Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Winterskol - Aspen Event’s Rich History

Aspen Winterskol 2007 - Blowing Off Some Steam!
Aspen Winterskol 2007 - Blowing Off Some Steam! (Photo credit: richpalpine)
Now that the winter holidays have officially passed, it’s time to look forward to one of the most anticipated and fun Aspen events of the entire ski season, Winterskol - a celebration of "Aspen's unique Nordic lifestyle".

This exciting annual winter carnival in the internationally renowned ski resort town of Aspen, Colorado, started as an attempt to bring people into the town during an annual lull in business during the 3 weeks after Christmas. 


Aspen Winterskol Annual Highlights

Specific Winterskol activities in Aspen and Snowmass have varied from year to year (and decade to decade) depending on the mood and interests of the times, but these are some of the mainstay Winterskol events in recent years (list information provided by the Aspen Chamber Resort Association):

- Torchlight ski descent down Aspen Mountain and related fireworks show

- Wintersculpt: An "intense 48 hour snow sculpture competition"

- Soupsköl: "a soup-cooking contest judged by the public to determine what restaurant has the best soup in town and it gives the winner bragging rights for the next year!"

- Canine Fashion Show!

- Broomball Tournament

- Apple Strudel Downhill at Aspen Highlands – Free to everyone and “All participants receive complimentary apple strudel with whipped cream, a drink, and bragging rights at finish line!”

- Mad Hatter's Ball at the Wheeler Opera House:“The resurrection of an adored "pastime," The Mad Hatter's Ball!  Aspen History 101 attendees redeem your student ID card, good for a discounted drink special. Wear your best --and craziest—hat.” - aspenhistory.pastperfect-online.com

- Fat Cycle Challenge: New this year, this event will feature fat tire bike racers competing on the snow-packed trails of the Holden/Marolt Open Space. Open to both competitive and recreational riders.

Aspen Winterskol Events That Have Come and Gone

Sadly, some of the most fun and entertaining Winterskol events in Aspen have disappeared due to the changing nature of the town and its visitors – and because of the liability involved. Here are several of these events:

- Snow motocross race: What a muddy mess – but really fun to watch (and participate in, I assume)

- Winterskol Ski Splash in  Snowmass village:”…a wild and crazy event featuring acrobatic and sometimes costumed ski jumpers leaping into a heated swimming pool..” -

- Aspen Winterskol Parade: Perhaps the most conspicuous missing Winterskol event, the parade was always entertaining and frequently irreverent – might be why it’s no longer with us. The trash can lid wielding, snowball chucking Gentlemen of Aspen Rugby team float was always a big hit with the crowd – hmm… might be another reason the parade is no longer part of the agenda.

My fondest personal memory of Winterskol (aside from the annual snowball fights with the rugby team float) was being in the parade, pulling my little fake-bandaged “Canine Calamity” dog, Johnny, in a wagon behind me after placing second in the Canine Costume Contest sometime in the early 1970’s.

Aspen Winterskol Kings, Queens and Slogans Through the years

For the curious, here’s a list of past Winterskol Kings, Queens and slogans:

Past Winterskol Kings & Queens:

2013: Travis McLain & Susan Cross

2012: Ted & Christy Mahon

2011: Sam Ferguson & Marie Munday

2010: Kurt Bresnitz & Jackie Kasabach

2009: Marian & Ralph Melville

2008: Eve Homeyer & Mead Metcalf

2007: Helen Klanderud & David Walbert

2006: Tom & Carolyn Moore

2005: Leonard & Bamby Patterson

2004: Gretchen Bleiler & Steele Spence

2003: Casey Puckett & Alberta Moore

2002: Lenny Weinglass & Jayne Poss

2001: (50th Anniversary) : Jack Depagter (Founder of Wintersköl) & Ellie Spence (1st Winterskol Queen)

2000: Neil Bidelman & Gretl Uhl

1999: Amanda Boxtell & Chris Klug

1998: Klaus Obermeyer & Allison Scott

1997: Miggs & Dick Durrance

1990: George& Mary Gleason

1987: Monica Lange

1986: Susan Frailey

1985: Linda Zarek

1981: Annie Olson

1970: Sue Smedstad

1968: Erika Brunar

1964: Bridget Bagley now Mrs. Robert Kerr

1959: Bente Larssen now Mrs. Eric Lawrence

1951: Ellie Whitten (Spence)

Previous Winterskol slogans:

2014: “Locally Grown, Internationally Known”

2013: “Vintage Spirit”

2012: Originally, “To Die For”, but this was too sensitive so it became “Seize the Summit.”

2011: “A Cut Above the Rest,”

2010: “Epic Steeps and Decades Deep”

2009: “Powder Days & Stellar Nights!”

2008: “Some Like it Hot”

2007: "From Aspen With Love,"

2006: “Winter Fun Since 1951”

2004: "Un4gettable,"

2003 - "Old sköl, new sköl, Wintersköl."

2002: “Go for the Gold —It’s Winterskol!”

2001: ?? Can’t believe I can’t find it!

2000:  “Think Globally, Celebrate Locally”

For a full list of this year’s Aspen Winterskol events, please visit the Aspen Chamber Resort Association’s website: http://www.aspenchamber.org/calendar-of-events/annual-special-events/winterskol/
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