The world has lost XC skiing's "Wyntrking" – Peter Hale.
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After a long bout with cancer, Peter Evarts Hale (66) died Sunday evening, Nov. 17, 2013, in his home in Bozeman surrounded by family and friends.
Probably one of the most affable, optimistic people you could ever meet, Peter was a well-known and loved fixture in the XC ski community, both nationally and internationally.
Born in Minneapolis, Minn., Nov. 28, 1946, the third of six children, he inherited his parents' keen interest in other people and places. He befriended people everywhere, even when the only common word was "OK."
He was a long-distance runner in high school with a coach who was more interested in the kids doing their best than in winning. He continued running while a student at the University of North Dakota. From there he went into the army in Alaska, and eventually onto the Biathlon Team, even though he wasn't yet a skier.
Peter met some of his life-long friends during his time at the army's biathlon training center outside of Anchorage, Alaska, during the Vietnam War. There was an incredible group of athletes training there together, and they shared a common goal of making the '72 Olympic team. "Peter was a very capable skier ... and he refined his skiing at the unit," John Morton said, but unlike many high-level athletes, Peter was unique in his ability to rise above the competitive atmosphere. Morton remembers him as "such a good guy, always friendly, gregarious, and outgoing." He may not have had the competitive "killer instinct" like many of his teammates, but Peter never hesitated to share his pre-race secrets in his ever good-natured way.
He spent the rest of his life skiing and working as a ski rep, first for Nortur, then for Madshus, encouraging everybody in the sport he loved. He continued meeting up with former teammates and adding to his wide circle of friends. Morton remembers that he volunteered at biathlon races across the country, and it was usually tough to pull him away from the wax room, where he put in countless hours helping upcoming racers. Peter encouraged everybody, working over the years with high school and college teams, with beginning racers and with national and Olympic skiers – all important and worthy of his attention. As Bob Woodward wrote, he was XC skiing's greatest ambassador. However, Peter never turned down a lap around the course with an old friend, and as we know, he lived for these moments.
His optimism and joy of life were legendary, not only supporting many a skier and coach, but helping himself through the four years of treatment for melanoma and especially the last weeks when his disease took a rapid downturn.
Peter Hale … lived to see an extraordinary outpouring of affection for him on Facebook during the last week of his life, and died knowing how many people loved him, appreciated him, and cared for him. He was an extraordinary man and it was not surprising to see the many amazing stories and cherished memories shared along with heartfelt wishes from those who loved him. – Peter Graves. (skitrax.com)
Peter is survived by his daughter, Erika J. Hale; his brothers and sisters, Stephen D. Hale, Helena S. Mbele-Mbong, Richard A. Hale, Sarah E. Hale, and Robert W. Hale; and numerous cousins, nephews and nieces.
A potluck and time for sharing memories will be held at 6 p.m. (tonight) Thursday, Nov. 21, at the Beall Park Recreation Center.
Dokken-Nelson Funeral Service
113 South Willson Avenue
Bozeman, MT 59715
Published in Bozeman Daily Chronicle from Nov. 21 to Nov. 24, 2013