Seibert’s skiing background provides Vail’s vision
Peter Seibert was then the leader and the central figure. He had a skiing background and was the man with the vision and the knowledge of how to develop the mountain. He had many contacts in the ski world – people whom he met skiing in Aspen, or in Loveland Basin, or anywhere. When these people heard about Vail, they gathered around Seibert and made it happen. With this group, he would pursue the fulfillment of his dream. As with any great idea, there usually is a central individual who has the concept. Then, if it happens, it isn’t because of that one individual – it is because of the people whom he gathers around him to make it happen.
Seibert was a strong, young skier from New Hampshire and a champion in his prep school. At 18 years old, he enlisted in the mountain troops and was sent to train at Camp Hale. He could hardly believe his luck. That high-mountain training was something of a fantasy time for Pete. Marooned with some of the world’s top skiers amid some of the continent’s most staggering mountains, he had little to do but ski and mountaineer. In 1944, the troops were sent to the mountains of northern Italy, where as a platoon sergeant he led his 40 men into battle on the rocky spine that dominated Mount Belvedere, known as Riva Ridge. Seibert was seriously wounded when a shell exploded nearby, shattering his right and left arms and severely damaging his face.
When he was rescued, he asked the army doctor, “Will I ever play the violin again?”
“No!” was the answer.
The doctors told him he probably wouldn’t play the violin, ski, or even walk. But Pete was determined. He never gave up, and that determination paid off. But whether he plays the violin, I don’t know – I never asked him.
In 1947, Seibert settled in Aspen and began to ski again. He won the Roch Cup Downhill and Combined in 1948. In Aspen, he was promoted from being a ski patrolman to an outstanding private ski instructor in the ski school. Needing more education, he attended the famed International School of Hotel Keeping in Lausanne, Switz. Upon his return to the United States, he became manager of the Loveland Ski Area. In 1957, while he was there, Earl Eaton persuaded him to look at Vail.
Pete Seibert was responsible for putting together the team that started the process of building Vail. He had a natural feeling for what the development should look like and how it should be accomplished. His experiences in Europe gave him the ideas for the character of the town and a philosophy for the guest experience. He could look at the mountain and tell you what it was going to look like and where the good runs would be. He knew exactly where the fall lines and lift lines should be. His instincts laid everything out, including the village. With the help of the team, he was able to assume the position of president of Vail Associates, which he held until 1968, when the magnitude of the growing corporation called for more professional management.
Editor’s Note: In a continued effort to help the community understand its roots, the Vail Daily for a second time is serializing Dick Hauserman’s “The Inventors of Vail.” This is the16th installment, an excerpt from chapter 4, “The First Directors’ Meeting.” The book is available at Verbatim Booksellers, The Bookworm of Edwards, Pepi’s Sports, Gorsuch Ltd. and The Rucksack, as well as other retailers throughout the valley. Hauserman can be contacted by phone at 926-2895 or by mail at P.O. Box 1410, Edwards CO, 81632.