- Written by Ben Jacklet
- Category: Mountain Characters
- Published: February 06, 2019
- Last Updated: February 07, 2019
The legendary ski racing coach Randy Hewitt has been named King Winter in recognition of his tireless dedication to high school ski racing and his many contributions to the culture of Mount Hood.
The King Winter ceremony is a long-standing tradition of the Skiyente Ski Club to honor individuals who have contributed to the culture and traditions of the Mount Hood snow sports scene. Past winners include John Wilberding, Lloyd Musser, Lee Perry, Buzz Bowman and Fred Noble, to name just a few. The King Winter book is on display at the Mt. Hood Museum and Cultural Center in Government Camp.
Hewitt is the head coach of the Eastside High School Ski Racing team, which includes racers from Grant, Cleveland, Jefferson, Benson, and Franklin High Schools. He started the team in 2004 when his daughter Kelsey was a freshman at Grant, and it has grown steadily, bringing in new schools and introducing many young skiers to the joys of racing.
Hewitt grew up in Southern Colorado, where he first learned to ski at the age of 7. During his high school years he and his teammates would travel all over the state for ski races. He has taught disabled skiers and worked with search and rescue teams, but his biggest contribution has been as a racing coach. He coaches racers of all levels, from first-timers to kids who have been running gates since they were 7. His pointers are thoughtful and his positive attitude is contagious. As a parent volunteer for the Eastside Ski Team I can personally attest to the energy Randy brings to the sport, and his commitment to a team environment that is positive, fun, and inclusive. He is also an excellent powder skier and racer in his own right, and an enthusiastic competitor in PACRAT races on Mount Hood. He moved out to Oregon in 1983.
Randy has served as President and board member of the Oregon Interscholastic Ski Racing Association and started the OISRA Sportsmanship program in 2010. In 2017, Randy organized the just-for-fun, season-opening Kelsey Hewitt Memorial Race to take the place of the long-running Christine Cato race. This race was named in the memory of his daughter, a past Grant High School ski racer and coach, who died in a tragic ski accident in Jackson Hole after falling into a tree well. The race hosts over 400 high school racers from all around Oregon. Randy plans to hold this race into the foreseeable future as a fun kickoff to the high school ski racing season. Here he is handing out awards after this year's race on Mount Hood:
Randy and his wife, Elise, are owners of a chiropractic clinic on East Burnside which serves many Mt Hood skiers as well as many Portland patients. Their son Braden is also a ski racing coach for the Eastside Ski Team.
Normally the Skiyentes throw a big party for King Winter at Charlie's in Government Camp, but the chosen weekend turns out to be a rare time when Randy will not be on Mount Hood. Instead he will be skiing with friends in Colorado that have been getting together for 37 years. He says he plans to come back "with powder between my teeth."
Thanks to Sandi Shaub and the Skiyente Ski Club for providing photos and reporting for this story. For more information about Mount Hood's women-only ski club, click here.
Randy Hewitt with past Skiyente honorees Sheri Parshall, Carol Smith, and Diane Hicks.