Top 5 Lines from ‘Aspen Extreme’

Two guys from Detroit quit their jobs and move to Aspen to become ski instructors. Quickly, T.J. Burke ascends the ranks as the most popular member of ski school, while Dexter Rutecki stumbles and debates running drugs. T.J. is pursued by the ’90s version of a cougar (Brice) while he actually falls for Aspen’s good-looking radio host, Robin. In between they navigate the nuances of a town that’s juggling its glamorous reputation and struggling working class.

The cult classic ski-bum flick may not be the quintessential Aspen story, but it’s close (and still experienced by some). Here are our five favorite lines, but you can choose your own when it screens Tuesday, Jan. 26 at the Isis Theatre:

  1.  “Skiing’s the easy part, Carl.”
  2. Dexter Rutecki: “These guys are good, Teej.”
    T.J. Burke: “Yeah, but they’re not from Detroit.”
  3. “Smell that? Winter’s coming.”
  4. “This is Aspen, things are always different.”
  5. “Dream big or don’t dream at all baby.”

The Aspen Historical Society screens “Aspen Extreme” at the Isis Theatre (406 E. Hopkins Ave.) on Tuesday, Jan. 26 at 5:30 p.m. The 1993 movie kicks off the nonprofit’s winter film series. In the following weeks, AHS will present newly digitized ski-focused films from the ‘40s, ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s, and then wrap up with “Skiing Everest,” a 2009 film showcasing the mountaineering endeavors of the Marolt brothers, Steve and Mike, fourth-generation Aspenites. Tickets are $10 each, or a season pass is available for $50.



Legendary Skier Stein Eriksen Passes Away

Skiing legend and iconic Aspen figure Stein Eriksen passed away at age 88 on Sunday in Park City, Utah, where he had lived for more than 35 years. He was the director of skiing at Deer Valley resort, and a five-star, mid-mountain lodge was named in his honor there. In Aspen, he was the ski school director at Aspen Highlands (beginning in 1958) and Snowmass (from 1967 to 1973), and had a multiple retail shops. There are tributes to him around town, including a ski run named after him on Highlands.



Eriksen rose to prominence at the 1952 Winter Olympics in his hometown of Oslo when he captured gold in the giant slalom and silver in the slalom. Two years later, he won three gold medals at the world championships in Are, Sweden. The charismatic Eriksen became the face of the sport and portrayed it in a new, exciting way. He could perform all sorts of stunts on skis, including somersaults — an early prelude to the tricks in freestyle skiing. He became an honored member of the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame in 1982.

Eriksen is survived by his wife, Francoise; son, Bjorn; three daughters, Julianna, Ava and Anja; and five grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his son, Stein Jr.

According to the Aspen Daily News, plans for a local memorial service will be announced at a later time. Stein’s band of merry Norwegian instructors intend on toasting Eriksen when they ring in the Norwegian new year at 4 p.m. on Thursday at Turks, site of the former Mountain Dragon in Snowmass Village.


Stein Eriksen. Photo: Bil Dunaway, Aspen Historical Society collection.

‘Steve Jobs’ and His Aspen Connection

“Steve Jobs,” the movie, is all the chatter right now. The biography about the co-founder of Apple hits national theaters on Friday, but is already receiving a decent amount of buzz and acclaim after its limited release two weeks ago.

Why do we care in Aspen? Because of the little girl pictured below. In the movie, she plays Lisa, Jobs’ daughter. In her hand is what became known  as the “Lisa mouse,” the first commercial computer mouse which created an interface between the user and the graphics on the screen.

In 1983, Jobs attended the International Design Conference in Aspen. During it, he gave a speech that predicted things like accessing electronic mail from the palm of your hand. (This was even prior to “Back to the Future,” which, coincidentally time traveled to Oct. 21, 2015–a threshold we cross tomorrow.). After the speech, he dropped his personal Lisa mouse into a time capsule which was buried on the Aspen Institute campus. Two years ago, the capsule was unearthed by National Geographic’s “Diggers” team, and the Aspen Historical Society assumed possession of its artifacts. In it? The mouse! It’s currently on display as part of our Bests, Firsts & Worsts: Aspen in Objects exhibition. You can hear excerpts from Jobs’ speech and see the actual mouse at the Wheeler/Stallard Museum, Tuesdays through Saturdays from 1-5 p.m.

