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February 20, 2012 at 11:30 AM

Stevens Pass avalanche victims remembered for their energy, passion

A memorial in the center of Leavenworth was set up in memory of the skiers. (Photo by Brian M. Rosenthal / The Seattle Times)

The three expert skiers who died Sunday in an avalanche near Stevens Pass ski area were all beloved men from Leavenworth, said friends and coworkers grappling with the deaths Monday.

The Stevens Pass community is still in shock over the deaths of Chris Rudolph, Jim Jack and John Brenan, said John Gifford, the resort’s general manager.

Rudolph was the resort’s marketing director, Jack was a Freeskiing World Tour head judge who often skied on the mountain and Brenan was a contractor in Leavenworth who regularly worked on the mountain, Gifford said.

They skied together often, as they did Sunday before an avalanche swept them up, dropped them 2,000 feet and killed them.

“They were longtime skiers here and friends of a lot of employees here,” Gifford said. “I can’t tell you how hard this is.”

Rudolph had worked at the resort for eight years, Gifford said. He was known for his relentless promotion of the mountain and the sport.

In the words of Matt Wainhouse, a 23-year-old snowboarder with a season pass to the mountain, “Chris was Stevens Pass.”

Jim Jack (Photo courtesy of T.R. Revere)

On Sunday, the group was leading a group of media from ESPN and Powder Magazine, showing them around the mountain and popular “out of bounds” areas in the backcountry, Gifford said. The area above Tunnel Creek Canyon Road, where they died, was one of their favorite spots, he said.

The men were also well known members of the Leavenworth community, said Nancy Smith, director of the town’s Chamber of Commerce. Their passion for skiing was contagious, she said.

“I think it was the love of life that also took them to the love of adventure,” said Smith. “It was always present. It was always present in their essence and their being and they just emulated the fun and exceptional spirit. And skill. Extraordinary skill.”

Comments | More in General news | Topics: avalanche, Chris Rudolph, Jim Jack

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