US Downhill Champ, Woodbury Owner

Passing Date: 
Saturday, July 5, 2014

Roderick G. Taylor, 70, who raced for the U.S. Ski Team from 1967 to 1971, died unexpectedly on July 5. Within the ski racing community he's best remembered as U.S. National downhill champion (and Roche Cup winner) in 1970, but generations of Connecticut skiers knew him as the genial owner of Woodbury Ski Area, where, beginning in the mid-70s, he was among the first of ski area operators to welcome snowboarders and build terrain features for them.

Rod was born in Hartford, Conn., on July 7, 1943, son of the late Leslie and Elinor (Chichester Gaines ) Taylor, and grew up in West Hartford. He earned a B.S. degree in economics at Western State College in Gunnison, Colo., then joined the U.S. Ski Team. When he wasn't named to the 1972 Olympic squad he quit the team and competed in World Pro Skiing.

In 1972 he bought the ski area, where he functioned as a hands-on manager, making snow, driving the grooming equipment, maintaining lifts and lodge, and most of all interacting with guests. He built a summer skateboard park, and that led to opening the ski hill to snowboarding. Taylor made enough snow, early, to be the first New England ski area to open, year after year. He continued racing, with much success, on the Master's circuit. 

Rod is survived by his his wife, Carolyn Hall Taylor; sisters Leslie (Mimi) Beggs of Rhode Island and Suzanne Abbott of Texas; a brother, Hatch Taylor of South Carolina;and three nieces and five nephews. In addition to his parents, he was predeceased by his brother, Tony.

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