An award-winning documentary about a storied World War II U.S. Army division will be showing on March 19 at the O’Shaughnessy Center in Whitefish thanks to the Flathead Valley Ski Education Foundation’s Ski Heritage Center Museum of Skiing.
Called “Mission: Mt. Mangart,” the film chronicles the training, battles and slalom ski races of the 10th Mountain Division, an experimental World War II infantry unit that fought in the mountains of northern Italy and included several Flathead Valley residents.
The division sustained 5,000 casualties in the war, and almost 1,000 soldiers were killed in action. The U.S. Army credits the division with “effectively destroying” five German divisions.
The title of the film refers to Mount Mangart, a mountain on the border between Italy and Slovenia where on June 3, 1945, the unit competed in a slalom ski race. The film’s producer and director, the champion extreme skier Chris Anthony, will also be in attendance. Anthony has been in dozens of Warren Miller ski movies, won the Alaska extreme skiing title, and has worked as an Alaska heli-ski guide.
The screening comes as the museum is nearing the halfway mark on a new exhibit about the 10th Mountain Division, which is expected to open to the public sometime in April.
Tim Hinderman, the museum director, said his father was a 10th Mountain Division veteran, and so the story of the division is something he grew up around. Hinderman said that after the war members of the division were instrumental in developing and growing ski culture in the United States, and that many worked in industries like ski area management, ski area development, and ski clothing and equipment manufacturing.
“When World War II ended, and all of the veterans of that campaign came home and dispersed back to their homes, it really made a, cataclysmic, I guess you would say, impact on the world of skiing,” Hinderman said, adding that the contributions of the 10th Mountain Division veterans to the world of ski equipment and technology created a night and day contrast between the post World War II period in the late 1940s and the 1950s.
“It was just leaps and bounds ahead in technology,” Hinderman said.
Hinderman said he heard about the film from the 10th Mountain Division Foundation in Denver and went on to contact Anthony about a possible screening.
“He was in Portland last weekend with a show, and so he’s been around a number of places,” Hinderman said. “We just came upon the opportunity through our connections with the 10th Mountain Division Foundation and thought it would be a great way to, you know, bring a part of the story to town and get some of the people in the community excited about our progress and our intent to have this exhibit.”
Doors open to the event at 6 p.m., Saturday, March 19 at the O’Shaughnessy Center. Selected short films will play prior to “Mission: Mt Mangart” at 7:15 p.m. Tickets can be purchased online at www.fvsef.org/ski-museum.
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