Parkite Erik Schlopy inducted into the Intermountain Ski Hall of Fame
It’s been described by many people in the skiing community as one of the worst crashes ever seen.
It happened in February of 1993 during the World Alpine Championships in Japan when American Erik Schlopy, considered one of the best young skiers of his generation, was just a 20-year-old looking to make his mark.
Instead of medaling and staking his claim as the best young American skier at that time, Schlopy crashed while traveling 70 miles an hour. Instead of standing on the podium as he was hoping for, Schlopy wasn’t sure if he’d ever walk again.
“That crash in Japan was one of the all-time worst crashes in ski history,” Schlopy said. “Doctors said I was not only lucky to be alive, but really lucky to be able to move again. … People I talk with in the ski community always seem to bring it up and talk about how bad it was.”
Schlopy fractured six vertebrae in his back, had his sternum displaced, broke a number of ribs, punctured his lung, blew his elbow out and bit his tongue halfway off.
Following the crash, Schlopy became a living legend in the ski community, saying, “It was a small miracle that I got another 17 years out of my ski career.”
After he recovered, the ensuing 17 years of racing led to Schlopy being a three-time U.S. Olympian (1994, 2002, 2006); seven-time national champion (11 podiums); World Pro Super G champion; bronze medal winner in the World Championships (2003); ranked third in the world for Giant Slalom (2001); named to six FIS World Championship teams (1993, 1995, 2001, 2003, 2005, 2007).
Because of his accomplishments, Schlopy was inducted in the Intermountain Ski Hall of Fame at the Alf Engen Ski Museum on Wednesday.
“Oh man, it’s really just an incredible honor to be inducted and have my name be a part of something like this,” Schlopy said. “This is a total ski town with a lot of ski history, so being a part of that is pretty special. I’m very happy and consider myself really lucky to have had the career that I had.”
Joining Schlopy in the Class of 2019 were Craig Badami and Darrell “Pinky” Robinson, two legends in the skiing world who passed away.
Schlopy was known for his drive, determination and commitment to ski racing. To him, it was all about the love of the sport.
Growing up in Buffalo, New York, Schlopy spent his early years trying to catch up with his sister Carrie on the slopes, chasing her all throughout the mountains on skis.
“She was super fast so I just did my best to keep up with her,” Schlopy said with a laugh.
Upon moving to Vermont at the age of 12, Schlopy’s career really took off. He began competing in junior national and junior world events, becoming a two-time Olympic Junior Champion.
But what set Schlopy apart is the fact that he’s only ski racer in history to successfully go from World Cup skiing to the Professional Skiing Tour and then back to World Cup ski racing.
Throughout all the triumphs and tribulations, Schlopy never lost his love for the sport, crediting that to his longtime success.
“The pinnacle of the sport is World Cup victories, Olympic medals and World Championship medals, but what I’m most proud of in my career is how much I love skiing and how I have continued to love it,” Schlopy said. “Honestly it always comes back to my love of the sport … and how that’s what carried me through everything.”
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