Longtime Snow Journalist Ted Heck Receives
Heck has easily lived nine lives. One of them is as ski writer for
60-plus years, another as a skier of 68 years, and yet another as
editor and publisher of the
Book of European Ski Resorts.
All this in addition to a stint in the army, a career in advertising,
sales, and marketing with executive positions of such companies as
Kraft and Hunt Wesson Foods, a retirement gig as an international
marketing consultant, and various other roles such as father,
spouse, and world traveler.
It was for his many writing accomplishments, but especially his
dedication and enthusiasm for capturing the spirit of alpine skiing,
that he was honored with the North American Snowsports Journalists (NASJA)
Mitch Kaplan Award March 27, 2014, just hours before he turned 92.
The award is given annually by the group in honor of the late Mitch
Kaplan, a dedicated journalist who succumbed to a rare blood cancer in
“There were eight nominees and some heated discussion, but when they
heard about Ted, the Board came to a consensus,” NASJA President
Martin Griff told SnoCountry.com.
“Ted exemplifies the enthusiasm and joy that Mitch found in skiing,
and with his ESWA and NASJA colleagues,” wrote Kaplan’s wife, Penny.
Heck delights in the irony of chance, choice, and coincidence. “When
in combat in eastern France in terrible cold and snow, I said, ‘If I
survive this, I never want to see a snowflake again.’”
A year later as part of the occupation in post-World-War II Germany,
he was “on a losing team in a softball tournament when someone
suggested that we go skiing."
‘Love Affair' With Skiing Begins
“I had never skied but I flopped around on the Zugspitze glacier and
was hooked,” he recalled of a love affair that began on 220-cm rentals
with bear-trap bindings. He was 24.
Heck also has had a thing going with words, having started to write
“at age 14 when I was a Boy Scout Troop scribe.” He wrote “a gossip
column” for the Bethlehem High School, Pa. newspaper and later wrote
for army publications and Overseas Weekly.
Upon his return from the war, Heck wrestled and played football at
Lehigh University. Naturally athletic, he also played tennis.
He returned to Europe for three years as a civilian athletic
consultant to the army, a job that entailed “helping to run athletic
programs and teams. I wrote about all sports during that time and, in
the process, did a lot of skiing.” A week in Davos in 1950 led to his
habit of “skiing every chance I got.”
His ski adventures have provided material for more than 1,000 articles
as he skied at 311 areas, 200 of them in Europe, South America and New
Relishing The Humor
In a story for the Evening Bulletin, a former Philadelphia
newspaper, he wrote about a German lady who had left a “mash note” in
his ski boots, which he had left outside his hotel room thinking they
were dirty and might be cleaned. She wished me a good morning.” He
could find stories in the oddest occurrences and relished the humor of
having “met the lady on an elevator” and her having tried to “pick me
Another time in a lift line, he overheard Swiss skiers laughing at the
“moon boots” and funny American. “I was in Hanson boots and had 180-cm
Rossi Stratos which were short for the time,” he said. His
understanding German led to his first story in Skiing Magazine:
“How to Start a Conversation Without Saying Anything.” After that 1974
story, he was invited on a Swiss press trip and his travels and
writing about them never stopped.
While a vice president of Lehigh Valley Dairy, an editor left his job
and suggested that Ted replace him as the ski columnist, which he did
for the next dozen years, “I was in the right place at the right
time,” he noted. He joined the Eastern Ski Writers Association and
became a member of NASJA.
“My whole life has been governed by the 4 C’s — choice, chance,
coincidence, and communication. So I’ve had a lot of fun and good
fortune in my life,” he said, adding that he appreciates “the
camaraderie, interesting experiences, and good friends I’ve made
Those friendships led to a decision to join with ski buddies Bob Enzel,
George Schissler, Bob Wall, and Richard Muello to found the Blue Book
of European Ski Areas, which they produced together from 1993 to
2002. Ted took over in 2002 and has been publishing the Blue Book ever
Knowledge Of European Areas
Ted’s knowledge of European ski areas also led to his becoming the
European editor of an online publication overseen by Craig Altschul,
who is currently editorial director at SnoCountry.com. Ted breaks into
a smile as he recalls the story of “Craig’s Creek."
“Altschul, Schissler, Enzel, Wall and I were skiing in Gargellen,
Austria, and were off piste. We came upon a creek that was three to
four feet wide. We had to jump across, but Craig didn’t make it and
got wet,” Heck said with a chuckle and a quip “not sure that will make
your article.” (Editor’s Note: He’s still not forgiven,
well-deserved award or not.)
Such travels and stories — along with his insights — were shared in
another weekly column he wrote for 18 years for The Harrisburg
Patriot News — many of which can be found on its
Balance issues have slowed Ted down and he mostly skis the blues now.
But on those days when he passes his “test of standing on one leg for
3-4 seconds,” he still skis. Like at Camelback’s and Round Top’s 50th
anniversary celebrations in his home state of Pennsylvania, where he
was born and resides. (See
Heck's story in SnoCountry.com on those anniversaries.)
Also receiving NASJA awards at the Killington event, as voted by the
membership, were: Ski Utah's Marketing Vice President Raelene Davis
who received a Lifetime Achievement" Award; Michael Berry, president
of the National Ski Areas Association, recipient of the Carson White
Golden Quill Award; and Jon Lundin, communications manager of the New
York Olympic Regional Development Authority, recipient of the Bob
Photo: NASJA President Martin Griff presents award to journalist
Ted Heck at Killington (Karen Lorentz)
Reprinted with permission from
* * *