Gary Silver Award Goes To “Adventure Grandma:” Lou Slak

12 Feb 2017 10:14 PM | Todd Dunfield


The Gary Silver Lifetime Contribution award is an award given annually to the person or persons who have made significant contributions to the sport of cross-country skiing in the Spokane area over a period of years.

This year Spokane Nordic Ski Association honored Lou Slak as the Gary Silver Award Recipient at the 37th Langlauf Ski Race on February 12th. Many in our ski community already know how deserving Lou is of this award and recognition, but there is always more to learn about Lou’s ongoing love of skiing. 

Lou’s outdoor enthusiasm extends back to when she was 13 years old when she was the first and youngest woman to complete Colorado’s twenty-two-mile Pack Burro Race in Leadville.  Lucky for those of us in Spokane Lou relocated from Colorado to Spokane in 1972 and has made skiing her number one winter sport ever since. During her past four decades, she has been a great ambassador for the sport of Nordic skiing.

Her earliest converts were her own family to include her children and this tradition has continued through her seven grandchildren.  Lou has been dedicated to growing the sport through her support of things like the building of the Selkirk lodge, tirelessly supporting Nordic Kids (from when her daughters were taking lessons until today), and teaching Nordic Skiing through the Spokane Mountaineers for several years. 

Skiing with Lou can be somewhat of a hazard because she knows over half of the skiers on the mountain and is recognized by at least 80% of the people skiing. Lou has been instrumental in organizing volunteer groups for Langlauf, trail clearing days, course monitoring for races, night skiing groups, she has helped with previous loppets as well as the Souper Bowl.

During the past 40 years Lou has made it a habit to ski twice a week all winter long.  Now in her retirement she averages more like three times a week.  Lou knows the trails at Mt. Spokane like some people know their oldest and dearest friends.  When she goes for a ski she always challenges herself, finding peace and positivity in the sea of snow, the quiet of the trees, and the company of her friends. 

Those seven grandchildren have coined a new name for Lou.  They affectionately refer to their grandmother as the “Adventure Grandma.” A title that fits her perfectly.  We have been very lucky to have Lou Slak in our cross-country skiing community and we can’t thank her enough for all the many great contributions she has made to the sport.  


Spokane Nordic is committed to creating, developing and delivering programs to foster Nordic skiing
within the greater Spokane Community through efforts of organization, advocacy, and communication.

Spokane Nordic Ski Association is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization.

P.O. Box 501, Spokane, WA, 99210

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