Skiing Heritage Week: Vail Celebrates 50 Years Being Premiere Resort Town

Vail, Colorado has enjoyed a 50-year history as a premiere ski destination and resort town. The 2012-2013 season marks the 50th Anniversary for this Colorado hot (and cold) spot, but getting the resort "off the ground" wasn't quite as easy as one might have hoped.

When Bob Parker, one of Vail's marketing masters, signed on to help get the Vail resort opened, his aim was to "establish Vail as the finest winter resort in the Western Hemisphere.” In doing so, the resort had planned to be the first resort in North America to boast a four-person gondola car. It was getting this gondola lift to Colorado that would prove to be one of it's biggest challenges.

Parker was sent to Zurich, Switzerland — home to Bell Gondola's manufacturing plant — to check on the progress of the gondola's manufacturing in early 1962. Parker came to find out that the manufacturers were scheduled for a completion and delivery date several months after Vail's planned unveiling. 

Parker re-routed deliveries, pieced orders, and hired professional shipping expediters to work deals with customs officials. Car by car and piece by piece, Vail's gondola arrived in just enough time to fire it up for a mid-December 1962 opening.

In present day, a new gondola has been constructed, again, a first of it's kind. This new car features 10-passenger capacity, heated seats, and Wi-Fi access for each passenger. A lot has changed since 1962, but Vail continues to be a forerunner in the winter resort world.

Celebrations have been going on since the end of December 2012, but there are still events happening today. Starting next week, Vail presents Skiing Heritage Week, which will include skiing, snowboarding, movies, as well as ISHA’s Award Banquet. It runs from April 8th through April 14th.

Here's to the next 50 years!

Are you going to Skiing Heritage Week? Did you participate in any other of Vail’s 50th anniversary celebrations? Feel free to drop us a line in the comments below.

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