VAIL, Colorado - Fifty years after Vail's founders accomplished what many thought was impossible, the resort is kicking off its golden anniversary this week with several celebrations and events.Over the last 50 years, Vail has become an icon within the ski resort industry. It has grown into a mega-resort, something founders Pete Seibert and Earl Eaton saw in the mountain's potential when they looked at it together for the first time in 1957.Seibert and Eaton had a vision of grandeur - a vision to turn what they saw as a perfect ski mountain into the perfect ski mountain."The way we're skiing the mountain now is the way Pete and Earl first put the application in to the Forest Service," said Pete Seibert Jr. "He loved to see new terrain added wherever possible. ... That's something he lived to see with Blue Sky Basin."This week's celebrations are about the mountain and its terrain. While development in the town also began 50 years ago, it was the development of the mountain into a ski resort that made it all possible. The celebrations will honor history, evolution and the success Vail enjoys today, and most of all, they'll honor the people that made it all possible.Vail Mountain Chief Operating Officer Chris Jarnot said on opening day that this season has been the most anticipated season at Vail since that first season in 1962."Looking back to the spirit of those who started Vail 50 years ago has provided extra inspiration for us as we get this season started," Jarnot said. "More than ever, we want to make this year an experience of a lifetime for all of us who are here and for our guests who will visit us so that 50 years from now, Vail will look back fondly on us."Snow Daze kicks off Thursday night with The Shins at Ford Park. The concert series kicked up its lineup this year in honor of the golden anniversary. Friday night's act is Michael Franti & Spearhead and Saturday night's headliner is Wilco.There's also a film premiere Friday evening by Gypsum filmmaker Roger Cotton Brown. Brown is considered Vail's original filmmaker - he was here in 1962 and filmed the old ranching valley being transformed into a ski resort that summer. He made Vail's first-ever promotional movie in 1963, and he also made the resort's 25th anniversary film, among others.The film, "Vail, the Rise of America's Iconic Ski Resort," is a made-for-TV film featuring histories about everything from the 10th Mountain Division troops to Vail's early investors to the ups and downs the resort has experienced along the way. The film is less than an hour long but manages to cover all of the significant turning points through Vail's history. Seibert Jr. said he can't wait to see it.A public celebration is also scheduled for Saturday at Mountain Plaza, near the base of the new gondola, at 5:30 p.m. Special 50th anniversary guests will speak and the resort will also give out a limited number of commemorative Vail ski boot mugs. The celebration ends with a fireworks display over Vail Mountain.And while the off-the-mountain celebrations are plentiful this week, Seibert Jr. can't think of a better way to honor his father and the ski resort he helped create than to simply ski."I'm getting some skiing in this weekend with my kids," Seibert Jr. said. Assistant Managing Editor Lauren Glendenning can be reached at 970-748-2983 or email@example.com.
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