Ski Industry Puts Head Firmly in the Snow


If the skiing community can’t agree on the same facts, our discourse on the sport is crippled.

(Spoiler alert: If you don’t believe human-influenced climate change is happening, stop reading right now.)

And if you live somewhere that will soon be submerged as sea levels rise or has an economy reliant on the accumulation of snow—rising global temperatures should be of particular interest to you. In Utah, we fit into the later category, and this includes one of our newer corporate residents, Vail Resorts.

Despite Vail’s economic interest in the continued return of copious powder snow to our slopes, they have inexplicably been funding politicians responsible for blocking research into mitigating climate-change.

A Vail Resorts funded PAC (Political Action Committee) has spent thousands of dollars backing the campaigns of noted climate-change deniers including Utah congressmen Chris Stewart and Rob Bishop and Gov. Gary Herbert, in addition to other politicians of a similar ilk from neighboring states. Vail’s CEO Rob Katz donated $10,000 to the PAC in 2015 and 2016, as reported recently by Powder Magazine.

This isn’t an attempt to paint Vail Resorts as the Great Satan of the ski industry, as they aren’t unique among Utah resorts that are actively undermining their long-term future to fund so-called pro-business politicians. Deer Valley Resort Company, Solitude Mountain Resort, Alta Ski Area, Snowbird and Brighton Ski Resort have all done their part in financially backing business-friendly, climate-change skeptic Herbert.

Further adding to the distaste for Vail and its PAC, is that Powdr Corporation, which formerly operated Park City Mountain Resort, has been actively fighting climate change since 2010 by donating $250,000 to research into the effects of climate change and reducing carbon emissions.

When resorts claim to turn their lifts with renewable energy initiatives while at the same time supporting pro-coal, pro-gas, “business-friendly” lawmakers, they’re playing a dangerous game they can’t win

. The Renewable Energy Credits many resorts purchase to offset their environmental impact are ineffective at best because they don’t actually represent carbon reductions in the atmosphere. This is mortgaging our future for short-term cash and influence. It’s as simple as that.

If you want to do your part to fight this troubling trend, we recommend getting involved with Protect our Winters. Make the politicians and the ski industry hear your voice.

Tony Gill
Tony Gill
Tony Gill is the outdoor and Park City editor for Salt Lake Magazine and previously toiled as editor-in-chief of Telemark Skier Magazine. Most of his time ignoring emails is spent aboard an under-geared single-speed on the trails above his home.

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