Vail Daily letter: The golden years |

Vail Daily letter: The golden years

Otto Wiest
Vail, CO, Colorado

It is a lot of fun to watch those old movies about Seibert, Hausermann, and all the Vail founders. To see them skiing the powder 50 years ago as part of the presentation of Vail’s 50th anniversary, brings back great memories.

I am sure that today’s leaders of Vail Resorts would look pretty poor on their skis — compared to those pioneers of Vail. Even when they skied with old-fashioned narrow skis and leather boots, it is really amazing how well they turned in waist deep powder without all the big boohoo they make about equipment today.

What a difference to see the fun they had — the smiling faces, the perfect skiing, and the lifestyle they liked. In those days skiing, not money, dominated Vail. Nobody cared how much money you had or what company you owned. The way you skied, the style of your skiing, was the measurement of your abilities and your importance for the skiing world of old Vail.

What difference now, many years later, when Mr. Katz came to Vail. The first thing he did was to move out of Vail and down to Broomfield, showing everybody that he is not interested in skiing. Today in Vail, skiing is no longer the goal, but counting dollars.

Those guys in the old days, they brought many things to Vail and a lot of them had remarkable backgrounds. Their idea was to stay here and to turn this place into a wonderful ski town. They used their business experience to develop Vail to be the NR 1 resort. Now, 50 years later, the people who come to Vail don’t bring much into Vail. Even a reasonable gondola all the way to the top is too expensive. But instead they try to take out of Vail as much as possible.

When I had a short lunch break in the ’60s as a ski instructor, my boss, ski school director Roger Staub, often paid me a beer and told me, “This might improve your left-side turn!”

Today, in the corporate ski world, when a ski instructor drinks alcohol at work he gets fired. Skiing has become a pretty serious business, and fun doesn’t fit well into the Wall Street world.

It took only 50 years to turn things around. So, let’s hope for that the next 50 years, we will again get people into Vail who like the Back Bowls better then the Wall street. Not the stock market, but the slopes of Vail Mountain are the real value of Vail.

Otto Wiest


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