Chris McNeil was in his 25th season with Steamboat, when he died suddenly on February 5th. He
started his SSRC career as a ski instructor, and in 1996 became a special coach for our Billy Kidd
Race Camp, he went on to manage the program from 1998-2000. In 2001 Chris returned to instructing and continued to be a primary coach in the Race Camp and videographer for special ski groups.
Chris was a two-time Olympian representing the USA in Nordic Jumping at the 1976 Winter Games in Innsbruck and 1980 Olympics in Lake Placid. The 1972 junior national jumping champion, McNeill graduated from Steamboat Springs High School that same year. During his tenure with the US Ski Team, he mastered five languages. “Being Olympic athletes, Chris McNeill and I shared a common bond and a passion for skiing and the outdoors”, said Billy Kidd. “I saw him share everyday that same dedication in the Billy Kidd Performance Center, taking the time to help people ski better, enjoy the slopes and life. His influence in skiing was a model for future generations and brought credibility, honor and tradition to the Ski Town USA legacy.” Chris is survived by his wife, Lenny, who manages our Kids’ Vacation Center, and his daughter, Dori.
Chris didn’t really need much….. he already had everything that he wanted…. A loving wife and daughter, a string of good pack animals, great friends, a job, and a pair of new ski boots…. In that order.
His favorite TV stations were RFDTV because they had horse training shows and VERSUS because they showed World Cup Skiing. What did he get out of these stations? They offered opportunity to learn. Chris was a student of everything that he touched. His passion for working with the four-legged beasts of burden and sliding on snow were easy targets of discussion
with Chris. He had spent a lifetime learning how each worked, but by necessity he became an expert at video and video production.
He knew about football but figured it was a sport better to be played than watched on TV. The list of Chris’ expertise continues. Unlike many with a lot of knowledge who may choose to impress a crowd, Chris used his skills to better another. To better a horses life by teaching them how to make ease of their job, or to help a young skier work through their inabilities to better enjoy their time on the hill..
Chris knew from early on that the key to almost everything was hard work and diligence. You would never hear that from Chris, unless you were his daughter, Dori, while in the middle of a cross-country training session. Operating a guest ranch with more than eighty animals doesn’t happen without a lot of honest work every day.
He was a two time Olympic ski jumper. As an American, it takes an unbelievable amount of hard work, diligence and savvy to compete on that level in a European dominated sport, but Chris was there.
Chris was a pleasure to be around, a pleasure to learn from, and a pleasure to remember.
I’ll miss him.
Roger Perricone, Competition Services Manager