The ski industry, climate hawk?


Aspen Skiing Company Sustainability VP Auden Schendler, and professional snowboarder Jeremy Jones on why ski corporations and pro athletes should step up to the climate crisis -- and how they can do it. 

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Can the outdoor gear industry wield its power for conservation?
lee mulcahy
lee mulcahy
Nov 18, 2012 08:05 AM

One blogger suggested we must hold those that work for these giant corporations accountable. The author, Auden Schendler, is a SVP @ the Aspen Skiing Company which is owned by the billionaire Crown family out of Chicago who hold huge stakes in Wall Street's JP Morgan Chase and the world 5th largest weapons manufacture. He has been criticized as being a "greenwasher" to hide the warts. The Aspen Skiing has made headlines recently: File this under the searchtag "Petty tyrants" or "Boycott Aspen".

This is the story about a small town folk singer and his “anthem for
local working people.” It’s about corporate bullying, irony and karma.
It’s the story of “Big Money.”.

Dan Sheridan, a 20-plus year
Aspen local, released an album in 2003 that included a song called “Big
Money.” While the song has been popular among some locals, Sheridan has
never gained much notoriety past the Aspen corridor of Highway 82. That
is until recently.

On January 1st, Sheridan played a gig at Sneaky’s
Tavern in the new and incomplete Snowmass Base Village. [Yesterday’s
front page story was: Skico accused of fraudulent actions in Base
Village condo sales. It was written by local author Brent
Gardner-Smith.] A group in the small
crowd requested “Big Money” and Sheridan obliged them by playing the
song. Sheridan said he had noticed “dudes in full-length fur coats and
cowboy boots” but that he “got the feeling that everyone wanted to hear

While no one ever heard from the man-fur sporting
tourists, there was apparently one person in the crowd who did not want
to hear it. An Aspen Skiing Company Vice President complained to the
Director of Food and Beverage, and on the following Monday Sheridan was
fried. By that Wednesday the Aspen Times published a story detailing the
events, and Jeff Hanle, the Skico’s spokesman, was quoted as saying,
“An artist can express himself how he wants. But that doesn’t mean we
have to provide him the stage.” Suddenly everybody was talking about
“Big Money.”.

The newspaper was flooded with letters to the
Editor with such headlines as “Censorship by Skico,” “Downright
Pathetic,” and “Boycott Skico,” and by Thursday the Aspen Skiing Company
was calling Sheridan to say that he could come back and play any song
except for “Big Money.” Aspen Daily News printed the story “Skico
welcomes Sheridan back without “Big Money””. Hanle called the incident a
“PR debacle” and said that he hoped Skico could put the incident behind
them and move on.

Unfortunately for Skico, that was just the
beginning. More letters poured into both Aspen newspapers,… and even
Pitkin County Commissioner Jack Hatfield dissed the Skico for all to see
on Grassroots TV. The original story became the most read article on
the Aspen Times website, and it was picked up by Denver’s Westword.

Skico moved on and decided to ride the holiday wave by promoting Aspen
Snowmass in major cities like Chicago, San Francisco, and L.A. The
company took its first billboard ads since 1958 with the headline “It’s
Time to Fly” featuring hometown sweetheart Gretchen Bleiler. However,
the story would not die.

While the Skico was posting billboards
along the 405 in L.A., the L.A. Times was printing an article titled
“Folk song strikes a touchy chord in Aspen”, which can now be found on
their website under Home/Collections/Wealthy People. Instead of giving
Sheridan a quiet warning and letting a couple of urban cowboys take
offense at a small show, Skico officials alienated Aspen locals and
undermined their own major advertising campaign. Corporate karma can be a
real bi#ch.

The story finally reached Gawker: “Take
heart, hippie communist folk singer Dan Sheridan… you are quite correct.
Big money ruins everything. And that’s going to suck for the rich, if
they ever leave their cocaine-and-expensive-hooker-strewn Jacuzzis.”.

The good news is that Dan Sheridan is now a folk hero, and everyone
wants to hear “Big Money.” Still, is an apology authentic if it only
comes after you have been called out? Would Sheridan still have a job if
the Aspen Times had never printed that story? No one at Skico has yet
to take responsibility for the firing of Dan Sheridan. There is no
transparency and no accountability, and perhaps that is why this story
continues to play.

You have to wonder what is going on at Aspen
Skiing Company. In a new story Curtis Wackerle for the Aspen Daily News
ask why Skico has stopped delivery of the newspaper to its hotel
properties. Hanle is quoted as saying that the amount of newsprint on
display at the properties “was just overwhelming” and that it had
nothing to do with the Daily News running the story “Skico’s green
efforts didn’t include Residences at The Little Nell.”.

artist can express himself how he wants. But that doesn’t mean we have
to provide him the stage” sounds a lot like “A newspaper can say what it
wants, but that doesn’t mean we have to provide it the circulation” or
advertise with it. It’s not so much a bullet to the Daily News as it is a
sucker punch. Skico fail.

-Skollie Life