By Larry Zimmer, KOA Radio
Hank Kashiwa’s boundless energy has led to success on the ski slopes, in the media, and in the business world. He becomes the ninth member of the ski fraternity to be inducted into the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame, joining such legends as Buddy Werner, Gordie Wren, Barney McLean, Bill Kidd, Marvin Crawford, Bob Beattie, Willie Schaeffler and Bill Marolt.
Born in New York City of a Japanese father and an Irish mother, Kashiwa made his first trip down the slopes at age two at Old Forge, New York. He became an outstanding junior racer and headed west to ski and study at the University of Colorado. By 1967, he had earned a position on the U. S. National Ski Team. He won the 1969 National Ski Championship and was on the U.S. team at the 1970 World Championships at Val Gardena, Italy. In 1972, he achieved Olympic status as a member of the U.S. team at the Winter Games in Sapporo, Japan.
Kashiwa moved to Steamboat Springs, a perfect spot for a skier, avid fisherman, and singledigit handicap golfer. He joined the professional ski tour in 1972. The highlights of his 10-year pro career were winning the overall World Pro Ski Championship in 1975, and placing second in the 1976 “Super Stars” competition.
When his racing days were over, Kashiwa became a visible spokesman for skiing on television. He hosted “Skiing Magazine on TV,” a national television series covering skiing and winter sports. He had a series on skiing on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” and later hosted a nationally syndicated show entitled “American Skier.”
Kashiwa proved to be an expert commentator on ski racing as well. He worked for GGP Sports, covering World Cup and professional skiing events for national syndication. His work behind the microphone and in front of the camera earned him a key position with CBS Sports, covering the Winter Olympics in Albertville, France, in 1992 and Lillehammer, Norway, in 1994. Hank also was visible on the shelves of neighborhood grocery stores. Being a gourmet cook, he developed a line of popular teriyaki sauces.
This first venture into the business world led to his founding of the Volant Ski Corporation. The Volant ski was ahead of the curve on the “shaped” ski that is used almost exclusively today. The ski was shorter and wider and was designed to make carving turns easier. Hank’s brother, Bucky, an engineer at the Los Alamos Laboratory in New Mexico, designed the ski. It was unique in that it was the only ski in the world with a stainless steel cap. Volant was also in the forefront of the ultra-wide “powder ski,” now standard for most manufacturers. As the larger international ski companies adopted and mass-produced the shaped ski, it was more difficult for Volant to compete. Kashiwa wound down the business.
He then sought a new challenge — and found it as vice-president of marketing for the Yellowstone Club, a private ski and golf area adjacent to Big Sky, Montana, and Yellowstone National Park. That’s where you’ll find him today.
Hank Kashiwa’s boundless energy has led to success on the ski slopes, in the media, and in the business world.