Sean Beckwith: Ski season 2021-22 good, bad and ugly |

Sean Beckwith: Ski season 2021-22 good, bad and ugly

I’ve been trying to determine what has me so hyped for snowboard season. Is it the fact that, hopefully by then, everyone will have enough respect for a pandemic that they’ll get vaccinated (or die off, whatever happens first) and we won’t have burdensome restrictions? Or I’m putting way too much pressure on this winter because the primary reason I live here is snowboarding, and it’s increasingly becoming the sole reason I live here?

Whatever the deep psychological thought process that I’m too afraid to address is, the fervor couldn’t be more rabid. So, as a way-too-early primer — and as an excuse to daydream — here’s a little good, bad and ugly for you other powder hounds.

The Good

Aspen Skiing Co. recently announced the return of the passes we all know and love to alter our budgets to get. They are going by new names to fit some kind of branding effort, but you know which passes I’m talking about. The seven-day, the two-day per week and, my personal favorite, the get-it-through-work-and-upgrade-it-to-a-Premiere-Pass-for-$200 are back like the McRib (the Monopoly game? Sorry, I don’t know what annual promotion gets people amped anymore. How about Shark Week?).

It’ll be great. The locals won’t have to worry about getting a pass for a day that’s for locals and can return to their regularly scheduled Highlands Closing Day programming. A Premiere Pass also means we get the Ikon Pass, too. Yeah, I don’t really care either. I do, however, want those vouchers for my one friend who visits and the other friends who may some day make it beyond Denver.

Also, let there please be apres. I’m not talking about some happy hour wings at Zane’s, though I am looking forward to that if possible. I’m talking about catching stray Champagne showers; obnoxiously loud EDM; packed patios at AJAX Tavern, Venga Venga, Highlands Ale House and Hometeam BBQ; gapers trying to dance in ski boots and all of the usual antics that make up a proper apres scene.

And even though that’s not my scene, like at all, town is a little less depressing when it’s actually town. A raucous apres party is almost stress relief through osmosis, definitely provides excellent people watching/column content and 100% makes you feel like you have your life together because you’re not belligerent on a Tuesday afternoon.

The Bad

I’m going to preface this by saying I was the kid who never wanted to go anywhere but never wanted to leave once we got there. I’m not super onboard with making Aspen Mountain more skier friendly. I like it intimidating; it helps keep the gapers in Snowmass and Buttermilk. Having to one-foot out of Walsh’s is a rite of passage. Would I love gladed, lift-served playground added to Aspen? Hell yeah.

But there’s nothing wrong with a mountain being solely for advanced skill sets. People who say Aspen gets skied out in a matter of hours either A) don’t know how to ski Aspen, or B) aren’t good enough to enjoy all Ajax has to offer. Stop complaining about how slow the Couch is and just don’t ride it.

If approved, Pandora’s is going to have the same effect on Aspen Mountain that Star Wars World had on Disneyland. It’s new, it’s magical, it’s going to create lines long enough to make you dad swear off theme parks (well, that and if they play “It’s a Small World After All” while he’s stuck on the chairlift for a couple of hours).

I’m not even really opposed to the expansion, I’m more sick of Skico and their rich boosters getting what they want all the time. There’s something cathartic about watching objectively spoiled people be denied a new toy.

That said, it’d be a lot more gratifying if I knew they weren’t slinking back to the Aspen Mountain Club for massages and private powder tours to forget about the failed letter-writing campaign, newspaper ads and Friends of Pandora’s luncheons.

The Ugly

When do repurposed movie titles work for column gimmicks? When Skico decides to get into the fashion business. A question before I address the outrageous price of their new outerwear: What kind of hubris led you to believe, “We can do this better than Helly Hansen”? You know all those employees you asked for input? How many answered, “Make it like Helly Hansen does. We love their products”? Helly Hansen handouts were one of the best perks about working for Skico. (The best, obviously, being the ski pass.)

While I’m sure the $725 jacket, $525 snow pants and $395 insulator are of the finest materials, I’d rather pay those prices for brands that have a reputation the justifies the cost.

And forgive me for making a big deal about a swoosh, an alligator or a polo player, but can you at least stitch an HH on the sleeve so people don’t think I’m an Ace of Spades rep? Can we just call a spade a spade and agree that Skico’s new logo is better suited (hey-yo!) for a deck of cards?

I’ll put it like this: Say you earned a full ride to play basketball at North Carolina. Imagine showing up, hoping to get that fresh baby blue Jordan gear, and instead they’re like we actually just switched to Under Armor. I would transfer on the spot.

Sean Beckwith is a copy editor at The Aspen Times. Email him at

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