John R. Fetcher - Sport Builder - 1983


Hall
John Root Fetcher was born in Winnetka, Illinois in 1912 and began skiing as a schoolboy in 1925 when his family moved to Vevey, Switzerland. Enrolled in the local public school, John joined his classmates on Wednesday afternoons to Les Pleades and an afternoon of skiing. At the end of the school year, John returned to Illinois, fluent in French and fond of skiing.   As an engineering and business student at Harvard in the 1930's, he rode the ski trains to the White Mountains of New Hampshire and was one of the first to ski over the Headwall at Tuckerman's Ravine.     After graduation, John's business career provided few opportunities for skiing.  However, in 1935 he landed a job with the Budd Company, a company that built steel railway cars in Europe. While employed, John skied the Alps with French companions. As an engineer of steel products, John decided to build a pair of metal skis and received a French patent for the concept. In 1937, he made the skis, tried them out in the White Mountains, and badly bent one ski while attempting a run down Tuckerman’s Ravine. Although John gave up his idea of steel skis, he was a pioneer in the concept.   In 1949 he and his brother bought a ranch near Steamboat Springs and John was once again in the world of skiing. John met Gordy Wren who soon involved him in the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club, and in no time John was on the National Ski Hill Engineering Committee. He worked on designs to make jumping hills safer while allowing record-breaking performances. In 1958 John assisted in building the alpine hill in Steamboat that is now known as Mt. Werner. In 1963, the first chairlift opened and a second lift was built in 1965. After Mt. Werner was sold in 1968, John stayed on for two years as president. In 1969, John was appointed to the Aerial Tramway Safety Standards Committee.     After the famous Howelsen Hill jumping platform mysteriously burned in 1972, John led the Steamboat Ski Jump Commission in raising $1.3 million to replace the facility. In 1978, a six-hill jumping complex was opened at Howelsen Hill. The Committee continues to raise funds under John's leadership for snowmaking facilities and training equipment. John also takes pride in the accomplishment of construction of two major water storage reservoirs.   Presently, John lives in Steamboat at the ski area, working as manager of the Upper Yampa Water Conservancy District and works on the cattle ranch. Still, John will never forget the first pair of metal skis made and that infamous run down Tuckerman’s Ravine. (Deceased)