George Washington’s birthday happens to fall during one of our snowiest months, so what better way to celebrate Presidents’ Day (and vacation week) than with skiing and snowboarding? It might not be our national pastime, but there are definitely a few POTUSes and first ladies with on-hill experience.
Known as the first skiing President, it is said that Teddy Roosevelt learned the sport between 1887 and 1888, buying handmade wooden skis for about a dollar somewhere out West, and using them on snowy hunting expeditions. Though very busy, he found time to go to his family home in Sagamore Hill, New York and build a ski jump for an afternoon of fun. He donated his skis, almost nine feet in length, to the Smithsonian in 1895, and they were later moved to the Colorado Ski Museum as part of the permanent collection.
Lyndon B. Johnson
Though he was not known to hit the slopes, LBJ recognized the importance of the ski industry. On January 21, 1966, he proclaimed that January 21 through January 30 would be National Ski Week, in honor of the sport’s popularity, and the economic success it brought to the country. We can thank him for what is now National Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month!
Coolidge threw on a pair of skis to scoot across the White House Lawn during the National Outdoor Recreation Conference in 1924, and mentioned Vermont’s affinity for skiing, implying that as a Vermonter, he enjoyed a good schuss. However, it was later brought up to his son, who stated that no one in the Coolidge family had ever skied. Shame on you, Calvin! (But thank you for your service.)
Jerry Ford is definitely the most prominent of skiing presidents. With a beautiful home at Beaver Creek, he became an avid skier both there and at Vail, putting these Colorado resorts on the map as some of the best places to ski in the world—except Sunday River, of course. Though it’s rumored that his form is a little stiff in the legs, he was extremely passionate about the sport and the mountains.
Both Bill and Hillary have some skiing background, too. Hillary learned to ski in New Hampshire without taking any formal lessons but enjoyed racing down at top speeds. In 1994, the couple tested their Nordic skills at Camp David’s Aspen Lodge, where President Jimmy Carter also attempted the sport, which resulted in a broken clavicle two weeks before his term was up.
The former First Lady loves a good ski weekend with daughters Sasha and Malia, and takes a yearly trip to Colorado to celebrate Presidents’ Day, skiing at Vail, Beaver Creek, and Aspen’s Buttermilk Resort. However, Barack Obama can usually be found golfing in the warmer regions of the country during these trips, leaving the shredding to the ladies!
Though the 2016 election mustered up many “Donald Trump skis in jeans,” and “Make Skiing Great Again,” memes, it is true that Donald Trump used to ski. A report from ex-wife Ivana Trump states that he did ski with her, but was not too thrilled that her skills were much more rad than his, while a former butler reports that he did, in fact, ski in jeans.