VAIL - Imagine legendary astronomer Carl Sagan intoning “Billions and billions!” and you’ll have some idea how much stuff is available at this weekend’s Vail Ski Swap.
The Ski Swap is Ski & Snowboard Club Vail’s longest-running fundraiser. It’s 44 years old this year, officially middle-aged.
It’s a huge deal and possibly one of the social centers of the skiing universe. It’s also made up of literally tons of gear and apparel.
Most of it’s new, and some of it’s donated by locals.
A bunch of the loot is from shops and vendors around the western United States who travel from swap to swap, sort of like a carnival, only without the corn dogs. Another bunch is from local shops. Yet another portion is used goods from locals.
Vail’s ski swap is one of the first on the circuit — so we get all the good stuff - and one of the largest, says Euginnia Manseau, event manager for Ski and Snowboard Club Vail.
“It has always been an event to get the community involved,” Manseau said. “It’s a place to go to get good deals on gear.”
You can check in gear right up to the time the Swap starts at 5 p.m. Friday, Manseau said.
A little history
The ski swap started as a small local event before Ski Club Vail was a club, said Vail pioneer Vi Brown.
“It was successful from the start, but became more successful when Mauri Nottingham put the whole thing on a computer,” Brown said, referring to when the swap inventory was computerized and tracked.
It became even more of a social affair when the ski swap coordinators combined it with a successful Halloween party at Vail’s Casino Night Club. Everyone came in costume.
Vail’s ski swap was one of the ski industry’s first, Brown said.
“Ski Club Vail was always well supported by the community because people wanted their kids to be good skiers,” Brown said.
Like most local families, all the Brown kids were ski club members, and they’re all crackerjack skiers.
Mike Brown was a Ski Club Vail athlete and became the first local skier to make the U.S. Ski Team
The way it works
The Ski Swap is still a social gathering as much as anything else, and it’s kind of like a powder day. The hard core corps are in there first, followed by those who used to be that hard core, and then followed by the rest of us.
From 5-7 p.m. Friday, you can plunk down $15 and get in early. From 7-10 p.m. Friday you can spend $5 and get in.
Saturday, the Swap runs from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and it’s free all day.
They’re having a blowout sale on Sunday, 8-10 a.m., so you’ll still have time to get to church. Leftover items that have been donated by the public will be 50 percent off.
That does not include the new stuff, Manseau said.
Tips for newbies
It’s probably worth your time to go Friday because that’s when the best selection is available, Manseau said.
If you are coming Friday night, dress warmly because you’ll likely spend some time waiting outside in line.
Once you’re inside, check your coat at the coat check. That way you’ll be able to try things on.
Ski season doesn’t open for a few more weeks, but Ski Club Vail athletes will be skiing at Golden Peak sooner than that. Members of SSCV and national ski teams from around the world - including the U.S. Ski Team - have access to the slopes in early November thanks to a state-of-the-art snowmaking system paid for in part by money raised at the Ski Swap.
Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or firstname.lastname@example.org.