Live Like a Local: Meet Erik Brofos

“Growing up here was like going to summer camp every day,” Erik Brofos says. The longtime local moved to Vail in 1965 from New Hampshire when his parents made the decision to manage Vail Blanche Sport Shop. Now, 58 years later, Brofos reflects on a time when Vail only had a couple hundred residents and how it has blossomed since.

First graduating classof Vail Mountain School in 1976. Brofos is in the back row.

First graduating class of Vail Mountain School in 1976. Brofos is in the back row.

“Adventure was as far away as the edge of town, which was about where Ford Amphitheater to the east and Lionshead to the west are now with no I-70,” he explains. “Camping was as close as Golden Peak or Shady Oaks, as we called it, the cliffs above the town shop yard.”

After college, Brofos pursued a career as a ski instructor and finished his 47th year last season. He loves the active lifestyle of the Valley, and riding bikes has also been a big part of it. “A dozen years ago, a friend and I rode from Canada to Mexico to raise funds for Pediatric AIDS in our Valley,” Brofos recalls.

father and son skiing

Photos courtesy of Erik Brofos; Portraits by Whitney Rae Photography.

While Brofos knows firsthand the struggles of living in an expensive resort town, he believes volunteering and getting involved in the fabric of the community is key to maintain a positive outlook.

“I am very fortunate to have been brought to Vail at the age of 7 and to experience the building of a community, town and ski resort,” Brofos shares. “All three of those things reside here, and it’s important that we take care of all three.”

Today, his family is heavily involved in the active lifestyle of the Valley; his wife Joelle works for Vail Resorts, his daughter is a wedding photographer and others in his family circle are ski instructors, as well.

Covered Bridge reached out to Brofos to learn more about his journey as a Vail Valley local.

What does “journey” mean to you?

erik brofos

As many people often announce that Vail isn’t the real world, I’ve got to step back and try to figure out why that is. My journey isn’t that different than anyone else anywhere else. As I write this, I’m celebrating my other journey; it’s been six years today from beating cancer for the second time, so yes, I’m winning life’s health journey in many ways. How can we help those around us see that life is tough everywhere, not just here? And, it’s damn beautiful, too. Check in with your friends, and see how their journey is going, and pull them up when needed. Remember we live in a town, a ski resort and a community, and we all share that journey!


What is your favorite part about living in the Vail Valley?

Well, it goes without saying that this is an amazing place to be from. Vacations and travel are always looked forward to, but coming home after is the best! I guess, over the years, I’ve tailored and blended my love of all things outside with my work, so it’s sometimes hard to tell one from the other. I’m fortunate to still work for the mountain, but primarily, I work for a family that I’ve been with for literally decades. Truly, some days I can’t believe I get paid to do what I enjoy. And yes, it takes several jobs to make my world go round! We really do live in an exceptional and supportive Valley.