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September 15, 2010:

Bob Griswold, 1946-2010

It was the late 1980's, and we were barrelling through the tiny town of Hailey, Idaho after an illicit backside run from Sun Valley's Seattle Ridge. Grizzy buried the gas pedal of his beater station wagon as we blew through a just-turned-red light and muttered the now immortal words:

"Stay outa my way, people, I'm drivin' with my ski boots on!"

And he was. Griswold's thin, reedy voice and bespectacled demeanor tended to mask the determination that lay beneath it; a newcomer might well have taken him for a mathmatics professor rather than the freeski master that he was. But when he wanted to go pedal-to-the-metal, he did it with resolve. I felt a momentary flicker of trepidation, realizing that due to the condition of Grizzy's car as well as his Lange-shod feet with all the buckles undone we couldn't have stopped if we wanted to, but pushed it out of my mind since we still had time for one more run if we could make it back to the River Run lift in the next 15 minutes.

Better days. Griswold in Wasatch Pow, screengrab from the landmark film "The Performers".   © Dick Barrymore Productions, 1971

Bob Griswold was one of my heroes as a teenager, a local Crystal Mountain hotshot who had moved to Sun Valley and ascended to the big time. As a member of the original K2 Demonstration Team and one of the stars of the 1971 Dick Barrymore film "The Performers," he was at the forefront of the freestyle ski movement of the 1970's, and one of the first US skiers to bring legitimacy to any form of alpine skiing that wasn't racing. His unique style was smooth as the water moving through the bends at Silver Creek and just as deceptively powerful under the surface.

When my friends and I made the pilgrimage to Sun Valley a few years later, Grizzy and his crew welcomed us as brothers, fronted us free drinks and salads at the Ore House, and got our skiing up to speed in the best possible way - by letting us ski with them.

Bob passed away on August 12, 2010, in his home town of Tacoma, Washington. If you happen to be in the vicinity of Sun Valley, Idaho on Saturday, September 18th, a celebration of his life will be held there and it promises to be quite an event. If you won't be able to make it to the party, join me in throwing some good vibes and fond memories on the virtual pyre . ..

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