Colorado Snowsports Museum at Sneaker Ball for All
Gov. Polis’ inaugural event included historical displays from Vail museum
The Colorado Snowsports Museum was honored to be asked to set up a Colorado snow sports-themed exhibition for Governor Jared Polis’ inauguration event, Sneaker Ball for All, on Jan. 10 in Denver.
The cocktail and dinner event for supporters was held at the Westfield Building on Wynkoop Street in the River North Art District (RiNo) area, where Lefthand Brewery is housed. Attendees then went next door to the Mission Ballroom for the party, but the team at the Colorado Snowsports Museum had plenty of time to mix and mingle with guests and answer questions about the display before the dancing got started.
“We were thrilled to be involved and to curate a display for Polis and his supporters and to help share the many stories behind Colorado’s rich snow sports history,” said Dana Mathios, museum curator and director of collections for the Colorado Snowsports Museum.
The Colorado Snowsports Museum had about a month to prepare for this opportunity, which wasn’t much time with the holidays right in the middle, but Mathios and the staff were able to pull from their vast collection of historical items. The Colorado Snowsports Museum preserves and exhibits 15,000 artifacts. If they are not on display in the museum in Vail or part of other off-site exhibitions, they are at its off-site storage facility and resource center in Wheat Ridge, Colorado.
“This is our real treasure trove as you can spend hours exploring collections. We have a plethora of skis, snowboards, trophies, pins, clothing, accessories, posters, boots and so much more,” Mathios said. “It was fun to curate the Polis exhibition because, to some people’s surprise, we have artifacts that connect to many politicians in Colorado like former Governor John Love.”
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At the event, the museum also displayed items that belonged to Bill McNichols, who served as the mayor of Denver from 1968-1983. His artifacts as well as Love’s are connected to the story behind the 1976 Denver Winter Olympic bid which was included in the Polis display.
Other displays that generated a lot of comments included the old lift tickets on wire wickets.
“Everyone loves to see old lift tickets. Today, you get a plastic resort pass and not a lot of younger people realize tickets used to be essentially paper with a wicket or metal paper clip-like hook,” Mathios said. “There was also a lot of discussion after seeing vintage Colorado ski area logos. These, for some resorts, have changed over time.”
Another hot topic: vintage clothing. From Ann Bonfoey Taylor’s iconic style to Margaret McLean’s impeccable sense of fashion from her modeling days, everyone was drawn to these bright and playful pieces.
There was also a condensed ski boot timeline.
“Many individuals came over with their own stories to share about when they used to wear those painful boots!” Mathios said.
The museum had already curated an exhibition for President Biden’s trip to Colorado last October for the Camp Hale designation, so many of those items were included in this display.
“Vail’s history is inseparable from the 10th Mountain Division’s history because of its founder Pete Seibert’s reliance on fellow 10th veterans like Jack Tweedy, Ben Duke, Bob Parker and Bill “Sarge” Brown, who he met while training and fighting during World War II. Together, they helped him fulfill his childhood dream of creating what is arguably the best snow sports resort in North America.”
Mathios said she hopes that the Colorado Snowsport Museum becomes a must-see for people on their way to or from Camp Hale to continue the education about the historic place.
Governor Polis was able to stop by the display and take a photo during his busy night.
“Pinecone Project, the team Polis hired to help put on the event, said that our display was remarkable and that it was a huge hit with his donors,” Mathios said.
Stop by the Colorado Snowsports Museum in Vail Village to learn more about Colorado’s snow sports history and see some of these artifacts for yourself. The hours are 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily. For more information go to SnowsportsMuseum.org.