Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame
Cindy Nelson - 1955
Inducted into the Colorado Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame 2002
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The Nelson family’s skiing roots began deep in the Colorado Rockies. Cindy’s father, George Jr., was a member of the famed 10th Mountain Division Troops that trained at Camp Hale, Colorado. Like several others in the Division, upon their return from WWII, George convinced his father to build a ski area on the family’s homesteaded land. Lutsen Resort and Ski Area opened for business in 1949. There, George met his wife Patti while teaching her to ski. Together they became excellent skiers and instructors. Their romance born on the ski slopes soon gave birth to five children. Shortly after the Nelson children learned to walk they learned to ski.
The middle child, Cindy, started her fourteen-year tenure with the U.S. Ski Team when she was only fifteen years old. During her ski-racing career, she was named to four Olympic teams, competing at three Olympics and four World Championships. In 1974, Nelson broke the great Annemarie Moser-Proell’s winning streak to become the first U.S. racer to win a World Cup downhill. She thrilled fans by claiming the bronze medal at the 1976 Olympic downhill at Innsbruck and the Silver combined World Championship medal at the 1980 Lake Placid Olympics. Cindy earned several World Cup titles plus the title of National Champion seven times. She also became the first skier to win a World Cup super G. Cindy competed in all five of the Alpine disciplines and retired as one of the finest skiers to ever compete.
During her career, Cindy recognized the necessity of living in the heart of skiing. In 1979, she moved to Vail, Colorado. Living in Vail provided Cindy with the climate and facilities for her year around racing and training needs. Nelson retired from international competition in 1985. She remained in Vail taking a position as Ambassador of Skiing. Soon after, she was promoted to Director of Skiing for Vail and Beaver Creek Resorts. Cindy enjoyed the comprehensive nature of the position, working with the marketing, public relations, real estate, ski school, and mountain operations departments.
Nelson’s international reputation helped Vail to land the 1989 World Alpine Championships, where she became the first woman ever to serve as the Chief of Course for a major alpine skiing competition. In 1992, Cindy started her own private business focusing her work on consulting, television broadcasting, and personal appearances. When Cindy is not busy with her work, she takes an active interest in other sports and non-profit organizations. Nelson is a board member of the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Foundation and the Steadman-Hawkins Sports Medicine Foundation. Her wealth of knowledge and sharing her valuable experiences has helped others to succeed.
In her free time, she enjoys the year around recreational activities of her home in Vail. When asked about her life in Colorado, Cindy replied, “Colorado has the world’s best skiing and an ideal mountain climate for my passions. You can find me on the golf course working on my swing or on the slopes still searching for that perfect turn. Colorado is truly the best and I love it.”