Yvan Pierre Taché passed away peacefully, at his home in Carbondale, Colorado, on October 11th, surrounded by his loving wife and five children. He was 86 years old.
Born April 16th, 1925, in the village of St. Jovite, in Quebec’s Laurentian Mountains, with nearby Mont Tremblant rising into the sky. Yvan was one of seven children of Roland and Edna Taché. He grew up playing hockey and skiing, attended Laval University in Quebec City, was a member of the Royal Canadian Air Force in WWII, and taught skiing at Tremblant near his childhood home from 1944 to 1948.
Yvan was one of Canada’s preeminent ski racers in the late 40’s and early ‘50’s, competing in the FIS World Alpine Championships at Aspen in 1950, taking 3rd in the US Nationals DH and Combined and 5th in Sun Valley’s famed Harriman Cup that year. He would win the prestigious Silver Belt in 1952 (after finishing 2nd and 3rd in ’50 and ’51, both times behind his best friend and Quebecois “Gold Dust Twin” Yves Latreille.)
Yvan married Marie Carter on July 5, 1952 in Sun Valley, Idaho, where he would teach skiing for the Sun Valley Ski School from 1949 through the fifties, the first few years under his mentor and ski racing coach, the great Emile Allais. He would decamp for California in 1952 to run a ski school, with Latreille, in Snow Valley in the Big Bear Lake area, but return to Sun Valley in ’53. He worked as the greenskeeper for the Sun Valley Golf Club in the summers, and worked to become a PGA Pro by serving an apprenticeship under US Open Champion and Hall of Famer Tommy Bolt at the Knollwood Country Club in Los Angeles in the late fifties, getting his PGA card in 1959.
In 1960, Stein Eriksen invited Yvan to come teach under his direction at the Aspen Highlands Ski School. Yvan agreed, provided he was made supervisor and received head golf pro position at the soon-to-be-completed Aspen Golf Course. Stein went to bat for Yvan with Wally Mills, the designer and builder of the course, who agreed to Yvan’s demands. Yvan spent three years with Stein at Aspen Highlands before moving to Aspen Mountain and Snowmass. He was an Aspen Ski School supervisor for 31 years. Yvan retired from ski teaching in 1993, after 49 years of lacing (then buckling) his boots every winter day, never once, his children insist, taking even a Christmas Day off. He had a growing family to feed and holidays are “go” time for ski professionals.
As Aspen’s first-ever golf pro, Yvan ran the Aspen Municipal Course from 1961 to 1979, while Marie ran the restaurant and bar, and the growing Taché brood picked range balls after school and helped in the clubhouse. He was a key figure in establishing the sport in Aspen, founding the junior golf program that continues to flourish today. In 1984, he earned the status of Lifetime PGA Pro and in 2010 was honored by the PGA as one of a select group of 39 men to have been PGA professionals for over 50 years. When Yvan retired as head pro in Aspen in 1979, he continued to teach, play and repair golf clubs well into his seventies.
Yvan had a pioneering spirit, coming to the States from Quebec with minimal English but an abundance of charisma, an irrepressible sense of humor and a joie de vivre that will be remembered by all who were charmed, and disarmed, by his warm, friendly, fun-loving personality.
A traditional Catholic funeral service and mass will be held in Aspen Monday, October 17 at 11 am at St Mary’s Catholic Church for family and close friends. Anyone is welcome but a more casual celebration of Yvan’s life and spirit will be held at a later date and location to be announced.
Yvan was preceded in death by his parents, Edna and Roland Taché; sister Mariette; brothers John and Leo; daughter Deborah Taché and grandson Andy Irons.
Yvan is survived by his wife of 59 years, Marie Carter Taché; daughter Danielle Taché-Irons; sons Yvan Jr., Mark, Chris and Michael Taché; grandchildren Bruce Irons and Hunter Taché; great-grandchildren Kaimila Irons and Axel Irons; brothers Gaby and Bernard Taché, and sister Marcelle Vanderwald. – Christin Cooper-Taché.
He was a prototype — handsome, dashing, foreign accent, jet black hair, shining eyes, open and friendly smile, conspiratorial laugh, and a clean, elegant “how-does-he-make-it-look-so-easy?” ski technique. Former colleagues remember that, even at full speed, Yvan sailed so silk-smoothly that you imagined his class could be following safely and trustingly behind him. They also recall that his warm friendliness and happy outlook, in an era with more than a few primadonnas, almost overshadowed his ski racing accomplishments.
On hearing that Yvan Tache died two days ago, my first tendency–to be sad–immediately gave way to a big smile inside and outside. Not so crass, but rather a natural reaction because you just can’t think about Yvan without smiling. When I first came to work at Snowmass, he was my Supervisor in the Ski School. I really felt I’d landed in the right place: Club Yvan, where everything was serious! Seriously fun and funny. What a gift to work for him! Here was a top skier with no big ego to display, and no big agenda to impose. Just the joy of sharing skiing and this crazy ski school stuff.
Yvan and his buddy Yves Latreille first hit the American ski scene when they came out to Sun Valley from Quebec and trained with the legendary French coach, Emile Allais They were both the hottest Canadian racers of the time. While in Sun Valley they were so dazzling and fun-loving that they were christened the “gold dust twins”. They were also recipients of the incredible Diamond Sun pin, BEFORE grooming–top to bottom of Baldy in less than ten minutes. That meant that they had to go straight down Exhibition over moguls that were pretty much the size of small buses. They just went into the air and touched down on the tops of the bumps. Smooth as silk
Later Yvan moved to Aspen where he taught in the ski schools on Aspen Mountain and the Aspen Highlands, before finishing his career at Snowmass. When I met him I was instantly struck by how congenial he was. He had a smile that seemed to indicate that he had just that moment heard the funniest joke in the whole world and was anxious to share it with you. He just always seemed happy. And he was always kind.
The ski world is full of fun people. But there are a few in Aspen who really stand out for me, and who helped me to understand what a joy this skiing life is. Of those, Yvan is at the top of the list. I’ve missed him since he retired, and I miss him even more now. –Weems Westfeldt