Woman who named Snowmass’ Fanny Hill more than 50 years ago recalls story | AspenTimes.com

Woman who named Snowmass’ Fanny Hill more than 50 years ago recalls story

Erica Robbie
Snowmass Sun
Mary Jo Kaplan of New York stands on Snowmass' Fanny Hill run, which she named more than 50 years ago, just two months prior to the ski resort's opening.
Erica Robbie/Snowmass Sun |

In the late 1960s, 17-year-old Mary Jo Kaplan of Minneapolis submitted a name into a contest held by the ad agency where her mother worked.

The client was Aspen Skiing Corp., the game was to name the trails at Snowmass Ski Area (which would open two months later), and Kaplan’s entry was “Fanny Hill.”

Kaplan, who now resides in New York, skied at Snowmass — and on the slope she named a half a century ago — the weekend of Feb. 10 for the first time in more than 25 years.

Coincidentally, Kaplan’s last visit to Snowmass was in 1990 while promoting the film, “Mermaids,” per the request of its star, Cher, who owned a home at Mclain Flats.

“When it was clear I had won (the contest in 1967), my mother told me by saying, ‘Your fanny is immortal,’” Kaplan said in Snowmass Village Feb. 9. “And it sure seems to be.”

Kaplan, an executive producer at Showtime network, said it was her mother, Helene, who encouraged her to enter the Name the ski trail” contest.

Helene was a copywriter at the ad agency Campbell-Mithun in Minneapolis, and her colleagues in the Denver office were working with Aspen Skiing Corp.

Kaplan’s logic behind the name was simple: The contest indicated that the slope was for beginners, so she figured skiers would fall onto their fannies.

“That was it,” Kaplan said, with a laugh. “You just throw those sort of things out there.”

Her mother later told her that the name was a double-entendre, as Fanny Hill — or “Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure” — also is an erotic British novel from the 1740s.

It seems the executives at Aspen Skiing Corp. didn’t mind the name’s origins or had a sense of humor on the matter because “Fanny Hill” ruled all.

The contest prize was a week’s lift ticket to ski at Aspen-Snowmass courtesy of Aspen Skiing Crop.

“So the family packed up and off we went to Snowmass to cash in on my prize,” Kaplan recalled.

A newsletter from the ad agency Oct. 27, 1967 — less than two months before Snowmass’ grand opening — announced the winners.

“The Aspen Skiing Corp. has made a final selection of trail names for the giant Snowmass-at-Aspen complex. As you will recall, a number of (Campbell-Mithun) hopefuls entered the contest to name these trails,” the statement read. “Probably Norm Brown, genial contest coordinator from (Campbell-Mithun) Denver, said it best when he remarked, ‘Several C-Mers will now have a place in history.’”

Along with Fanny Hill, the names Timberline, Pine Needle, Fast Draw, Wineskin, Option and Lunchline also were part of the 1967 contest.

But perhaps no run is more iconic in Snowmass Village than Fanny Hill.

Situated at the heart of the ski area, the slope often serves as skiers’ and snowboarders’ starting point each day and is as popular in the summer as in the winter.

“Everyone knows what Fanny Hill is,” said Snowmass Tourism public relations coordinator Sara Stookey. “We have the concerts there in the summer, and in the winter it’s the thoroughfare down the hill.”

While riding the Village Express lift during her visit, Kaplan said, “it was pretty funny to look down and see Fanny Hill” between her skis more than 50 years later.