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Thompson: A ski day for the lucky ones

Pete Thompson
Special to the Daily
Local veterans have been meeting at the top of Chair 11 at Vail on Tuesdays at 11 a.m. all season for a ski day. Last Tuesday was their last day of the year, but they’ll be back next season.
Pete Thompson/Special to the Daily

In 1945, 700 boys of the 10th Mountain Division made a daring night climb up the steep side of an enemy-held Italian mountain along five different routes.

In 2021, the veterans of VFW Post 10721 made a daring daytime ride up the steep side of a snow-covered Colorado mountain on four different ski lifts.

In 1945, the ski troops of the 10th Mountain Division’s 86th regiment captured Riva Ridge with only one casualty. The following days were tougher.



In 2021, the old soldiers of our VFW Posts in Summit and Eagle counties congregated at the top of Chair 11 with only one misgiving: They couldn’t find JP or Heather. Fortunately, things did not get tougher, and they eventually found JP.

This entire winter season, we local veterans have organized a “Veterans Ski Day” every Tuesday. We meet at the top of Chair 11 at 11 a.m., have our picture taken, and then ski all over the mountain. At 1 p.m., we meander into Vendetta’s where Popeye gives us employee pricing for lunch. It is a great civic group with wonderful camaraderie.



Tuesday, April 6, was our last Veterans Ski Day for this season. We veterans of Eagle and Summit counties, in commemoration of all the courageous America soldiers and veterans everywhere in the world, thank you and we honor you. And we invite you fellow veterans join us anytime, anywhere, any mountain.

How would you like to be skiing down the Northstar run and suddenly see 15 aged American veterans coming out of the forest at you?

Kenton and Tamara are doing perfect short radius turns, but Jim and Clark look shaky and dangerous, and there’s no way you can outrun Andrew and Garrett. As they go by, all of a sudden you realize these guys are OK. They’re keeping a proper distance, at a controlled speed, and being careful. Damn, this is a wonderful group. A group who enjoys and respects skiing and skiing protocols.

We have had an excellent pandemic ski season. Next year, it’s different. No more masks. Osborn and Buddy will invite more new veterans. Dan Smith will probably do bump runs with JP, and Marshall is going to arrange entry to the Game Creek Club for lunch. We are the lucky ones. Let me say that again: We are the lucky ones.

Pete Thompson is a local veteran who teaches for Vail Resorts and Colorado Mountain College.


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