The Eric Smith Shrine (Snowmass)

Eric Smith was a beloved ski instructor who died, at age 37, on February 24, 2003 of a rare form of cancer.  A memorial service was held for him up on the Sneaky’s run on the Big Burn.  The shrine was installed in the summer of 2003.  This is one of the most well-protected shrines on any of the mountains, since the shrine items are contained inside a wooden structure and are very well protected from exposure to the elements.  The shrine was installed by friends of Eric Smith, and during the summer of 2010 they did some work on the shrine and enlarged and improved it.  Caretakers of this shrine include the following people:  Dennis Burns, Troy Stiles, Scotty Eklund, and John Norman.

Eric's wife was Sarah, and they were married in June, 2002, just eight months before he died.

See this February 17, 2004 article from the Aspen Times newspaper, written by Naomi Havlen:  "After husband’s death, wife awaits their twins."  See http://www.aspentimes.com/article/20040217/NEWS/40216013&parentprofile=search.  This article was written almost one year after his death, and this is a quote from the article:  "Eric Smith, 37, died on Feb. 24 after being diagnosed with a rare and aggressive type of cancer.  As a well-known and much-loved snowboard instructor at Snowmass Ski Area, the community first gathered for benefits in his honor with Sarah and friends before mourning his loss.  A shrine for Smith was set up last summer at Snowmass."

Sarah Smith appeared on the Oprah Winfrey show on October 14, 2004.  See photo below of her on the show.  Her appearance was part of a series on the show called "Miracle Babies." See this web page, where the following appears: http://www.oprah.com/oprahshow/Miracle-Babies_1/5
"When Eric and Sarah Smith met in Aspen eight years ago, it was love at first sight. Eric and Sarah quickly began planning their future together and dreamed of starting a family. But in November 2002, just four months after their romantic wedding, Eric was diagnosed with epithelioid sarcoma, a very rare and aggressive form of cancer. The cancer was already highly developed, and the prognosis was terminal.

Despite this, Eric and Sarah were convinced that he could beat the disease, but were worried the powerful chemotherapy would ruin their dreams of having children. Eric refused to start his treatment until he was able to freeze his sperm. 'We did it,' Sarah says, 'with the entire intention that he was going to beat this and our love was going to save him and that we would have a family together.' But after an agonizing four months in and out of the hospital, Eric finally lost his battle.

After his death, Sarah was determined to carry out their dream of having children. 'Eric and I discussed this before he died,' she says, 'and he had actually left me, in his will, the sperm that was frozen, to make sure I wouldn't have any complications moving forward with this dream.' When Sarah found a willing doctor, she became the first woman in Colorado history to receive in vitro fertilization with her dead husband's frozen sperm. After the first attempt at in vitro, Sarah got the miraculous news that she was pregnant with twins, Braden Harper and Shae Curran. 'I said, 'We did it, baby. We beat cancer.' It took so much of our future. But it wasn't able to take everything.'"

See the Facebook page "Eric Smith Memorial Page" here: https://www.facebook.com/#!/group.php?gid=2310836533, and also see this Facebook photo album of the shrine:  https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.450962478309055.101579.100001859201674&type=1&l=0a50073de1.

There are also four other persons memorialized in this structure besides Eric Smith.  These four are: 

1.  Dave "Kahuna" Cowart (9/30/1970---4/10/2002).  See this Facebook page:   http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=31377418971&v=wall#/group.php?v=wall&gid=31377418971,
2.  Bobby Silverman (8/25/1968---5/9/2003),
3.  Craig Kelly (4/1/1966---1/20/2003) and see:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Craig_Kelly_(snowboarder), and 

See this article in the Snowmass Sun of Tuesday, January 3, 2012, "The Eric Smith shrine honors beloved ski instructor" by David Wood,  http://www.aspentimes.com/article/20120103/NEWS/120109997  (This article is set out in full below at the bottom of this page.)

Photos of the shrine are below.  For even more photos of this Shrine, see this Facebook photo album (you do not need a Facebook account to view the album):  https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.450962478309055.101579.100001859201674&type=1&l=0a50073de1

(Eric Smith's name is also on the Good Friends bench which is located in the Snowmass Mall; see the Plaques section of this site at http://www.aspensnowmassshrines.com/index.php?id=2,80,0,0,1,0)

If you have any photos of or information about this item that you would like to share for use on this page, please send to the author at AspenShrines@aol.com.

