Ski Area Reality: Corporatocracy Strikes Again

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Ski Area Reality: Corporatocracy Strikes Again

Postby soulskier » Thu Feb 23, 2012 9:37 pm

Author Jeremy Evans, of In Search of Powder: A Story of America's Disappearing Ski Bum fame, wrote an opinion piece on the recent acquisition of Kirkwood by Vail Resorts.

I hope you enjoy it.

http://www.mrablog.com/ski-area-reality ... kes-again/
http://www.MountainRidersAlliance.com
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Re: Re: Ski Area Reality: Corporatocracy Strikes Again

Postby socal » Thu Feb 23, 2012 10:19 pm

soulskier wrote:Author Jeremy Evans, of In Search of Powder: A Story of America's Disappearing Ski Bum fame, wrote an opinion piece on the recent acquisition of Kirkwood by Vail Resorts.

I hope you enjoy it.

http://www.mrablog.com/ski-area-reality ... kes-again/


Same mountain, same snow, better management, and deeper pockets to maybe connect to the grid or solve the power issues. Seems like Kirkwood should be better not worse. If you really think putting up new signs hurts the skiing experience you shouldn't ski at a resort. Seriously, from everything I've ever read Kirkwoods previous management was a disaster not sure how this is a downgrade. And whether a ski area is owned by a public company or not, face it the owners likely trying to make money.



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Re: Re: Ski Area Reality: Corporatocracy Strikes Again

Postby rfarren » Fri Feb 24, 2012 12:39 am

socal wrote:And whether a ski area is owned by a public company or not, face it the owners likely trying to make money.

NAW MAN...Thats just the man trying to pinch our turns... I mean seriously why can't we all just get along. That is you can get along if you can kick it to 4th gear while shredding the gnar on serious terrain. POWER TO THE PEOPLE!!! YEEEHAAAWWW
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Re: Ski Area Reality: Corporatocracy Strikes Again

Postby Tony Crocker » Fri Feb 24, 2012 1:05 am

I agree with socal and tseeb. More likely a positive than negative move for Kirkwood.
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Re: Ski Area Reality: Corporatocracy Strikes Again

Postby soulskier » Sat Feb 25, 2012 1:34 am

Since the three responses have been from non locals, I've figured I would give my $.02 as a 20+ year Tahoe resident.

First a disclaimer, I was part of the opening team at the Resort at Squaw Creek in 1990. I mention this because I believe it was the very first move towards corporatization in the Basin, some 22 years ago. Ironically, that was a very poor snow year, much like 2011-2012.

What many locals are concerned about (and I believe rightfully so) are the corporations coming in, buying up the resorts, and implementing their vertically integrated structure. The profits are not shared with the local community, but instead funneled out to the stakeholders.

Additionally, since decisions are solely based on the bottom line, we are seeing a continual decay of our skimunnity. One good example is the new ownership of Squaw choosing not to renew the lease of a 35 year tenant and family business. Here's more on that in Powder Magazine.
http://www.powdermag.com/stories/farewell-sport-shop/

Corporations tend to homogenize the ski resort, and as such, taking the soul and flavor out it's uniqueness. There is no question that Kirkwood needs some capital infusion, but it's many of our hopes that it can be done in a thoughtful manner.

The only ski resorts in Tahoe that have not gone the corporate route are Sugar Bowl and Mt Rose. Here's a great article by David Bunker titled "Capitalism, Culture and the Tahoe Ski Industry, written last month, before the acquisition was announced.

http://moonshineink.com/articles.php/96/2630
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Re: Ski Area Reality: Corporatocracy Strikes Again

Postby Marc_C » Sat Feb 25, 2012 12:15 pm

soulskier wrote:Additionally, since decisions are solely based on the bottom line, we are seeing a continual decay of our skimunnity. One good example is the new ownership of Squaw choosing not to renew the lease of a 35 year tenant and family business. Here's more on that in Powder Magazine.
http://www.powdermag.com/stories/farewell-sport-shop/

Wow. Sure sounds dastardly. Oh, wait....looks like the tenant and the landowner couldn't agree on the value of the property:

...the Squaw Valley Sport Shop will close its doors after failing to negotiate terms of a new lease.
...
Last month, Squaw Valley Ski Corp. informed the Willard family that its lease would not be renewed. According to Squaw Valley CEO Andy Wirth, the resort did not take the decision lightly.

“It was certainly not a decision that came easy for me or the team,” Wirth said. “Because of the Sport Shop’s longstanding history, we gave it a great deal of thought. But we have an obligation to make the most out of that space.”

Talks between the Willards and Ski Corp. stalled over money.

“We were fundamentally not able to come to an agreement on the value of the space,” said Wirth, adding that Ski Corp. had tried to make the relationship work. “We have gone above and beyond to extreme ends to help them succeed over the last couple years.”

That sheds a bit of a different light on the situation than as originally stated.

soulskier wrote:What many locals are concerned about (and I believe rightfully so) are the corporations coming in, buying up the resorts, and implementing their vertically integrated structure. The profits are not shared with the local community, but instead funneled out to the stakeholders.

Well, while it's true that the first responsibility of a corporation is to provide ROI to shareholders, without detailed info it's impossible to state that the profits are not shared with the local community. Recall that Kirkwood was indeed a corporation as well before the Vail buyout - obviously not successful enough that it could resist said buyout.

