Linking Turns: The 10th Mountain Division and van accessories

Midwest Ski Journal likes to highlight a few pieces of skiing internet worth your time in Linking Turns. Find the best, most important, least important and otherwise links here each week. 

This week we take a look at two pieces dedicated to arguably the most important people in the history of American skiing in the 10th Mountain Division. Then, we look at a list that could help the van traveler in your life stay alive this winter.

TURN 1: The Nazi-Fighting Winter Soldiers Who Taught America to Ski (Olivia B. Waxman/Time Magazine)

In many ways, skiing’s popularity in North America is thanks to the U.S. Military.

This piece from a little publication called Time Magazine outlines the return of the 10th Mountain Division from World War II and how its soldiers spread throughout the mountains of the United States to champion skiing.

We don’t know whether they knew they would be pioneers for the sport or if they just wanted to find a way to keep skiing. Either way, their contributions are undeniable.

The following is a long paragraph, but gives you a sense of what these men did for skiing in the United States.

The most famous 10th Mountain veteran who contributed to the sports and footwear industry is Bill Bowerman, who later co-founded Nike. And he was far from alone. In terms of skiing specifically, fellow veteran Friedl Pfeifer helped develop the ski school at Aspen. Clif Taylor, who was also wounded during Riva Ridge, designed shorter skis that made it easier and faster for beginners to learn how to ski. Fritz Benedict was an architect who designed master plans for Vail, Snowmass and Breckenridge in the ’60s and ’70s. Walter Prager went from training the 10th Mountain Division troops to coaching a few of them on the 1948 U.S. Olympics team. Outdoor sportswear brand Gerry is named after 10th veteran Gerry Cunningham, who is also known for perfecting nylon backpacks with zippers. Tenth Mountain vets gave Howard Head feedback on more light-weight skis he was developing, which turned into the brand that bears his name. And Pete Seibert founded the Vail ski resort in the Colorado Rockies, about 20 miles from Camp Hale where the 10th Mountain Division trained; he even named a ski run after Riva Ridge.

Olivia Waxman (Time Magazine)

TURN 2: Climb to Conquer: The Untold Story of World War II’s 10th Mountain Division Ski Troops (Peter Shelton)

I highly recommend reading the Time article, but it’s really just a taste of what the 10th Mountain Division was all about. The story is remarkable.

If you want to read more, I highly suggest Peter Shelton’s book. It spares no detail in how the 10th Mountain Division came to be, how it executed in action and how it proliferated our favorite sport across the western hemisphere.

Peter Shelton/Scribner Publishing

The stories Shelton unearthed about the grueling training, the not-so-grueling down time and the skiing adventures shared by the soldiers are mesmerizing. If you can wade through some of the military jargon at the beginning of the book like I did, you’re in for a treat.

TURN 3: 9 Perfect Gifts for the Van Dweller in Your Life (Aaron Gulley/Outside Magazine)

Stepping away from the first two militaristic turns and into the transient life with this list of van accessories that could ease your next road trip.

Vans get you to the goods, plain and simple.

Van travel has exploded in the ski world since the advent of the multi-mountain season passes, so a van trip may be in your future.

This list has a National Park pass, instant coffee, mapping technology, bed pads and more. It could make the nomad in your life a little more comfortable while on the road this winter.

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