In addition to the greater losses surrounding his death, it is sad that President John F. Kennedy never had the opportunity to ski the slopes that his administration helped to fund. Hopefully his children, who we know enjoyed the sport, were proud of the way their dad's legacy nurtured a shrinking mining town and turned it into a prospering community that still treasures the values that Kennedy championed: active lifestyles, concern for the environment and a focus on the future.
This weekend, as Park City Mountain Resort (PCMR) opens for its 50th ski season with a fresh layer of snow, is a great opportunity to reflect on the leap of faith it took for a community to shed its reliance on mining and take a chance on a glamorous new pastime.
It may seem like an obvious choice in hindsight but, at the time, skiing was just catching on in America and plenty of Parkites were betting the mining industry would make a comeback. What a different place this would be if not for those early visionaries.
As it has from the beginning, Park City Mountain Resort is still setting fresh tracks in an industry that continues to evolve. The resort, back when it was known as Park City Ski Area jumped into the World Cup arena with both feet bringing the prestigious circuit to Park City, paving the way for an eventual Olympic bid. (There are still residents who proudly sport their America's Opening jackets and who remember the nail biting (and hard work) that preceded each of those thrilling World Cup events.)
A few years and a name change later, PCMR once again took a leadership role by making environmental stewardship a common goal among members of the National Association of Ski Areas and it was among the first ski resorts in the country to acknowledge the potential impact of climate change and to champion a proactive approach to "save our snow."
PCMR further embellished its entrepreneurial spirit by embracing the nascent sport of snowboarding. The resort cemented its role as an early adopter by hosting the Olympics' snowboard venue in 2002. Since then the resort has taught us all a whole new vocabulary highlighted by halfpipes, alley-oops, corks and twists.
This week, PCMR offered Park City another glimpse at the future, unveiling plans for a new year-round active sports center at its base. Though still in the planning stages, PCMR sees Camp Woodward as another way to ensure its recreational offerings continue to contribute to the community's economic growth.
Park City could have clung to its roots as a mining town, but today we are confident most would agree that it's better to stash those memories in a museum case. We are grateful for those who bet on an industry that put us on top of, instead of underneath, our beautiful mountains.