Vail Resorts splits with Colorado Ski Country USA |

Vail Resorts splits with Colorado Ski Country USA

VAIL ” Vail Resorts has pulled out of Colorado Ski Country USA, saying the trade group focuses too much on marketing and not enough on public policy.

“We had hoped to be a catalyst for positive change, but unfortunately, a number of the other members did not agree with our vision, and we were unable to resolve these differences,” said Rob Katz, CEO of Vail Resorts, in a press release.

Ski Country already lobbies for the ski industry at the state and national levels on issues such as transportation and labor, but Vail wanted to see those efforts increased. Vail Resorts also wanted to see marketing efforts handled through the state’s tourism office, Katz said.

“We want to see Colorado Ski Country use funds more efficiently and effectively in bringing more skiers and snowboarders to the state,” said Vail Resorts spokeswoman Kelly Ladyga.

Ladyga said Broomfield-based Vail Resorts, after its pullout from the trade group, will gird its marketing efforts.

“We probably spend more than any other company in the state of Colorado to bring people to Colorado and to our resorts,” Ladyga said. “The money that we won’t be spending on membership dues at Colorado Ski Country we will be putting into marketing efforts at our resorts.”

Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge and Keystone, all owned by Vail Resorts, will leave the group, decreasing the total number of ski areas in the organization from 26 to 22.

“It’s philosophical differences in the operation of the organization,” said Tom Jankovsky, chairman of the board of directors of Ski Country and general manager of Sunlight Mountain Resort. “We’re disappointed in their decision, but we’re respecting it. Definitely, there have been times when other resorts withdrew.”

Colorado Ski Country was created in 1963 to promote skiing in Colorado and the Rockies. It runs the fifth- and sixth-grade passport programs, which Vail Resorts said it still wants to participate in.

But Vail Resorts won’t be part of Ski Country’s medallion program, Ladyga said.

Vail’s pullout “definitely does impact us,” Ski Country’s Jankovsky said, adding that the group will have to take a “good look at its programs and be more efficient moving forward.”

Jerry Jones, a veteran ski industry analyst, said Vail may have felt they could be better served going alone.

“I can see Vail’s point of view,” he said. “Why should I share all my information, expertise and marketing with my competitors and the little guys who are sort of the hangers-on?”

But the move could hurt in subtle ways, Jones said.

“They won’t be able to communicate with their peers,” he said. “They won’t be getting referrals from the Colorado Ski Country brochures being sent out.”

Bill Jensen, the former chief operating officer for Vail Mountain and president of mountain operations for Vail Resorts, had served on Ski Country’s board until earlier this year when he left Vail Resorts, Jankovsky said.

Jensen starts his new job as CEO of Intrawest next week.

John Garnsey, who was recently promoted to executive vice president of mountain operations for Vail Resorts, had taken Jensen’s place on the board.

Colorado Ski Country’s president, Rob Perlman, announced this month he was leaving the organization to become vice president of sales and marketing at Steamboat.

Staff Writer Edward Stoner can be reached at 748-2929 or

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