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Gay Ski Week reschedules to avoid the ESPN X Games

Janet Urquhart
Aspen Times Staff Writer

Organizers of Aspen’s Gay Ski Week have volunteered to push back the annual event by a week to avoid overlapping with ESPN’s Winter X Games at Buttermilk.

The one-time rescheduling of Gay Ski Week makes sense to avoid what would otherwise be an impossible crunch for hotel accommodations, said Paul Rossi, executive director of the Aspen Gay and Lesbian Community Fund, which hosts the gathering.

“We looked at our schedule and said, if we do this, we’re going to have a four-day overlap,” he said. “We would have had a major crisis for lodging. It would have been a disaster.”

Although Gay Ski Week has always taken place during the third week of January, in 2004 the event has been scheduled for Jan. 25 through Feb. 1. Gay Ski Week will overlap only with the closing day of X Games competition, scheduled Jan. 22-25, 2004.

Rossi checked in with David Perry, Aspen Skiing Co. senior vice president, while the Skico was still negotiating with ESPN for the return of the X Games. Although they hadn’t yet struck a deal, Perry knew the dates of the 2004 Games and concurred with Rossi that an overlap wouldn’t be a great idea.

“The lodging is the big problem,” Perry said. “The X Games fills up all the lodging.”

The Skico subsequently lured back the X Games for an unprecedented third run at the same venue, and the AGLCF scheduled the 27th annual Gay Ski Week so as not to conflict.

It’s better for Aspen’s lodges and hotels if the events don’t clash, forcing them to turn away business for lack of beds, Rossi reasoned.

Last winter’s Gay Ski Week brought an estimated 3,150 people to Aspen-Snowmass, he said.

The 2003 Winter X Games, held Jan. 20 to Feb. 2, followed Gay Ski Week, but for 2004, ESPN has moved up the dates of its event in order to avoid a conflict with the National Football League schedule. The network always schedules the games in the gap between the NFL’s conference championship games and the Super Bowl.

In 2002, Gay Ski Week followed on the heels of the X Games, beginning on the closing Sunday of the games.

In working with the Skico, the AGLCF also plans to offer discounted lift ticket packages to its attendees for the first time this year. In the past, Gay Ski Week attendees haven’t enjoyed the discounts offered to group business by the Skico because the AGLCF hadn’t organized a bulk purchase of tickets for the group. The organization intends to do so this year, Rossi said.

Letting regular Gay Ski Week attendees know that the event won’t be held during its traditional week next winter has been a high priority for the AGLCF, which is already hard at work organizing the gathering.

“It has been a challenge to get the word out, but I think we’re doing a pretty good job,” Rossi said.

[Janet Urquhart’s e-mail address is janet@aspentimes.com]


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