skiing requires patience and determination. Franci is all of these things. Francis Theo French was born June 2, 1941 in Creed, Colorado. In June of 1950 Franci, her two younger brothers and parents moved to Leadville, Colorado.Her father had been appointed superintendent of the U.S. Fish Cultural Station located West of Leadville at the foot of Mt. Massive. Franci fell in love with the snow-covered mountains and realized she must learn to ski. For Christmas that year she asked her father for a pair of skis and when, to her delight a small pair from the Sears mail-order catalog appeared under the tree, she began her skiing career.In 1954 the Mountain and Cold Weather Command from Fort Carson, Colorado was reactivated at Camp Hale. The Commanding Officer was Col. Donald J. Woolley, who had served as a Battalion Commander with the 85th Infantry, 10th Mountain Division, during the Italian Campaign, World War II. As base commander, Col. Woolley wanted to live off base and rented a housed from Franci’s father belonging to the Fish Hatchery. A profound friendship between the Colonel and the French family quickly developed. By that time, Franci had learned how to ski. Fearless, Franci pointed her tips straight down the mountain; she had no side-to-side technique. Col. Woolley gave her some old 10th Mountain Division skis and equipment. The skis were long, heavy and white, Franci was called “a dove out of heaven,” because of her go-for-it technique.Franci graduated from high school and attended Colorado State University. She traveled to Loveland Basin Ski Area during her years at college, where she landed a job as a ski instructor. She has been teaching ever since. Her instruction technique is gentle and her philosophy is simple: “Good teaching has to be based on a student’s skill level. We have to adjust our teaching as the equipment changes.” Franci has kept up with the ski industry, watching as more families tackle the slopes and observing young skiers turning to snowboarding.Married with two children, Franci returned to the mountains in the early 1960’s to supervise the ski school under the direction of Bill Cooper.In the mid 1980’s, Cooper’s health failed and Franci was given the job of Director of the Ski Cooper Ski School. The school is a fully accredited member of the Professional Ski Instructors of America and offers the same levels of instruction as the largest ski schools in Colorado, including programs for children and snowboarding. Franci guides, instructs and watches her students vigilantly. She encourages her students and instills the necessary self-confidence to learn the sport of skiing. As the director of ski school at Cooper, the cadre of instructors she leads admires her. She believes you must get along if you are to be successful. “That camaraderie is part of the reason people keep coming back to ski school. Our instructors stay for years. We are friends,” Franci commented.In March of 1997, Franci was recognized by the 10th Mountain Division at their annual banquet for her dedication to skiing, the skiing industry and the 10th Mountain Division. At the annual banquet in 1999 at Keystone Resort, Franci presented every 10th Mountain Veteran in attendance a small silhouette of a Ski Trooper on a marble base with the words, “THANK YOU 10th Mountain Division.”Franci believes in skiing as a metaphor for life - that flying down a hill “like a dove out of heaven” can enhance a person’s life.As of 2008, Franci lives in Leadville six months of the year while she continues to lead the Ski Cooper Ski School, which included: a much acclaimed children’s program, a snowboard school, an alpine school, and a telemark school.