Week in Review: April 21
Vermont edits, and the right kind of skiing problems
Holy shit! It’s Tom Wallisch from six years ago—quick, someone call T-Mobile we got a sponsorship to work out!
Ian Compton may be the first East Coast pro skier in history to never leave the East Coast, but that’s not to say he’s not making use of his time there.
If Real Skifi did fewer hand holding rail slides and more backflips onto stair sets, we wouldn’t get as much flack from the snowboarders.
The Wrong Kind of Record
Big Sky became the second ski resort in the larger Yellowstone area to mark its busiest season ever, clocking in 370,000 skier visits over the course of the weekend. Jackson Hole had the first record, marking a 500,000 skier visit season when they closed April 8. I’m still not sure if we’re supposed to be excited about that or not…
The Right Kind of Record
This busy, snowy April has cajoled more than a few ski areas to extend their seasons an extra week or two. Alta, above, is spinning lifts for one more weekend after a 20-inch dump, while Copper, Aspen Highlands, and Breckenridge all announced they’re extending their seasons as well. Back East, temperatures have only recently become spring-like, prompting many to back up their closing dates, too.
To The Ground
While the snowy finish to Colorado’s ski season has helped many areas extend their closing dates to the cheers of tireless powder-hungry skiers across the state, it also helped produce an overnight avalanche in the Maroon Bowl backcountry area off the side of Highlands Bowl at Aspen Highlands that ripped clear to the ground.
If you’re like me, you never knew there was skiing in the shamrock nation. We’ve already chartered our first flight direct from Boston’s Logan airport to the Mourne Mountains, and sold out the plane with Massachusetts skiers who have one of the following last names: O’Malley, O’Brien, Donahue, and O’Grady.
Erik Blachford Schools The Ski Industry
Venture capitalist and former CEO of Expedia Erik Blachford brought some tough but needed perspective to ski industry officials at last week’s Mountain Travel Symposium in Snowmass Village. Erik told the audience that they weren’t doing enough to attract new people to the sport and that strong growth will always be difficult if they continue to focus on “the most affluent 3 percent or so of people on the planet.” He also prodded resorts to be vocal about climate change, both to their customers and their congresspeople, and said that they needed to make adjustments to better cater to social media users and online comparison shoppers.
“Retired Physician” Sued For Slashing Schweitzer Seat Cushions
A grown man, self-described retired physician David Markwardt, is being sued in a civil complaint by Schweitzer Mountain Resort, who maintains that Markwardt slashed 62 ski lift seat cushions at the mountain over the past two seasons, causing close to $70,000 in damage by resort estimates. Little information is known about Markwardt other than that he owns two units at a slopeside hotel at the base of the mountain, and boasts of having five university degrees. Unconfirmed rumors wager that he was upset he didn’t get a free season’s pass with his properties.
Proposed Jumbo Glacier Ski Area Gains Legal Status
The first ski area in North America to be proposed with global warming as part of its business strategy got a little closer to reality this week. British Columbia’s Jumbo Glacier Resort would build 23 chairlifts covering four separate glaciers that top out at 11,200 feet, which would both ensure year-round skiing (with 2,300 vertical feet in the summer) despite the effects of global warming. It won designation as a “Mountain Resort Municipality” this week, giving it a more official legal status.
While the amount of potential skiing is unreal, even compared to nearby Revelstoke, some of the value proposition is a little scary, as Jumbo views global warming giving it a competitive advantage in the marketplace. “It [global warming] may render snow making uneconomic or ineffective and force skiing to occur only at higher elevations,” reads the master plan. “If ski resorts at lower elevations were to become inoperable, a project like Jumbo Glacier Resort, with a base elevation of 1,700 metres and a top elevation of 3,400 metres, could become the only place in B.C. where it will be possible to ski on a consistent and economical basis.” Reading “selling points” like that one is a morally ambiguous activity at best.
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