Gray Lady gives Pete his due |

Gray Lady gives Pete his due

Don Rogers

Whether this required a call from the mayor of New York, who of course is wise enough to maintain a residence in Vail, or the august best-and-brightest at The Times deigned to check the AP wire will have to remain a mystery.

No matter, the piece is excellent. It recounts the familiar story – skiing on mom’s planks at age 7, kneecap blown off in war, the comeback on homemade brace to make the U.S. ski team, the travels, the vision, the epic hike with Earl, building Vail on a wing and a prayer.

Along the way it reminds us:

n Ski magazine declared Seibert was third among the 100 most influential ski figures of history. (Only third? Perhaps the mayor should give Ski a call, too.)

n Seibert brought in Ute Indians to perform a snow dance at the beginning of the first year in 1962, and the first powder day ensued. Hope we still have the number if things keep going this way by this December.

n The gondola accident in 1976, which killed four people and injured eight. The Times notes Seibert sold his stake in Vail, worried about lawsuits.

n Developing Snow Basin, in Utah, which you might remember as an Olympic venue in February, on runs Seibert pioneered. If he and Rod Slifer weren’t able to hang in there quite long enough financially, this proved he still had the touch with the slopes themselves.

And there’s this little pearl – according to The Times, Seibert was poking around for one more ski mountain in Colorado as recently as March. Doesn’t that little nugget speak volumes on its own?

Powder day

Kudos to the Seibert family, the speakers, singers and members of the 10th Mountain Division who filed on stage during perhaps the peak emotional moment during the public service remembering Vail’s founder.

The service was just the right mix of festive, sad and dignified. Also symbolic, as that eagle soared high overhead the Ford Amphitheater at the verdant base of one whale of a ski mountain.

Attendees ranged from young people who had never met Seibert – and might not have known his name before July 16, when news of his death made its first headline – to stalwart friends from the beginning.

Sometime during Vail Mountain’s 40th year, a rocket bearing Seibert’s ashes will launch, and disperse with cloud-seeding silver iodide, perhaps prompting a powder day for eternity. D.R.

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