skiing

The Modern West 43: Slippery Slope

Feb 22, 2019
KAMILA KUDELSKA

Ski season is upon us as the sport faces major changes: how climate change is affecting ski resorts and whether downhill skiing is turning into a sport reserved for the wealthy.

 

Wearing flannel, sporting beards and donning beanies, many of the workers at the DPS ski factory in Salt Lake City look like ski bums warming up between runs at the local resort. But they are hard at work crafting some of the most advanced skis in the world.

The ski industry is an important economic driver in our region, but it's facing a lot of changes. Climate change, for one, is transforming ski resort leaders into activists and lobbyists.

Mary Beth Coyne


Last February, Jackson Hole Mountain Resort launched a new extreme skiing and snowboarding competition. 18 men and seven women competed to be crowned the King and Queen of Corbet's. At the awards ceremony, the top male won $5,000 more than the top female finisher. The incident drew attention to the fact that there's nothing in place to guarantee equal prizes in big mountain freeskiing.

There's no doubt skiing can be a very expensive sport, and now there's a concern that mergers and acquisitions could make it even more pricey. So is it increasingly a sport for the wealthy?


At least two states in the Mountain West have opened ski resorts early due to healthy dumps of snow. Many more are scheduled to open next week. This could be a good sign for our region’s economy this winter.

The Snow King Ski Area in Jackson plans to build new infrastructure for outdoor activities, including a new gondola to the top of the mountain where visitors can access a new beginner slope.

Antelope Butte Foundation

The Antelope Butte Foundation has raised $360,000 to restore a chairlift. It’s the latest development in the effort to reopen the Antelope Butte Recreation Area near Sheridan. The ski area originally opened in the 1960s but closed in 2004.

Jonathan Selkowitz

While some communities celebrate football stars, snow-based sports dominate in Jackson Hole. The Jackson Hole Ski and Snowboard Club inducted 10 new members into the club’s Hall of Fame during a banquet Saturday at Snow King Resort. Among the new Hall of Famers, former U.S. Snowboard Team member and pro snowboarder Rob Kingwill had easy access to ski lifts and training living next to Snow King Mountain.

Ryan Stanley

Quick recovery is key to avalanche survival. Experts say that 93 percent of avalanche victims can be recovered alive if they are dug out within the first 15 minutes, but after that, the likelihood of survival declines drastically. That’s why wearing avalanche beacons and knowing how to use them is an absolute must for backcountry enthusiasts.

 

Public Domain

  

The longtime President of the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort Jerry Blann is stepping down next year. He has overseen major changes at the resort since 1995. He joins Bob Beck to discuss how his vision to make the ski area a destination spot became a reality.

Petr Kratochvil / freestockphotos.biz

A program in Jackson is expanding to offer 17 scholarships to female skiers and outdoorswomen who want to improve their skills on the mountain. The Jackson Hole Babe Force scholarships will allow women to participate in American Avalanche Institute courses, the Elevate 1 Women’s Ski Camp in Jackson, and Keely’s Ski Camp for Girls in Oregon.

Tennessee Watson

Jackson, Wyoming is all about extremes. Folks from across the country flock to the mountain town to summit peaks, to ski fresh powder and to party. Athletes are revered for going over the edge, whereas those who fall into addiction are not. But what if the underlying cause of an avalanche death and a drug overdose are one in the same? The Mindstrength Project is taking advantage of that connection.

Zach Dischner

After a lengthy debate, the Wyoming Senate gave final approval to what’s known as the Ski Safety Act. The bill is intended to protect ski areas from litigation in case of injury or death.

Supporters say frivolous lawsuits drive up insurance costs for smaller ski areas. Cheyenne Senator Tara Nethercott added an amendment to make sure there was proper signage to protect skiers. She said those using the slopes are looking for a safe experience.

pixabay

The Wyoming House of Representatives passed a bill Tuesday that would change the placement of liability from ski area operators to skiers and recreationalists.

All ten of the state’s ski operators are in support of the bill, as well as the Wyoming Business Alliance. In a press release, the Alliance said the bill would be especially beneficial to smaller operators who might suffer from lawsuits.

