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Former Vail skier still strong at 100

Dustin Racioppi
dracioppi@vaildaily.com
Vail, CO Colorado
Daily file photoInga Prime, who started the Eagle Valley Humane Society with Joanne Swift, was featured in a 1980 Vail Trail article about her becoming a member of the Board of Directors of the Humane Society of the United States. Prime, who now lives in Arizona, turned 100 on Wednesday.
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VAIL, Colorado ” Hundreds of miles away from her old haunts and years removed from the ski town she once called home, Inga Prime still provides inspiration to her friends back in Vail, Colorado.

It’s something she’s been doing since Vail’s earliest days, usually on the slopes or the golf course, with her high energy, wit and indiscriminate candor. But Prime’s latest inspirational offering comes from her home in Rio Verde, Ariz., where she celebrated her 100th birthday on Wednesday.

For Prime, a longtime Vail resident, the rarely reached landmark was just another day, though she spent it with her family ” which stretches four generations, thanks to her.

“I wake up and I get up. I take my cat for a little walk and come back,” Prime said. “The days go by and there’s not much you can do about it.”

The way Prime describes her life so far can come off acerbic, even in a brief conversation, but there’s humor hidden in the her words. When she summed up her landmark birthday, she said, “I am counting all the roses and all the birthday cards and I think of all the waste paper.”

When asked to describe how she felt making it to such an old age, she instead dispensed advice.

“I don’t really recommend it. It’s hard work,” she said. “Old age is boring.”

But as anybody who has known Prime will tell you, she’s a woman who brims with passion for life and it’s infectious.

For years she was a Vail regular, owning a part-time home in the Ptarmigan section until she handed the house over to her grandchildren. As longtime friend Doris Bailey said, Prime lived for two things: Skiing and golf.

“That woman, if it wasn’t skiing season then it was golf season. And whatever season, it was daily,” Bailey, 72, said. “She just loved the mountains and loved skiing and every bit of being out here.”

Prime’s first love was the mountains. She was born in Sweden and emigrated to the United States just before World War II, bouncing around different areas of the country, mostly ski areas, before making her home in Vail. She skied up until about 10 years ago, she said. And when she was in Vail, she skied every day.

“When you are born in Sweden you ski as soon as you can walk, if not sooner,” she said. “That has been my life.”

And that’s how she made her living, as a ski instructor. She also taught blind people how to ski.

With her global and national connections, Eagle resident Debra Dupree Batten said Prime was a great ambassador for Vail, which was just developing as a resort town when Dupree Batten, then an employee of the Vail Trail, met her.

“She always came into the newspaper with her ski gear on and had an entourage of people with her from all over and would just tout the beauties of Vail,” Dupree Batten said.

Prime still has fond memories of Vail, though she left years ago ” she couldn’t recall the exact time period. One that sticks out also sticks with the entire Eagle Valley.

Along with friend Joanne Swift, Prime founded the Eagle Valley Humane Society. She has a deep love for animals, Bailey said. Prime lives at home with her “four-legged companion,” Curly, a cat.

Prime would also leave a mark with her words. She shoots from the hip and if she ever had a filter between her brain and her mouth, her friends couldn’t recall her using it. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, Bailey said, but a mark of her genuine way of living.

“If you do something wrong, she will scorch you. If you do something right, she will knight you,” Bailey said. “She’s somebody who, there’s nothing politically correct in her vocabulary.”

That trademark is still alive today. Prime recalled what she said was a funny story that recently happened to her.

“Somebody called and wanted my credit card,” Prime said. “I said, ‘I gave up having a credit card, I gave up my driver’s license and I also gave up sex.'”

But one of the last things she gave up was her first love. Her skiing days were satisfied on her 90th birthday when she skied in Vail with her grandchildren .

“They barely could keep up with me,” she said.

Her stamp in Vail is indelible. And for Prime, Vail has left with her memories that she says will last forever.

“The first time driving to Aspen to ski, just when Vail was beginning to develop, I said, ‘That place will never go away,'” Prime said.

It hasn’t yet. And neither has she.

Staff writer Dustin Racioppi can be reached at 970-748-2936 or dracioppi@vaildaily.com.


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