Famous People

Faces of Durango

Durango locals are fond of saying that those who live in Durango choose to live here for an unmatched quality of life. Many famous faces throughout the years including a number of famous athletes, Olympians, artists, writers and actors have called Durango home. Among Durango’s famous faces are:

  • Ross Anderson, “The Fastest Skier in All of American History”, was clocked at over 154 mph in a speed-skiing competition.
  • Elke Brutsaert, world-class mountain biker. Elke has competed in the World Mountain Bike Championships every year since 1994. Her disciplines are the downhill and dual slalom.
  • Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell, a U.S. Senator from Colorado from 1993 until 2005, lives, ranches and designs jewelry in Ignacio, Colorado just outside of Durango.
  • Harry Carey, Jr., veteran western movie actor who starred in over 70 westerns including “She Wore a Yellow Ribbon” and “Red River”
  • Steve Carlton, former professional baseball player
  • Jackson Clark, expert in Navajo weaving. The Jackson family began trading with the Navajos in approximately 1933.
  • Jack Dempsey, boxer who became the Heavy Weight Champion in 1919, won one of his first fights in a 10-round boxing match at the Central Hotel.
  • Missy Giove, world-class mountain biker. Missy has competed in numerous world and national mountain bike events in the downhill and dual slalom.
  • Greg Herbold, world-class mountain biker, won the 1990 World Championship in the downhill. He designed the downhill course for the Durango World Cup in 2001.
  • Dolph Kuss, finished second in the World Master Cross Country Ski Championships held in Finland in 1988. He won the downhill event in the National Masters Alpine Championships in1991.
  • Louis L’Amour, western author who wrote his Sackett Series at the Historic Strater Hotel in downtown Durango.
  • Ruthie Matthes, world-class mountain biker and year 2000 Olympian. Ruthie has competed in numerous national and world championship events in mountain biking competitions.
  • Ned Overend, world-class mountain biking athlete, holder of numerous mountain biking titles including the 1990 World Championship in cross-country.
  • Ray Parker, former writer for Bob Hope.
  • Mick Reber, an internationally recognized and collected artist.
  • Myles Rockwell, world-class mountain biker. Myles has participated in the World Mountain Bike Championships since 1992.
  • Bob Roll, world-class road bike competitor, raced in the Tour de France and was a commentator for the Tour in 2001.
  • Jack Turner, U.S. Nordic Combined Ski Team and Olympic commentator.
  • Robert Winslow, internationally acclaimed wildlife photographer.

Famous Cyclists & Mountain Bikers

Durango, Colorado has historically been home to a number of famous cyclists and champion mountain bikers over the years. Due to the abundance of incredible mountain bike trails, marquis cycling events and mountain bike races, bike amenities, and bike groups in Durango, a vibrant community of cycling and mountain biking enthusiasts has grown here. Naturally, a great number of the biking community’s most notable names have chosen the Durango area as their home. They are:

  • Howard Grotts--US Junior National MTB Champion and World Cup winner 2011
  • Alicia Rose Pastore--US Junior National Champion 2011
  • Chris Wherry--US Pro National Road Racing Champion 2005
  • Tom Danielson--Pro rider with Garmin team, Winner of the 2005 Tour of Georgia, 9th place finish in 2011 Tour de France. Fort Lewis College graduate and founding sponsor of Fall Blaze, one of the top cycling events in Colorado.
  • Todd Wells—2004, 2008 Olympian and National Cyclocross Champion. Winner of Leadville 100 in 2011
  • Travis Brown--2000 Olympian and National Cross Country and Marathon Champion, Trek product tester
  • Shonny Vanlandingham—X Terra National
  • Ned Overend--1990 World Mountain Bike Champion-cross country and road. Only person in Mountain Bike Hall of Fame, US Bicycling Hall of Fame and X-terra Hall of Fame
  • John Tomac--World Champion downhill and cross-country
    Greg Herbold--1990 World Champion downhill
  • Ruthie Matthes--World Champion cross-country, National Champion cross-country and Olympian 
  • Bob Roll--Announcer for Outdoor Life Network including the Tour de France
  • James Carney--2004 track Olympian
  • Christopher Blevins--Four-time ABA and two-time USAC National Champion
  • Troy Wells--2005 National U23 Cyclocross Champion
  • Martha Iverson--2005 National Road Bike Champion
  • Walt Axhelm--Multiple Gold medal road and mountain bike winner at Senior Games.
  • Matt Shriver--Collegiate Cyclocross National Champion, Jittery Joe's Professional Cycling Team
  • Tad Elliot--U23 National Mountain Bike Team
  • Kristin Danielson--Pro road and mountain bike racer
  • Marissa Owen--Pro road racer
  • Dave Hagen--Fort Lewis College Coach, event organizer
  • Elke Bursart--Mountain bike racer and team masseuse
  • Myles Rockwell--World Champion Downhiller
  • Mike Engleman--National Road Race Champion                          

Numerous mechanics, coaches, promoters, designers and builders support any successful development program.  The following people with ties to Durango have had an impact on the sport of cycling:

  • Juli Furtado--World Champion downhill and cross-country
  • Daryl Price-- Mountain Bike Champion and bike Industry sales executive
  • Scott Daubert-- Team mechanic, manager
  • Forest Yelverton-Olympic project designer
  • John Parker--Tesigner, builder
  • Peter Graves--Olympic announcer
  • Eric Moore--Director of NORBA
  • Mert Lawill--Designer, builder
  • David Farmer--International coach
  • Ed Zink--Promoter, official, all-around guru
  • Tyler Philger--Mechanic, manager
  • Gunner Conrad--Photographer
  • Dean Howard--Photographer
  • Bill Manning--Trail designer
  • Tom Mayer--Inventor     
  • Dr. Frank Jarrell--Chiropractor, D.C.
  • Mary Monroe--Bike Industry Executive and Durango’s Executive Director Trails 2000
  • Matt Phillips--Editor of Bicycling Magazine
  • Bob Gregario--Mountain Bike Pro's mechanic, Mountain Bike Hall of Fame


  • Chad Cheeney - Level 2 USA Cycling Coach
  • Steve Owens - Colorado Premier Training
  • Aaron Urquidez - BS-KINE, NSCA-CPT, NASM-PES

To get more information on the group of famous cyclists and mountain bike champions that choose to call Durango home, contact the Durango Area Tourism Office at 1-800-525-8855 today.