Up North: A hidden Duluth legend emerges for second skiing Hall of Fame honor

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The U.S. Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame regards her as the Johnny Appleseed of skiing. A member of their class of 2014 Jeannie Thoren, now living in Duluth, will earn yet another enshrinement later this month.

Last week Thoren, sitting in her East Duluth basement dubbed the “Women’s Ski Center of the Universe”, sifted through photos and medals from decades of work in the skiing world for her August 21st induction ceremony into the 2022 Colorado Snowsports Hall of Fame.

“Hallelujah, this is a very, very big deal,” Thoren laughed with a sigh of relief.

The Marquette, Michigan native earned the induction for her revolutionary shop opened in Vail, Colorado called the Women’s Ski Center. The store was ran, with her husband Tom, on her “Thoren Theory” that “women aren’t small men”.

“Our real focus was on fitting boots and skis. We really believed that the weak link in a woman’s skiing is usually her equipment, and if your feet hurt you can not go skiing.”

Thoren explained their gear was specialized to fit women’s wider hips and the angle of their femur. Her methods include canting, a shim to tip out knees, heel lifts to shift hips underneath, and moving bindings forward for easier turns.

“All the things I did were experimenting on myself. Then I looked around in 1980 and went, if that person over there knew what I knew about skiing, they’d ski better today.”

Opened in 2009 her Colorado shop, the first of it’s kind in the country, is now under the new ownership of the Outdoor Divas but continues to help women skiers.

“The shop is necessary,” Thoren said. “It needs to be copied all over the place.”

Even before their shop opened the Thorens were helping skiers across the country traveling to different states offering clinics, that inspire student testimonials to this day.

“I just got one the other day from 1995. She still remembers taking my clinic and wants to know if I can still help her all with her equipment.”

Thoren will shortly race off to Colorado where she encourages those who can to purchase a lawn seat at the Vail Amphitheater for $50 to witness the 2022 Hall of Fame ceremony. Tickets can be found here.

“If they’re from here and want to support it, it would be fantastic. I’ll make a little flag or something and stick it in the lawn for them.”

This however doesn’t mean the work is over. “We say we’re retired, but that’s actually not ever going to be true. We’ll still get the calls.”

She even mentioned hoping to start some work at Spirit Mountain.