Stephen J. Bradley - Stephen Bradley, father of snow grooming

Passing Date

Steve Bradley

Stephen J. Bradley, former executive director of Winter Park Resort, Colo., died November 13, 2002, in Longmont, Colo.

Born in Chicago on November 12, 1916, Bradley was a top competitive skier and a member of Dartmouth's invincible 1939 ski team. He earned his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree at Dartmouth in 1939 and attended the Yale School of Drama. Steve served in the Army Signal Corps during World War II, and then continued his education at the University of Colorado, receiving his Masters Degree of Fine Arts while serving as the University’s ski coach.

He became Winter Park’s executive director in 1950 and guided it from a four rope tow/three T-bar local ski area to a major resort with 13 chair lifts. He directed the revolutionary design of Winter Park's popular Mary Jane expansion, which opened in 1975.

Steve is recognized as the “Father of Slope Grooming.” In 1952 he invented the Bradley Packer Grader, a one-man gravity powered slope-grooming device—the first of its kind—which revolutionized the industry. He was also an early proponent of summer trail grooming. A pioneer in the use of passive solar heating principles in area buildings, he also designed Snoasis, a mid-mountain facility that introduced the untried concept of a food scramble system. He designed even the stylized “WP” inside the area shield, a logo that Winter Park still uses today.

Steve was a strong advocate of ski competition, bringing numerous national, intercollegiate and junior championship events to the resort. He assisted Winter Park in becoming a world-renowned center for disabled skiing, playing host to the Disabled National Championships for 10 years beginning in 1972. He was also instrumental in the creation of the Winter Park ski jumping program. A member of the committee that staged the 1950 World Alpine Ski Championships in Aspen, he was also vice chairman of the Alpine Race Committee for the 1960 Winter Olympics, responsible for all alpine events at Squaw Valley, Calif.

A former chaiman of the National Ski Areas Association and an original organizer and former chairman of Colorado Ski Country USA, Steve is also an honored member of both the Colorado Ski Hall of Fame and the National Ski Hall of Fame, as well as the recipient of numerous industry awards.

Steve was a true visionary and individualist. He was an excellent water-colorist, kayak designer, fisherman, expert marksman, an accomplished dramatic actor, and a gifted photographer. Steve will be missed but not forgotten. His many contributions to the sport he loved, and the industry he helped build, live on.-- Jerry Groswold