1987: We dance the Knuckle Dragger Fandango | VailDaily.com

1987: We dance the Knuckle Dragger Fandango

Parents say stuff like “maybe,” when they really mean “less chance than frostbite in Phoenix.”

Sometimes, though, “maybe” means just that.

Vail legend has it that Beaver Creek became one of the first major ski resorts in this spiral arm of the universe to allow snowboarding because of two things:

1. Vail Associates owner George Gillett saw youngsters riding around this newfangled thing called a snowboard. They could comprise what business types call an “emerging market.”

2. George’s delightful children really, really wanted to ride snowboards, and made their wishes known. And what’s the use of your dad owning a ski resort if all you can do is ski there?

So, for lots of good reasons, Vail Associates announces that it’s taking the long step of “considering” allowing snowboards at Vail and Beaver Creek.

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Eventually, Gillett, who loves his children and thinks highly of yours, gives snowboarding the green light in Beaver Creek. The world was a much more gnarly place, dude.

The Ballad of Willie’s Britches

The new Gerald Ford Amphitheater opened in Vail with the Vail Valley Foundation taking over fundraising and construction management.

A group of local musicians threw a huge concert to open it. Willie Nelson followed a few days later, playing to a sold-out crowd for the first professional show.

A Foundation board member knew a guy who knew Willie. They knew that Willie was a golf fanatic back then.

So Willie showed up, soulfully singing that all his heroes were still cowboys, and went down to Arrowhead to play golf. The Foundation got a call from the golf course declaring that while Mr. Nelson is a wonderful human being and an American Treasure, he was not playing their course wearing blue jeans.

So the Foundation folks scrambled around for some khaki pants for Willie.

Willie played the show. Willie played some golf. Willie was well-dressed and happy.

Ski Wars and Free Rides

George Gillett gave his official OK for Vail Associates to start sending buses to Summit County to fetch skiers and ship them away to Vail. The ride was free and lift tickets were $5 off. It turns out that Vail has already been selling $25 lift tickets through Summit County hotels.

Copper Mountain, mightily offended, returns fire by running its own free bus to Vail, plus $20 lift tickets.

Breckenridge jumped into the skier wars when it opened a ticket office in the Vail Transportation Center. Breckenridge was offering a $20 lift ticket, or $35 with a ride to Breckenridge.

Meanwhile, on Dec. 12, 1987, Vail began celebrating its 25th birthday. Festivities ensued and lasted all week.

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or rwyrick@vaildaily.com.