Ski Terre Haute Kid Resurfaces after Four Decades

Tuesday, July 07, 2020
Image shows the Ski Terre Haute poster next to a smiling Randy Kurtz.

Randy Kurtz, the original Ski Terre Haute kid, visited Rose-Hulman’s campus for the first time in July 2020 to get a new copy of the iconic admissions poster in which he starred 40 years ago.

Imagine learning your picture is framed and displayed in the dens and offices of dozens of early 1980s-era Rose-Hulman graduates…and your name is not Farah Fawcett. That’s how Randy Kurtz felt two years ago when he saw images of himself next to smiling Rose alumni posted on social media.

So how did a photo of a college-aged Kurtz, now a successful residential builder in Naples, Florida, wind up on the walls of Rose alumni around the world?

He’s the Ski Terre Haute kid.

Ski Terre Haute is the iconic poster produced by former Rose-Hulman Dean of Admissions Duncan Murdoch as a clever way to draw attention to a-then-all-male engineering college located far from oceans, mountains or big cities. The poster features an image of a skier slicing his way through the snow blanketing a very-flat cornfield with a typical Hoosier barn in the background.

Kurtz is the skier.

“I think it’s neat that people still have the poster,” says Kurtz, who discovered the popularity of Ski Terre Haute after one of his daughters found the image on social media. He later contacted Rose to see about acquiring a fresh version of the poster to hang in his office during a planned trip to Marshall, Illinois to play the acclaimed Canyata golf course.

As explained in a 2016 Echoes article about the poster, Kurtz and his family lived next door to Richard Braley, whose Cedar Rapids, Iowa-based advertising agency was hired by Murdoch to produce the poster. Braley was a close friend of Kurtz’s father, Ron, and Braley simply asked if the younger Kurtz was available to dress in some farming-type clothes and pose in a skiing position. Fortunately, Kurtz had been skiing for many years by that time, so had his own ski equipment and knew how to pose.

Kurtz estimates the photo was taken in 1978 or '79, soon after he started studying at Iowa State University where he earned a business degree. He recalls the photoshoot lasted about 45 minutes and took place on a warm spring or summer day. The image was shot in suburban Cedar Rapids but was later transposed over an image of a snowy farm scene. If Kurtz was paid for his time and effort, he doesn’t recall how much.

“It wasn’t enough to change my life,” he says with a laugh.

For the photo, Kurtz says he leaned to the side as the camera snapped away. Someone kneeling beside him would catch him before he hit the ground.

“I thought it was really funny,” Kurtz says of when he realized the photo has become a part of Rose-Hulman lore. “I’m not a very serious person, so this is something I would definitely have wanted to do.”

Kurtz and his father moved their residential building business to Naples from Cedar Rapids in 1982, not long after the photoshoot. After a modest beginning, Kurtz Homes has grown into an award-winning company producing original, high-end residences in southwest Florida.

Order your own Ski Terre Haute poster by clicking here