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The Watch / Telluride News 1.10.2019

High honors from high altitude
From the Grammys to alpine ski racing, awards made in Ridgway are all over the world
By Leslie Vreeland, Contributing Editor

Lisa Issenberg (Photo by Eric Ming)

What are the odds that two artisans from the same mountain town are responsible for producing some of the world’s most prestigious honors? That their businesses should be located not only on the same street in downtown Ridgway (population: 973) but in the same building?

The creative output of Ridgway metalworkers Lisa Issenberg, owner of Kiitellä, and John Billings of Billings Artworks has touched thousands of lives in some of the most elite professions on the planet.

Billings is responsible for the music industry’s highest honor, the Grammy Award, every one of which is individually crafted in the basement of his Ridgway studio.

Issenberg has designed awards for the American Alpine Club and for competitors in many winter alpine sports. Slalom superstar Mikaela Shiffrin of Vail has hoisted at least 10 of Issenberg’s made-in-Ridgway awards overhead in her brief career, and female racing greats Lindsey Vonn, also of Vail, and Bernadette Schild of Austria, Federica Brignone of Italy and Tessa Worley of France have all won Issenberg’s medals, too.

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