Teddy Knape worked atop mountains, though usually in the shadows, handling a video camera that would help create both sponsors and stardom for his skiing buddies and their daredevil ways.
But in the wake of his sudden death in March of 2006, Teddy’s friends and family decided to turn the tables and made it possible for Teddy’s name to grace a panoramic ski slope at Crystal Mountain Resort.
The “Back Bowl” was re-named “Teddy’s Turn,” yet the phrase defines more than a challenging run at a northern Michigan resort.
It pays homage to a kid who died too young and only now is taking his turn in the limelight he generously arranged for others.
A 2003 graduate of East Grand Rapids High School, Teddy’s life came to a tragic halt in March 2006, after rescue workers carried his body off a British Columbia mountaintop when he collapsed from a heart defect that had troubled him all his 21 years.
Not that many knew of his physical problems. You had to be pretty tight with him or his family to realize the energetic young man with the flashing smile had endured two open heart surgeries, suffered from a bleeding disorder and survived more than a dozen accidents requiring a revolving door at the ER.
But his legacy will be less on how he suffered but more on how he triumphed, working most of his short adult life to focus the spotlight on extreme skiers eking out a Bohemian existence on North America’s snow-covered pinnacles.
While studying at Western Washington University, Teddy also worked as a videographer for Theory 3-Media, a ski film company in the Pacific Northwest. He was clutching a camera until the bitter end while filming a skiing event known as the “K2 Back 9” at Canada’s Whistler ski resort.
Briana McGovern, friend and fellow EGR ski team member, said Crystal Mountain was well-known terrain for Teddy. “The best memories I have of him are skiing up at Crystal Mountain.” Her mom Carol approached Crystal with the idea of re-naming a run at Crystal in Teddy’s memory.
“He shot a lot of footage right here at Crystal,” says resort spokesman Brian Lawson. “And, after filming, he’d stay out on the slopes until 2 and 3 in the morning, helping our groomers get the jumps just right for the following days competition.”
Snow-lovers from across the country came to the first festival to not only to watch ski films, but applaud Crystal’s decision to name a slope after their beloved friend Teddy.
Excerpts taken from The Grand Rapids Press Thursday, December 28, 2006 By Tom Rademacher