“Aspen had much better snow conditions than Telluride did … we had some pretty good results at that race. I remember thinking, doggone it Roger, you better have a good excuse for missing this still not believing he could possibly be gone for good, but also thinking there is something seriously wrong here because Roger wasn’t about to miss this race.” – Mike Sutherland, Roger Ellison’s Ski Coach
The idea that Roger Ellison committed suicide is absolutely ludicrous, said Mike Sutherland, the head coach and director of racing at Powderhorn during the time Roger disappeared.
Statistically speaking, ski racers hit their prime at the age of 27. That meant Roger still had 10 good years in him before he was past his prime. He never would have quit, according to Sutherland.
Old newspaper articles dating back to the time Roger disappeared characterized him as being depressed after he failed to make the U.S. Ski ‘B’ Team during tryouts held in Telluride the weekend before his disappearance.
Sutherland was one of the last people Roger spent time with before he mysteriously vanished on Tuesday, February 10, 1981. He acknowledged that there was a ski meet in Telluride on Saturday and Sunday, February 7th and 8th, but it was not a tryout for the U.S. Ski Team.
He described Roger as being in a good mood that weekend despite being disappointed about his ski racing performance. Icy course conditions and a lack of snow due to a drought that year contributed to Roger’s lackluster showing on the hill. In fact, none of the ski racers who took part in the Telluride meet did very well.
Over the course of the weekend, nothing was out of place. Roger, Sutherland and two others ate their meals and bunked down at a house in Telluride belonging to Sutherland’s grandmother and then went straight to the lift each day. Ski racing consumed the entire day and Roger had no vehicle to drive anywhere. His whereabouts were accounted for 24/7. He was focused on skiing the whole time, Sutherland said.
By the end of the meet, Roger and Sutherland talked about the upcoming Aspen race to be held the following weekend. Roger had already paid his entry fee and was making arrangements with Sutherland for transportation and lodging. There were no indications that Roger was planning to run away or harm himself.
Evidence suggests that Roger did not leave voluntarily. He left the family home with only the clothes he was wearing, $3 for lunch and a backpack full of books, nothing else – not his prized skis, money from his bank account or his motorcycle or car. He also paid a dormitory deposit at Western State College in Gunnison, Colo., for the fall semester and was trying to secure a scholarship at the time of his disappearance.
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