War on skis
War. What is it good for? Absolutely nothing, according to worried ski industry officials who are busy slashing budgets and hunkering down for the worst again this ski season.The panic-button pushing is very reminiscent of last season, when execs were predicting 30 percent fewer skiers in the wake of 9/11. Despite another below-average snow year, those predictions thankfully didn’t come trueIt’s wise to brace for catastrophe and be pleasantly surprised when things turn out OK, but the dire predictions begin to ring a bit hollow after a while, particularly when history doesn’t back them up (see story page 6).Besides, war and skiing have a long history of coexisting. Colorado’s ski industry has its roots in the 10th Mountain Division troops who trained near Leadville during World War II then played a critical role in defeating the Nazis in Italy. Those troops, including late, great Vail founder Pete Seibert, returned to the States to start dozens of ski areas.With the War on Terrorism currently being fought in the mountains of Afghanistan, in part by the modern day 10th Mountain Division based in New York these days it’s clear that alpine warfare tactics never go out of style.Witness local big-mountain skiing legend Chris Anthony’s stint with the U.S. Marines at their high-altitude training camp in the Sierras of California (page 8). Anthony and the Marines are featured in Warren Miller’s latest film offering, STORM, which has its local debut at the Vilar Center Oct. 18-19.Anthony had a renewed sense of security after seeing these guys slog through some of the harshest winter conditions imaginable. And who knows how many of those Marines, or the modern 10th Mountain troops heading back from Afghanistan, will decide to make snowsports a lifestyle adventure, and not just a job.It’s doubtful, though, that they’ll have the same impact as the ski troopers from WWII, because the industry was so wide-open then, and ski areas cropped up faster than moguls on Look Ma.Speaking of warriors, let me be the first to bid a fond farewell to Vail’s preeminent gadfly, political rabble-rouser and champion of the downtrodden business community. Kaye Ferry, president of the Vail Chamber and Business Association, is stepping down (page 7) and selling the Daily Grind.Always opinionated, always quote-worthy, Kaye over the past 12 years has accomplished quite a few things for the ski town she loves, and infuriated a few people in the process. But she has never been boring. From a newspaper editor’s standpoint, she will be missed.As a tribute, I’ve incorporated at least one of her quotes in every story I wrote this week. I have a feeling it won’t be the last time.
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