You are here: home   Heard Around the West   Ski strangeness and caged chickens
  • This article by Jonathan Thompson originally appeared in the Dec 08, 2009 issue of High Country News.
  • To read the full article, you must login or subscribe.
Please enter your email address to begin:

Continue 
Follow Us
Follow us on Facebook! Follow us on Twitter! Follow our RSS feeds!
Topic: Culture & Communities     Department: Heard Around the West     Comments: 0

NON-SUBSCRIBER PREVIEW

Ski strangeness and caged chickens

News: Dec 08, 2009
by Jonathan Thompson

FROM THE SKIOCRACY

For people in ski country, the months between late September and early December are a sad and desperate time. Gray days, cold nights and nary a flake of snow drive recreationists indoors, wreaking havoc with their circadian rhythms. Everyone with any sort of sense — and a trust fund — flees to warmer, beachier climes to sit out those agonizing weeks. Those who stay would be better off just trading in their flip-flops for a tight, white jacket, the kind with strong straps, padding and hefty buckles. Because, when left unrestrained, some people do strange things.

Take the case of Lauren Slaff, in Durango, Colo. Slaff, a personal chef, moved to the area from New York City a couple years back, choosing the town for its proximity to Purgatory ski area. This fall, she bought a weekday pass for the winter. Only later did she discover that, during the early season, Purgatory might only open on weekends. Slaff, who thought she was getting ripped off, protested to resort management. They offered her a refund. She turned it down, and instead got the Durango Herald to write a hard-hitting, front-page investigative piece on the issue.

In response, the resort refunded Slaff’s money, took her pass away, and told her to take her skis and go slide on them somewhere else.

So the Herald ran another front-pager, which was in turn picked up by every ski-town daily within 500 miles, the Denver Post and even the Huffington Post. More than 100 comments popped up on the Herald story alone, most slamming the resort for not giving locals a break. At least one commenter suggested that Slaff lawyer up and go after the ski area for violating free speech rights while operating on federal land. It’s all part of the strange phenomenon in which ski-town citizenry views ski areas as semi-public entities, accountable to the public, rather than as private businesses.

“Look, let’s face it: We all who ski here, live here, and work here have a stake in helping Purgatory succeed,” wrote Ken Wright in a post called “Kicked out of Purgatory — and into the Soviet Union” (Dude, that is sooo last century) at his San Juan Almanac blog. “And that’s why the local community has a right — hell, a responsibility — to discuss decisions and actions by the management of our local ski resort in public forums. …”

There is 1 more page in this article...

Introductory Offer - Save 20%

Print with digital OR digital only

From our friends

Inspiring words from a die hard reader:

"I subscribed to HCN for a number of years, loved every issue...I stopped subscribing because my work load escalated. It was ok the first few months but after six months I was regretting the decision...the relevance of HCN did not diminish. I continued to look at the enticing titles of articles in the online newsletter but couldn't read enough to satisfy the craving. So I'm back. I also kicked in another 50 bucks as a personal reminder that quality reporting is not free."

Robert E. Hall, Washington D.C.

A constant commitment to the environment

Needless to say, we love and appreciate the fine work all of you do to illustrate the importance of our constant commitment to the environment.

Thanks to all of you for illuminating the critical issues of our world, country and the West. Keep up the great work!

Jeff and Lisa,
Atlanta, Georgia

Dinosaur fans

THANKS for splendid, challenging, exciting work, from two dinosaurs among your countless fans.

-- Brad and Zita Hosmer

Email Newsletter

The West in your Inbox

Follow Us

Follow us on Facebook! Follow us on Twitter! Follow our RSS feeds!
  1. Why homes are lost to wildfire | This Forest Service expert says it's as much a soc...
  2. The energy haves and have-nots | Will rooftop solar owners get off the grid — and...
  3. Will the Colorado River reach the Gulf of California once more? | Photographs of last month's historic water pulses....
  4. Locals resist a Bakkenization of the Beartooths | South-central Montanans oppose new drilling, forew...
  5. The toxic legacy of Exxon Valdez | We are just beginning to understand the true cost ...
HCN Classifieds
Subscriber Alert
 
© 2014 High Country News, all rights reserved. | privacy policy | terms of use | powered by Plone