Ski company battens down |

Ski company battens down

Don Rogers

We’d say another tough year. But as it turned out, they did quite well through their last quarterly report. One of the best ever winters financially for the ski company, though most others in the High Country did not share this bounty, and some resent that, to be sure.

The storm clouds seem to be blowing in for this next, year-end report, though. Couched language in a book-length letter to the troops, whispers in the ether that the newly acquired hotels have followed suit with the troubles the rest of that industry has experienced since Sept. 11, 2001. We catch the whiffs even in this ivory tower. Well, we’ll see soon enough. The giant struggles, too.

Belt-tightening is in order in any case, to the tune of 2 to 4 percent. Their outlook is prudent, if a tad gloomier than we are seeing through our tinted glasses.

But the wake of the terrorist attacks last fall was not nearly as crippling as feared. We think, and hope, that Adam Aron’s annual letter on the subject again overestimates the pain.

Prudence, of course, is the wise course, with expectations low enough that a helpful heaping of snow will easily cover them. Hopefully, and more significantly for the prospects of the valley than another year of fear, the snow will come this year.

Fire, drought and a dawning realization that the water supply is something short of infinite in this arid environment are more proximate concerns to us than the shadow of terrorism in America. We feel the flickers, surely, but this has long since retreated to back-of-the-mind nuisance in comparison to what we face daily. And that’s normal. In our case, the weather rules, for now.

Still, Vail Resorts’ cautionary stance is a shivery signal to the businesses and governments of the valley to brace for a difficult winter.

Lingering fears and its possibly continuing effects on the economy may have short-term consequences for taxes bases on sales, lodging, building and such. Longer term, though, it’s clear that Eagle County remains on a growth track. The lull won’t last forever, and if last winter wasn’t as bad as feared, this one could well be good. If the snow falls.

What does all this add up to? Who knows? Uncertainty breeds a conservative stance toward the future, as it should. But it ought not be mistaken for a crystal ball.

A tonic

Meanwhile, the fall colors are racing toward peak, in perhaps the most beautiful season of all in this paradise. Amazing that visitors don’t flock here just for the aspen turning brilliant for that short bloom of theirs.

If you need an affirmation of life, and joy, after all this somber reflection and sad requiems, take a little extra time these next few weeks to check out the colors.

It’ll do us all some good.


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