Aspen Skiing Company, a certifiable progressive and green company affectionately called “SkiCo” by the local progs of Aspen, boasts of their concern for people over profits, even as they uncannily make lots of the later at the expense of the former.
SkiCo operates the four ski mountains on National Forests around Aspen, where they charge people $175 a day for transporting them up the mountainsides on lifts powered by electricity generated by burning fossil fuels (elsewhere, of course) so that the people can slide back down. They do so while simultaneously decrying the use of fossil fuels by others, in order to buy indulgences from the global warming priests.
SkiCo’s sliding-down-the-mountainsides gig is a feeder for an adjunct hospitality gig. They operate a hodgepodge of restaurants on the mountains where you can get a half-decent hamburger for, well, if you have to ask then you can’t afford it, and also get a bottle of wine to bolster your confidence if not sharpen your skill for the descent on crowded snowy slopes.
The hospitality gig also includes running a Five Star hotel called The Little Nell, conveniently located at the base of a gondola that takes skiers up the mountainside. At the Nell, you can enjoy New Years Eve but it’ll cost you an arm and a leg. Turns out, you can also enjoy a night in early March but it might cost you your life.
Seems a certain guest at the Nell tested positive for Coronavirus immediately after returning home to Australia. The guest was part of a group of Aussies who socialized around Aspen, as visitors do, especially Aussies. (Bless their hearts!) Tests on nine of her companions came back positive as well.
Fine, those things happen these days, and so far in this story I’m not blaming SkiCo. I’m not blaming the Aspen Times either, as they duly reported events in the newspaper. But then things got dicey.
The public naturally wanted to know exactly where these people had been, and when. That information was surely known to health and law enforcement officials, but SkiCo wouldn’t inform the public.
Nor would the Aspen Times. Either they didn’t bother to find out, or they did find out and decided not to tell us. Notably, SkiCo is of course a major advertiser in the Aspen Times.
So all of Aspen was left wondering if they’d shared a restaurant or public toilet or elevator or enclosed gondola with persons infected with Coronavirus.
Not only did this information blackout leave the people of Aspen wondering about their personal safety, it left health authorities without the information necessary to track the chain of infection.
And so now, in addition to the Aussie infections, we have confirmed cases of intra-community infection in Aspen.
It gets worse. The governor of Colorado declared a state emergency last week about the same time the president declared a national one. On Thursday, Vail announced it was closing Vail Mountain to skiing due to concern about the virus.
SkiCo refused to do the same in Aspen even after the governor’s declared state of emergency, notwithstanding that the confirmed cases in Aspen were far greater than those in Vail. The President of SkiCo said this: “We see it as a vital public service to stay up and running.”
To which I would say, if this were not literally a potential issue of life and death, “HAHAHAHA.”
Really? Keeping the ski lifts running is a “vital public service” during a national and state health emergency?
SkiCo is of course in business to make money, notwithstanding its self-serving protestations to the contrary, and I suppose they stood to make even more money by staying open when archrival Vail was closed. But is this the best rationale they can offer?
Either they’re stupid or they think their customers are.
After SkiCo refused to close the Aspen ski areas voluntarily, the governor finally used his emergency powers to order them to do so. SkiCo then issued a press release announcing that it would comply with the governor’s order because “We were told to shut down so we’re shutting down.”
How noble. I guess we’re supposed to congratulate SkiCo for complying, reluctantly, with an emergency order from the governor designed to protect the public from a declared pandemic.
At SkiCo and the Aspen Times, they say they’re for people before profits. But apparently not when there’s a public health emergency with threats to the public that might lessen those profits. It’s so much easier to, for example, ban plastic straws, as SkiCo did in its restaurants last year with considerable congratulation from itself and from the Aspen Times.
It’s in times of crisis that a person’s true character is revealed. Judge for yourself the character of SkiCo and the Aspen Times.
I think everyone is out of their minds. how do you get sick riding a lift outside with gloves and a gator on? On the mountain is probably the safest place to be except for your closet with the door closed.
I agree that there’s a lot of hysteria, Larry. But take a look at the crowded and unsanitary onditions in the restaurants and public toilets on the mountain. I think shutting down this non-essential activity was the prudent decision, and I think Aspen should have followed Vail in doing so.
