Michelle Obama's Vail visit continues rich skiing history dating back to Ford, Clinton, Princess Diana

By David O. Williams
Real AspenFebruary 19, 2011
First lady Michelle Obama and her daughters Malia and Sasha are skiing Vail Mountain today, according to several sources and local reports. President Barack Obama reportedly did not accompany his family to Vail for the Presidents Day Weekend.

Vail has a long history of hosting powerful political figures on skiing vacation, dating back to the 1970s when the late President Gerald R. Ford made Vail his western White House. He later became a Vail Valley fixture when he purchased a home in the nearby resort of Beaver Creek.
Michelle Obama in action in the classroom.
White House file photo
In the 1990s, Vail saw a series of high-profile leaders either on its slope during the winter months or for summer vacations. The late Princess Diana skied Vail in the early 1990s, setting off a skiing paparazzi frenzy, and President Bill Clinton also visited Vail during that same time period – but to play golf.

Vice President Dan Quayle learned to snowboard at Vail during the first Bush administration, and Clinton Vice President Al Gore made several trips to the Vail Valley, including to ski. Gore was in Aspen Friday evening, discussing the connection between global climate change and the mountain pine bark beetle epidemic that has killed millions of acres of pines trees in Colorado.

George W. Bush Vice President Dick Cheney frequently visited Beaver Creek during the summer for the conservative think tank the AEI World Forum, started by Ford. Cheney several years ago was accosted there by a Denver man angered by the Iraq war. Obama Vice President Joe Biden visited Vail for a skiing vacation last ski season.

According to the Vail Daily, Michelle Obama took her daughters to Ski Liberty in Pennsylvania last season. That was Malia and Sasha's first ski trip. President Obama reportedly is not a skier.


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