Colorado Snowsports Museum + Hall of Fame

A Visit to Ski Country’s Hollywood, USA

If you have ever visited Hollywood and strolled along the stars on the Walk of Fame, you know the feeling of walking among greatness. It’s different, but much the same, when browsing the tributes to a select group of “Coloradans” who are honored at the Colorado Snowsports Museum (CSM) and Hall of Fame in Vail.

Each spring, five individuals who have contributed their talents, toil and time to the industry of skiing and snowboarding in the state are inducted into the group. These men and women live in Colorado; their personal achievements as athletes, entrepreneurs, inventors, etc. have gained national or international attention, heightening Colorado’s image as a leader in snow-sports innovation.

Several local Vail pioneers and Colorado ski industry leg-ends were responsible for founding the original Colorado Ski Museum in May 1975. Here in Vail, the names of Pete Seibert, Terry Minger, Robert Parker, Don Simonton, J.D. Abbott and Earl Clark evoke an admiration similar to Hollywood’s reverence for “star” celebrities like Muhammad Ali, Doris Day, John Lennon, Shirley Temple, Glenn Miller, Elvis Presley and Aspen’s John Denver!

As Town of Vail manager in 1975, Minger led the pilot group and recruited the support of ski leaders from the U.S. Forest Service, National Ski Patrol, Colorado Ski Country USA and others. You will learn about these visionaries during a visit to CSM, and most are included in the Hall of Fame.

To your Hall of Fame roster visit, add Stein Eriksen, Jake Bur-ton Carpenter, Cindy Nelson, Howard Head, Pepi Gramshammer, Dick Durrance, Gerald Ford, Diane Boyer, Renie Gorsuch, Billy Kidd, Jimmy Heuga, Chris Klug, Willy Schaeffler, Buddy Werner and so many others, and you’ll know that you’ve landed among the brightest stars of snow sports. Learn more about all of these extraordinary honorees at the museum.

The executive director of the museum, Jen Mason, reminds us, “You never know who you’re going to run into at the museum! From local visitors like Dr. Richard Steadman and Tess Johnson to Aspen’s Chris Davenport and others … it’s always worth stopping by.”

The museum’s newly renovated location is located at the central Bridge Street exit to the Vail Village parking structure, more visible and accessible to the 75,000 guests welcomed each year. The exhibits, some interactive, entertain and educate tourists, school groups, private functions and locals who enjoy repeat visits to freshen up on ski and snowboarding history. The valuable arti-facts and exhibits housed in the museum continue to grow, with personal donations from skier collections over 100years old and from early snowboarders who popularized their sport.

Curator and director of collections Dana Mathios explains, “Our exhibits are built from an object driven perspective— letting the artifacts showcased tell the story of our shared history and heritage. Our expanding 15,000 artifact collection speaks to the personal stories behind what helped build the snow sports industry we all know and love today. It’s through donations to the museum that we’re able to share and preserve Colorado snow sports stories.”

A current staff effort is to gather epic photos from the public to celebrate Vail Mountain ski runs — as well as photos showing the rich history of the 10thMountain Division — to add to the port-folio of images in their exhibits.

Plan to spend quality time at this memorable place. It’s an anomaly in our famous destination resort town admission is free to the public! There’s so much to see that you may want to step outside for some fresh air and the iconic view across the Covered Bridge to Vail Mountain. The gift store offers a selection of affordable treasures. Pickup classy souvenirs, clothes, unique décor, books, vintage ski posters and more, or shop online.

Airing continuously in CSM’s Theater, Climb to Glory is a 45-minute documentary film produced by Warren Miller Entertainment in collaboration with CSM, which chronicles the legendary history of World War II’s 10th Mountain Division. From the training at Colorado’s Camp Hale to the dramatic victories on Italy’s Riva Ridge and Mount Belvedere, this is an entertaining and educational lookback at these heroic mountain troopers. Narrated by Olympian freestyler and2014 CSM inductee Jeremy Bloom and inspired by Warren Miller Athlete Chris Anthony, Climb to Glory highlights the 10th Mountain’s astounding impact on our country and the ski industry, while sharing signature Warren Miller film flair.

