Local legends inducted into U.S. Ski & Snowboard Hall of Fame
More than 500 people gathered at the Resort at Squaw Creek to honor some of skiing and snowboarding’s best as eight new members were enshrined into the U.S. Ski & Snowboard Hall of Fame.
The ceremony was held on Saturday, April 14, and included the induction of Shaun Palmer, Steve McKinney, and Hermann Gollner — three legendary athletes with local ties.
South Lake Tahoe’s Palmer received one of the night’s biggest ovations upon induction. The 49-year-old was touted by USA Today as the world’s greatest athlete in 1998, and is one of the forefathers of extreme sports.
The six-time X Games gold medalist kept his speech brief, thanking those who helped him reach the pinnacle of the sport. Palmer’s achievements include X Games gold medals in snow mountain bike racing, boardercross, skiercross, and ultracross. He also won the 2001 ESPY Award for action sports athlete of the year. Palmer’s extreme sports career included professional endeavors into snowboarding, skiing, mountain biking, auto racing and motocross.
Another local legend enshrined on Saturday night was Olympic Valley speed skiing legend Steve McKinney. The posthumous award was accepted by McKinney’s son Stephan and was presented by legendary ski racer and author Dick Dorworth.
“Steve had the confidence of a king and the personality of a fun-loving sage,” said his sister Tamara McKinney during a presentation at the event. “He was the man in answering the question that occurs to every person that has ever put on skis. How fast can I go?”
McKinney was a world-record speed skier, and first man to go faster than 200 kph. McKinney set the mark at a 1978 competition in Portillo, Chile. He was also an accomplished climber and first person to hang glide off Mount Everest, soaring from the 22,000-foot West Ridge in 1986.
“He was the person who would say, ‘I think we can do that. I think it’s possible,” said Tamara McKinney. “There will be 10,000 people telling you why you can’t and Stevie’s spirit is now the one telling you, you can.”
McKinney was killed on the night of Nov. 10, 1990, when he pulled his car over to the side of the road in order to sleep during a trip to San Francisco. While he was in the back seat, a drunk driver veered off the road and struck his vehicle. He was 37 years old.
Skiing pioneer and longtime coach at Sugar Bowl and Squaw Valley, Hermann Gollner, was also inducted during the ceremony. Gollner performed the first double backflip in 1965 and first triple frontflip two years later. In 1968 he created a 360 flip, dubbed the Mobius Flip.
Other inductees included ski mountaineering brothers Michael and Steven Marolt, of Aspen, World Freestyle Champion Ed Ferguson, of Chelan, Wash., U.S. cross-country coach Marty Hall, of Durham, N.H., and U.S. Ski Team trustee and foundation leader Thom Weisel, of San Francisco.
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