Panda Pride: On the Slopes, and Gridiron!
As the seasonal calendar firmly turns to winter at 10,200 feet, it’s time to talk snow! From snowshoeing to skiing and boarding, it’s time to swap out the gear! Tomorrow, December 9, Ski Cooper marks its Opening Day for the 2017/18, with season pass holders chomping at the bit to get in those first turns of the season!
But before that happens, Leadville Today wanted to bring your this story about a cool local connection with a big rivalry football game that will also be taking place on Saturday. Fans who will be watching the combative Army vs Navy football game will no doubt hear sportscasters discussing the special patches which will be displayed on the Army uniforms (and cleats!). Look closely, because it’s a tribute to Leadville’s beloved 10th Mountain Division!
“Our team is honored to represent the soldiers of the 10th Mountain Division this Saturday in Philadelphia,” Army’s head coach Jeff Monken said. “As a team, we take pride in remembering and honoring those that have come before us. To be aligned with such a great division of the United States Army that has fought on some of the harshest terrain in the world, makes this opportunity special and there is no better way to show our appreciation than to wear their patches for the greatest rivalry in all of sports.”
The shoulder patch on the uniforms will feature the familiar insignia which displays a blue background with crossed bayonets to denote the infantry and represents the Roman numeral 10 for the unit’s number. The patch is shaped like a powder keg and the word “mountain” is featured in white on a blue tab. The all-white jerseys include the division crest and references to their origins in Pando and Camp Hale, Colo., where soldiers used a panda bear as a mascot. A similar bear will appear on the team’s Nike cleats.
As many LT readers may know, the Army’s 10th Mountain Division was created in Colorado in 1943. They trained near Leadville at Camp Hale, which also contained parts of what is presently know as Ski Cooper Resort. The 10th Mountain Division was the only unit in the Army’s history to be organized specifically during World War II for mountain and winter warfare. The highly regarded 10th played a major role in the battles that brought about the surrender of the German Army in Italy in 1945. After the war, the Division was deactivated and many of the Veterans went on to create ski resorts across America, including among others, Vail and Aspen. Veterans of the 10th were instrumental in making skiing a major American winter sport.
The new insignias, which will be worn by Army players on Saturday are fine tributes of honor to this unique division that has a special place in Leadville history. In fact, the new patch couldn’t come at a better time as Ski Cooper has officially rolled out its new mascot for its Children’s Ski Program – The Panda! That’s right in case you missed his debut appearance in the Parade of Lights, skiers and boarders to Leadville’s ski hill will have lots of opportunity to meet the big, friendly bear this season.
In addition, as part of Ski Cooper’s 75th Anniversary in 2018, a variety of special events are planned to mark the occasion and celebrates its history throughout the ski season, which opens December 9 and closes on April 8. The big 75th Anniversary celebration is planned for New Year’s Eve, Dec. 31, including a torchlight run and live music to ring in 2018. Leadville Today will be rolling out additional updates from the Ski Cooper Community Meeting about what skiers and boarders can expect this season.
But for now, if you’re taking in the slopes for Opening Day, be sure to stop in to Katie O’Rourke’s Irish Pub in the lodge and catch some of the Army/Navy game. If you’ll be watching from your favorite couch or barstool, then note that Army will take on Navy at 1 p.m. (Colorado MST). The game will be broadcast on CBS. Army is looking to win for the second year in a row. Last year, Army defeated Navy 21-17, breaking a 14-game losing streak in the series.
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