Keeping skiing a family affair |

Keeping skiing a family affair

Randy Slinger, left, Lauren Fielding, Jen Fielding, Max Fielding, Jack Fielding, Steve Slinger and Christa Slinger make up a direct line of four generations of their family who are skiing in Snowmass this week. Steve came to Snowmass with his father, Dave, during the ski area's first season.
Jeremy Wallace/The Aspen Times |

They’ve never lived in the Roaring Fork Valley, but the Slinger family is uniquely tied to the history of Snowmass ski area.

A member of the family skied Snowmass the very first season it was open, and this week, four generations of the clan returned to ski it together once again.

Wisconsin native Dave Slinger first visited Snowmass with his son, Steve, in February 1968, midway through the new resort’s first season. After a tour of western ski resorts, Dave determined Snowmass was the place to be, bringing the rest of the family out and buying a condo at Lichenhearth a couple years later.

That condo was in the family for more than 10 years, and Dave has since died. The Slingers are scattered across the country now; Some are still based in Wisconsin, but Randy, Steve’s son, relocated to Boulder when his children were young, where they got heavily involved in ski racing and were often in the Roaring Fork Valley once again, so they bought a condo at The Crestwood.

Over the past few years, the family has met up in Lake Tahoe, California, so they decided to book a trip to Colorado this year. But conditions aside, Snowmass has a special meaning to them.

“This is where we’ve done so much skiing, and it’s a wonderful place to ski,” said Jim Slinger, Dave’s son and Steve’s brother. “If we’re just trying to ski, there’s always a closer place, but if we’re going to ski together, we all know Snowmass, and I remember when Dad first was telling me about it back in ’68. He was talking about the Burn.”

It’s rewarding to pass on a love of skiing to the next generation, especially if they catch the bug like his children did, Randy said. Jen Fielding, Randy’s daughter, now raises her three children in California, where her parents recently relocated. While her children won’t grow up skiing as much as she did, a trip to the mountains is still a regular occurrence and a passion for them.

Steve, now 80, and his wife, Christa, arrived a couple days ahead of the rest of the clan. That hasn’t slowed them down; they’ll ski a total of nine days before returning home to Wisconsin.

They have a routine they like to stick to on ski trips. Christa carries playing cards around with her, and every day after skiing, the family gathers to play games in the condo.

“Except over the weekend. We watched Wisconsin in the Final Four,” Steve said.

That routine has its roots in Dave, who even in the bitter cold of Wisconsin would take his sons to their hometown resort before the first chairlift started running. When Dave started spending more time at the Lichenhearth, he would run 2 miles every morning, board the first chairlift in the morning and the last one in the afternoon and then play a tennis match if he could find a partner, Jim said.

“And then he could play bridge in the evening or something like that,” Jim said.

The Slingers have many great memories and stories from their trips to Snowmass. When the Two Creeks chairlift first opened, Christa, Randy and his wife, Judy, arrived early to be the first to ever ride it. Local elected officials loaded ahead of them, but stopped in the restaurant at the top, and so the Slingers got first chair on the new high-speed quad on Elk Camp.

They agreed that this trip, though, might be one of the best.

“It was so awesome two days ago watching Steve and Christa and Jim ski, and then seeing my kids ski right by them,” Fielding said. “It’s incredible.”

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