By Alan Sorensen
While many of their colleagues were working the Winter Olympics in Utah or rewriting the National Ski Patrol book or avalanche guidelines, Havre's Herman and Judy Handstede very quietly went about their business. The end result the NSP Northern Division broke with tradition and presented its Outstanding Ski Patroller of the Year for 2001-2002 to two people the husband-and-wife team.
The Handstedes were first presented their award plaques at the Northern Division's annual meeting banquet in Livingston on Sept. 21, but there was a problem. Their names were misspelled Hanstede instead of Handstede.
Division officials quickly retrieved the plaques and had new plaques made with the correct spelling.
Tuesday evening, National Ski Patrol board member Dick Everett made a surprise stop at an Eagle Creek Ski Patrol meeting in Havre and presented them their newest plaques nary a letter missing or out of place.
"As all of us here know, we wouldn't even have a patrol without Judy and Herman," Eagle Creek Ski Patrol president Noel Henderson said as the plaques were passed around for patrol members to view.
Everett said the Handstedes were deserving of the honor because of their selfless devotion to the ski patrol. They are instructor trainers and travel throughout the division testing and training trainers.
"Our first aid is as good as anybody's I've
seen," Henderson said. "They do a great job of training."
Everett said he wasn't involved in picking the Handstedes for the award but was happy to sign off on the choice as former director of the Northern Division of the National Ski Patrol.
"We look at all the things they do," Everett said. "We see them supporting division events, the work they do in promoting NSP all together."
The Handstedes were surprised at winning the award during a year when so many patrollers from the division were doing outstanding work.
"This was an Olympic year and a lot of ski patrollers from the division worked there," Judy said of the international competition at Salt Lake City.
She said several division patrollers also helped rewrite National Ski Patrol literature.
"We did nothing compared to a lot of people in this group," she said. "Herman has to go places and judge other instructors and I guess they included me because I tagged along."
Ski patrollers responded to numerous avalanches throughout the Northern Division, which includes North and South Dakota, Montana, and all of Wyoming except the Jackson Hole and Snow King ski areas.
Judy said that other ski patrollers taking part in avalanche training last winter even had to respond to an actual avalanche during their training.
"You just have no idea what some people do with all the things that went on this year," she said, "and what we didn't do."
The Handstedes are members of the Eagle Creek Ski Patrol, an all-volunteer ski patrol unit, and of the Snowdance Ski Association at the the Bear Paw Ski Bowl on the Chippewa Cree Recreation Area 29 miles south of Havre.
The NSP has 11 area divisions.