The easy layups |

The easy layups

Allyn Harvey

Things at the Aspen Skiing Co. are disturbingly quiet these days.

Not at the marketing and media relations office, of course, where a team of chatty, highly trained professionals spins the press to shape the company’s image.

They’ve actually done a great job reshaping the public perception of a resort that was once known for banning snowboards (even though it didn’t), catering solely to the muckity mucks at the Aspen Mountain Club (where membership is required), and pitching itself as “uncrowded by design” (read: empty).

They’ve gotten rid of those stodgy old World Cup races and the very passe 24 Hours of Aspen. Now we have the “Power of Four,” a movie that makes Aspen look special and, according to several well-placed sources at Skico and ESPN, the ESPN Winter X Games for another three years (see story, page 1).

All that’s cool.

What isn’t so cool, however, is the muzzle that marketing maestro David Perry and CEO Pat O’Donnell have strapped on their employees ” all of their employees ” who can’t say anything to the press without first clearing it with either Perry or Jeff Hanle, the company spokesman.

Some of that’s understandable. When contacted yesterday for confirmation that the X Games would indeed be held for another three years at Buttermilk, one manager answered “the company pays people to talk to the press.”

X Games. Three more years. Big story. One, no doubt, that Perry wanted to control. That manager’s refusal to comment makes sense.

But what about the two managers (senior managers, for that matter) who declined to answer the question: “How’s that new ticket scanning system at Highlands working?” Or the manager at Ajax who got skittish after publicly touting the ambassador program without clearance first from Big Brother?

Those kinds of topics, said one former Skico executive who is now a senior executive at neighboring resort, are “easy publicity layups.”

Too bad the Skico, with its tight lips policy, keeps missing them.