Paul's wife Kathe along with Paul's son in law Chris Newell (l) and Paul's grandson Chase Newell (r). ©skitrax.com
Tom Kelly, Bob Beattie, Mike Clark (winner of FIS Journalist Award), Gary Black and John Fry. ©skitrax.com
Tom Kelly, USSA VP of Communications and a good friend of Robbins, played host as bagpipe music filled the beautiful wooden-beamed room to start the celebration as various speakers regaled the life and times of Robbins who’s notorious humour, wit and affable style charmed everyone from legendary singer and actress Liza Minelli during his pre-skiing years, to the entire ski world everywhere he travelled – and Robbins travelled the globe.
It was a fitting memorial to Robbins who hailed originally from New York and was bitten by the ski bug in the early 70s when he covered his first American Birkie – and the rest was history. The guest list included his good friends and associates David Ingemie/SIA President, Marty Hall/former US Ski Team coach, Peter Graves/sports announcer, Gary Black/Ski Racing publisher, Bob Beattie/former US Ski Team coach, Peter Ashley/Fischer Skis, John Fry/former Ski editor and historian, John Caldwell/NENSA founder, John Morton/Olympian biathlete/author, Richard Taylor/former US Ski Team coach, Mike Clark/AP sports writer, Ruff Patterson/Dartmouth coach, Chip LaCasse/former ski director Univ. of Vermont, Jim Fredericks/Catamount Trail (formerly with Rossi) and many more who came to share in this special celebration that honoured Robbins who was a pillar of ski coverage as the United States Ski and Snowboard Association’s (USSA) key in-house journalist since 1979.
Robbins was unique and each speaker brought to life his passion for his profession, his associates, his family, and his friends. Olympian and TV commentator Jeff Hastings recalled the friendship many skiers felt for Robbins and how they looked forward to his post race phone calls. Sporting a Boston Red Sox hat (Robbins was a huge fan) Ellyn Cole Robbins, his first wife, shared stories of his early years when they worked in show business together for awhile with the likes of Liza Minelli. When their son “DC” was racing Robbins would call her with his results.
Paul’s brother John shared Robbins love of family and how the ever-energetic scribe was an inspiration to everyone he met. He also put to rest any rumours that there may be more than one tam, Robbins’ famous trademark. Renowned sports announcer and one of his closest friends, Peter Graves, recounted tales of their early years in the sport and quipped about Paul’s love for ‘well done’ when it came to food, and any ‘free stuff’ that came his way.
The famous tam now passes on to Robbins’ son David “DC” who shared his pride and love for the sport and his dad. Neighbour John Philpin, a writer as well, referred to Robbins as “Pablo” and recalled the many occasions that he wondered what Paul did, “He told me he was travel writer but I knew he was with the CIA,” he joked. Various members of the audience took the stage and paid homage to the man who touched their lives. Bob Beattie, former U.S. Ski Team coach, ABC/ESPN commentator, and founder of the FIS Alpine World Cup, drew a big laugh when quipped that he’d be hard-pressed to find any of his ex-wives that would say anything nice about him.
The proceedings came to a close with Paul’s wife Kathe thanking everyone for coming and remembering the special years they shared together, how easy going Paul was, and while she didn’t know most of the people he interacted with she knew how important everyone was to Paul.
As guests mingled over food and drinks and continued the celebration of Robbins’ life it was clear that while everyone’s experience with him was unique they all felt very close to him, a testimony to the special magic that Paul Robbins carried with him, no matter who he met or where ever he travelled.
His friend Graves said it best when he quoted the poet Shelly about Keats (after his death)… “He is become a portion of the loveliness, which he once made so lovely…”.
More photos by Tom Kelly and others here.