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Though often portrayed otherwise, the 38th president of the United States is arguably the finest athlete to occupy the Oval Office¿and undoubtedly its most accomplished skier. President Ford was a star tackle for the University of Michigan football team and started skiing while he was a student at Yale Law School. The Fords built one of Beaver Creek’s first homes in 1982, sparking the resort’s meteoric rise. The First Couple has spent five months a year there ever since. President Ford has been a force behind the Vail Valley Foundation, which organizes events from the World Alpine Ski Championships to concerts in his name-sake amphitheater. He was inducted into the Colorado Ski Hall of Fame this fall.
Born July 14, 1913
Inauguration “Back in 1939 in New England, we had wooden skis, no edges, ropetows and lots of ice.”
White House I In 1946, when he returned from serving in the Navy, President Ford and three friends built a ski house at Caberfae in northern Michigan. “It slept eight people and you had to walk 20 yards outside to get to the head.”
Ski Bug The sport drew the Ford family to Boyne Mountain in the late Fifties, and then to Sun Valley, Alta and finally to Vail for a Christmas vacation in 1968. “We fell in love with the Vail Valley and the skiing. We bought a three-bedroom condo at the Lodge at Vail, which we kept until the vice presidency. The Secret Service didn’t think it had adequate security.”
Pass The Skis “Skiing has meant a great deal to us. It’s the one time we get the whole family together. I really wanted all the grandchildren to be good skiers. I’m not that big on snowboarding, but that’s because I’m a traditionalist. I must admit though, a couple of them have become quite good at it (snowboarding).”