EAGLE COUNTY — The Denver Broncos headed into Super Bowl XXXIII against the Atlanta Falcons in 1999 with one of the National Football League’s most potent offenses and a wily veteran playing quarterback. Meanwhile, the Vail Valley was preparing for the World Alpine Ski Championships.
The last time the Broncos went to — and won — the big game, the Vail Valley was just days away from hosting the 1999 World Alpine Ski Championships.
The proximity of the two events is probably the main reason John Garnsey, now “international president” at Vail Resorts, doesn’t remember much about the game. Garnsey, along with other organizers and volunteers, was working feverishly to bring off the events.
That could also be the reason that Garnsey said he’s seeing a lot more enthusiasm for the Broncos this year. With the one-year countdown to the 2015 championships starting Saturday, Garnsey, a fan, is looking forward to sitting down and watching Sunday’s game.
“We’ve got a whole year this time,” Garnsey said.
Dave Chapin, a partner in Vendetta’s restaurant and a Vail Town Council member, remembers being excited that Colorado had the dominant football team of the day, and then turned right around to host the premier ski-racing event on the calendar.
‘Every Four Years’
“I remember how awesome it all was,” Chapin said. “We started talking about the fact that we should try to have the championships and the Broncos in the Super Bowl every four years or so.”
Rod Slifer, one of Vail’s first residents, had an up-close look at Super Bowl XXXIII, traveling to Miami with former pro quarterback, congressman, Washington bigwig and Vail Valley regular Jack Kemp. It remains the only championship game Slifer has seen in person.
“We had a good time with Mr. Kemp — we were all treated pretty well” Slifer said.
Back home, things were going fairly well, too. Longtime local resident and ski shop owner Buzz Schleper — whose first waking thought generally involves skiing — said he remembers that the championships that year were a big boost for the valley, of course.
“The World Championships that year really solidified Vail as a powerhouse in international skiing,” Schleper said. “We had quite a bit of snow during practice that year, so every TV shot showed snow everywhere.”
The rest of the season was a success, too, Schleper said, with good snow throughout. And Slifer recalled that the valley’s real estate economy was humming along pretty well, too.
Schleper’s all about skiing, but the first thing he said when asked about that season was, “I remember we kicked (former Broncos coach) Dan Reeves’ (butt) in that game. That was great.”
Schleper, and others interviewed for this story, feels pretty confident about this year’s game, too.
“This year is much more of a challenge,” Chapin said. “It’s going to be an exciting game.”
Slifer, too, is looking forward to an exciting game.
“Seattle has a very good defense,” he said. “I just hope the weather is decent there on Sunday.”