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Durango’s Ross Anderson to be inducted into U.S. Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame

Anderson had a 17-year career as a world-class speed skier
Ross Anderson in a full tuck in his speed skiing gear. (Courtesy of Christopher Marona, Marona Photography)

Ross Anderson didn’t expect a record he set to last this long.

In 2006 in Les Arcs, France, Anderson skied down the mountain in a Speed Ski World Cup, reaching 154.06 mph. That national record still stands today.

“Records are meant to be broken,” Anderson said. “I understand that, we all understand that, that’s how we achieve that next level … I’m surprised I got it to two years and now 18 years, it’s amazing that it still stands. At the same time, I still know I have that role model position that I feel like I do need to let people know my culture, what speed skiing is and represent America at the same time.”

Anderson’s accomplishments in his 17-year speed skiing career and his leadership away from the mountain paid off on Sept. 19 in Park City, Utah when it was announced he will be inducted into the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame on March 23. He will be the first full-blooded Native American in the Hall of Fame.

“It’s a category in its own,” Anderson said about speed skiing. “You are going by speed and not by time … Everything is for pure speed.”

This was the second year Anderson was on the ballot. Genia Fuller-Crews, a class of 2015 Hall of Fame member, is on the board of directors for the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame. Fuller-Crews was a pioneer of freestyle skiing and won multiple world titles in freestyle skiing.

Fuller-Crews stumbled across Anderson’s story on Facebook and messaged him about putting together a packet for a Hall of Fame nomination. Fuller-Crews provided the athlete criteria for selection:

“Athlete candidates are recognized in a wide range of skiing and snowboarding disciplines for their national and international accomplishments. Candidates will be recognized for their specific athletic accomplishments or exploitation of their athleticism. They must have achieved the highest levels possible in their discipline. Consideration must also be given to the candidate's contribution to the promotion and development of their particular discipline. Candidates may be considered from any of the categories listed. Nomination documents must speak directly to the accomplishments in the specific category.”

Anderson’s eight national titles in speed skiing and winning bronze in the 2005 World Championships are apart of a resume that the Hall of Fame simply couldn’t pass up on.

The Durango native described his entrance into speed skiing as a rags-to-riches story.

He grew up skiing and competed in giant slalom and slalom. In 1993, Anderson’s friend Dale Womack introduced him to the sport and recommended he give it a go. Anderson didn’t have any of the equipment, so he found anything that was available to put on. Anderson got a motorcycle helmet from a pawnshop and an old downhill suit he had.

He drove all night to Tahoe Donner Ski Area in California with all his ski gear and slept for a half-hour before registration began. Anderson said he was the slowest person his first time and he had trouble with his motorcycle helmet fogging up in the process.

But Anderson improved and performed well enough to go to Europe and to the speed skiing trials there.

He came back to Durango and got sponsorships from numerous businesses to help him with his career.

Once Anderson got to Europe and competed in his first race, he was hooked.

“It’s a sport where you have to have everything 100%, body, mind and spirit,” Anderson said. “You have to be in that zone in order to do this. You have to do years and years of practice of meditating and knowing what your ability to do is. You’re trained 24 hours, 24/7. When I did it I was on the ski hills five or six days a week.”

Anderson realized that most people saw what he did as daring with only an aerodynamic helmet and a back protector for protection, but he saw it as an art form.

Anderson didn’t see anyone else participating that looked like him. Even growing up before he started speed skiing, he didn’t see any person of color on the television screen during the Winter Olympics. There wasn’t anyone to look up to.

“Back then when I first started, I wanted to get on the World Cup circuit and prove that anyone can do this as long as they have their mind set to it and then follow your dreams,” Anderson said.

Anderson became that role model throughout his career, even though all he wanted to do was race. He didn’t realize he would have children’s programs, be in mathematics books and have his speaking engagements in public schools or private events. It all came after simply wanting to race.

“To me, it was like a seed of a tree,” Anderson said. “You plant the seed, that’s your focus and what you’re going to do. You’re going to plant it, water it, nurture it and make it grow. When it grows, you’re going to have branches come out. The branches are going to be like the kids programs, the motivational speaking, the other things that go with it.”

After 17 years on the speed skiing tour, Anderson called it a career after his final national championship in 2010.

“It’s like anything when you’re an athlete, you want to stop when you’re at the top of your game,” Anderson said. “I felt like I could’ve done at least four or five more years and still could have been competitive. At the same time, that was my last national championship and I was getting kind of burned out.”

Anderson thought when he retired that he’d get a lot of press and sponsorships. But he realized he’d be a regular person who’d have to find a job. He didn’t get the amount of endorsements he thought he would.

“From there, I did a couple of modeling shoots for some magazines and from there I did eight years of not any skiing at all (from 2014 to 2022),” Anderson said. “I threw away everything and I didn’t want anything to do with it. I was so burned out about the whole thing.”

It took time for Anderson to start back up again and enjoy skiing. Then his nomination came into play at the same time.

Fuller-Crews asked him to go to Sun Valley, Idaho, where they were hosting the ceremony, to demonstrate speed skiing.

“So Ross came up on his own,” Fuller-Crews said. “I had never met him until then. He is the nicest guy. He is very humble and he came with his speed gear, and he put on his speed suit. He just simply took a run down the hill, but nobody gets to see the speed equipment. Nobody gets to see up close and personal because in America anyway, there's just no publicity or no media for speed skiing.

“A lot of the events are over in Europe. He's a rock star in Europe and he's a rock star in Asia. So we talked and I just fell in love with his personality, his accomplishments. I made a pact with myself that I would do whatever I could to help him and see if we could get him into the Hall of Fame.”

Ross Anderson and Genia Fuller-Crews pose for a picture after Anderson demonstrated speed skiing in Sun Valley, Idaho in 2022. (Courtesy of skitalk.com)

Although Anderson told himself he would never suit up again because of how uncomfortable the attire was, he said it was a treat after his demonstration how the younger generation felt his suit, talked with him and asked for autographs.

Anderson continues to do motivational speaking and inspire the next generation. He’s seen more Native American skiing programs pop up and these kids don’t just learn how to ski, they learn about the nature and the land they ski on.

The records Anderson holds won’t last forever, but he’s left an indelible mark on speed skiing and the Native American community.

If you’d like to help Anderson and his family with the expenses of traveling to the Hall of Fame ceremony, click here


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