A well-known Great Falls ski patrolman is the latest to receive national recognition at a surprise ceremony Monday evening.
Bill Lay joined the Northern Division of the Ski Patrol back in 1977. He says keeping people safe on the slopes is what he was born to do, and he's honored to be inducted into the National Ski Patrol hall of fame.
"I’m a little speechless right now," said Lay just moments after accepting the award.
He’s been a team leader for more than 43 years, volunteering his time to help skiers across northern Montana.
Colleagues say they still learn from Lay everyday, "He puts in hundreds of hours a year to keep the Great Falls Ski Patrol going, the Northern Division going," said Allan Rabbitt with the Great Falls Ski Patrol.
He explains how Lay makes their team stronger and safer. Over the years Lay has spearheaded many training programs and took home many other awards along the way, "We're all probably a lot better off and we're a lot better patrollers to have Bill on our ski patrol,” said Rabbitt.
Chances are, if you’ve needed help at Showdown, Bill made the rescue.
Rabbit says Lay’s commitment is inspiring, "He shows what dedication is and to the level that it can be taken to."
Lay was nominated for the Hall of Fame by his ski patrol team. This year he also took home a National Gold Merit Star for Outstanding Administrative Patroller.
"A lot of respect for my people, a lot of respect for the people around me," said Lay.
The H.O.F. inductee will also be featured in the winter edition of Ski Patrol magazine and his name will be engraved on a commemorative trophy at the N.S.P. National Office in Denver, CO.
Monday night’s award ceremony would have been held at a larger division banquet, which was canceled amid Coronavirus concerns. Instead, his team came together to celebrate at the Black Eagle Community Park.
Bill says he’s ready to hit the slopes this winter.
"I’ll continue to have fun and as long as I'm having fun I'm hoping they get to do the same.
Other September 2020 GFSP Patrol Meeting Awards include:
- ID course students:
- ID Course Instructor – Bridgett Paddock
- Years of Service
5 years – Jereme Babb, Ryan Buffington, Bridgett Paddock, Joy Saulzman, Maggie Shane
10 years – Gwen Malisani
35 years- Dave Elmquist, Bill Holzheimer, Dirk Walden
45 years – Diane Eusterman
- Northern Division Certificates of Appreciation
Mel Carnahan – Northern Division Assistant OEC Advisor
Bill Lay – Northern Division Registration Advisor
Justin Grohs – Patrol Rep. GFSP
Chris Quinn – Division National Appointment Review Board Chair
Mike Best – Northern Division Awards Review Board Chair
Allan Rabbitt – National Outstanding Awards Judge
- Outstanding Awards:
- Certificates of Honorable Mention
i. Outstanding Alpine Patroller – John Coulthard
ii. Outstanding Non-OEC Instructor – Joe Metcalf
iii. Outstanding Patrol Representative – Justin Grohs
iv. Outstanding Large Alpine Patrol – GFSP
- Northern Division Outstanding – Yellow Merit Star Recipients
i. Outstanding OEC Instructor – Allan Rabbitt
ii. Outstanding Patroller – Karen Malisani
- National Outstanding Runner-up – Silver Merit Star
i. Robert Short will receive a Silver Merit Star as Runner up in the National Competition for Outstanding Alumni Patroller.
- National Outstanding Winner – Gold Merit Star
i. William Lay will receive a Gold Merit Star, the highest honor, as winner in the competition for NSP’s National Outstanding Administrative Patroller. Bill will receive a personal plaque from National. He will be featured in an article in the winter edition of Ski Patrol Magazine. His name will be engraved on the Outstanding Administrative Patroller Trophy that is kept on display at the NSP National Office in Denver, Colorado.
- Hall of Fame – William Lay