Dick Eflin - Sport Builder - 2005
Dick Eflin first caught the ski bug on a winter trip to visit his brother at the University of Colorado in 1950. After skiing Winter Park, Berthoud Pass, and Arapahoe Basin, his life would never be the same. Dick was born in Wichita, Kansas November 1932 and attended the University of Kansas where he graduated as an architect in 1955. He served in the United States Air Force as a jet flight instructor where he reached the rank of captain. While stationed in Furtenfeldbruck, Germany, Dick spent most of his free time skiing the Alps and developing his passion for the sport. While in Germany, two events would change Dick’s life forever. In 1959 he would meet Liz Etzel, his wife-to-be, and it was here that he also met Dick Jahnke. Dick’s dream of starting a ski area was born. Jahnke, who attended University of Colorado and worked a mining claim one summer in Gunnison, Colorado, told Dick of a potential place to start a ski area, Crested Butte. Correspondence with the lift companies and the United States Forest Service commenced, and Dick received a conditional use permit before returning to the United States. He enlisted long time college friend and ski enthusiast, Fred Rice, as the primary investor. They planned a trip to scout out this potential ski area, and upon arriving at Crested Butte, Dick knew he had found the perfect place. When Tony Kapusion, the proprietor of Tony’s Tavern, overheard Dick’s comments about the beauty of the area he retorted, “Yeah, kid it’s beautiful but you can’t eat the scenery.” Dick had a vision and moved his family to Crested Butte. In 1960 Dick and Fred formed a partnership and called it Crested Butte LTD. They optioned the 880-acre Malensek Ranch, which would become Mount Crested Butte and later serve as the base area of the resort. He began working with the Gunnison National Forest Supervisor, E.W. Stein, to get the proper permits in place. Dick spent that winter hiking and skiing the mountain conducting the necessary snow depth reports to fulfill the Forest Service requirements. The following year permits were granted and Crested Butte Ski Area opened to the public on Thanksgiving Day, 1961. The new area opened with a Doppelmeier T-bar, and a rope tow borrowed from Western State College. The dream was becoming a reality. Then in 1962, a sleek Telecar Gondola was installed running 7,800 feet and rising over 2,000 vertical feet. The terminal building including offices and stores was also built; Crested Butte was on its way. Dick’s dream of starting his own ski area had become a reality, but he also played an active role in the local community, helping to revive the mining town. He served for 25 years as the President of the Mt. Crested Butte Water & Sanitation District, was on the Town Council, helped start the first regional museum, owned and operated the Eflin Steak House, and along with Bill Allen, built and operated the Artichoke Restaurant. Other projects included the Alpine Apartments, the design of numerous houses, and Glacier Lilly Estates. Dick and his son, Andy, started Eflin Sports, now Peak Sports, in 1990. Dick is now retired and lives in Naples, Florida. His vision and determination to transform Crested Butte into one of Colorado’s premier ski destinations will be a lasting legacy.