The glare from the candles seems to have over-exposed the photo a little. Actually, the sun was out for the first time this week. Our town is in a 6000' altitude basin surrounded by mountains. The basin was beautifully clear with storm clouds visible over the mountains all around us. I figured Babette had some pull somewhere to get the sun to come out for her party! She's like that.
We've known Babette since Mrs. G worked at Soda Springs ski area thirty years ago where Babette was the director of the ski school. That's up on Donner Summit, just west of Donner Pass, the nation's highest inhabited snowfall area, averaging 33 feet of snow per year, and sometimes the commute was a real bitch. Mrs. G would ride to work with Babette sometimes and learned how to drive in the snow - "Stay in the untracked part of the road. You can haul ass!". No shrinking violet, that ol' gal.
Here's a display at the party. Click it bigger and take a look at it:
The miracle is that she survived such early equipment as beartrap bindings and lace-up boots!
I knew Babette was a top-notch ski instructor and former racer, but I had no idea! For research for this post I googled her up. I was a little amazed. Mrs. G knows her a lot better than I do and when I mentioned that Babette was more than a little famous, she gave me a "Just get off the turnip truck, didja Clem?" look. From a TahoeTopia post entitled Tahoe’s Top 25 Skiers in History:
BABBETTE HAUEISEN 1931: A former ski racer who won the Roche Cup at Aspen, the Silver Belt* at Sugar Bowl, and the Harriman Cup in Sun Valley, all in 1955, the precocious Haueisen dominated Tahoe events during the 1950s against the likes of Olympians Andrea Mead Lawrence, Sally Hudson, Jill Kinmont and Gretchen Fraser. An injury forced her off the U.S. Olympic Team in 1956.
She learned to teach at the instructor's college in St. Christophe, Austria, a first for any American. "Miss B" taught full time well into her 70s. In 1995, she was selected by Skiing magazine as one of the top 100 instructors in North America.
*See her drink champagne out of the trophy! Read the article too. Skiing in those days was a lot harder than it is now.
Since the winter Olympics is coming up in a coupla weeks, this is all pretty timely. Here's 1960 Olympic torch bearer Babette handing off the torch to former Olympian Johnny Moseley for 2010. SacBee photo.
At breakfast we were sitting with another old friend of Mrs. G's from Soda Springs days. I mentioned to her that Babette had told me that at 80 years she was starting to slow down a little. Her reply was, "Yeah, she's slowing down to where the rest of us are!". All I could do was nod at that and hope I have half the energy at 80 that Babette does.
Just as kind of an aside, Babette is originally from Milwaukee. She attended Harley-Davidson's 100th Birthday Bash in 2003. Her brother rode in the parade at age 88. He just turned 95. Runs in the family I guess. Hey, ya don't quit ridin' (or skiing) because ya get old, ya get old because ya quit doin' it.
As we were leaving the party, Babette gave me a big hug and informed me that I will be taking her for a motorcycle ride this year! Yes, ma'am...
Originally I was gonna do this post about a birthday party for an old friend, but it turned into something else along the way.
Babette made her life out of following her heart and doing something she loved. She is still going strong and should be an inspiration to us all.
Happy Birthday, hon. Many happy returns. I'll come to yer parties as long as I'm able to...