Influential Park City skiing figure Craig Badami inducted into Intermountain Ski Hall of Fame
The legacy of Craig Badami will now live forever.
After a tragic helicopter accident 30 years ago that took Badami’s life, he was inducted on Wednesday into the Intermounain Ski Hall of Fame at the Alf Engen Ski Museum. As a part owner and vice president of what was then known as Park City Resort, Badami established Park City as a top destination for ski racing in the 1980s.
“This such a tremendous honor and now my dad’s legacy is now complete,” said Nick Badami, Craig’s son, who was 3 years old when his father died. “He and my grandpa made a great team, convincing my grandpa to move West and buy a ski resort after they spent time skiing in the Poconos. He just fell in love with skiing and wanted to make it his life.”
And make it his life is exactly what Craig Badami did.
After taking on a leadership role at Park City Resort, now called Park City Mountain Resort, Badami took an unusual approach to turn Park City into one of the ski racing meccas of the country.
At a time when Europe hosted the vast majority of elite ski racing events, Badami challenged the status quo and in 1985, according to the Intermountain Ski Hall of Fame press release, brought the U.S.’s first alpine World Cup race to Park City. His event was such a hit that a then-record 12,000 spectators flocked to the mountain to watch the races take place.
“Day after day (Craig and his father) had this vision of bringing international races to Park City and finally in the mid-’80s it started happening. … The rest is sort of history,” Nick Badami said. “It kind of set the bar for the Olympics being a thought here and eventually, he kind of started what makes Park City, Park City.”
After the successful World Cup race in 1985, FIS officials took notice and over the next four years, rewarded Badami and Park City with the first race of the World Cup season, according to the Intermountain Ski Hall of Fame. Ever the promoter, Badami seized the opportunity and labeled each competition “America’s Opening.”
The competitions themselves continued to bring high numbers of spectators, who came out for the day’s festivities as much as the racing itself. Badami would stage rock concerts that would play in between races, even jumping onto the stage himself to play the harmonica. He would also have different activities taking place throughout the mountain that spectators could enjoy.
The atmosphere of the events eventually set the stage for the modern-day competitions where fans can indulge in various activities while watching and enjoying ski racing according to those in attendance at the ceremony.
The races also helped set the stage for Salt Lake City’s successful bid to host the 2002 Winter Olympics, an event Craig always had his eyes set on before his death.
“He was very humble believe it or not,” Nick Badami said. “He loved to entertain, he did whatever he could to make sure everyone was having fun at all times, and I think that was really reflected in his vision for Park City. His personality, from what I’ve been told, was truly reflected in all of the events he hosted on the mountain.”
Badami died on Nov. 28, 1989, following the completion of the 1989 America’s Opening. After the event, Badami was riding in a helicopter above the mountain when a cable attached to the helicopter snagged on something below and snapped into the helicopter blades. The helicopter dropped upside down from 200 feet in the air, injuring six others and killing Badami.
In honor of his memory, the resort took one of his lifelong visions and made it a reality, erecting a ski racing complex with its main run titled “C.B.”
“You can’t really put all of this into words because it means so much to have my dad be honored and recognized all over Park City, and now in this hall of fame,” Nick Badami said. “His visions of getting involved in the ski business out here in Park City has not only drastically changed my life, but the lives of everyone associated with this beautiful place.”
While his initials are engraved on the mountainside at Park City Mountain Resort, his induction into the Intermountain Ski Hall of Fame is another lasting impression of the legacy Badami left.
“We congratulate the late Craig Badami for his well-deserved induction into the Intermountain Ski Hall of Fame. Craig’s impact played an integral part in the history of making Park City Mountain one of the most well-known ski destinations in the world. Additionally, Craig’s contributions to World Cup ski racing through forging America’s Opening at Park City Mountain have forever transformed the resort into a world-class venue, capable of hosting the sport’s highest-level events. We are very happy to see the influence Craig created be recognized at this high level of achievement,” said Mike Goar, Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of Park City Mountain in a statement.
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