This shrine is covered in the book, "Sanctuaries in the Snow--The Shrines and Memorials of Aspen/Snowmass."  The book may be purchased on this page on this site:  http://www.aspensnowmassshrines.com/index.php?The-Book

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Click on images to enlarge.
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:: Dave "Kahuna" Cowart
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:: Sarah Smith on the Oprah Winfrey show on October 14, 2004. Photo credit: http://www.oprah.com/oprahshow/Miracle-Babies_1/5

The photos in the section immediately below were taken in the first part of December 2010.  Thanks very much to Mike Weddell for taking these photos and giving the author permission to use them on this page.

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"Stadium seating" made of snowboards. ::

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All of the photos in the section immediately below were taken by the author on December 16, 2010, except for the last one.  The last one was taken in January 2012 by another photographer.

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Craig Kelly Craig Kelly
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Below is the article by David Wood about the Eric Smith Shrine that appeared in the Snowmass Sun newspaper.  http://www.aspentimes.com/article/20120103/NEWS/120109997

The Eric Smith shrine honors beloved ski instructor

(Photo) Sarah Smith, wife of late Eric Smith, appeared on the Oprah Winfrey show on Oct. 14, 2004. Her appearance was part of a series on the show called “Miracle Babies.” She was the first woman in Colorado history to receive in vitro fertilization with her dead husband's frozen sperm.

Eric Smith was a beloved Snowmass ski instructor who died at age 37 on Feb. 24, 2003 of epithelioid sarcoma, a rare and aggressive type of cancer. His shrine was created in the summer of 2003.

Eric's wife was Sarah, and they were married in June 2002, just eight months before he died.

This quote is from an Aspen Times article that appeared in the Feb. 17, 2004 issue and written by Naomi Havlen: “Sarah Smith held her husband Eric in her arms almost a year ago as he died from a rare form of cancer. Today she's pregnant with twins - hers and Eric's. Because of modern medicine and the couple's ability to look ahead during tough times, Sarah will give birth to two boys a year and a half after her husband died ... Eric was diagnosed with cancer in October 2002, just four months after he and Sarah were married. But before the couple knew how serious the disease would be for Eric, he was talking about making sure they could still have children ...

“The Smiths visited a sperm bank in Boulder before Eric began chemotherapy; otherwise they would have had to wait a year afterward for him to generate new sperm cells. Although Eric was getting progressively sicker during those trips, Sarah said his sense of purpose for her and their children kept him going ... But after intensive chemotherapy and doing everything doctors recommended, Eric lost his battle with cancer ...

“Last fall, Sarah went to the Colorado Center for Reproductive Medicine to have several of her eggs harvested after enduring weeks of hormone shots she gave herself. The center fertilized her eggs with Eric's sperm and on Nov. 1 [2003] she had three of the resulting embryos put in her. A week and a half later, she learned she was pregnant. She's just over three months pregnant and has a due date for the twin boys in July [2004] … [Sarah said] ‘Eric is still my husband, and he always will be. It feels beautiful and perfect, and like we beat cancer. His final wishes were achieved, and it's triumphant for us. I'll always feel Eric with me, and this makes him feel closer.'”

The twins, Braden Harper and Shae Curran, were born, and Sarah Smith appeared on the Oprah Winfrey show with them on Oct. 14, 2004. Her appearance was part of a series on the show called “Miracle Babies.” She was the first woman in Colorado history to receive in vitro fertilization with her dead husband's frozen sperm.

Smith's shrine is one of the best on any of the mountains. It contains numerous photos of him, photos of Sarah, photos of the twins, some of his snowboards, copies of newspaper articles and many other items of personal memorabilia pertaining to him and his family. It is a wonderful tribute to a person very much loved and missed by his family and friends.

David Wood (Aspenshrines@aol.com) is the author of the best-selling book about the Aspen shrines, Sanctuaries in the Snow-The Shrines and Memorials of Aspen/Snowmass. He donates all of his profits from book sales to charity, The Roaring Fork Valley Scholarship Fund. The book can be purchased in Snowmass Village at Snowmass Sports, the Stew Pot, Sundance Liquor and Gifts, and the Village Market, as well as at various locations in Aspen.
Sanctuaries in the Snow
The Shrines of Aspen/Snowmass
(Including plaques, memorials, displays And miscellaneous items)

All rights reserved. No part of this site may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without the express written permission from the author. For any such permission contact AspenShrines@aol.com