Did you know that some of the most popular ski resorts, like Aspen and Vail, were built by World War II veterans? Here is an interesting article that describes how the 10th Mountain Division influenced the popularity of ski in the United States.
BBC.com/travel ~ "It all started with a meeting in a Vermont ski lodge. In 1938, Charles Minot 'Minnie' Dole founded the National Ski Patrol (NSP) to provide emergency rescue and medical care on remote slopes. The following year, Dole watched as outnumbered Finnish troops on skis humiliated the Soviet army in eastern Finland during the so-called Winter War at the onset of WW2. Fearing that the Nazis (who already had three mountain combat units) may invade the snowy Northeastern US through Canada, Dole lobbied the US War Department to create a unit equipped to fight in harsh, wintery terrain. In 1943, the US Army established the 10th Mountain Division: the US' only combat unit dedicated to alpine warfare.
The War Department recruited the NSP to help train the new unit. In addition to recruiting professional mountaineers and skiers from the NSP's ranks, the division attracted non-traditional soldiers, including champion skiers from New England colleges and ex-athletes with no ski experience who took up the fight against the Nazis.
In fact, one of the most enduring legacies of the division's veterans is how they helped popularise skiing in the US. In addition to Vail, former members of the 10th Division founded or were affiliated with some 60-odd ski resorts across the US, including Stratton, Whiteface and Aspen. This helped create a post-war ski boom that opened the previously elite sport to a broader demographic, as the division's alumni created ski schools and educational programming throughout the country. Clif Taylor, another 10th Division veteran wounded at Riva Ridge, designed shorter skis that made it easier for beginners to learn the sport, and soon Army surplus stores were selling thousands of pairs of skis at lower prices than their competitors.
The division's other alumni also founded outdoor gear brands like Gore-Tex, Vibram and Outdoor Research, creating backpacks, tents and other gear based on their cold-weather experiences in Italy. Another, Bill Bowerman, co-founded Nike. These men also summited K2; gave other brands feedback to develop more lightweight skis; and founded the National Outdoor Leadership School, a global wilderness organisation. In 1985, the division was reinstated at Fort Drum in New York, and served in Afghanistan, but its 'home' is still in the hills surrounding Vail." ~ BBC.com/travel.
For the full story on the 10th Division and their impact on Winter sports, read full article below.