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How the Vail Takeover May Impact Utah's 'Big Seven' Resorts

There's been ongoing national coverage of the PCMR-Talisker Lawsuit, which continues to raise questions amongst the outdoor community and ski industry. Marc Peruzzi's thoughtful essay which ran today on Outside Online, draws attention to some other pesky details that may result following a rebranding.

If "Vail Resorts will be operating a rebranded 7,500-acre mega-resort (in Park City)," asks Peruzzi, "What does it all mean for skiers? Epic Pass-holders in particular may be stoked, what with all that new Utah terrain. The downside? Talisker sold the operating lease of neighboring Canyons Resort to Vail Resorts, and while you'd think that making that property accessible to PCMR skiers, Peruzzi thinks not.

As Peruzzi points out, most advanced skiers tend to concentrate their time on the Ninety-Nine 90 lift, McConkey's, or Jupiter Bowl. Additionally, "Adding the multi-summit PCMR terrain to Canyons means upwards of 14 drainages and nearly as many summits and lesser peaks over those 7,500 acres. Unless you like riding lifts and contouring more than skiing the fall line, you would never traverse the extent of the mega ski area in a day."

Another potential glitch? Peruzzi reports that Utah has been gaining a foothold as a ski destination. While, "Vail Resorts' holdings in Colorado alone see more skier visits than the entire Beehive State…Utah skiing has grown steadily since before the 2002 Olympic Games, largely due to ample snowfall and perhaps the easiest access in the sport. Those seven Wasatch resorts are…within 45 minutes of Salt Lake's airport. As comparison, try to get to a major destination resort from Denver International along the ever-busier I-70 corridor on a weekend in less than three-hours."

True that. Perhaps the biggest issue, says Peruzzi, is the proposed One Wasatch mega-ski resort which would have 18,000 acres and 100 lifts. The plan entails connecting the Big Seven (PCMR, Deer Valley, Canyons, Snowbird, Alta, Brighton, and Solitude) of the Wasatch Front Range by lifts, tram, and runs. Why, asks Peruzzi, "Would Vail Resorts send its skier to Solitude?" For the moment, the project is stalled by Canyons, so it may well be a moot point.

While PCMR has been portrayed in the media as forgetful at best, irresponsible at worst, and Vail Resorts as the greedy scavenger come to pick its carcass, the bottom line is that this is business- big, big business. Vail Resorts dominates in a highly competitive industry, and it's naïve to think that a "publicly-traded, for-profit business" wouldn't, as Peruzzi says, "act in its own best interests and the best interests of its shareholders."
· All Talisker-PCMR Coverage [Curbed Ski Archives]
· Lawsuit Forces Park City to Include Refund Caveat on Passes [Curbed Ski Archives]
· Kimball Art Centers Revamped Design Plans Revealed [Curbed Ski Archives]