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'Ski Maps As Ski Art': Artist James Niehues Showcases Career In New Book

By Jeff Todd

PARKER, Colo. (CBS4)- Whether you've only been skiing one time or you're the most avid expert, chances are pretty high you've seen a trail map drawn by James Niehues. He's drawn maps of ski trails all over the world.

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"Boreal was the very first one I ever painted, out in California, and it's still in use," said Niehues.

In the mid-1980s, Niehues decided he wanted to do more with his landscape paintings. His mentor was looking to move on and Niehues became the preeminent trail map artist. He's drawn 194 ski resorts and amassed 350 maps.

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"I started at the age of 40 and suddenly had a new career," Niehues said.

An avid skier noticed no matter where he went, he'd see the same style painting as the base for almost every trail map. That skier reached out to Niehues with the idea for a coffee table book.

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"It folds out to a nice format and it will probably be 350 pages or so. There's a story about where I started, when I started," he said. "It's going to be unlike any other book out there. It portrays the ski maps as ski art."

The team behind the book wanted to raise $8,000 to prove to publishers that there was an appetite for the book. With two weeks left, on Thursday night the Kickstarter campaign has raised over $300,000.

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James Niehues (credit: CBS)

"After the first couple of days we made our goal. And we were elated. It was fantastic. Now, week by week we go past new milestones," Niehues said.

After jumpstarting his career later in life he's hoping to inspire others.

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"Hey it's not too late. You can end up with a new career and be successful in it. When I look at what I've done, and this book will show it, I'm kind of amazed myself that I could do it," said Niehues.

Jeff Todd joined the CBS4 team in 2011 covering the Western Slope in the Mountain Newsroom. Since 2015 he's been working across the Front Range in the Denver Headquarters. Follow him on Twitter @CBS4Jeff.

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