Vail ski instructors paint history
VAIL, Colorado -Over the course of just 3 1/2 weeks last summer, artists and Vail ski instructors Horst Essl and Jean Richmond completed the mural adorning the facade of the Colorado Ski & Snowboard Museum in Vail Village. To have it finished by the Fourth of July, the team spent numerous hours each day on scaffolding and often under tarps to protect them from the afternoon showers. The mural’s concept, however, evolved over several years.Essl viewed the facade not only as an opportunity to enhance the exterior of the museum, but to tell the story of skiing in Colorado. While telling a visual history of skiing on the outside of the museum, it draws people to enjoy the 140 years of artifacts housed inside.”Horst Essl did a fabulous job capturing Colorado’s incredible ski and snowboard history and heritage. Each image is a compilation of many different individuals who have made an impact on the sports we all love,” said Susie Tjossem, executive director of the Colorado Ski & Snowboard Museum.The history of skiing begins in the far left panel with the evolution of skiing as an early form of transportation and moves to modern skiing and snowboarding sports found in panels on the far right. The first figures portray early skiers traversing the mountain as a form of transportation, including a mail carrier. In the next panel, a pioneering woman from the 1860s models her fashionable ski wear for which a vintage photograph exists in the museum’s collection. As you cross the front of the museum, notice her eyes. “Her eyes follow you as you view the mural in front of the museum,” Essl said.Norwegian Carl Howelsen immigrated to the U.S. in 1905. Known as the “Father of Colorado Skiing” he introduced the sport of ski jumping to America in 1911 when he soared over the crowds at the Hot Sulphur Springs winter carnival. There was great interest in this new snow sport and in 1915 he built a jump in Steamboat Springs that is called Howelsen Hill. The likenesses of Howelsen, Vail legend Erich Windisch and Barney McLean are evoked in this panel.The 10th Mountain Division is shown marching on skis in their white camouflage alongside the 10th Mountain Division “Weasel.” The Weasel was the vehicle made by Studebaker in 1942-43 for the U.S. Army to transport cargo and soldiers across the snow. The soldiers trained at nearby Camp Hale, which is depicted by the buildings in the distant valley. Winning intense battles in WWII, notably on the North Apennine Mountains in Northern Italy, the courageous Ski Troopers returned home and played significant roles in the shaping the U.S. ski industry. One of Vail’s founding fathers, Pete Seibert, served as a brave soldier of the 10th Mountain Division. It was on Dec. 15, 1962 when Seibert’s dream was realized with the opening of Vail Mountain nearly 20 miles from where he trained approximately 20 years prior at Camp Hale.Above the museum’s entrance, a female skier enjoys the fresh Champagne powder in the Back Bowls. Mount of the Holy Cross, one of Colorado’s famed 14ers, looms in the distance. As the mural progresses a compilation of early ski racers from the 1930s to 1950s are depicted. The figures suggest the likes of Pepi Gramshammer, Karl Schranz and Buddy Werner. Modern ski racers, now including female competitors, are pictured racing in the evolved gear and skis from the 1980s to the present day. Finally, at the far right freestyle skiing and snowboarding is represented in the mural. Introduced in the 1980s, snowboarding did not become an official Olympic sport until 1998. The artistic talent of Essl and Richmond, who have been in Vail since the 1970s, may be enjoyed in other locations throughout Vail. Learn more about this work in next week’s Art in Public Places Spotlight.The Vail Daily is running weekly spotlights on public art in Vail over the next few months. Molly Eppard is Vail’s art in public places coordinator
Join Art in Public Places for a free guided tour of the Vail Village and its art collection Wednesday at 3:30 p.m. at the Vail Village Visitor Information Center. Visit http://www.artinvail.com for a calendar of remaining tours.