Due to the relative transparency required of a publicly traded corporation like Vail, the argument could be made that it's actually much easier to assess how much profits are shared with the local community. Something that is virtually impossible to learn about a privately held company and its investors like the former Kirkwood.

Regarding the article referenced in the OP....yawn....same old fish, misconceptions, and spin merely in a newer wrapper. And we all know how vapid and weightless terms like soulfulness and authenticity have become in this discussion. Compared to dinky, worn out structures that serve as the base lodge at places like MRG, Magic Mtn VT, Powder Mtn., and the pre-Olympics Snowbasin - places that supposedly ooze soul and authenticity, I absolutely love the base villages at Vail and Tremblant and prefer ski towns like Aspen and Park City to run-down hippie hangouts like Truckee.
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Re: Ski Area Reality: Corporatocracy Strikes Again

Postby socal » Sat Feb 25, 2012 12:51 pm

+1.

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Re: Ski Area Reality: Corporatocracy Strikes Again

Postby longshanks » Sun Feb 26, 2012 12:06 pm

Marc_C wrote: I absolutely love the base villages at Vail and Tremblant and prefer ski towns like Aspen and Park City to run-down hippie hangouts like Truckee.


What is Orange and looks good on Hippies?
Fire

But seriously, you probably absolutely love a lot of fabulous things...b.w.r.g.a.f?
I don't know about Aspen, but Tremblant couldn't find its soul with a map. The place if full of poutine eaters and oxygen theives
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Re: Ski Area Reality: Corporatocracy Strikes Again

Postby SoCal Rider » Thu Mar 08, 2012 11:13 am

C'mon, Marc, Vail Village exudes "prefab-iness." Agree with Aspen though. Maybe I'll reassess this summer on drive to Denver.
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Re: Ski Area Reality: Corporatocracy Strikes Again

Postby Marc_C » Thu Mar 08, 2012 12:57 pm

SoCal Rider wrote:C'mon, Marc, Vail Village exudes "prefab-iness."

So what? Zermatt looks the same to me.
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Re: Ski Area Reality: Corporatocracy Strikes Again

Postby Geoff » Tue Mar 13, 2012 6:21 am

SoCal Rider wrote:C'mon, Marc, Vail Village exudes "prefab-iness." Agree with Aspen though. Maybe I'll reassess this summer on drive to Denver.


The original Vail village is more of a Disneyesque faux Austrian village theme. As it sprawled, it became more of a character-free "Any Resort, USA" feel.

My mom used to winter in Aspen for a bunch of years. I think it's the best resort town in North America. You're not going to buy your way in on W-2 money but it's a heck of a nice place for a trustifarian to raise a family.
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Re: Ski Area Reality: Corporatocracy Strikes Again

Postby Marc_C » Wed Mar 14, 2012 12:06 pm

Geoff wrote:
SoCal Rider wrote:C'mon, Marc, Vail Village exudes "prefab-iness." Agree with Aspen though. Maybe I'll reassess this summer on drive to Denver.


The original Vail village is more of a Disneyesque faux Austrian village theme. As it sprawled, it became more of a character-free "Any Resort, USA" feel.

My mom used to winter in Aspen for a bunch of years. I think it's the best resort town in North America. You're not going to buy your way in on W-2 money but it's a heck of a nice place for a trustifarian to raise a family.

What's wrong with pre-fab? Even multimillion homes aren't built from individual sticks anymore.
On a different point - most posters here say that the skiing and terrain is the most important aspect to them - some say the only aspect. If so, then why do so many folks get all wrapped around the axles about what the base village looks like?
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Re: Ski Area Reality: Corporatocracy Strikes Again

Postby jamesdeluxe » Wed Mar 14, 2012 2:03 pm

Marc_C wrote:why do so many folks get all wrapped around the axles about what the base village looks like?

That's a good question. Wish I had a better answer than "aesthetics matter to me."
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Re: Ski Area Reality: Corporatocracy Strikes Again

Postby Tony Crocker » Wed Mar 14, 2012 7:01 pm

MarcC wrote:On a different point - most posters here say that the skiing and terrain is the most important aspect to them - some say the only aspect. If so, then why do so many folks get all wrapped around the axles about what the base village looks like?

And the snow of course. I agree. As I've mentioned before, places that were developed in the past 50 years because they have great snow and terrain (Whistler, Vail, Mammoth, Snowbird etc.) tend not to have the greatest aesthetics. The resorts that were towns already (Aspen and Telluride come to mind) are more likely to have architecture worth preserving, restoring etc.
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Re: Ski Area Reality: Corporatocracy Strikes Again

Postby rfarren » Wed Mar 14, 2012 9:16 pm

Tony Crocker wrote:As I've mentioned before, places that were developed in the past 50 years because they have great snow and terrain (Whistler, Vail, Mammoth, Snowbird etc.) tend not to have the greatest aesthetics. The resorts that were towns already (Aspen and Telluride come to mind) are more likely to have architecture worth preserving, restoring etc.

Who cares, if you want architecture, move to a big city like NYC, Chicago, London, Berlin etc. If you like skiing, and want a base town then Vail is fine. Unless you're an architecture snob does it matter if a building is imitation? Frankly, if I'm skiing and there is a base town, I would prefer that I don't have to drive, and if that means prefab, so be it.
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