Aspen Skico flaunts excess

When you think of the Ute Indians truly living a sustainable life here in the valley before the mining boom of the late 1800s, and when you think of the rugged miners who then crossed the Continental Divide to build the silver mines, AspenX, the Aspen Skiing Co.’s new effort at “diversifying” and maintaining its sustainability, seems like parody. Usually the word “diversity” is used to describe efforts to include those who are otherwise excluded by race or gender. In the case of AspenX, the Skico appears to be offering more opportunities to those already in the most exclusive club on earth — the uber-wealthy. Merely vacationing in Aspen already excludes about 99.9% of the people on the planet.

Is making things even more swank with an expensive winter “beach” on top of Ajax, 10-course tasting menus, $5,000 parkas, and expensive champagne really a good look for their brand? History is replete with examples of how making a flagrant display of great wealth in the face of a struggling working-class doesn’t end well. The Skico’s unfortunate use of the term “the duct tape crowd” to describe those who can’t join AspenX captures the problem perfectly. That the ones driving snowcats, serving lunch, and tuning skis have to patch their Carhartt jackets with duct tape while Skico offers another layer of luxury to a class of people already burning through the foie gras and Veuve Clicquot hearkens to a gilded age last seen toward the end of the Roman Empire.

Might the Skico make a better corporate citizen by spending more time on their strengths: things like sustainable energy systems, backing the Aspen Ski & Snowboard Club, and providing great skiing. In the long run, AspenX might not even be good for the “diamond crowd.”

Mark Harvey