It is easy to hate on Vail Resorts and Alterra, the two conglomerates that now own five of Vermont’s 22 ski areas between them—with another out-of-state corporation, POWDR, owning another two. Locals like to blame these big companies for many of the changes to ski towns and ski culture that Richard Solomon writes about in his thought-provoking essay published here, “The Two Futures of Skiing,” and on p.32 of our Season Preview issue.
In it, Solomon looks at the history of skiing and proposes an alternative, green, egalitarian future where ski areas are owned and shared by the community.
To a certain extent, that future already exists here in Vermont. Though seven resorts are owned by corporate overlords, seven more are operated by non-profit entities. The remainder are independently-owned areas, coops or private clubs. At these smaller places (see “The Best Little Ski Areas You Never Skied” from our Winter 2019 issue), skiing is accessible ($5 for a lift ticket at Brattleboro Ski Hill). The clientele is largely local. There is a sense of community.
It is important that these areas survive as they create new skiers, young and old, regardless of income, and contribute to the community as much as the summer baseball diamond does.
But is that other future so bad? Those corporate overlords give back mightily to their communities, employ thousands, attract visitors who feed the local economies and, let’s face it, provide some pretty sweet amenities. As we went to press, Vail Resorts announced a spate of new lifts, including new six-pack chairs for Mount Snow and Stowe. Soon, Killington will be hosting thousands for the World Cup and finishing off its stunning new base lodge.
While we don’t agree with everything that Solomon writes, we felt that his was an important viewpoint to share. Let us know what you think the future of skiing should be on our social media pages or at our website. —Lisa Lynn, Editor