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A letter from a daughter

Elizabeth Chicoine

Dear town of Vail:First, I thank you for mailing me the State of the Town Report. Your letter offered that the town would be using the information gathered by RRC Associates Inc. “to facilitate discussions throughout the community in the development of a long-range strategic plan for Vail.”One trend presented is: The decline in snowsports participation by women 40-plus. This gravely concerns me. Ladies of the valley and guests to our town, why are we in the decline section of this report?I am pleased that the town of Vail recognizes this trend and will hopefully take action to thwart its continued decline. My mom lives here and has done everything possible to continue her enjoyment of snowsports. She is 69. She traveled to California in 2004 to participate in an FDA study for a full ankle-replacement procedure. She had surgery on her rotator cuff around 2000. Heck, she is basically rebuilding her body to remain able to play on the snowfields and slopes of Vail.And there are many others like my mom. In the spirit of discussion in the community to develop a long-range strategic plan for Vail, I hope that the town will reach out to women over 40 and say, “We want you back!”After sorting my mail and reading the town report in depth, I kept coming back to this decline in snowsports participation by women 40-plus as the most frustrating yet fixable trend in the entire study. Our town can get these women back to Vail’s snowsports. The No. 1 suggestion that I have is to restore dignity to those 70-plus skiers who come to Vail to ski, vacation, and yes, even to retire. Not so many years ago, turning 70 in Vail was an enviable thing. It was a coming of age for a free ski pass. Surely statistics from those days would report more women skiers. Today, at 70, you are invited to pay $599 for an unlimited pass. Is it really much of a jigsaw puzzle to see why there is a decline in snowsports participation by women?Women are often by nature the givesr of their time, money, self. We certainly by age 70 resent going out to pay more than half-grand for something that was recently free. A gift, so to speak, stating, ” You made it. Have fun! Here’s your senior’s pass. No charge, we appreciate your living here.”Living here is what keeps the economy plugging along even during sluggish times. (Live here long enough, and you will see the peaks and valleys of our mountain economy.)But living here is what women age 70-plus do that gives back to the town. I suggest that RRC contact Vail Club 50. This is an active group of retirees to our valley. Talk to them about this trend and get their feedback as to why the decline.Many retirees give back loads of money to the town’s coffers via their extended families coming to visit grandparents. My Singletree parents have had a revolving door of family flying direct flights to Vail this winter, renting and buying equipment from Vail village shops, paying parking for the day, Christmas shopping at Gorsuch, dining at La Tour, Ludwigs, and La Bottega, buying hip teen-age jeans in a chic village boutique, sleigh ride dinners, and enjoying on-mountain lunches for groups of up to 10. Oh yes, these 70-plus locals bring loads of cash to Vail, via their kids and grandkids. Why not give ’em the free after-70 ski pass again? This observation from a daughter is a response to perhaps why the decline is happening. I recently saw a letter to the editor by Martin M. Filler suggesting a substantially reduced senior season pass good only on weekdays. It’s an idea. He listed how it could be a win/win business move for Vail Resorts. It’s a good, fair letter. Look it up on-line.But back to those women between 40 and 70. Why this decline, too? It goes back to the giver component of women. I checked with some mom types on this one. Those who have stopped skiing say that it is primarily due to spending that money on their kids’ equipment, passes, ski teams, classes, etc. The moms’ equipment is so outdated that the road back to up-to-date equipment seems far too much money. (Lynda Boyne, Vail Trail, wrote a belly laugh column about Mom Equipment. Check it out on the Trail’s Web site!)Some incentive to get these women back on the slopes is needed. Town of Vail, I’m shooting for the moon on this one, I know, but how about a follow up to the recently reported news of Ladies Day in Vail? I read this article and thought, “How did I miss this?” Surely, you have the hook in women like me now! Let us call some girlfriends, plan ahead, and join in marketing this event with the host, Specialty Sports. I read that about 100 women took advantage of Women’s Day. Why not add several thousand women to this picture? It will be for all women.I have 10 high school girlfriends yearning for me to organize a reunion in Vail, but I have delinquently failed to organize such an event. Give women the forum, and they will come. Women’s Welcome Back to Snowsports Day in Vail next year? Ski rentals with those cute new flower-covered and pink polka dot skis could be available for a discount. Pink carnations could be handed out at the lift line for the first 100 women of the day, and even a pink foil-wrapped Godiva chocolate could be waiting at Mid-Vail? I know that Vail Resorts holds the bottom line to react to my ideas. But as a town, you are in a partnership to keep Vail thriving. How about selling collector chocolates with the Vail Manhole insignia stamped into each chocolate wrapped in pink foil? This could become the hot girls-only weekend in America not to be missed.Please discuss these ideas, and especially market to this group of women 40-plus to come back to play in the snow of Vail. Snowshoe, ski, and get active in our town. I imagine a big ad around the U.S. saying “It’s pink day in Vail. Come for the discounts to remember what you love about snowsports.” Fathers and sons want the women they love to enjoy the snowsports that they love, too. This is everyone’s issue. Thank you for the State of the Town Report, and thank you for asking for input.Respectfully,Elizabeth H. Chicoine, woman about to be 40 and lover of snowsports in VailElizabeth H. Chicoine of Eagle writes a weekly column for the Daily. She can be reached at echicoine@centurytel.netVail, Colorado


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