Colorado resorts target rogue ski instructors
The Denver Post
Aspen, CO Colorado
Many resorts have begun stings to nab renegade ski instructors who offer on-the-hill lessons without going through the resort.
Last season, Vail ski instructors groused about the increasing prevalence of underground paid lessons and guiding at Vail and Beaver Creek. They wondered whether Vail’s guardians were doing enough to stop it and protect their jobs.
“I was hearing that from our instructors, so we stepped up and had instant results,” said Vail Mountain chief Chris Jarnot.
The mountain joined the U.S. Forest Service in an undercover operation that netted a dozen illegal instructors. Those instructors faced federal charges and fines up to $5,000, although most first-time offenders were cited for $525. The real sting is a lifetime ban from skiing at all five Vail Resorts ski areas.
Anyone – including hunting, rafting, hiking or snowmobiling guides – who makes money in exchange for services on public land without a permit is breaking federal law, says Forest Service ranger Don Dressler.
“Our big message that we try to get across is that this is for public safety,” Dressler said. “We permit people who are licensed and insured and properly trained. I can understand the economics of the situation, and we sympathize, but we need to protect the public.”
Aspen Skiing Co. looks to its army of 1,200 to 1,400 instructors to keep an eye out for underground instruction. And they are vigilant in their watch, says spokesman Jeff Hanle.
In Vail, several of the underground instructors nabbed last season were former resort employees. Many of the instructors had told their clients, if questioned, to deny any financial deal.
“In several cases, we found the client had been coached,” Jarnot said.
Support Local Journalism
Support Local Journalism
Readers around Aspen and Snowmass Village make the Aspen Times’ work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.
Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.
Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.
Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.
User Legend: Moderator Trusted User
Amid the pre-Thanksgiving gloom of grim pandemic news here in Aspen, across Colorado and the mountain west came a small but significant dose of hope in the unlikely form of an Aspen Music Festival and School announcement.