Aside from establishing a ski resort within a short drive of Colorado’s most populous city in 1937, perhaps the smartest decision founder Al Bennett ever made was to sell Loveland Ski Tow Inc. to investors in 1955. And perhaps the smartest thing those people ever did, aside from replacing four antiquated rope tows (one powered by a Model T engine) with modern chairlifts, was to hire children’s book illustrator Garth Williams to render a mascot for the resort.
At the pinnacle of his career—animating best sellers from E.B. White’s Stuart Little and Charlotte’s Web to Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House series—Williams had relocated from New York City to Aspen, where he was happy to lend his fountain pen to local jobs. For a 1960s poster advertising Fred Iselin’s Aspen Highlands ski school, for example, Williams surrounded a photograph of the beaming instructor with adorable watercolor bunnies on skis. For Loveland Ski Area, he evoked the style of a stained-glass window to render not bunnies, but an acrobatic jester with helicoptered skis doing a handstand on crossed poles.
Fast-forward a half-century, to Loveland’s seventy-fifth season. Ask anybody at the resort to name the icons who define Loveland’s history, and three names come up again and again: Al Bennett (remembered for heroically lugging cans of gas between those rope tows), Chet Upham (the investor who befriended Williams in Aspen, then purchased and dramatically upgraded the resort in the early 1970s), and Loveland Guy.
Bennett and Upham are no longer of this world, but Loveland Guy (or “Dude” to riders) certainly is, especially well represented in the resort’s ski shop, where LG, like Charlotte’s Web, is a perennial best seller. He’s doing a handstand on the tips of the few remaining pairs of $799 limited-edition Loveland skis that Icelantic produced for the anniversary. And he’s showboating on the hand-carved commemorative taps at Loveland’s Rathskeller bar and down the highway in Idaho Springs at Tommyknocker Pub, which brewed a seventy-fifth anniversary Pine Bough Ale. (Its spruce undertones come compliments of pine needles gathered on the slopes of the resort.)
Loveland’s may not be the highest-profile anniversary in the Rockies this year, as Vail splashily celebrates its fiftieth. But aside from twenty-five years’ seniority, Loveland folks can claim a sharp edge on the resort up the road.
“Vail? I don’t think they have an anniversary ski, and I don’t know that they have an anniversary beer,” says ski shop manager Sue Booker, who’s in her third decade as a Loveland employee. And they certainly don’t have Loveland Guy.
“He’s everywhere,” says Booker, awaiting delivery of the latest anniversary tchotchke: Loveland Guy beer steins. How better to toast the seventy-fifth?
Loveland’s 75th Anniversary Birthday Bash
On January 12, Loveland Ski Area will celebrate its diamond anniversary with two-for-one $75 adult lift tickets and $75 ski-school packages; free birthday cake at the Basin Cafeteria and a barbecue for season pass holders at Ptarmigan Roost Cabin (both events from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.); and an après party that kicks off at 2 p.m. at the Rathskeller, with live music and an appearance by Tommyknocker’s brewmaster, offering samples of anniversary ale in commemorative Loveland Guy pint glasses. skiloveland.com