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Forum: Is Bigger Better?

Fall Line
posted: 08/16/2000

There's talk these days about giant corporations taking over, making skiing like McDonald's. I say we have nothing to fear from McSkiing Resorts, Inc., for one simple reason: Small ski areas are better.

By small I do not mean just the Mom and Pops, but also the small in spirit. Those ski areas with big vertical, big adventures, small-town attitude. They will always rule simply because they've still got soul. The bigger any institution becomes, be it a hardware store or a government, the less it cares about you and the more it cares about memos. Small ski areas don't need memos because the people who work there still know how to use their legs. The "suits" don't wear suits because they're loading lifts and parking cars.

Small ski areas have character. People come to ski, not to be seen in their shimmering resort-wear made of gold-plated Gore-Tex and endangered-species fur. The runs weren't designed by traffic engineers and bulldozed like interstates. They were cut by old hickories who understood that trees and curves keep the wind off and the snow in.

Small areas still have fireplaces, big resorts don't. At small resorts the lodges smell of woodsmoke not because some consultant installed Cozy Wood Scent dispensers in the air ducts but because they've got actual stone hearths where genuine kids hang out on wooden benches around authentic burning logs.

Because they save money on three-martini lunches and private jets, small ski areas aren't horrendously overpriced. They won't arrest you if you bring your own lunch, and you can get a decent burger for three bucks. At McSkiing Resorts, Inc., that might buy you a large coffee¿or rather a café grande Americano¿if you don't mind waiting in a 45-minute line.

Average citizens can afford to teach their children at small ski areas without having to sell their blood first. Where did you learn to ski? At a small place, right? If it weren't for the small, affordable ski areas, there would be no new skiers and McSkiing, Inc., would go broke.

Rest assured, my friends. The monsters can keep on growing if they want to. But the best things in life still come in small packages.

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