Employees requested to avoid protest
Snowboarders employed by the Aspen Skiing Co. have been asked not to publicly participate in protests of the board ban at Aspen Mountain.
Skico President and CEO Pat O’Donnell acknowledged Friday that he asked about 100 or so snowboarding instructors last week to work within the system rather than outside it.
“It was not a command,” he said. “If they have a difference with the policy, they’ve been asked to try to reconcile that internally rather than externally.”
O’Donnell and Skico executives hope that Skico employees don’t get visibly involved in the Free the Snow campaign that was launched this winter to try to overturn board bans at Aspen Mountain, Taos and Alta.
That group, which was founded by Matt Kreitman of Santa Fe and coordinated locally by Pride Snowboards shop co-owner Larry Madden, is using public pressure against the bans. The group’s Web site informs people about the issue and urges them to write letters to U.S. Forest Service personnel objecting to the bans.
Free the Snow also relies on media coverage, letters to the editor and very popular bumper stickers such as one that says “Free Ajax.”
O’Donnell said Skico employees are welcome to put the sticker on their cars without fear of getting into trouble. He even sought one out, unsuccessfully, at the Boarderfest event at Snowmass earlier this month.
What O’Donnell said he hopes to avoid is having snowboard instructors and other employees writing letters to the editor taking the company to task for the ban at Aspen Mountain.
“It embarrasses us as a company to have our employees doing this,” he said.
O’Donnell said he made that request last week when he was asked to speak at a gathering of snowboarding instructors at Snowmass. He said he tried to explain the company’s reasoning for the ban without trying to sway anyone.
“There’s no hidden agenda here – it’s not a safety issue, it’s not a behavioral issue,” O’Donnell said. The ban is strictly the result of a business decision, he said.
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