Dave Gorsuch, a cornerstone in the iconic ski community of Vail, passed away at his home in Vail on June 26th. Along with his wife Renie, he was at the forefront of bringing Vail to the mainstream of ski culture. The couple together owned and operated a ski shop out of the Vail Clock Tower Building. Kids growing up in the early days of the town knew Dave as “Papa.”
Born on September 22, 1938, in Climax, Colorado, a town situated along the Continental Divide at 11,360 ft above sea level, Dave was drawn to a life in the mountains. He grew up skiing and was a national champ in the junior combined championships in 1954 and 1956. In 1958 he was a member of the World Championship Ski Team and, in 1960, a member of the US Alpine Olympic team for the Squaw Valley Olympics. While attending Western States College in 1963, he competed in the NCAA alpine championships, winning the downhill, finishing second in the slalom, and the combined. The following year he helped bring a team silver medal home for the Mountaineers. Renie competed at an international level competing in the 1960 Olympics as well.
Renie and Dave met at Jackson Hole in 1954 at a Junior Nationals event and were married in 1960 after the Olympics. They moved to the Gunnison and Crested Butte, CO, area in 1961 and opened a ski shop in 1962 in an abandoned Standard gas station. In 1964, Dave became the Mountain Manager of Crested Butte Ski Area. In 1966, Dave and Renie, along with their sons, moved to Vail. According to Vail Daily, Renie stated they moved to Vail because it was more of a ski town where Gunnison’s economy was primarily ranching. The small ski shop in Vail Clock Tower Building soon began to expand into Aspen, Beaver Creek, Snowmass, and Park City, and the stores have always been known to have the highest quality of gear.
Dave was instrumental in instilling ski culture for generations. The Gorsuch home was constantly full of kids on the local ski team, and Dave was always helping with equipment needs, coaching, and being present for anything else that needed to be done for the team. His work in skiing and his own skiing career landed him a spot in the Colorado Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame in 2003. Dave preached the importance of working hard and playing hard—a mantra passed on to his three kids and now his 10 grandkids.
There is no way to fill the space left by Dave’s passing, but his life can be celebrated by instilling the same passion he had for skiing into our own skiing.