Colorado Snowsports Museum reopens after major renovation (column) | VailDaily.com

Colorado Snowsports Museum reopens after major renovation (column)

Carolyn Pope
High Altitude Society

"You can't tell the history of Colorado without telling the history of skiing."

Vail is only slightly over 50 years old, but the history of skiing in Colorado goes back further, and one of the biggest influences that brought skiing to Vail was the 10th Mountain Division.

The division trained in Camp Hale, between Vail and Leadville, in 1942 and 1943. Their victory at Riva Ridge is stuff that legends are made of; as well as the name of the longest trails on Vail Mountain.

Men of the 10th Mountain Division were involved with the formation or management of many of the ski areas across Colorado, including Vail, Ski Cooper, Aspen and Arapahoe Basin.

Only appropriate, then, that the official reopening ribbon cutting of the Colorado Snowsports Museum was performed by three men from the 10th; Vail's legend Sandy Treat, Hugh Evans and Dick Over, three veterans all in their 90s.

"I've been volunteering at least 10 years telling the story of the 10th Mountain Division at the museum," Treat said. "The story is so unique I want to make it possible for visitors to know and understand the history and the tremendous influence on skiing and ski racing."

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Interactive collection

The museum isn't just about the beginnings of skiing, though. It's about everything and everyone who has had a serious influence on skiing in the state, from the racers, the equipment and even the fashion.

"The planning for the new museum started four years ago with feasibility and layout. Three years ago, we developed the plan with Condit Exhibits and Insight Design," said Susie Tjossem, the executive director for the museum. "It looked like Grammy's attic before the renovation. Now, it's state of the art."

The museum is high tech and artifact centered with items that are unique to the collection. The interactive nature of the exhibits allows guests of all ages (last year, more than 75,000) to have a hands-on approach to the treasures within the museum.

"There's only so much wall space," Tjossem said. "The interactive nature allows people to dig deeper and be constantly updated."

The grand re-opening in June drew in people from all over the state, including people who have been intimately involved with running Vail, like Bill Jensen and John Garnsey, many who have been in Vail since the very beginning, as well as some from out of town, like ski legend and Jimmy Heuga contemporary Billy Kidd.

The entrance to the Colorado Snowsports Museum is free and privately funded by people who understand the importance of ski history.

How can you help preserve Colorado ski history? Become a member of the museum. Underwrite an exhibit, shop in their fabulous gift shop, consider making a gift in the name of a loved one or remember the history through planned giving.

Visit the museum, located on the third floor of the parking structure in Vail Village, or check out what's going on through their website http://www.skimuseum.net.