John Colson: Hit and Run
August 1, 2008
OK, where’s the outrage? Where’s the indignation? Where’s the upraised digit of the oppressed signaling their discontent to the oppressors?
For the willfully blind among us, I’m referring to the fact that the two-day-a-week ski pass, the last refuge of the working class in this benighted village of the damned and the damnable, is approaching the thousand-dollar mark.
I can recall the day when I was incensed that the full-year pass, the gold standard among dedicated sliders upon snow (I bow here to the inevitable and refer to snowboarders, too) started edging up into this price range.
The two-day pass, you understand, entitles you to two days of fun on the slopes per week, and if you don’t use it, you lose it. The idea, I guess, was that even the most overworked snow junkies in town must get at least that much time off per week, or at least be able to use the pass enough, say a half-day for each validation, to justify the outlay of cash.
And it has worked well for those of us who never really were quite able to make sense out of paying for a full ticket (which now costs $1,299 with an ACRA discount, making the two-day pass seem almost silly). I speak for those of us who work 50 or more hours a week at full-time, regular daylight gigs, live downvalley and thus are not really able to take full advantage of a full pass.
And, to be fair to the Skico, it has worked, because it gave us just enough time on the slopes to keep us hooked. And as any good heroin dealer will tell you, that’s the point of addictive behavior. Keep ’em coming back for more, no matter what.
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What, you’re shocked that I would compare skiing to an addiction to some heinous drug?
Well, think about it. How many people do you know who have forgone a normal life to hang out here and be part of the seasonal frenzy known as Aspen? How many of your friends have crawled out of bed with the sun on a powder day, regardless of how weary they were from pulling a graveyard shift the night before, knowing that in their fatigue they are risking serious injury but are willing to strap on the boards nonetheless?
Admit it, we all do it. And if that’s not addictive behavior, I don’t know what is.
Granted, many have joined in this wicked dance because they really are here as economic vampires, getting fat off the bloated carcass that Aspen has become. But they actually are the greater addicts, because they are hooked not just on the skiing or snowboarding, which is hedonistic but in an open-air, Viking kind of way. No, they’re also hooked on the money and the scheming, which is a far stronger pull on their hearts and souls.
But the Skico seems to prefer to grab the green quickly and ignore the long-term benefits of keeping its serfs at the edge of contentment and therefore passive.
Not so long in the past, the howls of protest over all this would have been loud and long. Even a former mayor once rebelled, leading the raving masses to the gates of the castle, figuratively speaking.
But those days are long gone, it would seem. Now we meekly accept what is handed to us, and go back to work.
Maybe that’s just the way of the world, an unavoidable consequence of the fact that skiing essentially is a rich man’s sport. Perhaps we have no choice but to accept it. But we don’t have to like it.
John Colson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org