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Buy Your Berko


It’s that time of year, when friends of the Aspen Historical Society can pre-purchase the annual Ferenc Berko calendar for a discounted price. The acclaimed photographer was an Aspen icon, and an iconic Aspen photographer. He was the official shooter for the Aspen Institute and Aspen Music Festival and School during both organizations’ formative years. His images are poetry.

Calendars are $22. After Oct. 31 the price increases to $31. To place order, please call Travis at (970)925-3721 ext. 107 or email [email protected]. You will receive your calendar in time for the holidays.

Aspen Sessions: Nina Gabianelli

Who was Goethe and why do we talk about the “Mind, Body & Spirit” of Aspen? Our own Nina Gabianelli shares during an “Aspen Session.”



Aspen in Objects: Bump, Set, Spike

Motherlode Volleyball Tournament Poster from 1975

On Labor Day weekend in 1972, Howard Ross and Gordon Whitmer from Newport Beach, Calif., decided to host a volleyball tournament for their friends. The co-owners of the Motherlode Restaurant needed a volleyball “fix.” They set up courts in Wagner Park, brought a keg of beer and a grill, and played. Little did they know that their 14-team tournament would become one of the largest pro-am beach doubles volleyball tournaments in the country.

In the early years of the tournament the bartenders at the restaurant took the registrations; one waiter helped organize it and another waiter was in charge of the T-shirts. By 1981, the Motherlode Volleyball Classic supplanted Boulder’s Colorado Open as the largest event in Colorado. It was getting too big for the restaurant to handle. They hired local volleyball aficionado Leon Fell to handle the event.  The Motherlode now has over 700 teams that come to Aspen to participate and celebrate what Volleyball Magazine called “the social event of the outdoor volleyball season.”

Bests, Firsts & Worsts: Aspen in Objects explores the area’s unique history  told through more than 90 artifacts, each with its own tale that sheds light on the Aspen valley’s bright — and dark — times. The exhibition is open Tuesday through Saturday from 1-5 p.m. at the Wheeler/Stallard Museum, 620 W. Bleeker St.

Aspen in Objects: Load of Bricks


The 500,000 reclaimed historic bricks purchased by the City of Aspen to surface Aspen’s mall were manufactured around 1900 for streets in St. Louis, Missouri. The mall only needed 320,000 bricks. The extra 180,000 were stored to be used for repairs and in case the mall was ever expanded.




In reaction to businesses moving out of downtown areas to suburban indoor malls, Governor John Love signed the Colorado Public Mall Act into law in 1970, allowing municipalities to close off downtown streets. But the situation in Aspen was different. The citizens of Aspen wanted the mall to improve the downtown experience. Business owners were actually against the idea.

In 1972 Aspen’s downtown suffered from traffic congestion, air pollution and treacherous streets. A group of high school students spearheaded the effort to mall the downtown area. Aspen voters approved a 1 percent sales tax for the mall in November 1972 raising $78,000 for construction and maintenance. The permanent mall, including streams, playgrounds, fountains, trees and historic bricks, replaced the temporary mall in September, 1976.

Bests, Firsts & Worsts: Aspen in Objects explores the area’s unique history  told through more than 90 artifacts, each with its own tale that sheds light on the Aspen valley’s bright — and dark — times. The exhibition is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Wheeler/Stallard Museum, 620 W. Bleeker St.

FAQs: Land Use Application

The Aspen Historical Society has applied with the city of Aspen to subdivide its property at 620 W. Bleeker St. in order to limit development potential on the majority of the newly created parcel. AHS is seeking create Transferable Development Rights (TDRs) from 3,000 of the developable square feet, which would sterilize that area from development into the future. AHS also seeks to reserve 1,080 square feet to potentially be used for affordable housing in the future. In an effort to help everyone understand the application, here are answers to some frequently asked questions:

Are you planning to sell off part of your property?
No. We plan to keep our property intact.