Yea – when I am skiing and my nose runs (as it always does in cold dry air), I usually rub my nose with my glove. Then I put my hand on the safety bar so that my biohazard can be passed on to the next person using the bar. What could go wrong? Heading out on my Spanish, French, Italian cruise next week! Glenn – you are the best!
PS: I was shocked that Vail is paying their employees for this week – kuddos.
Your thinking is very shallow, tho somewhat correct. It’s the traveling and moving around town that is the problem
Locker rooms, rented equipment not throughly cleaned, bathrooms, sitting around the fire in the lodge, eating at any of the facilities. The slopes are easily the safest place, it’s everywhere else that’s problematic.
Do you ski? Have you ever been to the restrooms at a ski lodge on a busy day? Have you ever ridden in a packed Gondola to the top of a mountain with 30 other people packed in like sardines with you. A gondola is like an elevator. It’s enclosed so you if you are rubbing shoulders with the next guy and he’s a carrier, you are now one too. They busy restrooms are something to behold. Skiers dripping with melting snow, water from your boots all over the floor, squatting over toilets while wrestling bulky ski jackets and ski/snowboarding pants or bibed overalls… its great fun, I’ll tell you. There are a million ways to pick up this virus at a ski area.
Wrong. In 1918 the demographic group hardest hit were people in their 20s — athletic young people crowded together at winter resorts and activities, in cold, dry air that best transmits droplets containing viruses.
Wrong. In 1918 the hardest hit demographic was people in their 20s — athletic young people crowded together at winter resorts and activities, in cold air that best transmits droplets containing viral pathogens.
Hmm, Laurie, Maybe it’s not about that but really about a tourist attraction in a small town which has a very high infection rate proportionately? Ya think maybe that may have something to do with it and not about whether you catch this virus on Highlands’ Bowl?
So Lee Mulcahey is correct. Skico is scum sucking money grubbing pricks
Thank you Glenn. This is an amazing story, especially the part about not alerting the public to exactly where the infected Australians visited in the Aspen area. As for SkiCo, they remind me of Nike, who just announced their extreme concern for humanity is leading them to temporarily close their retail stores in the United States. This is just a guess, but maybe Nike doesn’t want its customers thinking too much about China at the moment, doing so might lead to thoughts about exactly who makes Nike’s shoes, and questions about exactly how much Nike pays its workers. (I’m guessing child workers or forced labor and a few dollars at most per day’s wages.) If there is a silver lining to the virus situation, it might be the slowing down or hopefully reversal of our supply chains’ heavy reliance on China.
Alterra shut all of theirs too .. the locals in the Boat had the pitchforks out .
It is probably just a coincidence that the drive-through testing for coronavirus established in Aspen on Thursday afternoon was shut down by 2:30 the same day. I read about it in the Aspen Daily News. By another coincidence, it wasn’t covered by the Aspen Times. Then all COVID-19 testing in Aspen was stopped except for people admitted to the hospital with severe symptoms. By coincidence, Pitkin county reports finding no new cases.
Interesting. This fits with Reynolds’ observation that this infection is tracking via networks more than via geography. Italy’s infection central is their Tyrol, a ski area. People close to nations’ leaderships as well as those leaders themselves are being infected.
Who visits these places, plays around at them, has done for millennia? Wealthy “elites,” their sycophants, and their intending escorts.
When I was road-tripping our lovely nation’s charmingly functional and scenic US Highway System last decade — upon retiring as a large-system public transit operator (bus driver) ! — I would come upon scenes that inspired in me the thought, “Someone has too much money to spend and too much time to burn . . . they think.”
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Someone riding a ski lift / gondola sneezes, wipes their nose with their hand, opens a door that 500 other people open / touch later that day then they all go panic buying supplies and TP at Clark’s Market or City Market. Now 3,000 people have potentially spread a virus or touched a door handle, faucet handle, toilet handle, or TP bundle / cucumber that one Aussie socialite touched on their weeklong incubation trip to A-town.
Why are we shocked and surprised of a virus going viral, when we see IG posts and YouTube vids going “viral” everyday?
Zing. Glen for the win. Well done, sir.
I enjoy feeding your work here in iowa glenn. People are crazy here as well & ski co is nuts if they think skiing is essential. I think those in aspen tend to forget how lucky & unlike the rest of the country they are.
I’m of two minds about all this. First, I think the “pandemic” is vastly overblown and there’s a very minor threat to healthy, vigorous people. I also think that in a declared national emergency, it’s your own fault if you knowingly go where there are crowds.
