HANCOCK — For Brian Fairbank, being named as one of eight class of 2020 inductees to the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame is a singular achievement, and stands up well next to the Lifetime Achievement Award presented to him by the National Ski Areas Association in 2017.
"These two honors, for something I have dedicated my life to, wow," said Fairbank, 74. "To be recognized in two different venues, it's just awesome."
He referred to the honor as a "pinnacle" for his career.
The announcement was made by the Hall of Fame in Ishpeming, Mich., the birthplace of organized skiing in America. Plans for a formal induction ceremony are pending for the spring, depending on the pandemic.
"This is another incredible class of well-deserving stars who have committed their lives and careers to the betterment of skiing and snowboarding in America," said David Ingemie, board chairman of U.S. Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame. "We are working hard to be prepared for another induction once live events are possible and safe again."
While Fairbank has been fully immersed in cutting edge technological advances in skiing — such as promoting the use of shorter skis in the 1990s and developing better efficiencies in snow making — and has worked on a regional and national level to advance the sustainability of skiing and ski resorts, he didn't expect this.
"Never in my life did I think this would wind up in the Hall of Fame," he told The Eagle.
Fairbank's ability to face down any challenge has made him a force to be reckoned with in the ski industry, said Justin Koski, the Hall of Fame's executive director.
"Brian helped lower the hurdles in the way of growing the industry," he said. "He always knew what was best for the industry and moved to make it happen. It's very clear that there's been a lifetime of dedication to the sport of skiing, and he's been at the forefront of sustainability using renewable energy as a means to get there."
Fairbank, who took over operations at Jiminy Peak Mountain Resort in 1969 at 23 and bought the mountain with partner Joe O'Donnell in 1985, has grown the business to a premier resort, and more recently expanded his company, The Fairbank Group, to take over operations at two other ski resorts: Cranmore Mountain Resort in New Hampshire and Bromley Mountain in Vermont. He now serves as chairman of The Fairbank Group.
Fairbank noted that when he took over as general manager at Jiminy, there were about 45,000 ski trips annually. Now it's closer to 200,000.
"I have been passionate about skiing since I was 6 years old, which led me into my 55-year career," he said. "Throughout my years in skiing I have strived to positively impact our industry on many fronts. I cherish this honor of being elected into the Ski and Snow Board Hall of Fame."
Fairbank served on the board of of the National Ski Areas Association from 1990 to 2004, and served as board chairman from 2000 to 2002.
In 2005, the association awarded Fairbank the Sherman Adams Award for an Eastern resort operator for his influence and distinguished leadership. And for more than 15 years, Fairbank served on the board of directors for the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame.
Fairbank is also recognized as a ski industry pioneer in green energy and sustainability. In 2007, he drew national acclaim when Jiminy Peak installed a 1.5 megawatt wind turbine — and was recognized by the association in 2008 when Jiminy Peak received the Golden Eagle Award for sustainability. In 2016, the Fairbank Group constructed a 2.3MW solar facility, achieving the milestone 100 percent usage of renewable energy.
The Hall of Fame manages an annually revolving nomination list of over 70 game-changing contenders vying for Hall of Fame status each year. Over 300 people vote in the election each year from all corners of the country and all genres of snow sport with representation from many industry boards and organizations, Hall alumni, regional media and other industry historians.
Scott Stafford can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 413-629-4517.