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October 24, 2008

SHWAG from Swany Gloves

The guys at Swany Gloves offered me a free sample pair of gloves to take for a test drive for the season. I am going with the X-Change II gloves in a olive-beige. I love the colors they have and the gloves look pimped. They make a new bluetooth glove that looks awesome, but they do not have a glove with integrated iPod controls yet. That is what I am really waiting for.

Anyway, expect a review on the gloves and I am stoked about some free stuff. It ain't like I get a lot out of blogging, but I love getting occasional stuff to demo and review. That is a hint to readers to send me free stuff.

Posted by Justin at 04:00 PM | Comments (2)

October 17, 2008

New West Story on Gentrification of Resort Towns

From the New West Blog:

A tough economic climate means a steady stream of recent college graduates willing to endure low wages for a free ski pass, but these economic cogs in the wheels of ski resorts’ winter economies still need a warm bed and running water. These days, housing seasonal workers in towns with dwindling pools of rental units is reaching crisis stage.

Last week, the Salt Lake Tribune ran a story about the dearth of seasonal rental housing in Park City. The article neatly condenses into a simple sentence what’s been going on, for those who haven’t watched it occur in front of them.

“Much of the seasonal housing stock has been converted to more lucrative nightly rentals for tourists or sold to year-round residents as real-estate prices soar.”

As gentrification extends to every back-alley cabin and shag-carpeted rental condo, it’s the workers on the lowest rung of the employment ladder that are most affected. When real estate prices skyrocketed in recent years, landlords and deep-pocketed investors cashed in, remodeling and selling older, low-end condominiums, the lifeblood of the rental market in most mountain towns. New owners who financed purchases with no money down had to increase rents to cover their mortgages, while skid housing was demolished to make way for new construction...

At Big Sky Mountain Resort, some seasonal workers are housed at the Whitewater Inn nine miles down the resort’s access road, getting a free shuttle to their jobs and meal discounts. Copper Mountain Resort in Colorado bought a former Club Med to house winter employees slopeside. In Telluride, many resort employees live in rent-controlled apartments owned by the towns of Telluride and Mountain Village. Jackson Hole Mountain Resort has an inventory of apartments and condos, but is able to house only about 120 of its 900 winter seasonal workers. The rest of its employees are left to fend for themselves on the free market while earning around $8.50 per hour.

Affordable housing is huge. Driving 100 miles on snowy roads each day to work at your $10 an hour job and earn a free season pass is what ski bumming is about these days.

Not much we can do about it, but it certainly is the trend in the industry. Low wages, no housing.

Posted by Justin at 12:11 AM

October 16, 2008

The Economy and Ski Season (h/t Alpengluhen)

Interesting commentary on the Economy and ski industry:

Most of the customers stated that they were thinking of pairing back their season for financial reasons. Destination resorts seemed to be big losers, with the following reasons:

1. Cost of airline tickets has gone up significantly
2. Cost of flying with gear has gone up
3. Most resorts have pushed their pass prices up again
4. Their stock portfolios have sunk radically

Which brought a renewed interest in the local resorts. Several folks were asking if it was worth buying a season pass, and just driving up. How long the snow stays fresh, etc. It's been interesting. Could this year see the rise/return of the local resort vs the destination resort?

I'm conflicted on this one. On one hand, having a larger money flow in for classes would be a nice change (I currently just brake even for teaching, which is why I have two jobs). On the other hand, it will mean larger crowds, and less fresh snow for me. Tough call.

As an aside, most of those mentioning #4 as their primary reason for skipping their trip(s) were shocked to hear our responses. Several of us have been playing the stock market for awhile and have invested heavily. Two of the guys in the shop are working there because they've already made their millions and now want to do something fun and rewarding. It's was fun to break people's perceptions of 20/30 somethings with a ski job not knowing anything about stocks.

I won't get too political but more than one person at Brian Head has mentioned that Barack Obama will be horrible for the ski industry. It is evident that prices are so high that only the affluent can afford to ski. Certainly only the rich can afford condos and second homes at ski resorts.

Barack talks about raising taxes on the "rich" making more than $250k per year. That is going to cause them to cut back on the ski resort homes and on their vacations. We have to keep in mind that skiing is a luxury item and it is the kind of thing that can be eliminated in bad economic times or when taxes/gas prices/airfare/etc. go up.

I am selfish. I own a second home that will not sell at Brian Head. The housing market is in the tank. Stocks are down. The economy is slowing. I am scared that I will not be able to sell my condo after Obama is elected. And he will be elected based on everything we now know.

Posted by Justin at 12:34 PM | Comments (10)

John at Steamboat Springs Blog has First Hand Account of ABasin

Check the first hand account of the WROD start of ski season at A-Basin.

We skied A-Basin and then Loveland today for their opening day. The weather was absolutely gorgeous and the snow was very good with only a few hard spots.A-Basin was pretty crowded with long lift lines but Loveland was wide open with a perfect run that had a steeper pitch for Alden to find his carve on. Alden must have been the only little guy there because we got interviewed by the Rocky Mountain News soon after arriving and then the Denver Post a few minutes later. We had a great day and I couldn't help but picture many more with him and my 2 yr old daughter Neve on Mt Werner in Steamboat this season. We have already been in training for several week watching ski movies to inspire us for the coming season.

Good times bro. Look forward to hitting Steamboat with you.

Posted by Justin at 12:30 PM | Comments (1)

October 15, 2008

White Ribbon of Death at ABasin Opens Ski Season

A-Basin opened today with the WROD:

Posted by Justin at 06:58 PM | Comments (4)

October 09, 2008

Court to Delay Snowbowl Upgrades Pending SCOTUS Appeal

The latest on Arizona Snowbowl's Upgrades:

FLAGSTAFF - A federal appeals court that approved a plan for snowmaking on an Arizona peak sacred to Indian tribes is giving opponents time to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco on Friday granted a request to delay any construction at the Arizona Snowbowl ski resort near Flagstaff until the high court can decide if it will hear the tribes' appeal.

Tribal lawyer Harry Shanker says the order preserves the status quo and protects the rights of the Indians opposed to resort's plan to make snow on the San Francisco Peaks.

The appeals court cleared the way for the snowmaking in August after a yearslong court battle. The Supreme Court only takes about one percent of the cases it receives.

I don't see a SCOTUS appeal happening, but this is fairly standard. I think the end was the 9th Circuit Ruling, but I am not an attorney either.

Posted by Justin at 01:35 PM

Trip to Brian Head

I just got back from Brian Head and it was beautiful. First snowfall of the season was this last weekend and it dumped 6" on the mountain. Leaves are still changing colors so you have bright orange leaves with snow on the ground. I love the change of seasons.

I know I have been slow blogging lately, but had some work issues to deal with. I am finally done with the work situation and am taking a leave of absence from my job to focus on school again. I am going back for a Masters Degree and doing some work consulting on the side.

Anyway, expect more updates and more blogging.

Posted by Justin at 01:32 PM | Comments (1)