FIS playing Aspen |

FIS playing Aspen

Steve Marolt was right on when he described (“Community Blackmail by FIS, Gorsuch Haus,” Commentary, March 24, The Aspen Times) as unacceptable the FIS threat of no more World Cup until a new lift and a renewed venue were created. The plot was perhaps more sinister than mere blackmail.

I wonder whether the Gorsuch team didn’t encourage a little pressure by the FIS to distract attention from the fact that their so-called revised application has offered only token reductions in height and in mass. Because that’s really what they’ve offered: mere token reductions.

Reducing the height from 47 feet to 40 feet may appear to the Gorsuch people as complying with City Council direction. Given the location of their proposed hotel in the middle of what has historically been ski run, that 7-foot reduction in height is frankly laughable. Not only is it incompatible with the ski run, the mass and height of the revised Gorsich Haus is incompatible with the other buildings in its neighborhood.

Aspen Skiing Co. is to be congratulated in pulling off a terrific, one-of-a kind, World Cup Finals. It was an audacious, one-of-a-kind event, despite the fact that a straw poll taken in advance of the races suggested that about 1 in 3 residents of Aspen left town to avoid the crowds and congestion. However, these races, as prestigious as they were, only lasted six days.

But Aspen, last I heard, exists for 365 days a year! More importantly, nice as it is to have a race or two every year, where spectators can watch skiing, Aspen’s incredible appeal during the winter is as a place to do skiing! That’s right: to actually, physically ski at one of the world’s greatest ski resorts!

So rather than concentrate on racing, I suggest that Aspen would be better served if the City Council focuses on (paying) skiing guests and residents in the winter, and hiking/biking/being in the mountains in the summer as what brings people here.

Which brings me to my last point. The Gorsuch folks love to couple the approval of the hotel to the building of a new lift. I think that is a convenient obfuscation on Gorsuch’s part.

We already have a lift that gets paying guests up the mountain. It’s the 1A lift, and about the only thing new about it is its new name, which only the Skico folks use! Sure, it’s old. But so are 747 aircraft, which travelers continue to love. Come to think of it, just about half the lifts on Aspen mountain are old technology. But they work. Safely.

Foreigners come here and love the town, love the skiing, love the snow and applaud the grooming. But they accuse us of having third-world technology to move people up the mountain. True, but they nevertheless come, and most are eager to return.

Should Skico replace the lift whether or not Gorsuch Haus is built? Of course. And you’d think the Crowns, who are among the wealthiest 50 families in the United States, would step up to the plate with or without the Gorsuch Haus hotel. I mean, what’s the point of owning an Aspen if you don’t keep it up? Then again, the Crowns didn’t get rich by spending money they didn’t have to!

But if the “cost” to Aspen of having the World Cup come back is having our slopes disfigured, I say forget about it! Steve Marolt is right on the mark about blackmail!

Alex Biel


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