ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Before John Dendahl’s name was synonymous with politics, it was big in the world of skiing.
That all started with a love for the sport from an early age while growing up in Santa Fe, New Mexico. From there, his time on the slopes led him to the University of Colorado where he not only excelled in skiing, but it launched him into international fame.
Squaw Valley, California, 1960, it was the chance of a lifetime for Dendahl when he and his teammates competed in the international games held in that location.
“John was an alpine skier,” said George Brooks, Executive Director of Ski New Mexico and close Dendahl friend. “He went to the University of Colorado and in those days they had what was called the ski meister which is if you did downhill and slalom, and you were a jumper, and you were a cross-country skier you could compete for the ski meister.”
John’s experience and eventual expertise in that aspect of the sport led the University of Colorado to two national championships. However, it was his international presence in 1960 which still stands out among all his accomplishments in the sport and helped to put New Mexico on the map for accomplished athletes.
“So it was not only he as a competitor that he would be recognized and in our industry about,” added Brooks. “He was out there and helping to promote the industry. When John was on the slopes he was a very, very good skier he was also involved very early on in the celebrity classic in Santa Fe and when he was on the slopes, he didn’t want to get beat.”
It was his competitive nature he developed while having fun on the slopes that in later years led to a life in politics. John leads the Republican Party in New Mexico and even made a run for governor. Dendahl did not win the 2006 race, and later made the move to Colorado with his wife where he spent his final years before passing away in November 2013.
In addition to his place in the New Mexico Ski Hall of Fame, John also holds a place in the Colorado Ski Hall of Fame for his time and accomplishments while at the University of Colorado.