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Last updated 12/06/2013 at 04:50 AM
Last updated 2 hours ago
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History of Vail Video Series
This series of videos chronicles the story of Vail as told by the founders themselves. Starting with the early years and leading up to the present, these videos will show the amazing story of hard work and dedication that went into founding Vail 50 years ago. Stay tuned throughout the 50th season as we release new segments.
Vail’s opening day was set for December 15, 1962. During the summer of 1962, construction crews built a Bell gondola from Vail Village to Mid Vail, two chairlifts, many condos, and base facilities. Winter in Colorado started off mildly that year, allowing for work to continue late into the fall. Unfortunately, the warm winter continued into December producing marginal conditions for opening day. The first year, ticket prices were set at five dollars for a skiing experience that consisted of one gondola, two chairs, eight ski instructors, and nine ski runs. One of Vail’s biggest assets was it was only half the driving distance from Denver to Aspen. That year, Bob Parker became the new marketing manager of Vail. Parker's objective was to put Vail on the national map, stating that skiers were guaranteed to have a exceptional ski experience. At the ski area, Sarge Brown headed operations. Sarge's influence on trail cutting and grooming created what Vail is today. During the 1960’s, Vail Village grew at an incredible rate. During the 1968-69 season, Bell Gondola installed the Lionshead Gondola, a six-cabin tramway for the newly developed Lionshead Base. That same year, President Gerald Ford first traveled to Vail. The President was so impressed that he began to make annual trips, purchasing property at Vail. The 1970’s brought more construction to Vail. Vail Associates erected new trails and lifts, while the town constructed a transit system, library, ice arena, and parking structures. Denver won the Olympic bid in 1976 for the Winter Games. Vail was selected, along with the Beaver Creek site to host the downhill events. Denver voters rejected the games, which upset many in the ski industry. During the summer of 1985, Vail hired Doppelmayr USA to install four high-speed quad chairs including the Vista Bahn, Mountain Top, Northwoods, and Game Creek lifts. Armed with the newest lifts, back bowls, and excellent customer service, Vail continued to set a pace for investing in an excellent ski experience.
Vail celebrated its 25th anniversary in 1988-1989. The China Bowl opened this same year with a new quad chair, making Vail the largest ski area in North America. The next season, Vail/Beaver Creek hosted the World Alpine Ski Championships, which placed Vail in the world media’s spotlight
In 2008, Chair 10 was replaced with a high speed quad, Highline Express, acessing some of the best mogul terrain at Vail. The original Chair 5 was replaced in 2010 with the High Noon Express quad. 2011 brought the new 10th Restaurant at Mid Vail, and work has begun already on the new Vail Village Gondola (to be named) to replace the Vista Bahn!
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