Ralph Walton - Sport Builder - 2012
In 1970, Ralph Walton and his brother-in-law Bo Callaway purchased then-bankrupt Crested Butte ski area. A struggling mining town was transformed into Crested Butte Mountain Resort (CBMR), a thriving year-round destination. Under Walton’s leadership, CBMR installed 15 lifts, grew the ski and snowboard terrain to over 1,100 acres and over 3,000 vertical feet, developed four mountain restaurants and guest service buildings, established snowmaking capabilities in 1978 and expanded them in 1984, and invested over $100 million in ski area improvements. Additionally, during his three-decade career at CBMR, Walton pioneered non-stop jet service to the ski area, the first of its kind, and negotiated the first-ever minimum revenue guarantee with American Airlines, and then with Delta, Continental, and United. His efforts with these airline services became a template for other western ski towns like Steamboat, Vail, and Purgatory, offering easier access to the ski slopes and resulting in millions invested in airports and programs. As a member of the BOD of Colorado Ski Country USA for 18 years and the recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award from the NSAA, Walton remained CBMR’s leader until his retirement. He passed away in 2011 after a lifetime of contributing to Colorado skiing and snowboarding.