King of the Officers
The winter sports season for most Snowmass locals ended late last spring, but for Snowmass police officer Brian Vanderpool some of his best ski days weren’t until late this summer.
That’s when Vanderpool, a Parachute-native who just celebrated his eighth anniversary with the Snowmass Police Department, competed in the Australian Police Winter Games in Victoria, Australia — and was crowned the “King of the Mountain.”
“I was totally surprised, it kind of caught me off guard,” Vanderpool said of winning the title.
Vanderpool competed against Australian police officers from Jul. 29 to Aug. 1 at the Falls Creek Alpine Resort, winning the giant slalom race by tenths of a second and placing well in other races, which he said earned him the “King of the Mountain” award.
Although it was the first time winning this title, it wasn’t the first time Vanderpool has trekked to the Land Down Under for the annual winter games.
He said his international law enforcement ties and ski-racing career in both the U.S. and abroad started just after he became a Snowmass police officer and took part in the North American Police Ski Championships, which were held in Snowmass and mainly raised money for the U.S. Winter Special Olympics.
“I want to say it was 2017 when this team of Australians came over for the championships and I befriended them,” Vanderpool recalled. “They were like hey, we have our games, the Australian Police Winter games, you should come to Australia for them.”
And in summer 2018, Vanderpool and a Pitkin County deputy did just that, representing the U.S. and the Roaring Fork Valley at the longest continuing winter police competition in the world.
Vanderpool said skiing in Australia is very different than what he’s used to in Aspen-Snowmass, featuring more rolling hills, gum trees and low elevation — but beautiful all the same.
“The chance to ski in another country and travel really interested me, and to have the chance to hang out with a bunch of cops, which is actually a lot more fun than it sounds,” Vanderpool said, laughing. “We’re always looking to give back in certain ways however we can and it’s just a cool way to go out and ski and do a charity event. You can’t do two better things.”
Since he met the Australian police officers over two years ago, Vanderpool said he’s kept in constant contact with them through various group chats, and has even planned road trips in both countries with his good friend Amy Frost, an Australian police officer better known as “Frosty.”
Vanderpool said he definitely plans to return to the Australia winter games next summer to defend his “King of the Mountain” title, but also to visit his friends. He never thought he’d make international law enforcement connections as a Snowmass police officer, but said he is extremely thankful that he has.
“To have that many good friends on the other side of the world because of a cop ski race? It’s pretty cool,” Vanderpool said.