Remembering a Steamboat legend: Famed ski instructor Rudi Schnackenberg would have turned 100 Monday
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Rudi Schnackenberg was many things — a skier, a coach, an instructor, a father — but he was perhaps foremost a lover of life.
“He touched the lives of all he met in a positive and lasting way. He was openly happy with life; his whistle, smile, quick humor and twinkle in his eye gave evidence to the love he had for life and all his friends,” said Ruth McClelland, Schnackenberg’s daughter.
Schnackenberg, a longtime Steamboat Springs resident, died in 1985 at age 64. His legacy has since lived on.
On Monday, Schnackenberg would have turned 100 years old. While COVID-19 restrictions have prevented masses coming together to celebrate the legend, his family invites people to take a lap down Rudi’s Run — one of the most skied runs at the resort, which was named in his memory — at Steamboat Resort and remember Schnackenberg and his many contributions. The family stresses avoiding any type of gathering at the resort.
Schnackenberg not only worked for Steamboat Resort as an instructor and supervisor in the snowsports school but also made an impact at the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club as a coach and a manager of Howelsen Hill Ski Area.
“We thank him for his contributions and dedication to the Steamboat Springs community and the ski industry,” said Maren Franciosi, communications manager for Steamboat Ski & Resort Corp.
Schnackenberg was 6-years-old when he arrived in the U.S. in 1927, an immigrant from Hamburg, Germany, with his grandparents Carl and Dorothea Dietrich. Living in Denver, the young Schnackenberg learned how to ski on Berthoud Pass, going on to compete in the U.S. Nationals from 1939 to 1942. He was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1942, becoming a member of the famed 10th Mountain Division. In fall 1943, he taught ice climbing and glacier work to a detachment of Camp Hale soldiers on Mount Rainier in Washington.
Schnackenberg was a decorated veteran, having earned the Combat Medic Badge, the Silver Star, the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart with an Oak Leaf Cluster from his service as a combat medic during World War II.
Two years after being drafted, Schnackenberg married Dorothy Dottie Alexander. The couple moved to Steamboat in 1955.
A founding member of the Rocky Mountain Ski Instructors Association, Schnackenberg was inducted into the Colorado Ski Hall of Fame in 1982, three years before his death.
“He taught how to win with humility and accept loss with dignity and renewed dedication,” McClelland said. “As a teacher, he taught many lessons of life. One was to look for the ultimate good in every situation as ‘things could always be worse.’ Another was to leave any place in a better condition than it was when you first came to it.
“May we, with a happy heart, carry a little whistle, song or smile in our life with each day that passes in remembrance of Rudi,” she said.
To reach Bryce Martin, call 970-871-4206 or email bmartin@SteamboatPilot.com.
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