Letter: No sympathy for the devil | AspenTimes.com

Letter: No sympathy for the devil

Am I supposed to feel sorry for Erik Skarvan after the fluff piece in The Aspen Times (“Sundog has its day — celebrating 20 years in Aspen outdoors,” Sept. 4)?

Last week, Erik boasted he would do jail time before paying a recent fine he was issued for not having the proper permits. He has been operating on open space and trails that receive support and funding from tax dollars, and any time in jail would be paid with tax dollars, too. Erik claims he could not sustain his business and pay the permit fees. Sundog Athletics charges $120 per hour!

Erik could have aligned Sundog Athletics with the proper permits 20 years ago, but he chose to take a different path, a path of more profit and less expenses. Yes, as mountain biking has grown, other companies have gotten into the game. Ski areas are increasing summer activities such as mountain-biking trails and free ride parks, but they also are investing millions of dollars in infrastructure. Aspen Skiing Co. offers a three-hour mountain-bike clinic for $325, and it has to carry insurance and file for permits, too. Plumbing professionals in Aspen charge $125 per hour, and they carry insurance and file for permits. When I worked as a subcontracted tile setter, most jobs required proof of liability insurance. One million dollars of liability coverage was only $550 per year; that is only 4.5 hours of guide service from Sundog. Electricians, builders, roofers and other businesses and services have the same expectations — carry insurance and file for permits — when needed.

I find it hard to believe he could not afford insurance and permitting fees while charging such premium hourly rates, especially since he has little to no overhead other than a vehicle! I see that vehicle in front of parks, waiting for clients, quite often in the mornings. Maybe Erik could start a nonprofit similar to Phil Sullivan’s and offer his athletic instruction and guide services for “tips” only!

I do find it ironic that Aspen now offers free shuttle service provided by an out-of-state company in Florida! But after all, it was the Public Utilities Commission that had a beef with Phil and not the town so much.

“Buy the ticket, take the ride!” — Hunter S. Thompson

John Norman


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