Jerry Simon, a ski industry trailblazer in promotion that propelled the sport in the 1960s and far beyond, died at his Las Vegas home July 24 after a lengthy illness.
Simon, along with his partner Harry Leonard, began co-producing consumer ski shows from Manhattan to Los Angeles in 1964. The shows were huge draws and featured the most famous ski stars of the era, including Stein Eriksen, Jean-Claude Killy, and Billy Kidd. Simon and Leonard were acknowledged together as "Founders of Skiing USA."
Recognizing that by the 1970s safety was becoming the key issue to continued growth of the sport, Simon developed the Skiing Mechanics and Managers Workshops, a successful training program for those working in ski shops all across the country.
Another Simon innovation was the International Ski Film Festival that annually showcased and rated the best ski films of the year. Crested Butte Resort, one of the festival's sponsors, created a sleek glass statuette that was presented to the Festival's winners. It was dubbed the "Jerry," and became, to ski filmmakers, their Oscar.
Ski Group was created by Simon in 1976. It began as an 8-city tour pairing ski resort sales and marketing executives with group buyers for the next season. That original tour expanded to a 30-city selling blitz and thrived for 25 years. It was the precursor to today's Mountain Travel Symposium.
The tour became invaluable as a sales tool and the Austrian National Tourist Board presented Simon with the "Order of the Eagle" award, famously noting that Simon's middle name (Stanton) spelled out their renowned resort (St. Anton).
Simon lived for promoting the sport. He married long-time ski fashion show hostess Barbara Alley on the peak of Jackson Hole resort. Alley's career blossomed under Simon's leadership as she narrated the annual ski show fashion presentations. He created a national TV talk show tour for her, including the NBC Today Show, using choreographed dancers and models that showcased the latest fashions to millions of skiers each fall for 11 years.
He was presented with the BEWI Award for "outstanding contributions to the sport of skiing" in 2004. Simon and Alley are the only husband and wife to have both received the award. Members of the North American Snowsports Journalists Association presented him with its Golden Quill Award in 2005. The Far West Ski Association gave its inaugural Snowsports Builder award to Simon and Leonard in 2008.
The Simons have lived in New York City and Las Vegas. He graduated from Erasmus High School in Brooklyn and attended the University of Southern Mississippi, served in Korea, and returned to graduate from Brooklyn College with a B.S. in psychology. He is survived by Barbara and a son, Jordan, a travel writer in New York City. Donations in his memory may be made to the U.S. Ski Hall of Fame, P.O. Box 191, Ishpeming, MI 49849.