NASCAR’s Jimmie Johnson settling into new Aspen life
A successful stock-car driver is a master of the short, quick eye movement. And, according to seven-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson, that skill translates well to skiing.
“The biggest carry-over is just the eyes and what you are looking for,” Johnson said, comparing the two sports. “Your eyes and where your eyes go, line selection — there is a way to create the fastest turn in a car and you got to be committed to it, and it’s the same thing on skis.”
Johnson, well known for his prowess on asphalt, also is a bit of an aficionado when it comes to the snow. Friday at Aspen Mountain, Johnson showed off his racing ability — sans the 850-horsepower monster he has under the hood of his No. 48 Chevy — by taking part in his second Audi Ajax Cup, an annual ski-racing fundraiser that supports the Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club.
Dressed in a very patriotic jumpsuit, the California native and part-time Aspen resident wasn’t able to hoist any trophies in victory Friday, but his presence was undoubtedly a big boon for the AVSC. Johnson has two daughters — Genevieve, 6, and Lydia, 3 — both of whom are now part of the AVSC program.
And apparently both girls are adrenaline junkies, much like their father.
“My oldest daughter is very courageous and brave,” Johnson said. “She is ready to charge, which for the rest of her life she is pretty calm and mild. I have a young one and she is 3 and she is all over it and flying.”
Johnson, 41, was born near San Diego and learned to ski at Big Bear Mountain Resort, near Los Angeles. Skiing obviously took a backseat to his stock car career, where he ranks top-10 all time with 80 career victories. Not even two month ago, Johnson won his seventh NASCAR championship, tying him for first in the sport’s history with fellow racing legends Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt Sr.
Before he goes after his eighth championship, which would put him into a class of his own, Johnson and his family are happy to take the foot off the throttle a little bit and enjoy the quiet life in Aspen.
Johnson and his wife, Chandra, have visited Aspen for more than a decade and bought a house in town a few years ago. Along with the AVSC, the girls also will start attending school in the valley this week.
“Through AVSC and just the school life we are getting ready to embrace on Tuesday, it will kind of help us meet the families here in town and really kind of get into the community,” Johnson said. “We love the valley, the people, the environment, what this place makes us want to be. It’s a great deal.”
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Peter Arnold’s playing career ended after high school, but his time on the ice continues a few decades later. A longtime USA Hockey official and new Aspen resident, Arnold is searching for the next generation of hockey referees among the youth ranks here in the Roaring Fork Valley.