Do politics and powder mix? | VailDaily.com

Do politics and powder mix?

Matt Zalaznick

Blasting into the 2003 ski season Andrew Couperthwait takes advantage of an opportunity to ski Beaver Creek a ned on Friday November 21, 2003. The season opens to the public for the 2003-2004 season Saturday the 22nd.

But is the man who went on a daring, top-secret Turkey-bearing mission to Baghdad the ski president?

Or, are any of the Democratic hopefuls – whoever they are – likely to make skiing and snowboarding a high priority in the White House, assuming they can bump Jacko, Ryan and Trista and Kobe off the front pages and get their names and platforms out to a scandal-numbed electorate.

“I would say Democrats can probably ski better than Republicans,” said Justin Osborn, a skier and Republican from the Dallas area. “I lived in Durango for a year and I know Republicans don’t ski very much – they only ski about four days a year.

“Republicans don’t get in as many ski days,” Osborn added.

Republicans also aren’t up to the Democratic snuff when it comes to apres-ski, the indiscretions of W.’s young adulthood notwithstanding, Osborn said.

We, however, don’t agree that your average Democrat could guzzle more margaritas and inhale more nachos than your average member of the GOP.

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As for the big issues that surround skiing – the environment and the economy – skiers and riders threw us for a Six-Flags-sized loop and said the Republicans were the ideal guardians of the environment and the Democrats would watch out for the big corporations that run many ski resorts, particularly those in Eagle County. Ain’t that right?

“I’m such a beginner at skiing, I don’t know,” Justin’s wife Tammy said of the potential impact partisan policies could have on Wall Street and the ozone layer.

Perhaps, Tammy, you should tune in to the O’Reilly Factor more often for a fair and balanced view of how skiing is playing out as a defining issue of the presidential campaign.

Justin, however, was more pithy in his assessment than his wife.

“The Democrats for the environmental aspect. The Republicans for the Resorts, for business –for the development aspect,” he said.

Snow policy

Justin Crowley, a young Republican skier from Boulder said –wait, did we get that right, a young Republican from Boulder?

“I’m originally from Texas,” Crowley explained.

So what’s your feeling on jam bands like the Yonder Mountain String Band or Donna the Buffalo? He declined to comment, but said the Republicans’ strength on homeland security would certainly benefit ski areas on the business side of things.

So what you’re saying, Justin, is that Dick Cheney is in his secret lair building some type of nefarious weather-controlling machine? Some kind of Dr. Strangelove-type doomsday device?

“Republicans will make the country feel safer,” Crowley said, completely dodging the doomsday question. “People will feel like getting on a plane and economically, people can afford to ski because they’ll feel the country’s in good economic standing.”

But can Dick Cheney shred the epic pow-pow?

“I doubt it,” said Brittany Adams, another young Republican, who is from Dallas.

“I’ll just be happier living in America knowing a Republican is in the White House,” she added, though she wasn’t asked that question.

The tourist factor

Charlie Meyers of Highland Ranch based his answer on the large cohort of the tourist population that comes from the president’s home state.

“I’m not sure I see a “ski candidate,’ but I figure a Texan in the White House has got to be good for skiing,” Meyers said. “With the number of Texans on the slopes, a Texan in the White House can’t be a bad thing.”

Meyers, a Republican, admitted that a politician, regardless of party affiliation, regardless of whether they ski or snowboard, is still a (and these are our words) glad-handing, money-grubbing megalomaniac who’ll say anything, land on any air craft carrier, fool around with any intern to get a vote.

“At the end of the day, all politicians are just trying to curry favor with everyone,” he said.

Our current president is, of course, wildly popular in Europe, particularly France and Germany, whose governments have successfully lobbied to make Bush’s birthday an official holiday throughout the European Union. To make sure W.’s glowing image abroad wasn’t just White House propaganda as phony as the turkey W. posed with in Baghdad, we checked with a few Europeans on our commander in chief’s mega-celebrity status overseas.

“He should resign,” said Christian Galsterer, a skier from Germany. “Bush is bad for everything.”

Galsterer’s friend, Claudia Hansen – also from Germany – said ski resorts may not want to feature Bush prominently in their overseas marketing campaigns.

“In general, Bush is not good for the reputation of the U.S,” she said. “I hear people saying they won’t travel to the U.S. because Bush is president.”

But Cydney Unruh, a rider from W.’s home state, said politics and powder just don’t mix.

“I think more people ski than vote,” she said. “People have the desire to ski regardless of who’s president.”

A day on the slopes, however, could relax the losers of the election.

“If a Democrat or a Republican is elected, the other side could ski more if they’re angry –it’s a stress release.”

Matt Zalaznick can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 606, or via e-mail at mzalaznick@vaildaily.com.