Sadly, in today’s America people sue and win when they themselves should be held accountable for catching the corona virus flu. There’ll be lawsuits out the yin yang when somebody turns up with it and they should be thrown out of court -but won’t be.
I also confess to the warm glow of schadenfreude washing over me as politically correct Aspen may find itself on the receiving end of this kind of bullsh*t for a change.
I’m on the front range and I heard that the first Australians refused to be tested and were free to do whatever they wanted while there. I think there is way more to this story than is being reported. Regardless, I would like to think that Aspen Ski Co would have went on a massive disinfecting spree. Does anyone know if they were aware of the situation as it unfolded?
The funny thing is the public doesn’t even know how many rooms they currently have under quarantine… if you would investigate you would be terrified. The fact that they are keeping such information from the public but also from their own employees who are asking their bosses if they should be tested because they feel sick and they helped the Aussies for weeks? Very sad. The Nell is not the only place to point fingers at though.. because yes they at least said they had a couple who tested positive – the St Regis and Aspen Square should also be called out.
I really liked your last line ”It’s in times of crisis that a person’s true character is revealed.” I think you could say also for our nation as a whole. I’m not management or supervisor and yes it is sometimes difficult to always makes ends meet in an expensive valley, but Ski Co. is absolutely the best company I have ever worked for. I feel they do better as a business than most others of caring for employees. So I didn’t care much for you taking a dig at them. Have you ever worked for Ski Co.?
With that know that I was bias to what you wrote, so take it how you want, but I disagreed with basically every thing you just wrote. There is no right answer at present time to how this should be handled. Your average person does not think this is a big deal, it’s the media! It’s easy for weak minds and leaders to take the side of protect lives, because it makes them feel like the good guy. Also they get to say when it’s all over ”see because of what we did look how many lives were saved” To take freedom from others is something that should never be taken lightly. As I said I’m not even a leader in the company I work for, but I don’t agree with what our country is doing to combat this. I would have let this run it’s course and warn old people and sick to make the choice to isolate themselves. Anyone who is like this and works has 2 months to isolate paid leave. You must be over 60 or have an underlying health issue. You can call me an idiot in the future, but not right now. Why 2 months? This clearly spreads very quickly. Let the majority of people catch this, get over it and the spread of it is over! I could definitely be wrong and can already hear the arguments to why, but if you are so scared of death you don’t want to leave your house than that is your choice, not mine. Call me selfish, but I think that should have been the way we handled this ‘pandemic’.
My humble opinion
Those are legitimate thoughts, Ryan, and I don’t think you are an idiot at all for having them. In fact, I’m trending toward The view today we need to invert the quarantine and put the quarantine on old people who haven’t contracted the virus and let it spread among the people to can withstand it so that we build herd immunity.
But that call is for the scientist and medical experts and politicians. Aspen skiing company lacks the expertise to make that call. So I think they should have followed suit with Vail and done as the governor suggested who was presumably following Expert Medical and scientific advice rather than waiting to be ordered to do so
Moreover, and I think this is where Aspen skiing company is at fault most, along with the Aspen Times, they should have been transparent in what they knew about the spread. Specifically, they should have publicized the places the infected persons were at over the course of their stay so that the rest of us could know whether to worry.
“As I said I’m not even a leader in the company I work for, but I don’t agree with what our country is doing to combat this. I would have let this run it’s course and warn old people and sick to make the choice to isolate themselves…”
It’s my understanding that this particular strain of virus is less like any other similar virus due to it’s ability to quickly mutate. Therefore, there’s likely little or no benefit to adopting the ‘herd mentality’ (see: Italy) in an attempt to create an immunity against future viruses. The Surgeon General’s comments over the past couple of days should be examined for a clearer explanation of this pandemic.
Lastly, letting the Covid 19 virus ‘run its course’ would undoubtedly result in an enormous strain on America’s healthcare providers. The result would be very chaotic and add to the danger our medical professionals are already exposed to. The final outcome, however, would be great for democrats, because the chaos could be blamed directly on the White House for not listening to the scientists.
But Glenn, Jennifer Rubin (WaPo columnist) told us that Republicans will suffer more because they reportedly are putting themselves in more danger relating to coming in contact with the coronavirus carriers, not democrats like your neighbors in Aspen. Now I’m confused.
I lied. I’m not confused.
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