Annual ski-in honoring the legacy of the 10th Mountain Division returns to Ski Cooper, Vail later this month |

Annual ski-in honoring the legacy of the 10th Mountain Division returns to Ski Cooper, Vail later this month

10th Mountain Division Association annual ski-in set for Feb. 23-28

John LaConte
Vail Daily
George Robinson, 5, participates in a ski-down with 10th Mountain Division descendants at Ski Cooper in 2022. The annual 10th Mountain Division Association Ski-In has been taking place every year since 1976 and honors those ski troopers who fought in World War II and returned to the U.S. to help build the ski industry in America.
Courtesy photo

The soldiers of the U.S. Army’s 10th Mountain Division fought on skis in World War II, and upon returning back home, they realized they enjoyed the skiing part a bit more than the fighting.

Many of their descendants now harbor an equally strong love of ski culture, and through the 10th Mountain Division Association, their love of skiing continues to be celebrated every year at the annual 10th Mountain Division Association Ski-In, held in Colorado every February.

If you’re interested in meeting some of those descendants and helping to celebrate the legacy of the 10th, the ski-in is your chance to do so. It’s scheduled for Feb. 23-28 this year at Copper Mountain, Ski Cooper, Vail and Breckenridge.

“The first ski-in was organized in 1976,” according to the 10th Mountain Division Association. “Busloads of veterans and their families rolled into Keystone from the Denver airport and spent days skiing together, dining together, sharing stories, and usually capping off evenings at the Silver Spur in Leadville with tipsy singing of 10th Mountain songs, arms around each other’s shoulders, bottles waving, etc.”

The event welcomes skiers of all ages.

Eagle County resident Scott Robinson said he attended his first ski-in last year and found it to be a very welcoming event.

“What I loved the most was the camaraderie around it,” Robinson said. “My favorite part was being able to do the ski-down with my son, I think he might have been the youngest one there.”

Scott Robinson’s son, George, is named after Scott’s grandfather, George Robinson, who served in the 10th Mountain Division and fought in the attack on Riva Ridge on Feb. 18, 1945. Young George Robinson was 5 years old at last year’s ski-in; they skied together at Ski Cooper where Scott says you’ll find the most history when it comes to the 10th Mountain Division at Colorado ski areas.

“Ski Cooper still feels like it was 20 years ago when I was learning how to ski,” Robinson said. “When you come to an event you’ve never been to, you’re always a little intimidated about what’s going to happen, but everybody was so welcoming to us.”

The Ski Cooper portion of the ski-in will take place on Feb. 24 with a buffet lunch at 11:45 a.m. ($18 per person). At 1 p.m., a group will meet at the top of the Molly Mayfield run to ski in a serpentine formation led by soldiers from the Colorado National Guard at Ford Drum.

“It really is a rush to ski Ski Cooper knowing that your grandfather or your uncle or whomever was skiing in that exact same area and that’s where it all really began,” said K.K. Roeder, whose uncle served in the 10th in World War II.

“He didn’t make it back alive from the war, so it is very moving for me to experience his and his fellow soldiers’ sacrifice being honored,” she added.

This year there’s another reason to celebrate as the 10th Mountain Division’s training ground at Camp Hale was designated as a national monument through a presidential proclamation issued in October.

The ski-in begins at Copper Mountain on Feb. 23; after a day of skiing, there will be an apres-ski event at JJ’s Tavern in Copper’s East Village starting at 3:30 p.m. The event will then move to Lake County High School in Leadville where there will be a presentation about Operation Grouse, a railway sabotage in Norway conducted by members of the U.S. Army’s 99th Infantry Battalion.

After a day at Ski Cooper on Feb. 24 the ski-in then moves to Vail on Feb. 25, where a Riva Ridge ski-down is scheduled for 11 a.m. The Vail Legacy Weekend will coincide with the ski-in Feb. 25-27 and will include a Black Hawk helicopter landing on Eagle’s Nest Ridge and a Bridge Street parade.

The 10th Mountain Division Association ski-in will conclude at Breckenridge on Feb. 28.

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