Vail Daily editorial: Not quite ‘all the skiing’

the Vail Daily Editorial Board

There’s been a lot of chatter and a ton of online comments in the wake of Vail Resorts’ Monday announcement of its deal to acquire the Whistler Blackcomb ski resort in Canada.

Some of that chatter is less than flattering, of course — there are plenty of people who see the Broomfield behemoth as a real-life, mountain-dwelling version of Engulf & Devour, the name director Mel Brooks gave to villainous corporations in a couple of his movies.

One online comment somewhere — they tend to run together — wondered, “Is Vail (Resorts) buying all the skiing?”

The short answer to that is “no,” of course. In a Monday telephone interview with Vail Daily reporter Scott Miller, Vail Resorts CEO Rob Katz noted that there are more than 700 ski resorts in North America. Looked at from that perspective, Vail Resorts owns a relatively small share of the continent’s ski areas.

Of course, that relatively small portion of the total industry also includes some of the best-known names in the business: Tahoe, Park City, Breckenridge, Vail and, now, Whistler. All of those names are top brands in themselves. Bring them together under one umbrella, and you have a big share of North America’s ski business. It’s easy to see why the company is seen by many as a winter-sports juggernaut.

Support Local Journalism

Still, Katz has a point. It remains pretty easy to fulfill your passion for snow sports — whether you visit Arapahoe Basin, Alta, Aspen or Telluride — without giving any money to Vail Resorts. It’s likely you’ll be able to ski without feeding the Broomfield behemoth for the foreseeable future.

But the company’s impact on the business as a whole has been profound.

It’s far too early to pass any sort of judgment on the effect Vail Resorts’ acquisition of Park City, much less Whistler, will have on the industry as a whole. But the company has already changed the business with its various Epic Pass products. It will be fascinating to see what the next several years bring.

Support Local Journalism