Pam Rice — etc. etc.
“When you can point your skis in the direction you want to go...you have
control” —“Racing teaches you to control your skis.” —“Everybody races”.
These were the phrases of Ted Johnson.
Johnson is mostly recognized for his contribution to the Sno-Gophers Ski Club’s racing
program. To know this, you have go back to the early 1980’s. Ted discovered early, that if
you want to ‘lead folks’, you need to have your ‘act together’. As a member of the
Chicago Police, at the time, Ted started racing with various police organizations through
out the country. The opportunity and necessity to ‘hone’ his skills, learn the rules of skiing,
and practice what he was preaching, was imperative. Johnson’s first race was at the second
NBS (National Brotherhood of Skiers) Summit (1975) in Sun Valley, Idaho.
The Sno-Gophers Ski Club of Chicago hosted the summit that year. Jim Fletcher was
President and Ted was Vice President. Johnson felt it was important that the club was
represented by a skier who could hold his/her own on the race course. The race at the
summit that year was called ‘The President’s Race’. During that race, Jim Fletcher, DQ’ed
(disqualified), so it was up to Ted to make a good showing. After that— racing, in the eyes
of Johnson — became serious. Every Sno-Gopher was encouraged to race on each trip.
It was not always about winning a medal, but practicing going through the gates, learning
about the different area courses, how to calculate handicaps, having the right equipment,
and most of all, learning by watching others. Signing up for NASTAR (National Standard
Race) and being at the top of the run became a social and competitive event for those who
were looking for a challenge.
In the early 80’s the Sno-Gopher Carnival would hold “Fun Races”. These races were
more of an obstacle course than a ‘true race’. With that, Johnson decided the Sno-Gophers
could and should, become competitive, and be taken seriously. After attending a few NBS
Annual Midwest meetings and seeing the running of the Annual Meeting Challenge Cup,
Johnson saw an opportunity to institute the same program at the Sno-Gopher’s Annual
Winter Carnival. With Coors as a sponsor, the ‘Coors Challenge Cup’ was created (later to
be called the Clydesdale Challenge Cup). It was decided that the top ten female and male
racers of the day’s race would have an opportunity to compete for this prestigious prize.
Later, to make it fair for everyone, ski professionals, ski instructors, ski patrollers and
others — the rules were changed. The winners were ineligible to participate, for two years
following. These rules were the same as other ski organizations around the country.
The Jim Dandy’s Ski Club of Detroit, followed suit. In the coming years, the Sno-Gophers
Ski Club would have the largest number of racers placing in the top 25 on the NASTAR
charts between 1985 - 1995. Racing chairs were able ‘to call their own shots’ because of
the ‘numbers’ the Sno-Gophers would bring to races. Areas would struggle, some days, to
find ‘pace-setters’ who could be competitive enough. Most Sno-Gopher racers had built up
the confidence and skills to go to any area in the country, head to the race course, ‘size-up
the prizes’ and plan to leave with the ‘loot’. While racing may have intimidated a few
skiers, there were many skiers who benefited from the drive and encouragement that our
early racing chairs set upon members.The quality of the club’s members skiing improved,
skiing was made safer, and it made going to ‘hit the slopes’, much more rewarding.
Sno-Gophers Ski Club’s top female racers Jackie Bearden and
Pam Rice, along with top racer, Michael Solomon from Detroit’s
Jim Dandy’s Ski Club.
One of the Sno-Gophers Ski Club’s top male racers and a pioneer of the
the club’s racing program, Theodore (Ted) Johnson
Sno-Gopher's Ski Club 50th Anniversary Program Book
Ranked in the top 25
Charts for ten (10) years
Purgatory, CO 1987
Pam Rice with Dwight Lewis (RIP)
(right) One of over 50 trophies and close to one hundred NASTAR medals