Fast Freddie

The first time I skied with Fred Siget was in Snowshoe, West Virginia with Larry Walsh of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette. I had some limited training but had experience as a ski instructor. So, as my maiden voyage with a visually impaired skier, I had the original blind skier in our area in front of me headed down Cupp Run. Right turn, left turn, right turn, stay, stay………..all of a sudden the only tree in play was before me as I yelled “crash” and Fred sat down on his way to running into the only tree within hundreds of yards. I felt so bad, but Fred dusted himself off with a smile and said, ” Pat- don’t worry about it at all. This will be one of many.” And we continued down the slope. This began a 40 year friendship with the one and only Fast Freddie Siget.

Fred lost his vision as a result of an accident with a high pressure hose when he was a volunteer fireman. As devastating as this injury was, he was undaunted. He became the first computer programmer for Koppers Corporation that was visually impaired. He continued dancing, and he learned to ski with guys like Larry Walsh, Jim Conley, Lynne(Kravetz) Hartnett, Shorty Leco and Micky Hutchko. People who took the time to work with Fred and make him into a pretty good skier by the time I came along. Fred always had ideas on how to make things easier for blind skiers and how to improve guiding techniques. He was the first guy I knew that purchased a transmitter where the guide had a microphone and he had an ear piece which made calling out commands easier and understandable with snowmaking machines roaring in the background. I used it one time standing on top of a slope and calling commands to Fred as he skied by himself down to the chairlift. With his” Blind Skier” jacket on, people were shocked viewing his run. In the bar afterwards, we had some fun with Herman Dupre the owner of Seven Springs Mountain Resort. I put the microphone on and guided Fred over in front of Herman and told him to tell Herman how much he admired his red flannel shirt. Herman was stunned and later remarked to me laughing that he was starting to “get hot thinking about all the free passes I gave to Fred and now he is telling me how much he likes my shirt!” Hilarious.

Fred was a bus driver in the old days and always missed driving. One night after skiing, I asked Fred if he wanted to drive again. He was puzzled. I took him to the upper parking lot at Seven Springs and guided him into the drivers seat of my Blazer and let him have the wheel. I gave him commands like skiing. Right turn, left turn, stay straight, …the smile on his face was priceless. Then we did some donuts and the laughter was infectious. Fred never forgot that night.

Fred was always anxious to help new guides. He put himself at risk during the training but always felt that it was worth it not only to train guides that could assist him, but to help the other visually impaired skiers who were beginning to show up at the BOLD( Blind Outdoor Leisure Development) outings at Seven Springs.

Fred was a local legend due to his skiing. People knew him and admired him as they skied past him or saw him making turns from the chairlift. They knew him in Vail, Colorado where he skied regularly with the Mon Valley and Pittsburgh Ski Clubs. But perhaps the most compelling thing about Fred was his kindness and appreciation for his fellow skiers and guides. He always remembered your birthday and when he called me, he sang, ” Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday to you, get plastered, you bastard, Happy Birthday to you.” That made me laugh out loud every year. He would always ask about my wife Janet, and my son Jack. Jack would ski with us when he was a young guy and Fred always was interested in how he was doing in school and in his sports. Fred always thought about other people. He was popular for his skiing for sure, but as a person, you could not get a better guy who was always interested in others and never talked much about himself.

We lost Fred this fall at 94 years of age. Although he had an amazing life, we will miss him. I always think of him when I see people who have heartache in their lives or something that has tragically shaped their future. Fred never let his accident slow him down. He always said that he did more as a visually impaired individual than he ever did before losing his sight. He took a perceived bad thing and turned it into opportunity. Shouldn’t we all learn from that lesson? R.I.P Fred, I will miss you for sure. Thanks for reading folks.

11 thoughts on “Fast Freddie

  1. Janet says:

    What wonderful memories you will always have of Fred he was a remarkable person & your friend! Fred has perfect vision now🙏

  2. Eric Sauereisen says:

    Fred, his outlook and his mindset was truly an unexpected gift to us all. R.I.P.

    On Thu, Oct 19, 2017 at 11:31 AM, chroniclesofmccloskey wrote:

    > patmccloskey posted: ” The first time I skied with Fred Siget was in > Snowshoe, West Virginia with Larry Walsh of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette. I > had some limited training but had experience as a ski instructor. So, as my > maiden voyage with a visually impaired skier, I had ” >

  3. Art Bonn says:

    I’m sorry about Fred Pat. I had the honor of guiding Fred a couple times, good skier. He was fun, and a pleasure to be around. He didn’t let his accident keep him from having a great outlook on life. You’re right Janet, perfect vision now!

  4. Mark Hutchinson says:

    Sounds like Fred had a life well lived Pat! What a great guy to meet on the ski trail and the trail of life! Keep up the great writing! Really enjoy it!

  5. Russel Davies says:

    Thanks for sharing.

  6. Pete Hilton says:

    One of your best Pat – thanks

  7. Cindy Marie says:

    I enjoyed this post about your friend “Fast Freddie”. He sure did not let life get him down. I bet skiing with him was a joy. He must have had joy in his heart. I wish I would have known him and great you helped him out. “Murphy’s Law” the tree part was so funny but how life is. great post.

  8. edietmorgan says:

    What a great tribute Pat! Thank you for sharing some of Freddie’s stories and giving us a glimpse of a good friend and positive person.

  9. Gwynne Morgan says:

    Best regards,

    Gwynne Morgan

    (617)323-2896 land

    (617)901-2020 cell

  10. Bill Murphy says:

    Through Foresight Ski Guides, I had the pleasure of guiding “Fast Freddie” the times he came to Vail. I have guided for 35 years and he was one of my favorites. We would laugh, cry and have great fun….always a joker. So last night, another guide and I were talking about our favorites and of course Fast Freddie came to the fore front. We had not seen nor heard from him for the past few years and out of curiosity I wanted to see if he was still with us. I am saddened that he has passed but what a mark he made while here. I learned much from this guy about life, perspective and of course…fun.
    Bill Murphy
    Sr. Guide
    Foresight Ski Guides

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