1988: Papa George rides again | VailDaily.com

1988: Papa George rides again

Bob Hope headlined the 12th annual Ford and Friends Concert for the 1988 Jerry Ford Invitational.

Not so long ago, 8-track tapes were the last word in audio technology and we would never ride down Vail and Beaver Creek on anything besides alpine skis.

And if they weren’t at least 200s you’d be laughed out of the lift line.

All that changed in 1988, the year George Gillett gave his official OK to snowboarding in Vail – face Forest Road and salute with “You Da MAN,” all you who shred.

Gillett had given the OK for boards at Beaver Creek the previous year.

The decision process was full of more fits and stops than an overserved Great Race participant, which was most Great Race participants in those days. Finally, though, good sense and capitalism prevailed, and the snowsports industry’s only emerging market got the green light to spend its green in Vail.

That and Gillett’s kids were really, really happy about it. Your kids, too, probably.

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Not everyone’s a fan. Larry Lichliter, Vail Associates executive vice president of mountain operations, admitted that he “did not feel comfortable with the sport of snowboarding.”

Gillett, who usually insists that when it comes to ski resorts, bigger is better, announced that Vail Mountain will more than double its lift-serviced skiing terrain for the next season by opening China, Tea Cup, Siberia and Mongolia bowls. The ski area expansion is billed as the biggest in the history of skiing – and it just might be.

The Saturday China Bowl opened, about 10,000 people were skiing in Vail. Most of them were lined up at the top of China Bowl, waiting for the rope to drop so they could be among the first ones down.

Vail Associates’ Mike Shannon announced that “lift lines are a thing of the past in Vail” and then dropped the rope. When those thousands of people reached the bottom, the lift line was 30 minutes long.

And speaking of culture, the Vail Town Council bestowed its blessing upon Bravo! Colorado. The upstart organization would be a new umbrella under which all of the performing arts in the Vail Valley would find a home.

The Town Council wrote a check for more than $22,000 in seed money to help get the organization rolling.

That first year was pretty much three weeks of delightful chamber music, followed by a solo performance by country star Jerry Jeff Walker.

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