MENDON (AP) -- The Pico Peak ski area that helped launch the skiing career of the first American skier to win two Olympic gold medals in alpine skiing is celebrating its 75th Anniversary this season.
Andrea Mead Lawrence was the daughter of the founders of the Pico Ski area, Brad and Janet Mead who opened Pico Peak off U.S. Route 4 in Mendon to skiing in 1937. It was in 1952 that Andrea Mead won two gold medals at the Oslo games.
The Meads put up a rope tow and opened Pico on Thanksgiving Day 1937. A group of local skiers then formed the Otter Ski Patrol at Pico, the oldest volunteer ski patrol in the nation.
Linda Goodspeed, the author of a history of the resort, said the Meads were avid skiers who dreamed of opening their own ski area.
"It’s an interesting story in the beginning because Brad and Janet Mead were a young couple from New York City, a couple of free spirits," said Goodspeed. "Brad was an artist."
Some of the highlights of the anniversary celebration include lift tickets for $19.37 for the first five days after the resort opens on Dec. 15 and $75 unrestricted season passes for students in kindergarten through grade 12.
Pico’s popularity grew in a large part, because of Brad and Janet’s personalities and vision, said Mendon resident Joe Jones an early member of the ski patrol who went on to become a coach.
The couple worked hard to incorporate the latest ski technology from Europe, installing the first T-bar in North America and hiring a Swiss skiing sensation to head up their ski school and racing program.
Brad Mead died in an accident in the early 1940s. After that Janet Mead kept the resort running.
"It’s very difficult to explain the strong will that that woman had," said Frank Heald, a former Pico general manager. "She was far ahead of her time in terms of what we think of today in terms of equality of the sexes. She was a dynamo in her day and didn’t know the meaning of can’t do it."
Janet Mead, who died in 1990, sold the resort in the mid-1950s. The Killington ski resort now owns the Mendon resort.
Andrea Mead Lawrence died three years ago at age 76.