Editorial: An ode to Vail’s snow | VailDaily.com

Editorial: An ode to Vail’s snow

Tamara Miller for the Editorial Board
Vail CO, Colorado

For a winter that “experts” predicted to be drier than average, we certainly had a great ski season.

Sure, we had a slow start. Dry, warm weather forced Vail and Beaver Creek to delay their opening days, and until the end of November, both mountains were struggling to open terrain.

And then it snowed. And snowed. It snowed so much this season that Vail Mountain probably had its second- or third-snowiest season ever. Beaver Creek had its snowiest season in its existence, with 427 inches of the white stuff.

Today those early season struggles are all but forgotten, buried under the 453 inches that have fallen on Vail Mountain through this past weekend.

What won’t be forgotten is how a worker shortage, not poor late-season conditions, prevented Vail and Beaver Creek mountains from extending their ski seasons. Our reliance on international workers, whose J-1 visas ran out before April, should prompt the ski industry to lobby for immigration policies that support American businesses that can’t fill their labor needs with American citizens alone.

It also reiterates how important it is to have seasonal worker housing be a a part of the overall affordable housing solution.

We also can’t forget how the snowiest winter in recent memory forced transportation officials to close Vail Pass a record 21 times this winter, mostly due to accidents, including the horrific 70-car pileup that killed one man and injured many others. This winter has prompted the State Patrol to begin leading cars through bad weather to prevent drivers from driving too fast for the road conditions. Perhaps another way to make the road safer? Hike up the penalties for drivers whose irresponsible driving on snowy, icy roads can injure and kill others and wreak havoc on on the travel plans of everyone else.

Nor can we ignore the fact that there were 17 too many skier deaths on the slopes this year, including one on Vail Mountain, as well as two too many backcountry skier deaths in the East Vail Chutes.

Perhaps this ski season, with all its ups and downs, showed us again how much power Mother Nature has on us mere humans. She can boost or blow up our local economy, give outdoor enthusiasts the time of their lives while setting the perfect stage for tragedy to occur. Yes, that snow is a mighty thing.

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