Up North: Hidden Duluth legend emerges for second Ski Hall of Fame honor
The American Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame calls her the Johnny Appleseed of skiing. A member of their Class of 2014, Jeannie Thoren, who now lives in Duluth, will earn yet another accolade later this month.
Last week, Thoren, sitting in her East Duluth basement dubbed the ‘Women’s Ski Resort of the Universe’, sifted through photos and medals from decades of work in the skiing world for her ceremony. August 21 induction into the 2022 Colorado Snowsports Hall of Fame.
“Hallelujah, this is very, very important,” laughed Thoren with a sigh of relief.
The Marquette, Michigan native was inducted for her groundbreaking store opened in Vail, Colorado called Women’s Ski Center. The store was run, along with her husband Tom, on her “Thoren theory” that “women are not short men”.
“Our real focus was fitting boots and skis. We really felt the weak link in women’s skiing was usually her gear, and if your feet hurt you can’t go skiing.
Thoren explained that their gear was specialized to accommodate women’s wider hips and the angle of their femur. His methods include leaning, a wedge to rock the knees, heel raises to move the hips underneath, and moving the bindings forward for easier turns.
“All the things I did were experiments on myself. Then I looked around me in 1980 and I thought if that person over there knew what I knew about skiing, they would ski better today.
Opened in 2009, her Colorado boutique, the first of its kind in the country, is now under new ownership by the Outdoor Divas but continues to help female skiers.
“The store is needed,” Thoren said. “It must be copied everywhere.”
Even before their store opened, the Thorens were helping skiers across the country get to different states by offering clinics, which inspire student testimonials to this day.
“I just got one the other day in 1995. She still remembers taking my clinic and wants to know if I can still help her with her gear.”
Thoren will soon be leaving for Colorado where she is encouraging those who can to purchase a lawn seat at the Vail Amphitheater for $50 to attend the 2022 Hall of Fame ceremony. Tickets can be found here.
“If they are from here and want to support him, that would be fantastic. I’ll make a little flag or something and plant it in the lawn for them.
That doesn’t mean the job is done, however. “We say we are retired, but that will never be true. We will still receive calls.
She even mentioned that she hoped to start working at Spirit Mountain.