Nature doesn’t need dressing
“Layers of attraction and animation.”
That’s Intrawest’s patented lingo for the ultimate ski area. I prefer ski areas to stay truer to nature. I dislike watching Copper Mountain turn into Intrawest’s version of Disney World.Copper used to be up there with A-Basin as a locals’ favorite because of its bare bones qualities. Skiers and boarders could park and walk to the lifts, without much hassle. Both ski areas presented their greatest asset – the mountain – for snow sports enthusiasts to have at it.
Turning mountains into amusement parks with light shows, huge condos, man-made rocks and story-telling hour is a slap in Mother Nature’s face. Why can’t The Mountain be enough to keep us entertained? What has happened to our society that we have to dress nature up like a city girl?
Take Keystone, developed by Intrawest, as an example.
“They paved paradise and put up a parking lot,” a popular song laments. I’m lamenting over Keystone paving the parking lot and putting in huge condos and retail stores.
Now, tall buildings block views of the mountain from the new parking lot – just like they block views of the ice rink off Highway 6. They’ve hidden nature in a metropolis of pricey stores and condos.
Last month, I thought I was in a dance club in downtown Denver as I walked from the gondola to my car. Rap music blared from a booth set up next to the “quaint” fire pit in Keystone’s latest village.
“This is not just about skiing. We need to make sure there are things for people to do here for all four seasons,” said Scott Chomiak, Intrawest’s director of development for Copper, last November to the Denver Post.
Copper’s bold ads used to target hard-core skiers and boarders, but now the resort is luring Buffy to come along.
Just as I understand A-Basin’s need to make snow to remain competitive, I understand Copper’s need to address survey results from guests wanting more apres ski activities and a ski-town atmosphere. I even like the idea of an entertainment complex.
However, I tire of watching great mountains turn into developments akin to the suburbs. Intrawest builds lovely condos – only, they tend to look the same. Soon, resorts like Winter Park, Snowmass, Mammoth, Squaw Valley and
Copper will all look alike, with strategically placed fire pits, ice rinks, Starbucks and sweater shops along a path that used to be a convenient, practical parking lot.
According to Colorado Ski Country USA, Summit County’s demographics are comprised of 18- to 34-year-old males, “active and outdoorsy,” with more advanced abilities. That indicates people who want to enjoy natural settings, as opposed to “layers of attraction and animation.”
On the other hand, I know that apres ski activities, shopping and dining are an essential part of a ski vacation for many visitors, so I’ve come up with a compromise – albeit unconventional.
I think we could all coexist happily with a slight modification in ski resort layout.
Create two separate base areas: one for bare-bones skiers and boarders and one for visitors who like more entertainment, shopping (and riding buses to chairlifts).
Let the no-frills people park in a free lot where shops and condos don’t skew views, and the walk is short. Direct others into the village.
We already separate skiers and boarders by their ability on green, blue and black terrain. Why not separate them by the type of mountain experience they want?
Of course, there’s the problem of limiting the number of people who want to park in the close lot. But, I never thought eliminating close parking was a good idea in the first place.
Kimberly Nicoletti is a Summit County resident and regular contributor to Summit Voices.
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