As the CU athletic community gears up for a new semester, the Division 1 ski team is coping with the death of one of their youngest skiers, Spencer Nelson.
A memorial was held on Friday, Aug. 20 for Nelson who died while hiking in the mountains near Aspen, according to CU’s official athletics website.
The 20-year-old finance and marketing major had been hiking the Maroon Bells on Saturday, Aug. 14 when a loose rock struck him in the head. The force caused him to fall approximately 600 feet down the mountain’s couloirs, or steep gorges, according to the Aspen Daily News.
Nelson, who reportedly had been wearing a helmet, was hiking with a group of seven other people, including his father, when the incident occurred.
CU ski team head coach Richard Rokos said the team is keeping themselves busy since the tragedy and are looking forward to training.
“I think in general the kids are doing fine,” Rokos said. “As soon as we begin training, we will be even better because we will be in daily contact and together all the time.”
Rokos said that although he did not have the opportunity to be at Nelson’s memorial, almost the entire team was in attendance.
Family and friends paid their respects to Nelson at both a candlelight vigil on Thursday, Aug. 19 at the Rendezvous Fire Pit and a memorial service at Hideaway Park on Friday Aug. 20, both located in Nelson’s hometown of Winter Park, Colo.
The Spencer Nelson Memorial Gift Fund has been set up through the University of Colorado Foundation and Wells Fargo to honor the alpine skier.
Rokos said the team has yet to decide on whether or not they will plan anything to commemorate Nelson in the future as they are still dealing with the grief.
“He was an exceptional individual because he was one of the youngest,” Rokos said. “Being a young skier and very enthusiastic, very focused, he was someone that took the heart and souls of everybody.”
Contact CU Independent Deadline News Editor Sarah Simmons at Sarah.firstname.lastname@example.org.