Ski Team Visionary Warren Hellman Dies

2011-12-20 16:47

PARK CITY, UT (Dec. 20) – The U.S. Ski Team is mourning the loss of Warren Hellman, one of its former leaders and visionaries. Hellman, who passed away Sunday at the age of 77, was a pivotal leader of the Team during the early stages of its rise to greatness in the late '70s and early '80s.

Hellman was a pioneer in private equity investing, starting his firm Hellman & Friedman in 1984. He had a great passion for skiing and supported the sport at every level. He was regarded as a luminary in every field he touched from investment to skiing and his personal avocation, bluegrass music, founding San Francisco's famous Hardly Strictly Bluegrass festival held each fall.

As a supporter of the then U.S. Ski Educational Foundation, Hellman served both as a trustee and president of the U.S. Ski Team during a tenure from the late '70s to mid-'80s. He was very involved in helping to establish the foundation that led the U.S. Ski Team to one of its strongest periods in history in the '80s.

"Warren Hellman was an icon in our sport at a very pivotal time," said U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association (USSA) President and CEO Bill Marolt. "His support and leadership with the U.S. Ski Educational Foundation laid the groundwork for our athletic success in the 1980's and establishing the model which still works for us today."

Hellman was also a strong advocate of academics and co-founded the Stratton Mountain School in 1972. In the last 40 years, Stratton has been a formidable developer of talent to the USSA's athletic pipeline. In addition, a donation of land to the Team became an important asset to support athletic programs. He also helped revitalize the Sugar Bowl resort in Tahoe. In 1999, his daughter Dr. Patricia Hellman Gibbs, a former U.S. Ski Team athlete herself, founded the Sugar Bowl Academy.

Since leaving the Team's board in the '80s, Hellman continued to support the Team financially and remained one of its staunchest fans.

Hellman is survived by his wife Chris of 56 years, his sister Nancy Bechtle, his four children Frances, Tricia, Mick and Judith, 12 grandchildren and one great grandchild.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the San Francisco Free Clinic, The Bay Citizen and the San Francisco Alliance. A memorial service will be held at Congregation Emanu-El in San Francisco on Wednesday, Dec. 21.