Paul Reutzler
Photo by Barrie Fisher

The Breakfast Club

If you’ve eaten a breakfast sandwich from the Warren Store in the past fifty years, there’s a good chance you were biting into the “Reutzler”, an English Muffin filled with fried egg, tomato, cheddar cheese, ham and mayonnaise. And it comes as no surprise that Skiing Magazine voted this sandwich one of the “top five breakfast bombs,” given that its namesake, Paul Reutzler, is one of Sugarbush’s first ski instructors.

Reutzler, now in his 80s and living in East Warren, recalls sharing his breakfast sandwich recipe with Carol Lippincott, a Bostonian who purchased the Warren Store in 1970 and began its transformation from a hardware shop into an everything-you’ll-ever-need general store.

“I described to her the breakfast sandwich my sister used to make for me every day in Austria,” he recounts in his lovely accent, the memory causing him to smile.

The Warren Store is a regular stop for Reutzler (pre-Covid) who joins a group there for breakfast and politics most mornings. Others in the gathering include local film maker Charlie Brown (creator of videos for several Sugarbush anniversaries), neighbor and NY real estate developer Ken Rubenstein, close friend Bruce Bertholon, and on the second Monday of the month, State Representative Kari Dolan.

Reutzler came to Sugarbush in 1961 to work for the resort’s original Ski School Director, Peter Estin. Reutzler had established himself as an accomplished ski racer in Austria, met Estin at a ski camp in Europe, and was soon after approached by Estin’s friends Damon Gadd and Jack Murphy to assist them in purchasing a ski lift for their soon-to-open ski area in Vermont—Sugarbush. Reutzler greeted Gadd and Murphy at the train station in Bregenz, took them to visit Doppelmayr, and then helped them plan a second visit to Carlevaro-Savio in Italy, where they ultimately purchased Sugarbush’s first gondola (see “Sugarbush’s Sweet Beginnings” for the full story).  Several years later, Estin recruited Reutzler to come work for him at Sugarbush.

That first season, Reutzler lived with Estin in his home on Golf Course Road, alongside Estin’s brother Hans and conductor Skitch Henderson. Reutzler was one of a handful of ski instructors under Estin, all of whom were admired for their skiing prowess, as well as for their handsome looks and European accents. Reutzler recalls instructing the wives of many New York businessmen who lived in Vermont during the week with their children while their husbands traveled back and forth on weekends. As we sit six feet apart in chairs in his front yard, he catches himself every so often when tempted to tell a story about a client who may have gotten too chummy with her ski instructor. Sometimes he can’t stop himself.

Paul Reutzler
Photo by Barrie Fisher

Reutzler taught under Estin for two seasons, until Estin’s premature death in 1963. When Norwegian Gold medalist Stein Eriksen took over the ski school for the 1963-1964 season, he had a clear vision for how his ski school would be run. Reutzler recalls skiing down The Mall in his instructor jacket soon after Stein had arrived in town. Reutzler caught an edge, and began to fall, cursing loudly while doing so. Stein, who had watched Reutzler from the chairlift, caught up with him on the trail and rebuked him, telling him that if he ever did that again, he’d take his instructor’s jacket for good. Reutzler took off his jacket and handed it to Stein (though it was later returned to him, and he continued instructing).

Stein had a knack for marketing, and arranged for each of his seven instructors to live at a different local ski lodge to drum up business with the guests in residence. Reutzler lived for a season at the Berghof, now known as The Seasons Resort—meals and lodging included.

When Reutzler and his new wife took ownership of the Windbeam, a 70-bed ski lodge and restaurant located across the street from The Blue Tooth, he continued teaching skiing. Reutzler gives his former wife all the credit for running the inn while also teaching classes at the University of Vermont.

Paul Reutzler and Candice White
Photo by Barrie Fisher

“I did practically nothing but hang around with rich people and ski,” he confesses, though not with regret. As he talks about his Sugarbush days, his face lights up, recalling the handsome, celebrity crowd he ran with back then. At Sugarbush’s sixtieth anniversary celebration in 2019, Reutzler told a story at The Moth StorySLAM about racing Paul Newman up the access road in his yellow Porsche.

“I love people,” he admits cheerfully.

When the children of Reutzler’s wealthy clients were approaching school age, there was concern that the local school would “not be adequate”. Harlow Carpenter, a Boston-bred architect and sculptor whose father founded Bundy Time Recording Company (later IBM), stepped in and built The Bundy Art Gallery to house both his private art collection and an experimental school for children. Reutzler recalls Carpenter spending $1 million on the school that employed seven teachers and taught twenty children in kindergarten through sixth grade. Admission was invitation-only, and tuition was free. Among the students were children of Tishmans, Sardis (of New York restaurant fame), Murphys, as well as Reutzler’s two sons. Upon graduation, when many families sent their children off to school in Europe, Carpenter offered to sell the building to the state of Vermont, but it declined. Today, The Bundy is a private home with gallery space that generously hosts periodic public art exhibitions.

Reutzler recalls the Sugarbush Ski School was fairly quiet during the week, aside from the ski week specials sold by local lodges. It was during this time that the resort began the practice of teaching local school children to ski on winter Fridays, a practice which has expanded and continues to this day.

“Once, I had 35 kids to teach,” Reutzler remembers happily. Anyone who has been a ski instructor recognizes the extraordinary task it is to teach as many as eight kids, let alone 35. “I had more fun,” he adds.

Reutzler grows animated as he speaks of the days he was instructing. “There is a lot of psychology in skiing, which brings you confidence. If you have confidence, you can do it.” From his lawn chair, he pull his feet and legs together, tilting them on their sides, hips jutted out. “I make sure my skis are on their edges,” he says, his expression focused. He talks about the importance of “continuous rotation.” “I watch Lindsey,” he says, referring to World Cup skier Lindsey Vonn. “When she falls, it is because she lost rotation.”

He is a skier of the Stein Eriksen era, preferring big, carving turns on steep trails. He recalls Stein telling him once “you can hold me even”, meaning that the two skied at the same level. Stein’s Run and Organgrinder are two of Reutzler’s favorites at Lincoln Peak, and FIS at Mt. Ellen.

A hip injury prevented Reutzler from skiing last season. But this year, he’ll be ready. He is fit, and is feeling strong from taking regular walks in his yard. He looks forward to this winter, when he can head to the mountain to take a few runs. But not before meeting his friends at the Warren Store to discuss politics, and to consume the same breakfast sandwich he has been eating since childhood.

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