Experienced Aspen: Don’t let go
Irma Prodinger came to Aspen for the skiing, which has led to making the best choices in her life
Editor’s note: This feature is one in a series we call “Experienced Aspen,” a special section recognizing the life and experiences of Aspen’s most well-rounded citizens. For more, go to the B-Section of our Dec. 22 electronic edition.
As a native of Austria, if Irma Prodinger says the skiing in Aspen is good, rest assured it’s pretty darn good. Like most Austrians, when she moved stateside all those decades ago, it was ingrained in her DNA that Austria had the best snow in the world.
But it’s difficult to beat Colorado powder.
“It’s excellent,” Prodinger said in a very heavy Austrian accent that has not faded. “They have good snow over there, but it’s warmer so they don’t have this light stuff for as long. The powder day doesn’t last more than a day. The snow here is the best anywhere.”
Prodinger’s ski days are mostly behind. She moved to Aspen in 1961 at age 27 and for 36 years ran the Hearthstone House Lodge, a bed and breakfast located on the edge of downtown Aspen, before selling it and retiring.
One of six hardworking children, Prodinger’s mother came from an Austrian farming family and it was her father who got the family into the travel and lodging business. She grew up in an Austrian ski town and the family had a small inn beginning in the 1950s, the start of a long career in the industry.
Her fascination with Aspen came about after it hosted the 1950 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships, which effectively put the small mining town on the world’s ski map.
“Growing up, we knew nothing about the world except skiing. When there was another race somewhere in the world, we knew about it. Skiing was our life,” Prodinger said. “I am one of those addicts. Aspen, it really gets to you somehow. I find it’s the best place. I made the best choice in my life.”
Prodinger moved to Aspen with a friend and they went into business together. Her sister, who currently lives in Basalt, followed her to the valley. Getting into the travel and hospitality business here in Aspen was a no-brainer for someone who already had extensive knowledge of the industry through her family’s businesses in Austria.
“The Hearthstone, I enjoyed it,” Prodinger said. “Getting ahead and getting comfortable was very important. I still to this day think it’s important for young people to find what they want to do and can do and stick with it and keep going.”
Prodinger is living a fairly quiet life these days in Aspen. Other than her sister, she doesn’t have her own family in the valley but has plenty of help and has been able to avoid any unnecessary interactions with people since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.
At peace with her decision nearly six decades ago to move to Aspen, Prodinger’s advice for the younger generation hoping to replicate her success and prosperity in life is to work for it. Her parents instilled that hardworking mentality into all six of their children and it led to long, successful careers for each of them.
“Working was important to my parents and everybody. That was the only way we could live. But also when I was here people always wondered, why did I work so hard? Well, that was important. Stick with it, stick it out and work a little harder. Don’t let go,” Prodinger said of finding success. “It’s not coming from anywhere. You are the one. You are the one who makes it possible.”
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