Thom Weisel and the network of trustees he tirelessly recruited have provided more than $100 million in direct financial support to the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Team, fueling U.S. athletes to collect some 200 Olympic and World Championship Medals.
But you can’t put a price tag on the value of Weisel’s leadership, vision and passion, all of which elevated the U.S. program to the status it enjoys today.
Weisel was a rising businessman with an athletic background and a passion for skiing when he joined the U.S. Ski Team Educational Foundation – the team’s board of directors – in 1997. He was elected chairman in 1983, held the post until 1994, and has stayed active with the team ever since.
He led the 10-year process of merging the U.S. Ski Team with U.S. Ski Association, the grassroots membership program, bringing a centralized, top-to-bottom approach for oversight of the sport. As a highly successful investment banker, his business relationships proved invaluable in nurturing sponsor support, from the early years of Harvey Lamm and Subaru up to Bob Reynolds of Putnam Investments, the team’s current title sponsor. He attracted high-profile board members ranging from Michael Bloomberg and Sam Zell to Dexter Paine, the current USSA chairman. He also strengthened ties with the U.S. ski resort owners who have strongly supported competition, including Nick Badami, George Gillett, Tom Corcoran, and Ian and John Cumming. When times were tough, he personally co-signed ski team loans to keep the organization running.
Weisel received the USSA’s highest honor in 1999, the Julius Blegen Award, and the U.S. Olympic Committee’s prestigious George Steinbrenner Award in 2011. In November, several USSA trustees endowed the U.S. team’s head men’s alpine coaching position in Weisel’s name. But he prefers to share the praise with those who have joined him in support. “This is really a testament to all the trustees of the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Team over the years,” Weisel says of his Hall of Fame induction.
Thom Weisel’s four decades of support has been instrumental in U.S. Ski & Snowboard athletes winning 93 Olympic medals. Thank you, Thom, and congratulations on becoming an honored member of the Hall of Fame.USSA
The company he founded in 1971, which would later become Montgomery Securities, led the IPOs of companies ranging from Applied Materials and Amgen to Yahoo and Micron Technologies. From 1989 to 1996 alone, Montgomery underwrote 293 IPOs, raising $57.3 billion in equity. In 1999, he founded Thomas Weisel Partners Group and it completed $23 billion in transactions in its first year; he was named Investment Banker of the Year by Investment Dealer’s Digest and the firm’s success became a Harvard Business School case study. In 2006, Weisel received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Venture Capital Association. Thomas Weisel Partners became part of Stifel Financial in 2010, with Weisel as co-chairman.
During his years with the U.S. Ski Team, Weisel was frequently on hand for big events; Phil Mahre fondly recalls that he never lost a race with the chairman on site, including his gold in the 1984 Sarajevo Olympics. Calling himself a “decent cyclist” (he was actually a five-time national and three-time world Masters Cycling champion), Weisel would join U.S. Ski Team athletes on their summer training rides up Mount Tamalpais near his home in Marin County. The athletes were always a little shocked, and motivated to work harder, when Weisel beat them to the summit.
Now free of the day-to-day demands of running an investment bank, Weisel is a collector of modern art elected trustee of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. He has seven children and eight grandchildren, including two, ages 4 and 6, with his current wife, Janet Barnes, who also worked in the financial world for 25 years.
Weisel is also more absorbed than ever in the frontline challenges of world-class ski racing through his son, Kipling, who was named the U.S. Ski Team in spring 2014 and slated to make his World Cup debut this season. Weisel’s dream is to see the U.S. team increase its corporate sponsor support, be less reliant on individual donors, and fully fund more athletes on the World Cup. After watching his son balance a Dartmouth workload with elite-level skiing and in a lifetime of mentoring ex-U.S. team athletes who never had time to attend college during their careers, he is optimistic the team can find a better solution for merging high education with the pursuit of world-class skiing.