Guest commentary: Pandora’s expansion will strengthen even more Aspen’s ski town legacy
As I sit writing this letter, I am looking up at the magnificent Pyramid Peak, and I feel the presence of every summit that surrounds Aspen. This is the view from my home, which was built in the early 1950s. When I think of home and Aspen, I think of family and skiing.
My name is Jeff Gorsuch, and my family has had a connection to this incomparable town on the Western Slope of the Continental Divide for more than 130 years. My great grandfather arrived in Aspen and the Colorado mining camps almost a century and a half ago. He ran the mule train from Leadville to Aspen, from silver to snow.
Four generations later, my children love these mountains and this town with the same awe and reverence as their parents, grandparents, and great grandparents.
Every time I gaze at Pyramid, I know the home I cherish is more than the walls of my house, more than a location on a map, more than a feeling, more than I can describe or explain.
But I must try, because I am writing in support of the Pandora’s improvements. I am writing with respect for Aspen’s history and support for Aspen’s future — its relevance and its reflection to the world as a renowned and legacy “SKI TOWN.”
We stand on the shoulders of legendary pioneers whose names define this place, and whose vision must inspire ours. Hear the mountains; they echo with the vision of Roch, Dolinsek, Pfeifer, Iselin, Durance, Spence, Marolt, Stapleton and Willoughby. If not for the insight of these innovators and their vision of Aspen as a ski town, we would not be pondering Pandora’s today. Perhaps we would not be here at all.
When Aspen Ski Club cut the first trails on Aspen Mountain with axes, the foundation of American skiing and ski racing was born. Soon after, the legendary Roch Cup, the 1941 U.S. Nationals and the 1950 Alpine FIS World Ski Championships established Aspen as a Ski Town of international significance, ranking among the finest skiing and racing venues in the world.
Aspen aspired to excellence from its beginning. It reached for the sky with the longest chairlift in the world, Lift One, which rose from the village into the clouds, from valley to peak. So, too, rose the popularity of Aspen as one of the most iconic ski towns and communities.
Our family has had the honor of being in business in Aspen for more than 50 years and part of the world of skiing much longer. In 1959, my parents qualified for the 1960 Olympics, in Olympic Trials held in Aspen.
Sixty-one years later, Aspen is where I work and play and raise my family. It is where we continue to run a third-generation business.
But more important, Aspen is the spirit we breathe, the energy we absorb, the ideal we live.
Aspen’s mountains, inside and out, silver and snow, are the force that draws the world here. We are a mountain town at our core, a ski town in our soul, a place where ideas and art and music and dance push back boundaries and deny limits.
“Defy Ordinary” is an Aspen slogan that reveals why this is the premier ski resort in the world. We are not ordinary. We are extraordinary. We see tomorrow, and we shape tomorrow with the tools and wisdom we gain today.
Aspen and these mountains are what draw people to our community. The Pandora’s improvements will deepen everyone’s appreciation of nature’s gifts, which skiers will celebrate with unforgettable turns in delicious powder.
Aspen Skiing Company is dedicated to exemplary stewardship of the land and the snow and the skier experience. Operational improvements for guests are implemented with attention to the highest standards.
The new snow making capabilities on Aspen Mountain ensure the skiing season will open on time. Lift One Lodge, Gorsuch Haus, and the reopening of Ruthie’s restaurant are heritage projects about skiing.
Who doesn’t remember the excitement and joy the 2017 World Cup Alpine Finals infused into our town? Into our skiing legacy. Into our mountain soul.
Everyone who attended those Finals could feel the energy and the magic in the air. Aspen was vital in every aspect. The mountain came to life. The world was with us, watching us. We nurtured our roots, we were true to our purpose, we renewed our commitment to excellence, we exercised our leadership.
Because we are Aspen.
Yes, a resounding yes, to the proposed improvements to Pandora’s.
Because we are Aspen!
Thank you to our commissioners for continuing the legacy of the greatest of all ski towns.
Jeff Gorsuch is the co-owner of the family business Gorsuch and past president Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club. He was inducted into the Colorado Snow Sports Hall Of Fame in 2019.