Amy Roberts: The Complaint Department has closed for the season
Before the ski season started, long before any of us could predict we’d get so much snow the resorts could possibly run out of avy bombs, I read an article in Outside Magazine titled, “The Giant Resort Companies You Hate Are Saving Skiing.”
In it, author Marc Peruzzi states that if it weren’t for companies like Vail Resorts and Alterra, skiing would likely be headed down the same path as chariot racing — a sport people used to do. In great detail, he explained how multi-resort season pass offerings have made skiing more attainable, provided job security for locals, lifted local economies, and introduced newcomers (who are eventual returning customers) to a sport they might not otherwise be able to participate in. The writer goes on to say that this all means more equipment rentals, lodging reservations, transportation bookings, meals consumed, and other goods and services purchased locally. The boost to local businesses and economies, he argues, far outweigh the inconvenience of a few more minutes in a lift line.
Most of the article is dedicated to the benefits of a resort owned by a corporate conglomerate. But one paragraph in particular gave me pause. It does little to contribute to the points he makes in his piece and could easily be scanned and forgotten, or even dismissed as needless page filler. But it caught my attention and frankly has kept it since the article was published last November. He wrote:
“Skiers love to bitch. In the 1970s, racers whined about hot doggers. Mountain-town locals have forever complained about Herbs, Joeys, SPOREs (stupid person on rental equipment), and gapers. Internationally, Italian skiers hate on the Austrians, who hate on the French, who hate on the Brits. Alpine skiers groused telemark skiing right out of existence. And all skiers bitch about snowboarders—who throw their cigarette butts in the snow and bitch right back.”
Essentially, Mr. Peruzzi points out that complaining is part of the skiing culture. And it has been, probably since the time of chariot racing. The target of the criticism changes as the industry changes — right now its corporations. But we’ve always found something to bitch and moan about.
And he’s right.
There’s no shortage of locals upset that the resorts didn’t stay open through spring break, or that parking was a disaster this season, or that this entire town seemed overrun by tourists.
And while much of this might indeed be inconvenient, maybe it’s time for a reality check. We’re complaining about our success. We are upset that our quality of life is so high, others want to experience it for a weekend. While we complain, we forget there are people who actually live in Nebraska.
When the resorts set their closing dates, they can’t predict the snow conditions in April. They also can’t demand seasonal workers, many of whom leave at the end of March, extend their leases or change their flights if Mother Nature has been kind. The school district could however schedule spring break earlier to ensure it hits before the mountains close.
Yes, parking was a nightmare this season. But so far, neither resort charges for parking. In many mountain towns, you’ll pay $20 or more for a spot a mile away from the closest lift. Here, we can take a free bus right to the front door of each resort.
And sure, the town was jammed this season. Uncomfortably so at times. But how many workers at local restaurants, ski shops and hotels are complaining about the extra money they made, whether in tips or extra hours, or simply not having their shift cut short? How many nonprofits benefited from the additional exposure to their organization? Realtors sold homes, local contractors and designers were hired, and the small-business owners who plow driveways and mow lawns got new customers.
In addition to all of this, the majority of us had the opportunity to ski multiple resorts for about $40 per day.
I understand the angst. For many of us, this is no longer the town we moved to. We all remember fewer stop lights and cars and people, and a time when fresh tracks were ours until noon. But we can’t continue to be in love with the way things used to be.
If we’re honest with ourselves, the only real complaint we can have about this season is just how many locals complained about it.
Amy Roberts is a freelance writer, longtime Park City resident and the proud owner of two rescued Dalmatians, Stanley and Willis. Follow her on Twitter @amycroberts.
“Even the dogs were celebrating the reemergence of the sun.”