Hall of Fame Class of 2017
As a high-finance banker with elite athletic background, Thom Weisel’s passion, vision and fundraising lifted U.S. skiing efforts to their highest level.
Thom Weisel and the network of trustees he tirelessly recruited have provided more than $100 million in direct financial support to the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Team, fueling U.S. athletes to collect some 200 Olympic and Championship medals.
But you can’t put a price tag on the value of Weisel’s leadership, vision and passion, all of which elevated the U.S. program to the status it enjoys today.
Weisel was a young businessman with an athletic background and a passion for skiing when he joined the U.S. Ski Team Educational Foundation – the team’s board of directors – in 1977. He was elected chairman in 1983, held the post until 1994 and has stayed active with the team ever since.
He led the ten year process of merging the U.S. Ski Team with U.S. Ski Association, the grassroots member program, bringing a centralized, top-to-bottom approach for oversight of the sport. As a highly successful investment banker, his business relationships proved invaluable in nurturing sponsor support from the early days of Harvey Lamm and Subaru up to Bob Reynolds of Putnam Investments, the team’s current title sponsor. He attracted high-profile board members ranging from Michael Bloomberg and Sam Zell to Dexter Paine, the current USSA chairman. He also strengthened ties with the U.S. ski resort owners who have strongly supported competition, including Nick Badami, George Gillett, Tom Corcoran and Ian and John Cumming. When times were tough, he personally co-signed ski team loans to keep the organization running.
Weisel received the USSA’s highest honor in 1999, the Julius Blegen Award, and the U.S. Olympic Committee’s prestigious George Steinbrenner Award in 2011. In November, several USSA trustees endowed the U.S. team’s head mens alpine coaching position in Weisel’s name. But he prefers to share the name with those who have joined him in support. “This is really a testament to all the trustees of the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Team over the years,” Weisel says of his Hall of Fame induction.
Born in 1941 and raised in Milwaukee, the son of a prominent surgeon, Wilson Weisel, and his wife Betsy Amos Weisel, Weisel was a five-time national speed-skating champion as a teen, narrowly missing a spot in the 1960 Squaw Valley Olympics. He graduated from Stanford and received his MBA from Harvard Business School. Ultra-competitive, forward thinking and street savvy, he settled in San Francisco and became a pioneer in the high-tech Silicon Valley, earning the moniker as the “alpha male of Wall Street West.”
The company he founded in 1971, which would later become Montgomery Securities, led the IPOs of companies ranging from Applied Materials and Amgen to Micron Technologies. From 1989 to 1996 alone, Montgomery underwrote 293 IPOs, raising $57.3 billion in equity. In 1999, he founded Thomas Weisel Partners Group and it completed $23 billion in transactions in its first year; he was named Investment Banker of the Year by Investment Dealer’s Digest and the firm’s success became a Harvard Business School case study. In 2006, Weisel received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Nation Venture Capital Association. Thomas Weisel Partners became part of Stifel Financial in 2010 with Weisel as co-chairman.
Now free of the day-to-day running an investment bank, Weisel is a collector of modern art and an elected trustee of the San Francisco Museum of Modern art. He has seven children and eight grandchildren, including two, ages 4 and 6, with his current wife, Janet Barnes, who also worked in the financial world for 25 years.
Weisel is also more absorbed than ever in the frontline challenges of world-class ski racing through his son, Kipling, who was named to the U.S. Ski Team in spring 2014 and was slated to make his World Cup debut this season. Weisel’s dream is to see the U.S. team increase its corporate sponsor support, be less reliant on individual donors and fully fund more athletes on World Cup. After watching his son balance a Dartmouth workload with elite-level skiing, and in a lifetime of mentoring U.S. team athletes who never had time to attend college during their careers, he is optimistic the team can find a better solution for merging higher education with the pursuit of world-class skiing.
1977: Joins U.S. Ski Team Educational Foundation
1983: Becomes chairman of USSEF
1988: Plays key role in consolidation of U.S. Ski Team with U.S. Ski Association
1994: Steps down as chairman but retains role as one of the team’s strongest supporters
1999: Receives the USSA Julius Blegen Award, its highest honor
2009: USSA unveils its Center of Excellence national training and educational facility, with Weisel as one of its most influential leaders
2010: U.S. Ski and Snowboard Team wins a record 21 medals at the Vancouver Olympics
2011: Receives the USOD’s prestigious George Steinbrenner Award
2014: U.S. athletes win 17 medals, including a record eight gold, at Sochi Olympics, Weisel’s tenth as a top supporter
2017: USSA trustees endow the head men’s alpine coaching position in Weisel’s name
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