VAIL — Tony Seibert lived his life laughing and smiling, and that Vail snowball didn’t fall far from the tree.
Seibert, 24, was Vail founder Pete Seibert’s grandson and Pete Jr. and Teri’s son. Tony died in an avalanche Tuesday in the East Vail Chutes.
When Battle Mountain’s soccer team took the field, someone — usually one of the Petes — would almost always holler at coach Dave Cope, “Watch out for the Seibert boys. They have a streak of Pete in ’em!”
“I’m glad we had the chance to watch Tony play because Tony was a heckuva player to watch,” Cope said.
It was fun to watch Tony do anything because, well … the kid was fun to watch.
Tony played BMHS soccer for three years, and they won league titles all three years. His brother Petey and his twin sister Anna also played Husky soccer, but his sister Lizzy was his hero. He said so himself.
There was this short profile published in the Vail Daily that asked all sorts of questions. One was, “Who’s your hero?”
Tony answered, “My little sister Lizzy Seibert because she’s the captain of the Berry Creek football team.”
“Tony was this big, outsized personality. He was one of those kids who could take over a locker room, or a bus ride or a huddle,” Cope said. “Coaches sometimes just stepped back because kids were going to follow him.”
His junior year, Tony was injured in a soccer match against Glenwood and his season was through — but it wasn’t really. He traveled to a playoff game against Conifer — a game they were supposed to lose — and Tony was in the locker room at halftime shouting encouragement, “We can do this! We can win this!”
“He’ll only grow in stature. His teammates will remember him for the rest of their lives,” Cope said.
Tony played center back and began a tradition of great Husky players at that position that continues to this day, Cope said.
“A big part of Husky soccer history is Tony.”
A Lifetime of smiles
“We’ve known each other so long I don’t know when my memories of him begin,” John O’Neill said.
The two graduated from Battle Mountain in 2008, and they remained close.
“He was one of the best skiers in the valley … ever, and not just racing. He knew that mountain and how to ski every part of it. Knowing how much Tony loved skiing, that was life for him.”
Two other 2008 Battle Mountain graduates have also died.
Todd Walker was murdered in Boulder when he was visiting a friend and walking a woman home from a party.
Graham Bultemeier, born and raised in the Eagle Valley, died from head injuries sustained in a longboard accident.
“A lot of people are leaning on each other right now,” O’Neill said.
Hunter Schleper is one of the valley natives who grew up skiing with Tony.
“I saw him a couple days ago and he was happy. He was skiing,” Schleper said.
On Tuesday, Tony was geared up with all the right equipment and knew the East Vail Chutes as well as anyone alive. And yet …
“He’s the last person I would have expected to get caught in an avalanche,” Schleper said. “He definitely died doing what he loves.”
His friend Scott Klumb posted a video Wednesday night that he and Tony put together. The video can be found at http://bit.ly/seibertvideo.
“Tony Seibert was an amazing person,” Klumb said. “I loved every moment I spent around Tony and so did his friends and family. He was always so uplifting and caring for others. You will be greatly missed, Tony, and my thoughts and prayers go out to you and your family.”
The recurring theme is found in comments from dozens of his friends.
“Truly one of the most amazing people I had the pleasure of knowing, such an immeasurably great soul. You will always be loved my friend, and will never be forgotten. The times we shared will be with me forever, as will you.” — Ian Connelly
“I will forever remember your infectious smile and awesome personality!” — Beth Anne Scholpy
“We share the best of times and the worst of times in the mountains. My thoughts are with your family.” — Mark Welegos
“It was great growing up over the years with you. Words can’t explain how in shock and how sad I am amongst your friends as well. Thoughts and prayers go out to you and your family”. — Tony Klumb
“Thoughts and prayers are with your family! You will be missed. Glad I had the opportunity to grow up with you and know you! Watch over everyone else who enjoys the backcountry as much as you did.”
— Haleigh Armstrong
Climb to Glory star
Local extreme skier Chris Anthony co-starred alongside Tony in the Warren Miller-produced documentary about the famed 10th Mountain Division, “Climb to Glory.”
It was set to play at the Vilar Performing Arts Center on Thursday night, but has been postponed to honor Seibert with a tribute version of that film, recrafted with a strong educational message.
During filming, Tony said he was proud to strap on the same gear his grandfather wore as a soldier in the famed 10th Mountain Division. As they filmed and he skied in those antique skies and boots, his esteem for his grandfather and the soldiers of the 10th grew, as did his frustration with the gear.
“Oh my God, this is what those guys were on?” Tony asked.
“He was really fun to work with,” Anthony said. “It was fun to see a young kid who was talented and grew up in our sport and our community really start to appreciate everything more, skiing, the outdoors, really falling in love with it. … We really, really want to put out the education to our youth and people in general in our community and this environment about our backyard, our playground, not to scare but to educate on how to properly play in this backyard/playground. Respect it. I don’t think we should be scared, there doesn’t need to be any new laws, we just need to pre-empt, educate and guide. As equipment is changing and evolving, people want to explore more and dip into these places more and we just need to educate.”
Chris Jarnot, senior vice president and chief operating officer of Vail Mountain, called Tony’s death a shocking and terrible tragedy.
“Our hearts, thoughts and prayers go out to Tony’s entire family,” he said.
He said the Seibert family, beginning with Vail founder Pete Seibert Sr., is integral to the community’s fabric. Jarnot called “Climb to Glory” “a tribute not only to the famed 10th Mountain Division and his family’s legacy, but to a wonderful albeit tragically too short life.”
“This is an incomprehensible loss and we will support the Seibert family and our community through this difficult time,” Jarnot said.
Pete Seibert Sr. first saw the mountain that would become Vail when his friend Earl Eaton, a valley native, brought him there in 1957. Seibert moved forward with finding investors, securing the land at the base and organizing construction. Vail Mountain opened in December 1962. Pete Sr. died in 2002.
On behalf of the town of Vail, Mayor Andy Daly extended the community’s deepest condolences, thoughts and prayers to the Seibert family, noting the tremendous impact and passion for skiing the family has had in Vail over three generations.
“Words can hardly describe the heartfelt sadness we feel upon learning of this tragic loss,” he said.
Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or firstname.lastname@example.org.