The cadets were eating lunch while taking a break, so they did what nearly every skier or snowboarder does, leaving their equipment in the racks at the base area. But when they saw their boards being taken, they went after one of the suspects and tackled him until police came.
Police took an unnamed juvenile and Gunnar Thorngren, 18, into custody for tried to take more than a few skis and snowboards at Copper Mountain's Central Village, according to CBS Denver.
"The real story is the cadets from the Air Force Academy who were good enough to get involved and called 911," Steve Noreby, Copper Mountain's security chief, told the station.
When Summit County sheriff deputies showed up, the two suspects were kept apart, and according to reports, not being very cooperative.
"Usually it'll be one set of skis or one snowboard," Tracy LeClair with the Summit County Sheriff's Office said. "This happened to be four snowboards and one set of skis."
CBS Denver reported that the $3,700 worth of skis and snowboards that had been stolen from the racks were hidden in an secluded area of the resort, but some distinctive marks were left behind.
"Both of the individuals were wearing shoes with very distinctive tread marks and those tread marks were found around the skis and snowboards that had been found subsequently abandoned," LeClair said.
There are usually about 50 thefts reported each year in Summit County between four different resorts, but nobody CBS Denver talked to could remember a case with more than one piece of equipment being stolen.
Security at Copper Mountain and the sheriff's office say they've tried to do sting operations in the past but never caught anyone.
Thorngren is facing a felony theft charge which could land him in prison for a few years.