"Airing continuously in CSM’s Theater, Climb to Glory is a 45-minute documentary film produced by Warren Miller Entertainment in collaboration with CSM. "

CSM houses a comprehensive display of snowboarding history, and it’s equally as complex and fascinating as skiing. Backcountry skiing and splitboarding are featured, as well as both original and contemporary equipment, safety information and more.

Focused on ski racing and snowboard competition? An interactive timeline display of facts and artifacts chronicles competitions over 11 decades until today. Of course, Vail’s local celebrity, Mikaela Shiffrin, enjoys the current spotlight.

Love your modern boots, board, skis, bindings or accessories? Or, are you already looking to trade up? You may reconsider and gain an enhanced appreciation for your gear when you view ski relics dating back to the 1860s.That’s when Scandinavian miners first strapped two pieces of wood onto their feet and tried to mosey down snowy, ungroomed mountains. You’ll marvel at the ability of these former athletes who accomplished such feats and skills with rudimentary equipment.

Fascinated by ski fashion? The muse-um will take you back in time to the early1900s with baggy knickers, itchy hand-knit Norwegian sweaters, wool skirts fur hats and clunky leather lace boots. Synthetic stretch pants dominated after WWII. Neon colors painted the slope sin the 80s, and Levi’s were acceptable, although never practical. Plastic helmets, plastic boots, plastic goggles and plastic-everything emerged, soon upgraded with improved materials. History repeats itself, and it’s fun to spot recurring trends and styles that come and go … most notably, one-piece suits, fur accessories, baggy trousers and even suspenders! By definition, this exhibit will continue to evolve and revolve with contemporary styles. Do you wonder what’s next?

CSM exceeds expectations as a rich, historical resource, a hallowed hall to celebrate great achievements, an entertaining venue to browse and to shop and, here’s the icing, an important part of CSM’s mission to offer programs to involve and educate the community about current issues and topics relevant to skiing and snowboarding. Most special events include a modest fee for CSM members and non-members. Examples include Vail History Walking tours to explore the past/present town of Vail and “Through the Lens” in-person and virtual programs featuring renowned authors and speakers who touch on local and state-wide history and current events. CSM is also open by reservation to host private parties and weddings.

The Resource Center and off-site storage facility for CSM is located in Wheat Ridge, Colorado, with the Vail Museum location serving as the Public Gallery. Maintaining the separate resource space allows CSM to facilitate the documentation and preservation of the ever-expanding collection, also exhibit construction. The CSM currently has artifacts on display in several other locations, like the Eagle County Airport and the Idaho Springs Heritage Museum and Visitor Center, and has worked with the Breckenridge Heritage Alliance, Denver International Airport, The Governor’s Mansion and more. Mason is based in Vail, and Mathios works from Wheat Ridge.

CSM strives to reveal the past, but also to project forward. An example is the exhibit, Colorado Ski Resorts/ Vail’s DNA & Climate/ Into the Future. This informative presentation is highlighted by the interactive Ski Resorts Table, providing in-depth information about Colorado’s active ski areas, along with 30“Lost Resorts.” It features current mountain statistics, photos and videos, along with historical content on each resort. The “Vail’s DNA” portion of the exhibit tells the story of the birth and growth of the Vail Valley, from a small mountain village to a premier world ski and snow-board destination. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, the exhibit touches on climate change and what it means for the future of snowsports.

CSM will be 50-years-old on May 23,2025. In just over two years, there will be new innovations, information and industry challenges, new history and artifacts and Hall of Famers to feature at the Museum. Their broad mission will continue: celebrate Colorado snowsports by telling stories that educate and inspire others to seek adventure.