President Gerald R. Ford - Sport Builder / Inspiration - 2001

Although a gifted athlete, President Gerald R. Ford looked more at home on the football field than he did the ski slope or golf course. When he skied, he was a little stiff-legged and when he golfed he was stiff-armed. Nevertheless, President Ford loved to ski both Vail and Beaver Creek and he spent the summers working on his golf handicap. No one did more for Vail and Beaver Creek in making the nation and world aware that Colorado was the place to ski. Thousands of skiers have ridden the Strawberry Park chair lift, knowing they were riding close to the home of a President of the United States.   Gerald R. Ford, a graduate of the University of Michigan, was born in Nebraska and grew up in Grand Rapids, Michigan. After receiving his under-graduate degree in Economics and Political Science, President Ford attended Yale University Law School, graduating in 1941. A gifted athlete, Ford received offers from two professional football teams, the Detroit Lions and the Green Bay Packers, but chose instead to take a coaching position at Yale. He served in the United States Navy for four years during World War II. After a brief stint practicing law in Grand Rapids, President Ford began his political career when he was elected to the United States House of Representatives in 1948. Gerald R. Ford became President of the United States on August 9, 1974 after President Richard Nixon resigned. He began a difficult tenure of healing the nation and stabilizing the economy. Since retiring from public issues and working for charitable organizations, President Ford resides between Rancho Mirage, California and Beaver Creek, Colorado.   Most of the charitable work that President Ford is involved in is right here in Colorado Associated with the American Enterprise Institute. In 1982 President Ford established the AEI World Forum, which he hosted annually in Vail/Beaver Creek, Colorado. This is an international gathering of former and current world leaders and business executives to discuss political and business policies impacting current issues. Ford was also responsible for raising successfully funds to build the Ford Amphitheater and the Betty Ford Alpine Gardens in Vail, both of which offer visitors to and residents of the State of Colorado a wonderful experience.   Gerald R. Ford was the 38th President of the United States and he became known as the first skiing president, putting Vail and Beaver Creek on the map as our country’s place to ski. In a round about way he was selling skiing in Colorado to the entire world. Gerald R. Ford started skiing back in 1939 in New England. In 1968 Ford vacationed in Colorado for the first time and the rest is history. Ford split his time between homes in Colorado and California. One of the many contributions Ford has made to the sport of skiing was his role in bringing two World Alpine Ski Championships to the State of Colorado. It was a major coup for the area to be awarded the event, giving Colorado a chance to promote ski racing in this country by taking one of the sport’s preeminent events, putting it in the forefront of national attention and showing the world the U.S. can hold a great ski race, twice in a ten year period.   Ford served on the board of the Vail Valley Foundation for over twenty years.  Ford’s contributions to the ski industry are numerous. He established the Ford Cup in Vail in 1982, which is now called the American Ski Classic. He created the Jerry Ford Invitational Golf Tournament that lured top golf professionals from around the country to come to Colorado, promoting Vail not only as a great winter destination but summer as well. This created an opportunity to raise funds that would be invested into the Vail community. President Ford was as an ambassador of sorts, promoting not only Vail but also Colorado and the great skiing throughout the state. (Deceased)