Top Five Fridays - August 12, 2016 // Ski Industry News
#1: Echo Mountain to Be Sold to 27 Year Old:
Readers of our blog and Denver locals are probably well aware that Echo Mountain Resort, located in Idaho Springs, CO, has had a long and tumultuous run. Originally the Squaw Pass Ski Area, the resort was dormant for a long time before being purchased by Jerry Petitt in 2002 and then sold again to Nora Pykkonen in 2012. Now, four year later, the mountain is being purchased out of bankruptcy and transferred to its third owner in just over a decade. So who exactly is the newest owner of Echo Mountain? Well, that answer might be a bit surprising: it’s 27 year old Peter Burwell who currently has a contract to purchase the resort for $3.78 million. While it’s unknown what his approach to managing the resort will be, it seems wise that he should follow an “open to the public” business model. Previously, both Pettit and Pykkonen had initially attempted to target niche markets (freestyle athletes and ski racing, respectively) before ultimately opening their doors to a wider market. Without knowing the finer details, one would have to presume that the move was made in an effort to widen the customer base as a result of limited income. Ultimately, we’ll just play the sidelines with this one. It’s been a wild ride for the resort in recent years and all we can do is hope that the new ownership brings some stability that local residents will be able to embrace.
#2: 14 Year Old is Youngest Skier to Ever Land a Triple Cork 1440:
For those of you who have read our “Finding the Limit: Reflections on the Cost of Skiing’s Progression,” article (if you haven’t, you should), this headline probably raises your eyebrows. In that piece, we touched on the fact that Nico Porteous (who was 13 at the time) was already throwing double flips in the terrain park. It’s a pretty ridiculous feat when you think about it- a kid who’s barely a teenager throwing himself into an incredibly dangerous situation. Ultimately, we wondered if skiing was nearing a tipping point in which the cost of progressing the sport would outweigh the benefits. Well, this week those concerns were put on hold for at least a little longer as that very same kid became the youngest person ever to land a triple cork 1440. So while the question of when skiing will reach the limit on progression still looms, it’s clear that Nico has no intention of stopping and his reign is likely just beginning. Congrats Nico, can’t wait to see what the future holds for you!
#3: California Politician Throws Her Weight Behind the #KeepSquawTrue Movement:
Here’s a headline that’ll make Squaw locals happy: the California Attorney General’s Office submitted a letter to the Place County Board of Supervisors and County Planning Comissioners this week asking them to carefully consider their decision regarding KSL’s proposed development of the Squaw area. This essentially aligns the state’s Attorney General with the #KeepSquawTrue movement- a grassroots effort to stop KSL Resorts from following through on their immense development plans for the area. In the letter, the Attorney General echoes many of the same points that the #KeepSquawTrue movement. More specifically, she worries that overdevelopment of the area will take away the grandeur of the Tahoe Sierra, turning it instead into yet another commercialized ski resort. It is yet to be seen if the letter will make a significant impact on the Placer County officials who are saying economic vs. environmental impact, but with such a strong voice weighing in on the matter, we’ve got to imagine the Attorney General’s comments won’t be taken lightly. If you’re interested, you can read the letter in full here.
#4: Vail Buys Whistler Blackcomb Resort for $1.06 Billion:
This week’s blockbuster news was that Vail Resorts continued its domination of the ski industry by purchasing Whistler Blackcomb resort for a whopping $1.06 Billion. It’s something that we’ve noted in the past- Vail’s steady conglomeration of ski resorts, but it’s not something that we necessarily see as a negative thing. While there’s surely a contingent of skiers who are inherently against mega ski corporations, we tend to keep on eye on what changes result from such purchases. Take Wilmot mountain for example. Vail purchased the resort back in January and announced in March that they intend to spend $13 million on upgrading the resort’s facilities and lifts. There’s no doubt that this was welcome news for local Chicago area skiers who call the resort home. So what’s our take on this latest purchase? Well, we’ll have to wait and see. Part of us wonders if Vail is starting to overextend itself. The other part is more excited by the prospect of changes at the resort such as Vail’s suggestion that they’ll slash season pass prices to nearly half of what they currently are. With news this big, there’s sure to be plenty of opinions, so be sure to leave yours in the comments below!