Pietro Simonetti grew up in northern Italy but has lived in Colorado for the past 27 years. Last December his home from him was lost in the Marshall Fire while he was in Europe with his family from him. 9News reports Simonetti, his wife and 14-year-old daughter returned to find their entire neighborhood burned to foundation.
Lost in the ashes were Simonetti’s 1987 Vespa, furniture from Italy that was more than 400 years old, and at least 15 pairs of skis. The destruction was complete but the ashes gave the A-Basin skier an idea:
“I knew that this pile of ashes meant something. I thought, ‘How do I take this and create a memory out of all this?’ And because of my passion for the mountains and the skiing, the thought came pretty quickly that I need to incorporate the ashes into a pair of skis.”
Simonetti worked with Meier Skis in Denver to create the pair of skis he calls “The Phoenix.” Ted Eynon who owns Meier Skis called up artist Phil Lewis, who shared artwork he created featuring the phoenix, a mythological bird that symbolizes rebirth. Simonetti provided the ashes. Voila….a functional tribute was created and we think it’s awesome.
Find an essay by Simonetti about his experience below.
“After the Marshall Fire, I remember walking into a dear friend’s house with framed pictures and posters of a lifetime of travels, the favorite worn-out slippers by the door, the fireplace glowing, with the stacked firewood smelling of sap and pine cones, the leather couch sagging on a certain spot – the owner’s favorite side, clearly – the aroma of fresh brewed coffee in the air, the scattered multitude of artifacts collected during years of trips around the world, special and simple, books on every shelf, of every subject and kind, and then it hit me. It felt like a slap in the face.
This is what a home feels like. This is how our home was. The same feeling when guests arrived and were greeted by a familiar, warm, welcoming atmosphere. Like a grandparent’s embrace the moment you stepped in. And then, the thought went to our pile of ashes. What is the purpose of that devastation? Of life? Of the future?
As I contemplated their significance, images of pristine white valleys, of my childhood mountains in Italy, of my daughter on her first pair of skis came to light. Somewhere in those ashes, those memories were still there. They were not gone, they didn’t disappear in the oblivion of nothingness.
I could sense that they had altered their state, but they were still there, and they were ready to resurface. The Phoenix Skis. The rebirth of this mythological beautiful animal, that is reborn every 500 years from its ashes, each time becoming a more splendid specimen. Phil Lewis, the artist, and Ted Eynon from Meier Skis executed it perfectly, and then the skis and the ashes turned from an idea to a reality.
Clicking into the bindings at A-Basin was like leaving Earth on the Apollo 11 moon mission. You could feel the baggage of history and work and sacrifice that many put onto this project to be there, in that spot at that moment.
I felt a surge of energy rising from those wooden boards. Was it just my imagination? Or was I really carrying pictures, paintings, hundred-year-old furniture, memories, feelings, love and sadness? Was I really skiing alone? It didn’t feel that way. The Phoenix was restless, and it was slowly rising underneath me.”