Reaction: riders happy, skiers resigned |

Reaction: riders happy, skiers resigned

Brent Gardner-Smith

As could be expected, locals who snowboard were pleased with the news that the Aspen Skiing Co. had lifted its ban against riding on Aspen Mountain.”I’m pumped,” said Basalt resident John Bozza, who first started skiing on Ajax in 1980. “Because I don’t ski anymore, I don’t get to ski with my friends on Aspen Mountain. I really miss being on Aspen Mountain.””Just on principle alone, I’m happy,” said Sean Lee, manager at the Pride Snowboards shop in Aspen. “I just don’t think there was any excuse for not allowing someone who is just like anyone else on the mountain. It makes you feel inferior. I’m just glad for the sake of things being legitimate now.”The Colorado ski industry also smiled on the decision.”We think it’s great that finally all of Colorado offers snowboarding,” said Kristin Rust, communications director for Colorado Ski Country USA. She pointed out the industry is focusing a lot of energy on reaching out to young people.Meanwhile, some longtime skiers of Ajax were disappointed, and even angry, at the news, although they conceded that it was probably the right call from a business standpoint.”Go to Highlands and try and ski bumps,” said James Bond, who has skied Aspen Mountain intensely for 30 years and feels that the shape and rhythm of moguls changes when you add snowboarding to the mix. “It’s different. The snowboard effect is real. It changes skiing. It’s unfortunate that the Skico doesn’t see that. It’s not a social issue, it’s really just a skiing issue.”Bond was philosophical about the coming change, however.”It was kind of cool that it was unique for a period of time,” he said. “But I always felt bad when people walked up to the gondola with a snowboard and couldn’t go up. I’m not whining about it, it’s just skiing. And I’m sure it’s an economic issue for the Skico.””It’s the end of a ski era,” sighed Tim Anderson, another Aspen Mountain regular, who said he was disappointed about the decision. “It should always be a ski hill. And if they are worried about people’s safety, they would keep it a skier’s-only mountain.”Bill McDonough, who first started skiing on Aspen Mountain in 1955 and has run a ski clothing shop in town since 1970, said he understood the Skico’s business logic.”I think it can only help in attracting families back here,” he said. “The parents want to ski Aspen Mountain and if their kids can’t ride Aspen Mountain, then they want to go somewhere else entirely.”And McDonough didn’t think there will be negative repercussions from those who came just to ski Aspen Mountain.”There are going be some skiers up there who don’t like it, ” he said. “But there is a lot more attraction to this town than just the fact that you can ski without snowboarders.”Derek Johnson, the “D” of the D&E snowboard shops in Aspen and Snowmass, was bullish on the call, but doesn’t expect a sudden change.”From a business standpoint, it makes all the sense in the world,” he said. “I don’t think we are going to see this huge big bump in business because of this positive news. I think we’ll see a modest bump in business because the negative news will go away. People outside of the valley didn’t know that that you could ride Snowmass and Buttermilk.”For die-hard skiers, what might be hardest to take is that Aspen Mountain may once again be busy with aggressive young athletes who like steep terrain.”The expert terrain has been sublime the last four or five years,” said Anderson.

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