Skiing keeps Patty active, competitive

Margaret Patty loves to ski, and uses the sport to fulfill her competitive side. The
76-year-old Grand Junction resident has raced in the National Standard Race downhill ski championships the past five years, earning four gold medals and one silver medal after surviving ovarian cancer.

Skiing has meant a lot to Margaret Patty.

She grew up on the ski slopes of Winter Park, met her husband there, and it was on a mountain that she first got a hint of a serious illness.

Lately, though, skiing has fed Patty’s competitive side.

The 76-year-old Grand Junction resident has spent her winters the past five years competing in the National Standard Race (NASTAR) downhill ski championships.

The result: four gold medals and one silver.

“I have always like racing,” Patty said. “I love the competition of it.”

NASTAR is one of the largest ski and snowboard race organizations in the nation. The national championships have been in Steamboat Springs during late March the past four years.

To race in Steamboat, a racer must qualify by competing in a certain amount of NASTAR races throughout the season.

It’s been only the past five years that Patty has been skiing NASTAR races on a consistent basis.

This past season was more low-key for the Patty, who entered only five events before the national championship. In 2007-08, she raced in 10 events and posted more than 31 results including a 28.88-second first-place finish in her final race of the national championship.

Patty’s husband, Blyde, also races, but hasn’t had as much success. Blyde finished sixth in the national championship.

“I tell everyone I have a double black,” Blyde said. “That is next-to-last, but it’s a lot of fun.”

NASTAR racers range from age 3 to 90. Margaret Patty said no matter the age, it’s all the same approach.

“We all love skiing, so that makes it fun,” she said. “You race against your own age, so that makes it fair for everyone.”

Patty’s father was a cattle rancher in Winter Park, and in the Rocky Mountain winters, skiing was the activity of choice. Patty worked for Winter Park Ski Resort, where she met Blyde.

“We met skiing,” Patty said. “We’ve been married 58 years in June, and haven’t missed a season.”

Skiing has always been high on their priority list, even during their 26 years living in Prescott, Ariz. No matter how busy the Pattys were managing their six Arby’s restaurants, they always found the time to hit the slopes somewhere. Blyde and Margaret have skied in Chile, France, Italy and Switzerland.

For Margaret, skiing was a life-saver. On one trip, Patty felt a sharp pain in her back.

“We were on the mountain, then all of a sudden my back started killing me,” she said. “We decided we should go home, and that was the only clue I had, was from being up there skiing.”

The sharp pain was the first clue of ovarian cancer. Patty survived cancer and was back on the mountain the next winter.

Margaret works at the Commons Assisted Living Facility, and said the residents there are her No. 1 fans.

“When we got back from the national championships on a Tuesday, I dressed up in my whole ski gear and went in to work,” Patty said. “They went wild, they all wanted to get a picture.”

Patty has no plans to slow down, and after finishing second at this past national championship, she’s looking to get back on top next season.

“We both have longevity in our families, so we will be out there for a long time,” Patty said. “I want to get back on the top pedestal. I don’t like it in second.”


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