March 28, 2021

Arapahoe Basin – Covid Lessons – We at conSKierge have been wondering what from the Covid era will survive in the ski industry. The iconic Colorado ski area, Arapahoe Basin, is giving us some indication. Two years ago Arapahoe bailed on the Epic pass after its die hard local crowd screamed about the crowds. Of course, Covid led to further changes in managing the crowds, and Arapahoe has decided it liked what it saw. All tickets for the 21-22 season will have to be purchased online and in advance with no ticket sales at the area. More importantly, they will limit the number of season passes and tickets it will sell. A spokesman for the area said “Covid forced us to learn in a few months what would have taken five years to learn. For decades, the strategy was to add more and more skiers. That is no longer the case.” For more see SnoCountry’s report at  Arapahoe Limits Ticket Sales.

Saddleback is Back and Expanding – If you have east coast connections, you no doubt know by now that Saddleback Ski Area has reopened. First, a step back. Saddleback closed  5 years ago when the then owners were not willing to pony up for a new main mountain lift and other needed improvements.  Arctarus Impact Fund, a Boston based investment firm bought the area last year and despite the challenges of Covid replaced the lift and opened the area for the 20-21 season. We have a knee jerk reaction against investment firms owning ski areas but we like the looks of this deal, particularly since the latest big news is the area has announced expansion plans. Believe it or not, the Arctarus Fund makes investments in entities in struggling economic areas with the goal to improve the local economic conditions. They must be encouraged by what they have seen in this last year because they have recently announced they will put in new lifts, expand terrain and build a new mid-mountain lodge.  For more see an excellent piece by Outside Magazine, Saddleback Resurfaces.

Jessie Diggins – US Woman Wins World Cup –  Never heard of Jessie? Well, truthfully, neither had we. We will admit that given our love for speed and going downhill, cross country skiing has been the poor second cousin in our ski world. However,  cross country has rebounded world wide during Covid given that it fits virus safe protocols.  Except for Bill Koch taking the cross country world cup title back in the stone ages (1982), Americans have struggled to excel on the cross country circuit. Jessie indeed took the overall cup this year in a grueling season lasting from November to March.  Its amazing enough when the New York Times covers any skiing matters, much less a cross country event, but check out their article on Jessie which gives a good portrayal of the feat she accomplished. See Diggins Dominates.

Quick Hits 

  • Hate ski shows as much as we do (lousy 2 year old skis for sale, too many non-skiing booths and the popcorn is always stale)? A new operator of one of the largest shows in the country promises changes to excite us. See the Boston Globe’s piece, Boston Show Reimagined?
  • Want a rope tow in your backyard? Not quite sure why you would but for a tad over $7K you can. See another Globe piece, Backyard Ski Tow
  • While we definitely like the skiing part more than the apres part, who doesn’t love a good place to grab a drink and revisit the day? And we particularly miss the apres bars in the time of Covid where the bars are either closed or have limited openings. One of our favorite classics is the Sitzmark at the Alta Lodge, and we have to give SKI credit for a great piece that captures the essence of this corner of heaven. See Sit at the Sitzmark
  • If you follow the ski pass world you have seen that Vail has seriously lowered the price on the Epic Pass. When the dust settles on 21/22 pass prices (we would advise waiting a bit to buy), we will feature an article on it, but until then check out this piece from one of our favorite industry publications VT SKI+RIDE  Epic Price Drop
  • And finally this. While the North American ski industry has remained open, European resorts have either remained closed or had extended closure periods. Apparently though, even if you can’t ski,  you can dress the part for the European ski scene since certain fashion designers have filled the void. See the Guardian’s piece, Fancy Ski Fashion
conSKIerge co-founder

Kevin Dennis is a life long ski bum with a 34 year legal career on the side. Now retired, he skis 80+ days a year. While he lives in Alta UT in the winters, he has traveled extensively through skiing and has skied almost every major resort in North America (and many you have never heard of). He continues to hit the road often throughout the western United States and Canada and trips over the last several years have included ventures in British Columbia, Montana and Colorado. Whether you want to know about the behemoths like Aspen or Squaw or are interested in the road less travelled (Lost Trail Powder Mountain in Montana or Whitewater in BC anyone?), Kevin has been there, has an opinion and you will most likely have to tell him to shut up after a half hour!