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Skiers hit slopes to remember Skiin’ Ian

Published: Mar. 6, 2021 at 9:41 PM EST
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WAITSFIELD, Vt. (WCAX) - It’s the deadliest avalanche season in years in the United States, killing 33 skiers and riders. One of those devastating events happened right here in our region.

A month after a New Hampshire avalanche claimed the life of a Vermont man, 54-year-old Ian Forgays of Lincoln, skiers honored his legacy on his favorite mountain Saturday.

Forgays’s friends and family invited everyone to spend the day at Mad River Glen on what would have been his 55th birthday.

Forgays, who’s affectionately known as ‘Skiin’ Ian,’ was a familiar face at Mad River Glen.

Forgays’s sister Gabrielle Meunier said people could always spot Forgays on the slopes.

“His long blonde hair and the powder. People say anywhere there’d be powder, there would be Ian with his long blonde hair and his bright colored hat and his white sunglasses,” Meunier said. “You would meet him once and you always knew you would never forget Ian Forgays.”

Alaina Holliday, Forgays’s friend, remembers Forgays as a generous, inspiring and optimistic person.

“Ian had such an infectious spirit,” she said. “It was contagious. It was impossible not to absorb pieces of that.”

Meunier says Forgays had been skiing since he was a kid.

“He always had a knack for it and the more he did it, the more he just lived to ski and just couldn’t wait for the powder to fly,” she said.

Forgays’s favorite was backcountry skiing, which he was doing on Feb. 1, when he got caught up in an avalanche on Mount Washington.

“It just didn’t even make sense. Out of all people in the world, he could find his way out of anything,” Meunier said.

Searchers found Forgay two days later. He was buried under 13 feet of snow.

Forgays’s friends and family were shocked, considering Forgays took all safety precautions before heading out, including wearing an avalanche beacon.

“[He was] Watching the weather really carefully and deciding what looked best. Safety was paramount for him,” Holliday said.

Skiers say Forgays’s death is a tragedy for the whole community but his spirit lives on.

“This was his baby. And then he worked here for over a decade at the single lift and greeted everyone with his smile. This was his home,” Meunier said.

After hitting the slopes, everyone gathered at Toast and Eggs in Waitsfield for a celebration of life for Forgays.

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