Walking a tightrope
As Vail is invaded this weekend by “pioneers” those who lived here and helped establish the resort in its infancy from 1962 to 1976 it’s never been more clear that culture clash is alive and well in the high country.Vail Resorts recently had to pull a series of edgy ads aimed at the next generation of snowriders, a Breckenridge campaign that promised: “The hill may dominate you. But the town will still be your bitch.”OK, I guess kids today are into prison terminology. But what the ad flap suggests to me is that the ski industry is desperate to infuse new life into an increasingly stodgy sport.Even traditionally old-school Vail has been aggressively pursuing the youth market in recent years, hosting freeskiing opens, snowboard sessions and generally giving the nod of approval to all kinds of carnage that would have been unheard even a decade ago.Chasing that demographic has been a hit, and hordes of Front Rangers have flocked to VR’s Summit County resorts and made their way over the pass to clog Vail’s South Frontage Road on weekends.But Vail risks alienating its core constituency the Bogner ski suit set, many of whom will be in town this weekend who are no longer fond of hucking huge air or rocking out all night on Bridge Street.It’s the same contradiction that has the Town of Vail clamping down on New Year’s and Fourth of July street parties on the one hand, while Vail Resorts hosts punk bands and motorcycles on snow on the other.Enter Rob Perlman, a familiar face for Vailites, who was recently anointed the new chief of Colorado Ski Country USA. At 32, “Perl,” as he was lovingly known by the Vail media when he worked for VA in the 1990s, is the youngest CEO of CSCUSA, the state’s ski industry lobbying group.Perlman promises to follow in the footsteps of predecessor David Perry, who came here from Whistler, where kids are king. But Perlman has a tough task: keep coddling the boomers while finding a way to entice Gen Y. It ain’t going to be easy.All we can say is, good luck, Perl.