It’s not every ski rep who ends up having their name memorialized in perpetuity by headlining a long-term program run by their employer.
But Peter Hale wasn’t just a ski rep.
“His legacy far exceeded his responsibilities and duties as a rep and a race manager for our brand,” said Chris McCullough, the global brand manager for Madshus skis.
When Hale, the longtime U.S. sales rep and race manager for Madshus, passed away in November after a long battle for cancer, there was an outpouring of grief from the U.S. ski community – but also a celebration of Hale’s life and legacy. An excellent athlete himself, Hale was a member of the U.S. biathlon program before spending several decades helping many U.S. skiers across the nordic disciplines work towards their own goals. He is remembered as a generous, fun, and kind-hearted individual, and for being a true friend on the trails to anyone who loved skiing.
So after losing him, Madshus decided that as a company, they needed to do something to memorialize the best ambassador their brand could have had.
The result was the Peter Hale Memorial Scholarship Program, which will see the company outfit one high school boy and one high school girl with a complete setup of racing gear each year: skis, boots, and poles.
“We really wanted to set it aside from any of the usual programs or pro-deals that we, like any other manufacturer in the industry, offer,” McCullough said. “We can go and have criteria where if you are of this caliber, you qualify for this amount of race gear. This is different. This is very much a one woman, one man award each year for specific criteria.”
To be eligible, skiers have to be in the high school age range. But after that, the criteria get more creative. Madshus is looking for skiers who have a lot of potential, but haven’t realized it yet – and who are an important part of their local ski communities and good ambassadors for their sport.
Just the sort of people Hale might have run into and helped out, is the idea.
“Peter was a friend to anyone who shared his passions, and his support and encouragement meant a great deal to hundreds of young skiers anxious to explore their potentials,” Shaun Koos told FasterSkier back in November.
“It should be someone who isn’t probably the best skier on their team, but has the potential to become that,” McCullough explained. “And they really sort of assume the attribute of dedication to the ski community and are a standout ambassador for the sport, whether that is through community outreach, their training dedication, or their goals.”
According to McCullough, Hale’s attitude was a perfect match with the brand’s goals, and so too will be the scholarship which memorializes him.
“[We have to] find talent and support people who will go on to really successful careers, at the World Cup and Olympics,” he said. “But it’s also about people who will be able to give back to the community at the domestic level as well, which was the main reason we signed Brian and Caitlin Gregg a year and a half ago. So that focus is very important for our brand, and I think it was such a seamless fit, with what Peter had been doing for a number of years, to be able to do this type of program.”
And, although Hale is gone, McCullough sees this as a way for his legacy to live on for many years to come.
“We wanted to do something that could be sustainable, that we could continue to do for a number of years, rather than just doing a dedication to him this year,” McCullough said. “I am really hopeful that it becomes a mainstay of our brand in years to come and that part of our fall plans is having coaches and program directors submit nominations each year. I hope we’ll be able to promote someone who is truly deserving and will appreciate the award each year in terms of getting gear.”
More information about the scholarship, including how to nominate a young skier, can be found here.
McCullough said that nominations have already been rolling in, and he and his team are excited to review them in the coming weeks.
Chelsea Little is FasterSkier's Editor-At-Large. A former racer at Ford Sayre, Dartmouth College and the Craftsbury Green Racing Project, she is a PhD candidate in aquatic ecology in the @Altermatt_lab at Eawag, the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology in Zurich, Switzerland. You can follow her on twitter @ChelskiLittle.