Top Five Fridays - September 27, 2019 // Ski Industry News
#1: Winter Weather Comes to North America:
This week, we have the pleasure of kicking off the news cycle in fantastic fashion, with the announcement of some significant snow news! Let's start on the resort side, where Arapahoe Basin has officially begun snowmaking operations for the season. Well, sort of. In a blog post by resort COO Alan Henceroth, he announces that the initial step has been taken to test run the snowmaking system for the season, but subtly indicates that it's not indicative of a full blown operation with the intention of making enough snow to open the resort. Still, Arapahoe Basin typically opens sometime in mid-late October, meaning things are right on track for the start of the 2019-2020 ski season.
In other preseason snow news, there's been a flurry of weather reports in recent weeks predicting snow in higher elevations across the Rocky Mountains and Pacific Northwest. While a majority of those forecasts have indicated small amounts of snow, we caught wind this week of a much larger system that's making its way towards the Northern Rockies of Montana. There, numerous locations could receive feet of snow, with localized amounts of up to 50" being predicted. If that claim comes to fruition, it'll amount to a storm of historic proportions, comparable to the September 1934 snowstorm. Of course eager skiers should keep in mind that early season snowstorms like this often set up incredibly risky avalanche conditions, and that the storm itself is expected to produce high winds. With that in mind, we hope all of our readers in the area will take precautions and stay safe if they choose to take advantage of the early season snow. For more on this incoming storm, check out the ABC News forecast.
#2: Vail Resorts Closes on Peak Resorts Acquisition:
Great, now that we've got you all revved up over the promise of imminent winter, let's get into some more traditional ski news! At the top of our stack today is an update from Vail Resorts, who has just closed on the purchase of Peak Resorts following a successful shareholder vote. As you may recall, we reported just a few weeks ago that the closure of the deal had come into question as a Peaks Resort shareholder had sued to delay the vote while more information was collected regarding the parties' interests in negotiating the deal. That claim was a bit complicated to parse, but you can dive into the details with our September 6th Top 5 Friday. Since that initial update, no further news was made in regards to the lawsuit, and now that the vote's been overwhelmingly passed, the acquisition is a done deal. As a result, the 17 resorts formerly owned by Peak Resorts will now be a part of the Epic family, effective immediately. For those who call the largely mid-size ski areas home, this is certainly welcome news as their access to world class skiing has just increased exponentially. For more on this, check out the official press release from Vail.
#3: Heartbreak Returns to Saddleback Resort:
The same week that we shared potentially bad news for Vail's purchase of Peak Resorts, we also shared good news for Saddleback resort. In an ironic twist of fate, the tables have turned this week, and what was once a promising outlook for the long plagued Saddleback Resort has yet again turned dim. This week, Maine's Press Herald has reported that talks between Saddleback's current owners and the Arctaris Impact Fund have stalled. Ultimately, it sounds like a situation in which the details of the agreement are proving to be more difficult to agree upon than previously expected. As a result, the talks have "collapsed," as the inability to reach an agreement has resulted in the owners of Saddleback reopening the idea of selling the resort to a different group. Now, that's not to say that there's no chance of a deal with Arctaris Impact Fund being reached or that November 4th isn't still a potential closing date, but the conversation has certainly taken a significant step back for the moment. With any luck this week's news will put pressure on the two parties to finalize an agreement that was seemingly just signatures away from being reached. If not, all of us hoping for the triumphant return of Saddleback Resort will have to take a deep breath and resume waiting. For more details on this sticky situation, check in with the Press Herald.
#4: Filmmaker Looks to Produce Documentary Highlighting the First International Ski Race Following WWII:
Finally, we get an opportunity to close this week in one of our favorite ways: by sharing a story that highlights skiing's unique role in history. This week, we came across an article that tells of a film being made by Chris Anthony, a lifelong filmographer who's worked with Warren Miller Films, as well as a number of educational endeavors. While working with Warren Miller Films, Anthony became deeply interested in the 10th Mountain Division's role in World War II. For those unaware, the 10th Mountain Division is a U.S. Army division founded during WWII that specializes in mountain warfare. In other words, soldiers in this division were some of the best mountaineers and skiers in the world at the time, both of which enabled access to remote locations and setup some of the most important events of the war.
The story that Anthony discovered while exploring the unit's history is a bit more lighthearted. While in Europe, he learned of a race hosted by the 10th Mountain Division on Mangart Mountain, in the Slovenian Alps on June 3, 1945. At this event, which has become known as "The Great Race," soldiers and locals teamed up to host an international ski race which would ultimately come to symbolize peace and partnership in the area at a time when the second World War was just beginning to come to an end (on the day of the race, Japan had yet to surrender). While the story of the race has been largely forgotten here in America, it's impact on the Mangart region has prevailed, proving significant enough that locals eagerly helped Anthony clear avalanche debris from the mountain pass in an effort to recreat the race in the same location. Now, Anthony wants to share the footage he's captured and the knowledge he's learned in the form of a documentary titled Mission Mangart. With plenty of details left to be discovered, we're admittedly very excited for the culmination of Anthony's efforts. To learn more about this story, check out the report from Summit Daily. If you'd like to learn more about Chris Anthony's work or to donate to the making of this film, you can check out his website here.
#4.5: The SkiEssentials.com 2020 Ski Test is Now Live!:
#5: And Now, Your Edits of the Week: Trevor Kennison:
A Great Look into the Life of Ian Compton:
Another Novel Take on Skiing, from Brady Perron and Phil Casabon:
Finally, Ross Imburgia Doing What He Does: