The Colorado Snowsports Museum’s 2022 Hall of Fame celebration kept its final curtain reserved for John Dakin, a longtime Vail resident known around the world as press chief for three alpine skiing world championships.
While Dakin’s down-to-earth personality and PR background don’t make him the obvious choice for a grand finale, Dakin didn’t disappoint on Sunday, delivering a heartfelt and humorous speech to close out the evening.
Dakin was inducted into the Hall of Fame for his accomplishments telling the story of snow sports in Colorado.
“For over 40 years I haven’t had a job, which my high school guidance counselors thought was going to happen,” Dakin said as he accepted the honor on Sunday. “I had a passion and I was lucky enough to turn that passion into a career.”
It was this dry humor and dedication that made Dakin stand out as a public relations specialist, first with the University of Colorado, then with the US Ski Team and finally with the Vail Valley Foundation. .
Dakin grew up in Grand Junction and learned to ski in Breckenridge before meeting Olympian skier Bill Marolt at the University of Colorado, where he became director of sports information for the ski team after graduating.
Marolt introduced Dakin on Sunday, reminiscing about those ’70s days at CU.
“That’s where he started his career, he was great there in many roles,” Marolt said of Dakin.
In a video, attendees learned about Dakin’s seamless transition from one facet of his career to another, with Marolt describing how the US Ski Team operated without a director of sports information before Dakin.
“We needed a PR person,” Marolt said. “The first person that came to mind was John. So we reached out to him, naturally he was thrilled to do it, came to Park City and was there during one of the golden eras of American skiing .
Dakin said that if not for Bill Marolt and Marolt’s wife and assistant, Connie Marolt, he would not have been on stage on Sunday.
“Bill and Connie have given me the two greatest opportunities to have a career in ski racing and to continue to have a career in ski racing, with their offer to be the Chief Information Officer for the CU Ski Team and later the USA Ski Team,” Dakin said.
Dakin also thanked Vail residents Brad Ghent and John Garnsey who, along with Marolt and Tom Kelly, compiled and presented Dakin’s Hall of Fame nomination.
Kelly took over public relations for the U.S. Ski Team after Dakin’s departure and narrated the Dakin video that aired on Sunday.
While with the USA Ski Team, Dakin found his way into racing announcing, “quickly developing his own unique style with his information-packed race calls and keen sense of sports production”, Kelly said, and in the late ’80s he moved to Vail and took on the role of press chief at the 1989 World Championships for what was then a new and small organization, the Vail Valley Foundation.
“With him he brought all this knowledge about ski racing, and obviously the commitment to that, and then that almost instantly gave the baseline gravity in this sport, we had John Dakin who was part of the American Ski Team, he brings that with him,” said Ceil Folz, the former CEO of the Vail Valley Foundation, in the video shown to attendees.
Dakin said that after the 1989 Alpine Skiing World Championships, former Vail Valley Foundation Vice President John Garnsey helped lead efforts to keep Dakin on board as the public relations officer for the foundation, a move that would make Dakin a Vail local for decades to come.
Dakin said the original plan was for his position to be eliminated after the 1989 event.
“VVF would never be the same after the 1989 World Championships,” Dakin said. “That decision by John and others has resulted in a 30-year decision for me.”
Garnsey, in the video shown to attendees, said Dakin was the first person to hold a press chief position at three different Alpine Skiing World Championship events, as the World Championships would return to Vail and again be hosted by the Vail Valley Foundation in 1999. and 2015. In the meantime, Dakin also served as Alpine Press Manager at the 2002 Olympics and Alpine Mixed Zone Coordinator at the 2010 Olympics.
“The international press loved John,” Garnsey said. “And they liked him because he was knowledgeable first and foremost, so they respected him, they liked him because he was kind and very flexible to deal with what they needed, and he was funny. Because of that respect that he had, he was able to really shape the narrative that was written about our sport and Colorado, and we had so many wonderful stories written over those years about Vail and Beaver Creek and Colorado in general.