Editor of the Reformer:
Skiing and snowboarding are on track to be the official winter sports of Vermont. On Thursday, Feb. 23, I ushered through the House, with unanimous support, the designating legislation (H.365) which should quickly receive approval from the Senate and the governor.
When we think of a winter weekend in Vermont, skiing and snowboarding are what come to mind, as these sports have be intertwined with Vermont's history for 80 years.
Vermont's first rope tow ski lift was installed near Woodstock in 1934, and in 1936, the first Jbar at Bromley, and the nation's first ski patrol at Stowe. The National Ski Patrol founded here in 1938 served as the model for the Army's 10th Mountain Division, with 240 Vermonters on skis serving in World War II. By 1940, we had the first major chair lift, and in 1941, the first T-bar at Pico Peak. In 1957, due to our woldclass skiing, Thomas Watson chose our state to locate the flagship IBM manufacturing plant. In 1968, at the Trapp Family Lodge the first commercial cross-country ski area in the U. S. was established. Today, we have over 30 Nordic ski areas, more than any other state in the union.
In 1977, today's worldwide leader in manufacturing and sales, Burton Snowboard Company, was founded. in 1982, Suicide Six hosted the first National Snowboard competition, with Stratton later becoming the host of the U.S. Open, the world's biggest annual competition. We have been instrumental in developing half popes and terrain parks, which have drawn young people with snowboards and "twin-tip" skis.
Individual Vermonters have have also demonstrated the connection between our state and skiing and snowboarding.
In 1952, Rutland's Andrea Mead-Lawrence became the first American woman to win two Olympic gold medals in skiing, and Stowe's Billy Kidd won silver at Innsbrook in 1964 and bronze and gold at the 1970 World Championships. The skiing Cochrans - Barbara Ann, Lindy, Marilyn and Bobby - dominated the world racing scene in the '60s and '70s, and Bill Koch accomplished, in the '70s, '80s and '90s, one of the best international records for a Vermonter.
Ross Powers of Stratton, Kelly Clark of Dover, Hannah Teeter of Belmont and Hannah Kearney of Norwich have become household names connecting Vermont internationally to the sports of skiing and snowboarding.
Renowned as a training ground for world class skiers and snowboarders, Vermont hosts seven ski academies - more than any other state - Burke Mountain Academy, Green Mountain Valley School, Killington Mountain School, Mount Mansfield Winter Academy, Mount Snow Academy, Stratton Mountain School and Okemo Mountain School.
Skiing and snowboarding have made significant economic contributions to our state. With over 4 million visits annually to the state (third largest in the nation), spending tops $750 million, two-thirds of that in surrounding villages and towns.
The Vermont House is putting into statute what is already the case: Skiing and snowboarding are the winter sports of the state of Vermont.