The next 40 years… |

The next 40 years…

Cliff Thompson

But it’s also a time to take a look at the future. With that in mind, a group of community and industry leaders and ski industry observers offered their crystal ball version of what they feel the next 40 years of Vail and the Vail Valley will offer.Bill JensenExecutive vice president of Vail Resorts and chief operating officer Vail Mountain:”Terrain and the mountain will remain a constant. In 40 years I anticipate and expect the next generation of uphill transportation with faster and higher lift capacity. Because of that the skiing day will actually shorten because quadriceps can only withstand so much use.I would guess that ski technology and skier skill levels will have future mountain planners looking at new lifts and new mountain restaurant locations. We’ve already seen that transition from the front side of the mountain the to back with shaped skis.Lift tickets will evolve to where pricing is based on utilization of vertical feet or the amount of terrain skied. You could buy skiing by the foot. There will be different price points for green runs versus runs that require more technology to use.If you change the pricing structure it allows you to ski in different increments. You might end up skiing only three hours. It puts us in a position to do higher total skier numbers.I think the industry right now is limited based on capacity and the eight-hour ski day as a point of measurement. If you looked at the day differently and broke it into subsegments, then utilization becomes a stronger factor than capacity.It will be safe to say in 40 years there will be a high-speed connection from the Front Range to the mountains. The Eagle County Airport at that point will have grown to the second largest in the state.You will also have to look at community redevelopment in which Vail Resorts is now playing a role. Over the next 10 to 15 years, redevelopment of Vail will position Vail in a way that has a more year-round economy. While winter will still be the primary draw, it will make us less dependent on the peculiarities of being snow farmers.”Jerry JonesSki industry consultant and developer:”In thinking of the next 40 years, the thing that pops out of my head is that something will need to be done to solve the traffic problem.I see a four-lane heated highway from Interstate 70 over Cottonwood Pass south of Gypsum running to Aspen. I see commercial air traffic into Aspen being abandoned completely and it being used only for general (private) aviation.I see the valley filling out and Summit filling out and I think Georgetown and Idaho Springs will start to expand as a consequence of the overflow.In 1987, I predicted the megaresorts would continue to expand at the expense of the smaller ones. I still feel this way. This area and Summit is the number one ski destination in the country. Sooner than later the summer business is going to expand to rival the winter business.If they get the conference center squared away, it will take a great share of the market away from other areas because there’s so many things to do here.One problem is that we’re going to have a five star accommodation community, but we’ll have problems providing five-start service. These things will continue to plague us into the future.I think we’ll see $73 dollar hamburgers, (chuckles). They’re $12 now.The airport will continue to be a major asset, not just in winter but year-round.I see all of the things they have now getting bigger and better, but plagued by all the same old problems we have now. Forty years is not that long a time. I started in this business in 1956 and other than prices, things haven’t changed that much.”Rod SliferBusinessman, Vail Councilman and Vail Pioneer”I presume the same amount of activity that happened in the last 40 years will happen in the next 40. This area will be pretty big, probably double with 70,000, 80,000 or even 90,000 people. I would guess that’s not far off.The big change will be that skiing will still be important, but it will just be part of a greater recreation and vacation experience. There’s lots of things to do. Today I think about 30 percent of visitors don’t ski. In 40 years that might be 30 percent who ski. For years ago it was 100 percent skiers because that’s all that came here.Another big change will be the number of people who live here permanently. A lot of secondary homes will become primary homes.One thing that might happen, and it would be one of the greatest things, is for consolidation of governments. You would see it going from Edwards or Wolcott east to Vail. Rather than have duplications of services, you’d have just one organization.Forty years from now a huge question will be Interstate 70 and what will happen to accommodate increased traffic. Some alternative means of transportation from the Front Range to the mountains will have to be built. It could be buses or monorails. If it doesn’t happen, it will choke us.Maybe helicopters will shuttle us back an forth.The constraints on growth will be water, transportation, recreation and the basic necessities like schools and municipal services. If you developed all the land already approved for development, you could grow a lot more.”Harry Frampton :Former Vail Associates President, businessman and resident:Frampton