Top Five Fridays - July 26, 2019 // Ski Industry News
#1: Vail Resorts Acquires Peak Resorts, Adds 17 Ski Areas to Epic Pass:
This week, we start off with the type of blockbuster news that felt commonplace a year or two ago, but has largely been missing from this Summer’s news cycles. As you may have already heard, Vail Resorts announced that it has acquired Peak Resorts for an estimated $264 million. With the purchase, Vail will add 17 ski areas across the Eastern Midwest, up through Pennsylvania, New York, and into New England. For those watching Peak Resorts, the acquisition may come as a bit of a surprise (although, no acquisition should catch anybody off guard these days) as Peak Resorts had been carving out a nice niche for itself as a multipass option that linked together a number of small to mid-size ski areas in the Mid-Atlantic and Midwest regions. Without too many major ski resorts in their arsenal, industry observers could be forgiven if they considered Peak Resorts “safe” from consolidation. Yet the move makes perfect sense for Vail Resorts. In addition to using geo-diversification to hedge their bets against weather, Vail has also shown an interest in using the strategy to tap into new markets, securing the vacation plans of skiers who don’t call a mega-resort home. It’s a strategy that the resort utilized back in 2014 when it purchased Minnesota’s Alfton Alps, and Michigan’s Mt. Brighton. It’s also worth noting that this move is right in line with Katz’s recent comments regarding the desire to bring in new audiences to the sport rather than expand the footprint of his resorts. Regardless of how you look at it, this is certainly the biggest news of the summer so far, and one that could spurn further acquisitions from Vail’s competition. For more on this, check out the official report from Vail, as well as this writeup from Forbes.
#2: Squaw Valley - Alpine Meadows Base to Base Gondola Clears Another Hurdle:
In other ski resort news this week, we bring you an update to a story regarding Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows that we first shared with you back in August, 2017. At that time, Squaw and Alpine Meadows had just met with local land owner Troy Caldwell to discuss options for implementing a gondola to connect the two resorts, making it possible to ski both within the same day, while also providing transportation to and from Squaw’s Aprés-Ski scene. After coming to an agreement with Caldwell and putting together a development plan, the proposal embarked on its regulatory journey.
We pick up the ball again this week as it’s just been announced that the Placer County Board of Supervisors have unanimously approved the project, meaning it’s one significant step closer to being a reality. Having already obtained preliminary approval from the Tahoe National Forest, one of the last remaining hurdles for the project will be gaining approval from the U.S. National Forest Service. That of course, is where projects tend to meet the most resistance. As with all development stories, there are two equally determined mentalities set to go head-to-head as residents of the area are forced to balance the potential for an economic boost, with their interest in keeping the area as undeveloped as possible. In other words, while this week is certainly big news for proponents of the project, it’s also far from being a done deal. For more on this, check out the writeup from SFGate.com, as well as its official information page on SquawAlpine.com.
#3: Ted Ligety Announces He’s Scaling Back Race Schedule Next Season:
In less exciting news, we feel compelled to share and update from Ted Ligety. Just over a week ago, Ligety announced his difficult decision to scale back his race schedule for the upcoming 2019-2020 season. In an interview with KPCW radio in Park City, UT, Ligety opened up about his plans for the upcoming season, as well as his current status in life. For those familiar with Lindsey Vonn’s last few years racing competitively, the story is remarkably similar: after suffering a string of injuries since his last World Cup Ski Racing win back in 2015, Ligety is finally getting to a point where his body is unable to keep up at the level he demands from it. As a result, he’s made the difficult decision to limit the number of races he competes in this upcoming season, with the intention of focusing specifically on Giant Slalom races. As for his future, he’s unwilling to put any hard time constraints in place, instead saying, “There’s a lot of hard miles on my body up to this point, but I’m still enjoying it… Right now, I feel really healthy and trying to get to a point where I feel I can win races. That’s the goal right now.” Still, it does seem like it’s only a matter of time before another legend and part of American ski racing’s golden era decides that enough is enough. When that happens, we’ll be eagerly watching to see which male ski racer(s) step up to fill the void. For more on this, check out the full interview with KPCW.org.
#4: Breckenridge to Host Colorado’s First Roller Ski Fest This Weekend:
Finally, last but certainly not least, is a first of its kind event announcement that we hope we’re sharing just in the nick of time. This weekend in Breckenridge, the Summit Nordic Ski Club will host Colorado’s first ever roller-ski fest. For those uninitiated or in need of a reminder, roller skis are essentially a cross between rollerblades, and skis. Featuring an elongated base and just two wheels, proponents of the sport suggest that it’s the most similar feeling to skiing that can be achieved in the Summer months. As for the festival in Breckenridge, organizers have put together two consecutive days of races, consisting of multiple sprints catering to different age groups, as well as a 3k and 5k uphill races. For the sprint races, organizers have also secured matched skis, meaning racers will use skis provided to them that have all been identically calibrated. The result should mean that the race tests the competitors without any advantages being provided by equipment. So, if you’re in the area and looking for something fun to do this weekend, we encourage you to go check this thing out, either as a competitor or a spectator. For those of you who can’t make it but still feel inspired to take on some cross training, we recommend checking out our selection of Rollerblades, as well as their new Skate to Ski program!