Letter: Front Rangers sustain Vail
Vail CO, Colorado
Thank you for highlighting an issue immediately relevant to our Colorado way of life. I will not respond to Kaye Ferry’s alleged “riffraff” remark, but I do consider the attitude it represents a concern to Coloradans in the Vail Valley and across the state.
As a lifelong Front-Range skier, child of Front-Range skiers and PSIA-certified ski instructor, I am increasingly distressed by the big mountain, bigger money, corporate mentality destroying the sport I love. While I appreciate the need for profits to sustain the ski operations and mountain towns, I lament the increasingly popular industry choice to seek those short-term profits from week-long destination ski packages while screening out the natives.
This season alone my parents, husband and I have struggled to find lodging for one or two nights in the Vail/Avon area on a few, off-peak occasions because of a new policy requiring a four- or five-night minimum stay. All four of us work and though we can afford the lodging, we simply cannot take a week off work to ski. For a town touting its “exclusivity,” I am not surprised, though I am disappointed, that the Vail Resort industry willingly caters to tourists and, judging by the advertisements, hopefully extravagant tourists, while alienating the local population who generates sustained interest in the industry.
Skiing is not an average hobby, but an athletic endeavor that requires practice to sustain ability. The average skier who skis for one week out of a season hardly maintains the skill, let alone increases in ability, though satisfies the optimistic business model with restaurant, ski shop and lodging purchases. The Front-Range skier, willing to brave I-70 every other weekend or so, is a long-term investment who, despite not owning a multi-million dollar property in Vail or buying that $1,000 cashmere sweater at Gorsuch, will bring his or her children to the sport, to ski school and to a life of supporting the mountains. And those lunchtime bowls of pork green chili at Two Elks add up.
My mother and father have skied Vail since the early ’70s, and my family and I now ski at Vail as often as possible during the season. My mother and I hike Vail every summer, my husband and I mountain bike there and my father and I fly fish Gore Creek and the Eagle River. We dine at Blu’s or Up The Creek, buy gear at Bag and Pack Mountaineering, and my mother and I each have Golden Bear jewelry. At least Mr. Foley seems to understand the value of such local currency. My family will continue to ski at Vail, despite the occasional duct tape on our ski pants and the I-70 commute. If we’re the “riff raff” Ferry hopes to avoid, long live the riff raff. And the access granted by our Colorado or Epic passes.
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