Cause to celebrate
The Utes came to dance Thursday morning, marking their season-starting snow dance 40 years ago. Times have changed since Vail’s founders fretted over whether the snow would come in December back when, and the timing of the white stuff after the Utes performed their snow dance is the stuff of legend.
So the arrival of a little snowstorm this Thursday for the Utes, before they could even start dancing, was only appropriate.
Other than a parking situation in Vail we continue to see as frankly goofy – along with merchants who remain sore about this, seeing no help for their businesses in the new strata of rates and less time for free parking in the structures – the resort and community are moving toward that next 40 years with with some optimism. The prospects for our tender national economy, if we are not imagining things, look more hopeful than the past couple of years. The local economy, buoyed by early snow and the best snowfall in North America to this point, seems positively perky compared to this time a year ago.
Lodging projections are looking great for the foreseable season and that treasure trove of “destination” visitors appears to be returning in greater numbers. That’s the outlook anyway.
Vail Resorts, enduring some painful belt-tightening this fall, announced this week that less than expected losses for the first quarter show great promise for the season. (The company always loses money in this quarter.)
The passing last summer of Pete Seibert, first among founders, brings an added measure of poignancy to the celebrations of Vail’s 40th. It also serves to separate Vail’s eras symbolically between first 40 and the next 40.
Politically speaking, the community is split as ever, demonstrated by razor thin election results this fall in which conference center tax funding was approved by a mere 44 votes and a property tax rate increase rejected by 55 votes. About 1,600 people voted, with no end to the conspiracy theories spun by the various factions about why those dumb voters didn’t see things their way. Then again, Vail’s hardly the only small town in America with a constituency divided over decisions. And the debate, though it does indeed get wearying at times, shows health in the grand body politic and genuine passion for the community’s future success.
Still, thank God for the snow and its edifying effects on our perspective, lest we forget why we live or visit here.
Vail’s history, though short, is among the most interesting to be found. A cast of distinctive characters built this place, and many of them are still around. Also, for better or worse for American skiing, what Seibert and Earl Eaton started at Vail was widely followed across the West and beyond.
This is a good time to explore some of that history, through the fireside chats at the Colorado Ski Museum and historic walks through town with guides, in addition to the raft of activities surrounding the anniversary. Check the schedules in the local news section or calendar page for more information.
Also, be sure to take in the events that celebrate the present. Vail, now old enough to have a past, remains vital for all its challenges and disagreements. Those obituaries about Vail’s supposed loss of “soul” – uttered mainly by people who don’t have a clue – are greatly exaggerated.
There’s a lot of life left in the pearl of America’s ski towns.