PUBLIC DOMAIN PICTURES

Despite the snow that Wyoming received this week, the below average snow fall has caused at least one opening day delay for the state’s ski resorts. Grand Targhee Resort was supposed to begin its winter season November 18, but the mild weather and light snow has caused a delay in opening for the first time since 1999. Resort marketing and social media manager, Jennie White, said that she hopes they get more snow soon.

jacksonhole.com/50

As the snow piles up and people across the west begin to break out their skis and snowboards, Wyoming’s biggest ski resort is getting ready to celebrate its 50th winter season. The Jackson Hole Mountain Resort now has 116 ski trails, 13 lifts, an aerial tram, and 2500 acres of terrain, but back in 1965, it saw just a handful of skiers going up on 2 chair lifts.

The resort’s Business Development Director Bill Lewkowitz joined Wyoming Public Radio’s Caroline Ballard to talk about the resort’s past, present, and future. 

The Modern West 6: Outdoor Recreation In The Wyoming Wild

Nov 16, 2015
Wikimedia Commons

On this episode, we’ll have adventures in the woods and follow trails in the snow in Wyoming’s great outdoors.

The Jackson area saw its first significant snowfall of the season this week, and the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort is busy preparing to open its slopes. The early-season storm brought more than 20 inches to the top of the mountain.

"We are definitely seeing some great traffic from this new snow," said Anna Cole, spokeswoman for the resort. "We are seeing people actively calling and planning vacations. This is our, this is a very busy time of year."

Although the winter storm dropped plenty of snow, Cole says they’re also making snow, to help cover the base of the mountain.

Miles Bryan

Five years ago the owners of Snow King Ski Resort in Jackson had a problem: business was terrible.

“They were looking to give the ski resort away to anyone who could keep it going,” resort manager Ryan Stanley told me. “And they couldn’t even put together a deal to give it away for free.”

AJ Wheeler

From deep powder in winter to a snowpack that lasts into summer, the Tetons offer an ideal proving ground for athletes. But in the mountains, the stakes are high. Skier and climber Jesse Stover sits down with two of his rescuers to talk about the day that one slip turned a perfect adventure into a death-defying fall.

JESSE STOVER: June 4, 2011. It was just an amazing huge snow year. 

Rebecca Huntington

On May 25, 2014, 15-year-old Sasha Johnstone became the youngest person to climb and ski the Grand Teton, according to mountain guides. At 13,775 feet, the Grand is the highest peak in Grand Teton National Park with slopes as steep as 55 degrees, bordered by cliffs dropping away precipitously to create “no fall zones.” Sasha skied the peak with his parents.

Adrian Shirk

Anna Marno was born and raised in Centennial, Wyoming. Spending most of her childhood at the Snowy Range Ski area, Anna quickly became a talented skier. She qualified for the U.S. Ski Team her senior year of high school. Anna shares her story.

Andy Carpenean/Laramie Boomerang

Becky and Aaron Maddox own the Snowy Range Ski Area west of Laramie.  Becky is a fourth generation Laramie resident, and Aaron grew up in Steamboat Springs. 

The couple grew up skiing, and their love for the sport motivated them to invest their lives in Snowy Range.  Becky and Aaron describe how the ski area is not only their business, but is their passion, their family, and their life.

Willow Belden

If you’ve been out snow shoeing or cross country skiing this winter, you may have noticed bicycle tire marks on the trails. That’s because of a new sport called snow biking. It’s gaining popularity fast, and cyclists and bike shops are thrilled. But some skiers feel the bikes present safety risks. Wyoming Public Radio’s Willow Belden reports.

Stories from Jackson Hole about historic skiing, an indestructible skirt, and overcoming obstacles.

Powder Magazine

Bill Briggs, a Dartmouth graduate from Maine, moved to Jackson Hole and became North America’s “father of extreme skiing.” In Jackson he worked as a climbing and ski guide for many years, driven by his own passion and encouraged by the supportive outdoor community to surmount the insurmountable. In 1971, Briggs was the first person ever to descend the Grand Teton on skis, a feat most considered to be impossible.  His friend Spark M asks him to describe the experience.

Skiing has been a popular pastime in the West for decades, but with climate change, the future of the sport is in question.

Porter Fox is the features editor at Powder magazine and the author of DEEP: The Story of Skiing and the Future of Snow. Wyoming Public Radio’s Stephanie Joyce spoke with Fox about his new book, and what’s in store for Wyoming.

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