Are you planning to build on your property? 
Not at this time. We are seeking approval to retain 1,080 square feet of development rights so that we could potentially build a small affordable housing duplex in the future. We currently have no plans to build the housing and may never do it, but we believe it would be shortsighted to give up all the development rights on that part of the property. If we did build affordable housing on the 1,080 square feet in the future, it would be used for our employees or visiting curators. Access would be via the current driveway. As everyone is aware, affordable housing is a constant challenge in Aspen. We currently have no affordable housing for our employees, unlike some nonprofits that house large percentages of their staffs. Anything we might build in the future would have to go through the requisite approval processes—HPC, etc.

Will you actually divide the property? 
We will not be creating any physical division (fence, etc.) of the lot. The split into two lots is “on paper” only and will not change the appearance of the property.

What are you going to do with the split lots? 
The new lot would be 9,000 square feet, which would yield 4,080 developable square feet. We are asking that 3,000 of the developable square feet be sterilized from development potential and converted to TDRs, which means we could not develop them but could sell those development rights in the future as a fundraising mechanism.

Why is the Historical Society applying for this right now?
Like any nonprofit, the Aspen Historical Society is continually looking for ways to raise money. By preserving the land through the creation of 12 TDRs, the Historical Society will gain TDRs that it could sell as necessary to fund projects and ensure the society’s success into the future, as determined by its Board of Trustees. For example, the Board could choose to sell some TDRs over time to build AHS’s endowment. TDRs move square footage allocations from areas where building is discouraged to parcels where it is encouraged through the sale of allowable square footage. TDRs are sold on the free market, but TDR requests must be approved by local governance.

Why do you need this funding source if you already receive public funds?
The Aspen Historical Society currently receives .3 mill from a special tax district in Pitkin County. We are grateful for this funding. But this voter-approved funding source was never meant to be our sole source of income, and AHS must raise and earn money to completely fund all its historic sites, collections, education, programming, and events. Any additional money received from the sale of TDRs would be used as directed by AHS’s Board of Trustees, for example, to build AHS’s endowment or fund special projects.

How will this change the park and grounds that are there now? 
Our grounds are one of our greatest assets, and a source of revenue through rentals. We don’t want to compromise our beautiful grounds as it would not be in our own or the community’s best interest to do so. Immediately, it won’t change a thing. In the future, a very small 1,080-square-foot structure could be built on the northwest corner of the grounds with little impact on the park and grounds as a whole. That area is adjacent to our driveway and garbage collection area and is not used for events.

How can I get more information or comment on this application? 
Don’t hesitate to call Kelly Murphy, AHS President/CEO at 925-3721. The application was on the July 27, 2015 City Council agenda for public comment, but the public comment has been postponed to a date TBD. Check our website, the City Council website, or give us a call at 925-3721 for an updated schedule.


Aspen in Objects: The First Car Comes to Town



Ted Cooper brought the first automobile to Aspen. Cooper bought the 1906 Buick Model F in Denver for $1,350. It took three days for Cooper, Tom Flynn and a hired chauffeur to make the trip to Aspen. Cooper telegraphed his father along the drive complaining about the rainy weather and difficult roads. His father telegraphed back “sell vehicle, come home.” The two young men drove the 22 horse-power automobile into Aspen on August 4, 1906. The Aspen Democrat-Times crowed “Watch for the automobile today and reach over and pat yourself on the back as Aspen is becoming metropolitiznized!”

Bests, Firsts & Worsts: Aspen in Objects explores the area’s unique history  told through more than 90 artifacts, each with its own tale that sheds light on the Aspen valley’s bright — and dark — times. The exhibition is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Wheeler/Stallard Museum, 620 W. Bleeker St.

Aspen in Objects: Silver Nugget



This little piece of solid silver came from the largest silver nugget ever mined in the United States. It weighed 1,853 pounds and had to be cut into three pieces to be removed from the Smuggler Mine in 1894. It assayed at 96 percent pure silver. Unfortunately for mine owner, David Hyman, the nugget was mined after the Silver Panic of 1893, which triggered a large drop in the price of silver.

Bests, Firsts & Worsts: Aspen in Objects explores the area’s unique history  told through more than 90 artifacts, each with its own tale that sheds light on the Aspen valley’s bright — and dark — times. The exhibition is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Wheeler/Stallard Museum, 620 W. Bleeker St.