This is our final issue of 2020. We’re not saddened to see the year go. Whatever your holiday of choice, please enjoy it safely. And celebrate the arrival of the New Year. It’s time to turn the page on so many things. Here’s wishing you a great season and many bright and promising days ahead!

What Do Vaccines and Ski Areas Have in Common?

Vaccine development and ski areas have something loosely in common: the public-private partnership. This may be a stretch, but hear me out.

Several Covid vaccines, like many other drugs and technologies, were developed with some level of government participation. In the case of  Pfizer’s, the government guaranteed to purchase $1+ billion of product long before it was approved. For decades, technology transfer programs have helped medical and other technologies — discovered, invented, and/or developed with public funds — get picked-up and commercialized by the private sector.

What does that have to do with skiing? At least 122 ski areas lease property from the Forest Service. Among the more prominent are Vail, Aspen, Snowbird and Mammoth.

Next time you’re making turns on leased -government land, consider the public-private partnership helping you enjoy the sport and, hopefully, protecting you from Covid.

Six Word Challenge

Tom Irving, 82, is a volunteer instructor for the Two Top Mountain Adaptive Sports Foundation. He says  teaching in the program is “the best decision I ever made.” He mostly teaches disabled veterans 3-4 days a week at Whitetail Resort (PA). Tom’s scheduled PSIA clinic was cancelled, as were two group ski trips he had booked. And he has high hpes for the vaccine. All of which leads to his six-word summation: Missed one. Cancelled two. Future’s Bright.

Corky Miller, 75, loves skiing Buena Vista (230’ vert) near Bemidji (MN), which explains his six-worder: Local fast hill, ski all day!

Brian Frias is a California skier. As part of the Masterfit organization he has developed a keen eye for the sport. Looking at the bright side of Covid, he offers this one: Long lines lead to empty slopes.

Please keep sending your six-word entries. A few winners will receive the Bootster Shoe Horn for Ski Boots. Please post your entry to Comments or send to [email protected].

A Completely New Approach to Prescription Goggles

SnowVision Rx goggles integrate prescription with inner lens

SnowVision makes a unique goggle with your prescription integrated into the inner lens. Unlike conventional Rx inserts, in which the insert is a separate component subject to fogging and often limiting vision range, this goggle maintains the eye-to-lens distance, resulting in fog-free wider range-of-vision. I’ll be reporting on my experience with the SnowVision goggle in an upcoming issue. But from everything I know about it, the goggle is a breakthrough, especially for older skiers. For more, click here or on the SnowVision advertisement.

Wolf Creek Has 10 Feet!

Wolf Creek Ski Area in Southwest Colorado keeps on getting the goods. As of this writing, the area has received more than 129″.

Alta/MIT Study: Silence Reduces Risk of Infection

The more and louder we speak, the greater infected individuals transmit the virus. A team of MIT students scientifically analyzed how and where residents and guests of Alta have the greatest probability of catching Covid. They determined that people in loud indoor dining areas have a 60% chance of catching the virus – even with tables 6 feet apart. Analyzing space, air circulation and time spent in public buses transporting people to/from the resort, they learned that if no one spoke, the busses could carry 60 masked passengers vs the 20 masked and socially distanced passengers Utah Transit Authority has mandated for this season.

New Chapter in Skiing Haves vs Have Nots

Luxury seating in the VIP gondola

The Eiger Express, a new tri-cable gondola system was launched earlier this month on Switzerland’s famed Jungfrau. It “…combines all the advantages of the aerial gondola and the funicular,” being able to run across long expanses with fewer support towers – only 7 for a length of more than four miles! A ride that used to take more than an hour is now reduced to 15 minutes. Among other Eiger Express features is the Platinum Club which includes a VIP lounge, where members can await their own VIP Gondola car. The car holds 8 people and features leather chairs and a champagne bar. Couple’s membership is a mere 18,000 CHF ($21,000+) a year. Numerous US resorts already have VIP clubs and passes. How long before they, too, get their own gondola car?

Redford Sells Sundance

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

Movie star and environmental activist Robert Redford sold Utah’s Sundance Mountain Resort to two high-end real hotel development companies. The new owners plan to add a high-speed lift and new trails. Sundance is a jewel long in need of infrastructure improvement. I’m looking forward to seeing what the new owners do. Redford started the resort in 1969 after purchasing the small Timp Haven area and renaming it Sundance after Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, in which he and Paul Newman co-starred.

Saddleback Re-Opens

Saddleback covered in snow

Saddleback Mountain (ME) reopened earlier this week after being dark for the past 5 years. Arctaris Impact Fund purchased the mountain less than a year ago and has invested $18 million.

Two Short Videos

Mount Cain is an old-fashioned powder magnet on Vancouver Island (BC). Average snowfall is 38′. Vertical drop: 1,499′. Two T-Bars and one rope tow. May be on the small side, but as you’ll see in this 15 minute video, it is well-loved and skis big.

Ski Rio in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains of northern New Mexico has been closed since 2000. This eight minute video shows its abandoned state and the turns still possible for those who choose to climb.


One Comment

  1. Katie van hees says:

    Joni, this could be your next Torrey

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