It’s warm and just a bit too dry in Sun Valley |

It’s warm and just a bit too dry in Sun Valley

Allen Best

The Idaho Mountain Express (Jan. 22) describes the situation as somewhat idyllic for alpine skiing, with warm, sunny days on top of Mount Baldy, Sun Valley’s principal mountain. However, the snowpack has been sufficiently suspect to inspire a hair-raising experiment at Paul Kenny’s Ski & Sports, a shop. He shaved the head of shop manager Scotter Carling to appeal to the snow goods. “Ski Baldy S bald,” read one sign, and “Better Skiing through Baldness” was another.Can Copper reverse its parking ratios?COPPER MOUNTAIN – Parking is becoming such a problem at Copper Mountain that Intrawest, the ski area owner and resort developer, is talking about putting a cap on skier days. Resort officials also claim they want to reverse the resort’s current ratio of 60 percent day-skiers to 40 percent destination skiers.The issue comes up as Summit County officials review Intrawest’s development strategy. Much lies ahead, including a performing arts center, a large hotel, 1,100 housing units, and two gondolas.Currently, reports the Summit Daily News (Jan. 22), the resort has 2,666 spaces designated for day-skier parking. That’s sufficient on all but about two weeks a year, when the demand is closer to 3,500 spaces. During those times, cars spill out onto the resort’s arterial roads.Intrawest says as additional building is done at Copper, the projects will have their own parking, much of it underground.Slow times good for pro boarders … for nowMAMMOTH LAKES, Calif. – With the ESPN X Games about to convene in Aspen, The New York Times (Jan. 24) visited Mammoth Mountain to study the past and future of skiing.The Times notes that Mammoth remains the province of weekend warriors – nearly 20,000 a day on weekends, but as few as 3,000 on weekdays, which is why so many fresh-faced pro snowboarders have adopted Mammoth as their training ground.But it won’t last. The Times explains how Intrawest intends to transform Mammoth into something more like Aspen, where destination visitors expect white tablecloths, designer boutiques, nightclubs and Starbucks,Tracing the town’s history, the Times recounts that the “last development push in the 1970s brought a car-centric view of urban planning that would have resulted in sprawl were it not for the federal protected parks that girdle this 4-square-mile town. The resulting streetscape can be generously described as strip mall retro. While few would cling to this aesthetic, there is a growing uneasiness that the Intrawest developments will kill what little character exists.”And then the Times quotes Hal Clifford, author of “Downhill Slide,” in his take on the homogenization of the ski experience.”What they have done is taken the very best elements of the suburban mall, the cruise ship, and a little bit of Disney, and put it together,” he said, speaking of Intrawest. “They took the traditional European architecture and super-sized it.”

Support Local Journalism