Sepp Kober (deceased)
Year Inducted: 2009
Sepp Kober was the primary builder of the southeastern United States ski industry, which today is the largest and most active feeder market for resorts nationwide. Twenty ski areas in Maryland, West Virginia, Virginia, North Carolina, Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Missouri and Tennessee combine to teach more beginner lessons than any U.S. ski region. They host from four and five million skiers in a typical season and there are more ski clubs and club members in the southeast than any other region of the country. Sepp pioneered these significant achievements during the formative years of the sport, from the 1950's through the 1970's. In the process, he’s earned regional and national honors.
In 1962 he represented the southeast as a charter member of the National Ski Areas Association at its inaugural meeting at The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs. Former NSAA President Cal Conniff recognizes Sepp's leadership. "I worked with Sepp on many projects for the good of the sport. With the advent of improved snowmaking equipment he was the first to prove that skiing in the snow starved Southland could become a reality. He ran a class act ski area and ski school at The Homestead for many years. Many ski areas began to spring up all over the southeast and Sepp was there to advise them on how to do it."
Sepp Kober was known by everyone in the ski business as the "Father of Southern Skiing," a title he rightly deserved. There are many ski areas in the Southeast today that introduce tens of thousands to the great sport of skiing. A man named Sepp Kober got it all started. Cal reiterates this sentiment in his 1984 congratulatory note at Sepp's 25th anniversary as ski area director at Virginia's 5-star Homestead Resort: "We at the NSAA wish you another good 25 years. You are a fine gentleman that has the respect of all of us in the ski business."
"The Father of Southern Skiing" was an honor bestowed by the Southeastern Ski Areas Association, an organization Sepp co-founded and served multiple terms as president. The award recognizes his more than three decades crisscrossing the South designing slopes and teaching the first ski area instructors. It reflects his being the region's first certified ski instructor, it's first ski area director, and first to organize and host USSA sanctioned events when he brought two USSA races to The Homestead in 1976.
As The Homestead's ski director, he was first to promote junior racing and NASTAR below the Mason Dixon Line. He set courses and supervised sanctioned races at The Homestead annually. In the off-season he was the first to introduce developing areas to the concept of master planning. With his compact, powerful and effortlessly graceful skiing style, he inspired southern ski entrepreneurs to invest in the snowmaking infrastructures that would become the mainstay of the industry. He provided areas and shops with accredited sources of inventory, rental equipment, and lifts, as a representative of Ski Lift International, Borvig, CTEC, Beconta Ski Company, White Stag, and the Head Ski Company. Because of these efforts, many manufacturers of equipment, lifts, snowmaking, and ski apparel have given Sepp their endorsements.
In 1970, Sepp founded the Southeastern Ski Representatives Association and was its president for six years. In that regard, Mary Kalis, Executive Director for the Southeastern Winter Reps Association, the outgrowth of SSRA, says: "Sepp's commitment to the sport of skiing is huge…He has contributed to the development of skiing at all levels. Sepp has helped the small mom/pop rental shop open their doors, he has advised the larger retail establishments on the type of products needed in their shop. Over 25 years, (Sepp has) joined with a small group of reps to establish the SWRA and for years organized the rep association shows (that are) the model for the shows that the association continues to host each year."
His influence in the South started when he became its first and only instructor on the first rope tows below the Mason-Dixon Line, erected at Weiss Knob in West Virginia and at Wisp in Maryland in 1958. At the time he was one of several prominent young European racers recruited as instructors at Stowe, Vermont by Skimeister Sepp Ruschp. People streamed out from Washington, DC, on special ski trains to the drifts at Wisp and in West Virginia's Canaan Valley and Sepp recognized the potential of the sport in the South.
The following season of 1959/1960, he became the region's first ski area director, at the 5-star Homestead Resort in Hot Springs, Virginia. His job was to cut slopes, install snowmaking, purchase rental gear, develop a ski school and permanent lift system (all firsts below the Mason-Dixon), and somehow sell the incongruous ideas of Southern skiing.