The history of

The Arizona Ski Council

History of the Arizona Ski Council

The idea of bringing the Phoenix area ski clubs together originated during a joint ski trip between Phoenix Ski Club (PSC) and Scottsdale Sea and Ski Club (SSSC) in December 1989 to Crested Butte, Colorado. Steve ‘Zio’ Ziomek, Toney Nace (SSSC) and Jaan Vehik (PSC) put the trip together and an America West Boeing 737 was chartered to take skiers to Crested Butte. The trip turned out to be one of the best ski trips ever taken. It started with a send off at the Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport with the Jägermeister girls, a Jager band, and TV Chanel 3 and lots of Jägermeister. We packed in 126 ASC members for an all you can drink flight as the Flight Attendants merely pushed a half dozen liquor carts into the isle and walked away. We were the only plane to land at Gunnison that day. When we asked the pilot why we landed, he stated that ‘No Way in Hell was he taking this plane to Denver’. PSC won the First Ski Race between the two ski clubs.

In early 1990, Steve ‘Zio’ Ziomek, who had moved to Scottsdale from California, went on a familiarization ski trip to Aspen and met up with some old Far West Ski Association (FWSA) friends and the idea of forming the Arizona Ski Council (ASC) was discussed. By fall 1990, Steve Ziomek and Ray Palmer of SSSC and Mike Harris and Jaan Vehik of PSC, along with Cyndi Welt and Paul McCloskey of Motorola, and Dave Tower and Bruce Gunther of Arizona Outdoor and Travel Club (AOTC) started meeting to form the ASC.

The ASC By-Laws were signed on July 16, 1991, and the ASC became a member of the FWSA. The ASC obtained non-profit status from the IRS on November 17, 1993. The primary purpose of the ASC was to promote comradery within the Arizona ski community and add value to the clubs through the dynamics of collective bargaining power. Those signing the first By-Laws were Mike Harris, Loretta DeMars, Jaan Vehik, Stever Ziomek, Ray Palmer, Cyndi Welt, Paul McCloskey, Dave Tower and Bruce Guenther.

The first officers of the ASC were: Steve Ziomek, President; Cyndi Welt, VP; Mike Harris, Treasurer; Ray Palmer, Secretary; and, Jaan Vehik, Race Chairman. The following year Dan Romaneko (AOTC) replaced Cyndi Welt as VP and Loretta DeMars (PCS) replaced Mike Harris as Treasurer. Ray Palmer became then next President and held that position for five years. Ray’s major accomplishment was keeping peace in the family. None of the clubs trusted each other. Jeff Marvin (Motorola) succeeded Ray Palmer as President and held that position for two years. Jeff was one of the top racers in the ASC and FWSA. During Ray’s and Jeff’s terms, John Gamble (PCS) was the VP.

Jägermeister, who had been SSSC’s sponsor, also became a sponsor of the ASC, thus birthing the Jägermeister Challenge Cup. PSC won the first ASC Arizona Days Race in 1991 with SSSC winning the races the next many years. All of the ASC races were held in Telluride.

The ASC continued to grow as US West joined in 1992. Then US West changed to Quest and eventually to Party Time Sports headed by Gary Giertz and Sam Harris. AOTC was the first one to dropout of ASC and its members joined the other ASC clubs. Dan “Yukon Jack” Romanenko joined SSSC and led the snowboard contingent and continues to do so today.

In January of 1993, ASC participated for the first time in the FWSA Ski Week in Aspen, Colorado. ASC together with San Diego chartered an America West Boeing 757 to take its 220 members from Phoenix to San Diego to Grand Junction and then a bus to Aspen. In the early days, ASC was able to take from 80 to 120 people to the FWSA Ski Weeks. ASC was able to finish second many times in the FWSA Ski Week races. When the FWSA Council Challenge was started, ASC won the first two years with Jeff Marvin being the leader of the team.

ASC racing became a heated topic among the participating clubs. The official ASC race rules were written in October 1993. The race rules working group was made up of: Toney Nace (SSSC), Bob Kwint (PSC), Mark Constable (Motorola), Russ Shasky (US West) and Jaan Vehik (ASC). Quite a collection of personalities.

Linda Westland (Motorola) in 2000 followed Jeff Marvin as President. During Linda’s tenure as President, the ASC By-Laws were amended on October 22, 2003 to keep up with the times. The amendment added that the council will have six officers: President, VP, Secretary, Treasurer, Race Coordinator and Past President. The rules of election of officers were clarified and both the ASC and FWSA Ski Week racing rules were added. During this time, Boeing Ski Club, Party Time Sports, and East Valley Ski Club became official members of the ASC. After 2007, Motorola, Boeing Ski Club, and East Valley Ski Clubs dropped out of the ASC.

One way to get all of the ASC clubs to get together was to go to Telluride each year for Arizona Days in December, which was later changed to January to ensure better snow conditions. The two main events were the club races and a big party afterwards. The Jägermeister Cup lists all of the clubs that have won the trophy. The height of the Arizona Days was in 2001 when we had 300 ASC members make the trip and we had 100 racers. John Gamble (PSC) and Jaan Vehik (SSSC) worked over two years with help from Mike Clark (FUNCO) to get lodging at the Peaks at mid-mountain. This turned out to be a great location to stay for many years.

ASC has hosted trips as well. In 2004, Elaine and Ben Cobos took the club on a fabulous ski trip to Valle Nevado, Chile and a post trip to Machu Pichu, Peru with a pretrip to the Easter Island.

The ASC has hosted four FWSA Conventions. In June 1994, the first convention was at the Double Tree, Hilton in Scottsdale with a true western theme with 500 attendees. The next convention was in June 2000, at the Ritz Carlton in Phoenix, the third was in June 2006 at the Wild Horse Pass in Phoenix, and the last was in June 2016 at the Double Tree Hilton in Scottsdale. Arleigh Meiners (PSC) did not take part in the first ASC hosted convention, which was led by Steve Ziomek and mainly SCCC, but Arleigh was a major player in the last three conventions and did an amazing job.

ASC has also been a major player in the FWSA Man and Woman of the Year contests held during the FWSA conventions. The following ASC members have been selected: Steve Ziomek (SSSC), two-time winner-Marge Fons (SSSC), Jeff Peoples (Boeing), Linda Westland (SSSC), Elaine Cobos (Motorola), Mary Beth Fitchley (SSSC), and Bill Behnke (PSC).

ASC has also had a number of members serve on the FWSA Board. The following people have held positions: Kandy Marsh, Secretary; Elaine Cobos, Communications; Jim Nachbar, Communications; Linda Westland, Communications, Trustee and President of the Trustees, and FWSA President; and, John Gambe, FWSA Ski Week Travel Team who was in charge of the Pub Crawl.

Currently, ASC consists of two clubs, Phoenix Ski Club and Scottsdale Ski Club.