Scott Blair brought smiles, passion and caring to community he loved
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Friends say Scott Blair lived a life of passion, a life full of love for family and friends and a life that will leave a mark on the community he leaves behind.
“He was just so connected in so many different ways,” longtime friend Gardner Flanigan said. “He touched so many people, from being an incredibly thoughtful and emotional physical therapist to connecting with so many kids through the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club. He was involved in the running series and the mountain bike series.
“I don’t know how you can put a value on all that he did,” Flanigan said. “It’s a huge, huge loss for our community.”
Blair, a well-known community member who worked for years as a physical therapist, lost a nearly six-year long battle with cancer Tuesday, March 19. Among the people he leaves behind are his wife, Connie, and daughters Alex, a junior at Steamboat Mountain School, and Ellie, a freshman at Steamboat Springs High School.
The Blair family will host a Celebration of Life for Scott at 3 p.m. Sunday, March 31 at Olympian Hall inside the Howelsen Hill Lodge.
The Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club is currently taking donations to support the Scott Blair Character Award, which will be given annually at the Winter Sports Club’s end-of-season awards ceremony. Donations can be made to the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club by stopping by the club, calling 970-879-0695 or mailing a check to Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club, P.O. Box 774487, Steamboat Springs, CO 80477. Please write Scott Blair Character Memorial Scholarship in the memo line.
A GoFundMe page has also been set up to help the Blair family.
“I met him when we were both in our early 20s, and I got to see a lot of things change over the years, but the thing about Scott that never really changed was, no matter who he ran into, he would always inspire the next group of people,” said Ted Morton, another longtime friend. “Whether it was friends or colleagues or all the different athletes he would work with, he was always inspiring, he was always there for them, and he was always devoted to somebody’s wellbeing — certainly in the therapy world — but also in the community as a whole. ”
Blair’s passion for Steamboat’s active lifestyle led him to be involved in the local running Series, mountain bike series and ski racing series.
“When he was there, he was always trying to make it better,” Morton said. “Whether that was him donating his own time or just being around his friends, he was always just involved and very present when he was there. He wasn’t there just on the side; his presence was always felt.”
Blair’s friends said it was nothing for him to give his time, his talent and his energy to the community he called home.
Blair had just graduated from the University of Vermont when he arrived in Steamboat Springs in 1991. He landed a job as a physical therapist at SportsMed, which has since become the UCHealth SportsMed Clinic. He brought a love of skiing and a passion for the outdoors with him.
“He exuded passion for the outdoors and playing in it, from trail runs to mountain biking to cross country skiing,” Flanigan said. ““He had a passion for kids and coached at the Winter Sports Club for a long time from the ’90s until he couldn’t coach anymore, which I think was just over a year ago … I don’t think he would do that for that long without having some real connection to kids.”
Blair’s love of skiing drew him to the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club, where he became a coach. He and Connie led the Little Vikings program for years. He stepped back a few years ago because of his health but continued to coach through January 2018.
“When he came into town, he coached in the Alpine program,” Flanigan said. “Right away, we had a good chemistry. He had this really great outgoing personality that made it easy for him to make friends. He always seemed to have a group of really loyal friends, whether from Vermont, where he grew up and lived half his life, or here in Steamboat, where he lived half his life.”
Blair’s giving nature is also something friends said made him special.
When he was not on the slopes or cross-country trails teaching children the joy of being outside and living in Steamboat Springs, Blair built a loyal following of patients as a physical therapist. His position also gave him an opportunity to work with elite athletes, including members of the U.S. Nordic Combined Team.
“I met Scott sometime in the late 1990s I guess, and I worked with him basically my whole career,” said Johnny Spillane, who was a member of U.S. Nordic Combined Team for 13 years. “It seemed like, every injury or surgery that I had, he was my main therapist.”
Spillane doesn’t recall all the details of the first meeting with Blair, but he said the two became friends as Spillane pursued success on the world stage. Through it all, Blair helped him deal with a number of different injuries.
“He became a really good friend,” Spillane said. “He was just so caring and so giving. He would do anything to help you and committed just endless hours to helping everyone on our team, but probably me more than most. Scott just cared so deeply, and that’s what made him special.”
The news of Blair’s health problems hit the community hard after Blair suffered a seizure while skinning up Mount Werner on May 5, 2013. Medical evaluations revealed a brain tumor, and he was eventually diagnosed with a grade IV glioblastoma.
Since then, Blair and his family have battled the odds against a disease that has one of the worst five-year survival rates among all human cancers.
“His battle against cancer absolutely embodied him,” Morton said. “He never stopped fighting. He was not going to let this drag him down.”
Now, his friends will hold onto the memories of better times.
“He had a really great sense of humor. He was a loyal friend and a happy friend,” Flanigan said. “There was nothing better than having a beer and some good laughs after some adventure. His smile will remain with me for a long time.”
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