Vail "reflected my values, my wishes, my dreams’
Only a handful of people showed up, mostly local cowboys and their families, who wanted to ride the lift for the view. It wasn’t until six days later that the first real storm arrived.
Actually, opening day wasn’t even the worst day for business that first season. On Jan. 10, 1963, we sold exactly 12 lift tickets, at $5 apiece. But by the end of the season, we had sold a modestly successful 55,000 lift tickets, many of them thanks to the genius of our marketing man, Bob Parker, who later would produce the well-known Ski the Rockies campaign and shrewdly use World Cup races to make Vail a player on the international map of ski resorts.
Vail never possessed the chic of Sun Valley or the glitz of Aspen, so we didn’t attract the movie-star crowd or jet-setters. What we had, and what we wanted, were solid family skiers, and that became our image.
Still, we could satisfy every kind of skier, from the Colorado weekend set to the wealthy foreign crowd, from daredevil double-diamond experts to happy children snowplowing down beginners’ trails.
In those early years, I treated our skiers almost as if they were visitors to my home. I used to post a list of guests’ names each week in the lift crew’s office so that they could call out, “Good morning, Mr. Jones! Good morning, Mrs. Smith!” as the skiers boarded the gondola for Mid-Vail.
Vail reflected my values, my wishes, my dreams. It reflected my life. And because it was my life, it contained much pain along with much happiness, much good luck with much bad, much darkness along with much light.
Editor’s note: This is the seventh installment of the Vail Daily’s serialization of “Vail: Triumph of a Dream” by Vail Pioneer and Founder Pete Seibert. This excerpt comes from Chapter Two, entitled “Blue Sky Basin.” The book can be purchased at the Colorado Ski Museum, as well as bookstores and other retailers throughout the Vail Valley.