Friday, January 24, 2020
LeRoy Kingland-Skis on His Feet, a Twinkle in His Eye
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Carolyn Hoffman, Carol Knaup, Shannon Avery and Bev joined LeRoy Kingland on the night of his 80th birthday.
 
Thursday, January 9, 2020
 

STORY AND PHOTOS BY KAREN BOSSICK

It was no surprise that LeRoy Kingland had the earliest date on his nametag. After all, he was accounted for and present when LeRoy Kingland was born in 1940.

But an amazing number of the 300 people who gathered to toast Kingland on his 80th birthday wrote numbers in the 1940s and ‘50s on their nametag, signifying they’d met LeRoy while a child or teenager.

 “He’s a Sun Valley icon,” said Ken Luplow.

 
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Patty McCarrick checks out one of the early Raichle ski boots that were used as centerpieces at the party.
 

Indeed, Kingland is one of those larger than life characters and not just because he towers well over 6-feet tall with a Stetson hat on his head.

The man has left his mark wherever he’s gone, whether in Lou Whittaker’s ski shop, at Crystal Mountain, in Sun Valley where he’s still winning NASTAR race medals or even at the Ketchum Town Square where the ice cream stand he set up raises money for local schools.

“What I admire most about him is his positive attitude,” said Patty McCarrick, who once let Kingland lead her up Mount Rainier. “He had cancer at a young age and I think that shapes you. He’s the most optimistic man I know. Every day with him is a great day, no matter what.

Young LeRoy didn’t have the luxury of living in the shadow of one of the country’s great ski resorts. Growing up on a family farm in Iowa, he developed his passion for skiing at age 6 on a small rope tow,  then graduated to skiing behind a horse and an old Model A.

 
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Annie Corrock’s parents built and ran the Alpine Inn at Crystal Mountain ski area with LeRoy Kingland’s help.
 

At 17 he turned his back on the cornfields, following his brother to Seattle. Hearing rumors of a new ski area about to be developed, they bought a cabin together in 1958 in the nearby Silver Springs area.   And four years later, Kingland found himself clearing ski runs with a chainsaw as Crystal Mountain ski area began to take shape.

When the runs were cut, he helped build and manage the Alpine Inn for its owners Corky and Lila Corrock, who eventually moved their family to Sun Valley.

In 1963 LeRoy went to work as a sales rep for Sun Valley part-timer Lou Whittaker.

“He was the best ski salesman—and skier. He never had a bad day,” said Whittaker. “I tell people that a friend is a gift to yourself. And that is what Leroy is to me. We’ve supported each other throughout the years, even as we age.”

 
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Kerry, Lou, Ingrid and Peter Whittaker donned their best cowboy duds for the evening, which included cowboy stories and yodeling and “Happy Birthday “ played by a young violinist.
 

It turned out that Kingland was not only a good friend but a good receptionist. It was he who took President Kennedy’s call informing Lou that his brother Jim Whittaker had become the first American to summit Mt. Everest.

Kingland spent 38 years selling skiing, mountaineering and hiking equipment. He also was Smith’s first sales rep and had an interest in Raichle-Molitor, one of the early ski boots.

“Some people have had a love-hate relationship with this boot,” he said, picking up the heavy low-cut boot. “They’re good for sticking flowers in now.”

 

 
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Christy Ann Gerber said her mother Marla gave birth to her shortly after her parents purchased a ski cabin at Crystal Mountain ski area.
 

Of course, when Kingland wasn’t selling skis, he was skiing—as many as 80 days a season.

He’s raced in countless events Masters events at Sun Valley, Crystal Mountain and other ski resorts when he wasn’t busy skiing the backcountry. And in 1972 he and five ski buddies became the first to summit Denali—North America’s highest mountain—and ski down it in an expedition that took 31 days all told.

He still skis most every day at Sun Valley Resort where he still wins medals in NASTAR races.

And when Sun Valley had a problem with pesky rocks showing up on a couple of its runs a few years ago, he invented a rock scooper-. The scooper, which consisted of a concave screen he got at Ketchum Kitchens attached to a stick, allowed ski patrollers and courtesy patrol to eliminate the backbreaking work of bending over to pick up rocks. All they had to do was scoop up rocks and fling them into the woods.

“He’s way faster than me,” said Sun Valley skier Jim Plomason. “I remember as a boy going into a ski shop and seeing all these skis that were 215 cm. long. They were guaranteed for life and they were all busted. And they all had LeRoy’s name on them.

While Kingland’s first love may be skiing, he manages to fill his summer with golf, sailing to Hawaii and back, flying airplanes and even trekking in Bhutan with Lou Whittaker and his wife Ingrid.

Probably half of the women in the room have dated him, noted Luplow. In fact, Luplow met his wife Patty McCarrick at an airline party she attended with Kingland.

“I waited a couple months to ask her out, and I’ve been friends with LeRoy ever since,” he said, showing off a picture of LeRoy and Patty taken all those years ago.

Kingland has served on the board of the National Ski Industry Association where he was president for eight years. And he served on on the Washington State Ski Recreation Board.

In 2007 he opened LeRoy’s Ice Cream stand in the Ketchum Town Square.

To date more than $100,000 reaped from sales of that ice cream have gone to the Blaine County School District, Sun Valley Community School, Montessori School, Sage School and Ketchum Parks & Recreatton Department’s afterschool program.

Christy Anna Gerber acknowledged she’s known Kingland since she was a toddler since her parents bought a cabin at Crystal Mountain just before she was born.

 “He always has a twinkle in his eye.”

 

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