half in jest, said he thinks the superstores moving into the valley and the chains that spawned them, will go the way of some of their predecessors.”Just like Montgomery Ward and others, both Wal-Mart and Home Depot will go bankrupt and the city will reclaim the buildings and will turn the area into a great community park that will be called Central Park.”He believes Interstate 70 will partially or fully buried from East Vail to Edwards or beyond as the highway noise issue worsens.But Eagle and Summit Counties will begin to resemble some of the resorts in Switzerland, because they will be linked to Copper Mountain by a tram or gondola, as will Beaver Creek and Vail mountains, he said. Minturn will become a ski town portal with trails and lifts.As more and more people move here to live the Vail Valley will become known worldwide as a learning center.Hal CliffordAuthor, Downhill Slide: Why the Corporate Ski Industry is Bad for Skiing, Ski Towns and the Environment; current Telluride resident and former Aspen resident and journalist:”I see mountain communities being drawn into the American mainstream in ways they haven’t been through high speed connections and ease of travel. It will be a lot easier to live in a mountain town and do here what you can do anywhere. A lot more people will live in mountain towns.I think you’ll see a lot less skiing (in 40 years) because of global warming, but I’m not a futurist and futurists are often wrong. Ski towns will just be places that people live. People won’t live here necessarily for the skiing.Skiing in Vail and Summit County will be an increasingly urban experience and more like Disneyland or a cruise ship experience where you come some place and have an entertainment experience. Skiing will just make a nice attraction.”———The Rucksack RuckusRandy WyrickEditor’s Note: In celebration of Vail’s Founders Days, the Vail Daily is running profiles of founders and recollections of events and people. If you have some, call Randy Wyrick at 949-0555, ext. 615, or email upon a time, Ottie Keuhn had architect Fitzhugh Scott design a three story home fronting Bridge Street. The first 10-foot width became the Rucksack, which is still with us.The house was designed to be the foundation for the Belltower Apartments, which would obviously include a tower. The building’s upper reaches eventually became the site of The Ram Room, the location of some legendary celebrations. Mostly they celebrated the fact that a former Coors engineer had installed a small refrigerator with a quarter barrel of Coors on tap – which morphed into the only hot/cold running Coors sink in Vail.The end of the 1967 ski season found Ottie perplexed and frustrated, and his tower idea thwarted. Five different tower designs had been submitted to the Vail Powers That Be, a 10-man board that made decisions before the town was established. Five times they were rejected because nothing could be higher than the Clocktower.The last week of the 1966-67 ski season found carpenters such as Vic Gahlina, Chupa Nelson, George Shaeffer and others fabricating a three and a half story tower in the fourth floor Ram Room.At midnight on the Sunday that the 1966-67 ski season closed, the prefabricated tower was carried, piece by piece, to the tower base and reassembled.At sunrise, Ottie took a quick look at his new 35-foot tower installed on a base 50 feet above bridge Street, and immediately departed for a lengthy stay at the Radhaswamey Sat Song Bejus in Bejias Punjab, India. That aforementioned Coors engineer was left with the Power of Attorney and a note of introduction to John Amato, Ottie’s attorney.No one construction conspirators looked up at the tower that Monday, which was fairly inconspicuous and looked like part of the original construction. About mid day, people began noting that something different was in downtown Vail, that it was about 70 feet higher than the Clocktower. Among the locals, giggling ensued.The Rucksack Tower stood for several weeks during that 1967 offseason, before it was finally removed.Vail’s Board had to hire one of the largest cranes in Colorado to remove the 35-foot tower, which had been installed on a base more than 50 feet above Bridge street.Concidentally, the tower later used atop the new Vail Interfaith Chapel bore a striking resemblance to Ottie’s dream tower atop Rucksack Tower.———-Vail Founders Days celebrates the dream, realityVail celebrates its 40th anniversary this week, with dozens of events leading up to Sunday’s 40th anniversary of opening day, Dec. 15, 1962. On that day, boasting one gondola, two chairs, eight ski instructors and a $5 lift ticket. Vail drew 38 paying customers that day.Events this week include a snowshoe race, ski and snowboard race, fireside chats, town historic tours, a parade, fireworks, and more.On Sunday, Dec. 15, 40 years to the day after Vail opened, Vail will offer a $40 lift ticket.Vail Founders Days- $40 Lift Tickets available Sunday, Dec. 15- Register to compete in the “Snowshoe for the 40th” Snowshoe Race- Register to compete in the “Vail Daily Ski & Snowboard Cup”- Town Historic Tours- Fireside Chats at the Colorado Ski MuseumFor additional information on Vail’s 40th anniversary events, pleasecall the Vail Activities Desk at 970-476-9090.

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