The Way We Were, and Are in Vail
April 5, 2013
VAIL – It’s Skiing Heritage Week in Vail, the event that answers the question, “Did we really dress like that?”Yes we did, and you young people should know your children will wonder the same thing about you, little mister earth tone baggy-butt-britches with your hat on backward. So don’t get uppity with us. We were the ones confident enough, while resplendent in our Day-Glo orange one-piece suits, to look adults right in the eye and in a clear and steady voice tell them we were “Groovy,” and mean it.So there.Skiing Heritage Week is an annual event that the International Skiing History Association and The U.S. Ski & Snowboard Hall of Fame host at different venues around the country. Each venue has something special going on. Vail is celebrating its 50th anniversary and that’s why it’s here, said Bernie Weichsel, chairman of the U.S. Ski & Snowboard Hall of Fame.Since opening in 1962, Vail has been home to hundreds of milestones as skiing grew from snow transportation into a lifestyle. Weischel started skiing Vail in 1966.”I have a long history here, and I’m glad to be doing this event here for that reason alone,” he said. “Vail is where millions of skiers and snowboarders have experienced the joy and camaraderie of being in the mountains in winter.”Moving partyLast year’s Skiing Heritage Week was in Seattle. The year before it was in Sun Valley. Next year is Park City.”We go celebrate a resort’s anniversary,” Weischel said.And hundreds will come to celebrate. So far, more than 600 people have registered for the event in Vail.All sorts of events are on the agenda. There’s an ISHA awards banquet for ski writers and filmmakers, and the third annual Ishpeming International Film Festival of classic ski film. The highlight is the Hall of Fame’s annual induction ceremony, set for April 13. Six ski and snowboard legends will be inducted: Wayne Wong, Jeremy Bloom, Kirsten Clark, Craig Kelly, Horst Abraham and Hans Geier, the former Steamboat ski area president who presided over an era of remarkable changes at the resort.Everyone who is someone in skiing is only someone because someone was someone before them.”Wayne Wong set the groundwork for Jeremy Bloom to be someone,” Weischel said.Filmmaker Wayne Wong is a pioneer of freestyle skiing. His films include “White Stag” and “Skiing the Wong Way.”Film FestivalThe Ishpeming International Film Fest is a series of classic ski films, screened at the Vail Cascade Theater. It’s free and open to the public, running Tuesday through Friday, 4-10 p.m. nightly. Some of the films are skiing classics; many focus on Vail.Wander in and you’ll likely find Roger Brown, who has so many Emmy Awards in his house that he had to move some furniture to make room. He’ll be among his equals.Brown directed and produced “Vail: The Rise of America’s Iconic Ski Resort” for Vail’s 50th anniversary.But you have to go back to 1969 for a little perspective. That was when Brown and Barry Corbett produced “The Mobius Flip,” a fantasy movie about a group of skiers who find the world has flip-flopped and they’re on the other side of reality. To get back they have to do the Mobius Flip, a ski maneuver consisting of a flip plus a full twist.That’s a follow to their milestone film “Ski the Outer Limits,” in 1968. The film features Tom Leroy, Herman Goellner, Roger Staub and Susie Chaffee in what Doug Pfeiffer called a “phantasmagorical optical delight.”There’s “Fire on the Mountain” by Beth and George Gage, an emotional 1995 documentary about the 10th Mountain Division. Their first battle was the spectacular night climb of Italy’s Apennine Riva Ridge where they surprised the Germans on top. That led to a push that ended World War II a week earlier in Italy than the rest of Europe. Joe Jay Jalbert’s 28-minute film about the 1989 World Alpine Ski Championships in Vail is time well spent. It’s called “The Times of Our Lives: 1989 World Alpine Ski Championships.” It seems either like just yesterday or ancient history when the world championships made its second appearance in the United States. The first was 1950 in Aspen because most European ski resorts were still too bombed out from World War II to host it.”Call of the Mountains” is Michael Murphy and John Kirschner’s 2013 film about the Vail Ski and Snowboard School. When Vail opened in 1962 they needed people to teach guests to ski. It’s the story of the characters who made it happen and the creation of a ski culture.And if you’ve never seen Pepi Gramshammer race head-to-head against Jean Claude Killy, this is your chance in the film “The Killy Challenge Race.” After Killy won three gold medals in the 1968 Winter Olympics, The Killy Challenge Circuit was created and was the precursor of all the professional skiing tours that followed. Competitors toured America’s seven largest ski areas, and Killy raced the top pro racers from each. In 1970 Killy and Pepi squared off. It’s on film, and you’ll have to watch it to learn who won.Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or firstname.lastname@example.org.