2017-2018 Far West Skier's Guide - 64-14
the first American men to win Olympic
Medals in Alpine Slalom events.. Billy Kidd
(Silver) and Jimmie Heuga (Bronze) added
even more interest in skiing throughout the
With a goal of establishing and promoting standards for how skiing was taught in the
United States, the Professional Ski Instructors
Association was formed in the fall of 1961 by
seven committed instructors: Bill Lash, Jimmy
Johnston, Paul Valar, Doug Pfeiffer, Don
Rhinehart, Max Dercum, and Curt Chase. One
of their projects was to simplify the teaching
process and create standardization. At this
time, many resorts were teaching the Austrian
method and others were teaching the French
version. It became confusing for both instructors and their students. By the mid 1960s, a
truly American ski technique had emerged, described in PSIA's first manual, The Official
American Ski Technique. The American Ski
Technique evolved into the American Teaching Method and finally to what is currently
called the American Teaching System.
There was also another revision in teaching methods. The Graduated Length Method
or GLM started new skiers with shorter skis
and gradually increased the length as the skier
progressed. Skiing became much easier to
learn with the new teaching system. Numerous resorts adopted it.
Several other events broadened interest
even more. Winter ski and sport shows were
organized and brought to major population
centers. These shows introduced new equipment, new resorts, new clothing designs and
brought ski hills to the masses with their traveling ski decks - portable structures that represented a short ski hill for the public to try.
These ski shows created even more interest.
Skiing became a status symbol fueled by
celebrities being seen on the slopes. TV shows
were filmed at ski resorts and aired in major
cities to create further interest. Airports were
developed near the larger destination ski areas
for better accessibility and convenience.
And by this time, the economy was flourishing. Thus, the rising prices of lift tickets didn't seem to bother most participants.
Of course, the price of a lift ticket in the
1960s pales to current prices! And, the resorts
of the 1960s were much different than the resorts of today, as well. The average price at
the beginning of the seventh decade of the
20th Century was less than $6.00. However,
many improvements to mountain lodges, advanced lifts and the use of gondolas, better
snowmaking and grooming later in the decade
and beyond, are reflected in the rise in the
price of lift tickets.
Although this is a more recent picture of the village at Snowmass which opened in 1967, it
shows the concept of building an all-inclusive destination with ski-in / ski-out convenience. Every
need is met. The village has lodging, restaurants, shopping and is ski lift accessible for guests to
be pampered. The concept was popular as many resorts throughout the country followed this
all inclusive concept. photo courtesy of Aspen / Snowmass
Business was good. Timing was right.
There was a construction boom in the development of ski areas - not only at the ski resorts themselves, but throughout the nearby
towns as they needed accommodations, and
other services for new residents and visitors.
Declining mining towns were revamped with
a new purpose. Instead of letting charming
historic towns disintegrate with vanishing
populations, the development of a nearby ski
resort revitalized them.
A new concept was also introduced. Design a brand new resort in the image of a traditional Swiss Village. Vail Resort was one of
the first to follow this very successful plan.
This well planned resort opened in 1962 and
grew shortly thereafter into one of the greats.
Crested Butte Mountain Resort also opened in
1962 near the old mining town of the same
name. Skiers could enjoy the modern ski village during the day, while being transported to
another era later in that same day. What a
wonderful combination! More and more people were becoming involved. More and more
resorts were being planned! The boom continued - not only in the development and
usage of these winter resorts, but also in the
construction of nearby facilities.
64 - 14 Far West Skier's Guide 2O17 - 2O18 / Digital Edition Insert
A lot of effort went into finding locations
for these new resorts. After site inspections
were performed it was not uncommon for
small groups to board a helicopter which
would land on a designated peak and it's occupants would ski down fresh powder. Popular now, helicopter skiing actually began in the
mid 1960s for adventurous and accomplished
skiers - opening more non-lift serviced terrain without a major expense. Another
way to accend a slope was to crawl up the
mountain on a snow cat or grooming machine, then ski down through fresh powder.
This is how many future resort sites were
tested before contracts were signed, lifts were
constructed and resorts opened. Many resorts
today still offer snow cat serviced terrain.
Snowmass Ski Resort followed five years
after Vail opened - in 1967. With five brand
new lodges, numerous condos and private homes,
a conference center, numerous pools, shops
and restaurants forming a community below
the mountain peaks, the Village at Snowmass
became an instant hit. The concept of creating an all inclusive ski-in / ski-out village was
another winner. The first year Snowmass was
open, they attracted over 100,000 guests - a
record for that time. They are celebrating their
fiftieth Anniversary in December, 2017.