When the last of the Roaring Fork Valley’s diehard skiers and snowboarders climb into the Silver Queen Gondola this Sunday at 5 p.m., they’ll represent the end of the 2016-17 season, the final uphill passengers of ski day no. 151.
At Aspen Skiing Company, a season’s finale always brings a big exhale. And also some reflection. In internal meetings, we’ve been calling 2016-17 “the year of overcoming the impossible.” Chalk that mostly up to the weather. We experienced lots of wind and rain, and weather patterns were so batty throughout the ski world that our friends in California, Wyoming, and even Sun Valley endured several closures of their ski areas due to extreme conditions.
Here on the home front, if not for Mother Nature delivering a nick-of-time storm just before Christmas and for January’s being a near record-setter for snowfall, 2016-17 at Aspen Snowmass might have been remembered as the winter that wasn’t. Of course, as all core skiers and snowboarders know, there’s no such thing as a bad ski day. Still, this season offered a stark reminder of our changing climate—and of the increasing importance of snowmaking for a ski town.
But there was another remarkable, wholly positive aspect to this season. It had little to do with snowfall and everything to do with people. It was our community’s ski-town spirit on full display. The best word we can think of to describe it is “unity.” From a palpable commitment to the Aspen Idea to, even more notably, the warm welcome and embrace of our ski-racing heritage that made the World Cup Finals such an overwhelming success, the community—full-time residents, part-timers, Aspen Skiing Company employees—seemed in lockstep in the best possible way. It’s happening in Snowmass, too. The town council and the community came together there to approve the new plans at Base Village, where construction is now underway.
Maybe it’s because the Roaring Fork Valley is different. That’s why it’s such a rewarding place to live, work, raise a family, and, of course, recreate. And it’s what distinguishes Aspen Snowmass from our competitors. We’ve been thinking a lot about this idea, of how the valley’s longstanding sense of character and place informs Aspen Skiing Company’s product and values, as we have entered into a partnership to acquire twelve other ski areas.
Our mission statement—Live Passionately: Awaken the Spirit. Elevate Community. Honor Place.—will become an even more important touchstone for the future. We’ll promote our way of doing business, but without any expectation that our new sister resorts should abandon any of their own unique attributes of culture and place. Quite the opposite, actually. With this in mind, we expect Aspen Skiing Company’s growth to create opportunities for our employees and the community, and that the endeavor will ultimately benefit the sport of skiing/snowboarding at large.
A big reason we’re so confident of this is because of you, our community. You are the main characters in the story our guests live when they visit here. If they are our lifeblood, you are our heart. We are writing here to thank each and every one of you for your support, your stewardship, and your passion. Truly, we couldn’t do it without you.