Roger Marolt: Roger This | AspenTimes.com

Roger Marolt: Roger This

Roger Marolt
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

I am tired of being stupid. From now on I am going to agree with everything Aspen Ski Co. says. The age of idiocy is mine to own, not theirs. Even about that I was previously mistaken.

The age of idiocy that I refer to began in the late 1990s. I became unsmart then, or at least I think I did. It began with an advertising campaign touting Aspen’s slopes as being “Uncrowded by Design.” Aside from bastardizing the English language in the name of a classy town, I found the message puzzling. If our slopes were really designed to be “uncrowded,” what was the point in advertising the fact? Wouldn’t this entice more people to come here? Wouldn’t that make the slopes crowded? Wouldn’t crowding have then occurred by design? I didn’t get it. I asked too many questions. I had the audacity to laugh. They made all the money. I am an idiot.

Then came the green scheme. After years of cutting down forests, burning fossil fuels, and generally disrupting Mother Nature for recreational use, Skico was suddenly concerned about saving the planet. I thought it was odd that their conscience developed just in time. The environmental movement became very profitable about then. They were so concerned about greenhouse gases, trashes, and Kleenex that wasn’t manufactured up to snuff that they advertised about this, too … in hopes of getting more people to travel here from all over the planet to see just how much progress they are making in preserving Arctic glaciers. Why ask “how?” I thought it was funny, but now I think that in a couple of thousand years we’ll all be very happy they did what they are doing. It’ll make sense then just as Mount Vesuvius does now.

Base Village came next. I found it gastronomically conflicting that an environmentally conscience and uncrowded firm, like Skico, would spearhead a million-square-foot luxury development – the largest single construction project ever contemplated in these parts. Wouldn’t that ruin, or at least tarnish, the empty and green image they were working so hard to create? Silly me. Apparently the more buildings you construct, the more uncrowded room you create and the more fluorescent light bulbs you can install to light the Italian marble floors in it. Anyway, I never guessed they could sell the whole shebang to an outside development group, take all of profits upfront, and wash their hands of the deal before it died in its own hole. No doubt they used biodegradable soap.

Which brings us to the 2009 ticket prices crisis; the latest Skico scheme that I am entirely wrong about. You can go ahead and count me as one of the vocal 5 percent (figure courtesy of David Perry, Skico senior vice president) who aren’t smart enough to figure this out. In case you missed it, by eliminating two-day-a-week passes for folks who are required to work the other five and Highland and Buttermilk passes for the diehards who don’t work much by design, and by raising the price for senior citizens to ski, “literally 95 percent of all season pass holders will either pay less for the same amount of skiing or get more skiing and more flexibility for the same amount,” according to Perry.

Only a complete idiot would ask about what happens next year. And, only a uninformed cynic would guess that, after transitioning everybody to full passes and eliminating almost all options this season, the pumps will be primed to suck a lot more bucks out of everyone in the future. Shame on anyone who thought this! Of course they have our best interests in mind. They told us so!

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It’s a gift, pure and complex. They could have left last season’s plan in place, raised prices by a modest 5 percent, and made more money. The fact that Skico didn’t do this proves that they are worried more about you and me than their bottom line. They can’t help it if we don’t get it, and I’m sure their patience is wearing thin trying to explain. My advice is to give the money and run.

Don’t waste time wondering why Skico is voluntarily taking a hit on their bottom line this year (according to David Perry’s spreadsheet) to eliminate programs that only benefited 5 percent of their pass holders (also according to his spreadsheet). They have been doing the math on this since last January. Can you imagine the formulas and iterations involved? I won’t even try.

I wish life was simple. I wish that Skico could simply, just once, say that all the things they do are part of being a business trying to maximize their profits by providing a superior product in a competitive market. This is the straightforward stuff that most of us understand and accept. What is hard for me to get is the illogical advertising, the environmental tangent, the real estate trading, and ski pass pricing that they tell me they are undertaking for the good of the world, the community, and me. These are the things that confuse and confound Americans.

According to Perry, in addressing the business community over the new pricing plan, “It will take awhile to communicate exactly what it is and how it works for people because it is a significant change.” Do you see what I mean? Complicated. Very, very complicated. From now on, I’ll just take their word for it.