Vail Brings Diversity In-House; Alpino Seeks "Opportunity"
SAM Magazine-Broomfield, Colo.-Sept. 29, 2006-Vail Resorts (VR) is creating a new program focused on ethnic youth in Eagle and Summit counties as well as the Front Range. The program is intended to expand on the Company's joint effort with Alpino over the past two years to introduce skiing and snowboarding and the winter mountain experience to people of color. However, VR is cutting its ties to Alpino and bringing management of the program in-house.
"Diversity is important to the future of our industry, as demographic trends indicate an opportunity to expand skier days by increasing ethnic participation in winter sports. Over the past two years we've made significant strides in providing a winter mountain experience to approximately 2,500 ethnic youth each year in Colorado through skiing and snowboarding at Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge and Keystone. We intend to continue this effort and increase the number of scholarship days we offer to 3,000. We have also chosen to oversee the program internally, to ensure the importance of diversity is part of our company's culture," said Rob Katz, chief executive officer of Vail Resorts.
Locally, Vail Resorts will partner with a local community-based non-profit organization to provide up to 25 scholarships at each of VR's four Colorado resorts. Each scholarship includes ski school instruction, lift access, equipment rental and lunch for approximately 15 days throughout the season (1,500 scholarship days). Vail Resorts also will provide up to 1,500 one-day scholarships to Front Range ethnic youth school and church groups. Vail Resorts will encourage mass transportation by offering a $10 per participant subsidy towards tour coach transportation.
Vail Resorts staff will be responsible for coordinating the local and Front Range scholarship programs. "There is no reason why we can't do this better ourselves," Bill Jensen, co-president of VR's mountain division, told the Denver Post.
Alpino head Roberto Moreno disputes that notion. "How do you develop a snowsports diversity and inclusivity strategy without including people of color [in the development process]?" he asked. "This is a sad day for Denver kids."
While VR is withdrawing its support for Alpino, three other Front Range areas are joining the Alpino effort: Eldora, Loveland, and Echo Mountain Snowboard and Ski Park. The three areas are joining with Alpino, several Denver youth groups and other supporters to host a "Snowsports Opportunity Day" march and Teach-In Oct. 6 in Denver. The group hopes to attract 200 to 300 supporters.
"Mountain recreation experiences give kids something to aspire to," said Denver Councilman Rick Garcia, who represents a mostly multicultural district in Denver's Northside. "We want to encourage the Colorado ski industry to continue its partnership with Alpino and its heightening interest in the cause of making snowsports and mountain recreation more inclusive of youth." Garcia is also a sponsor of a city proclamation, to be presented Oct. 2, that recognizes Alpino's efforts to create snowsports experiences for Denver kids.
"The educational value of mountain recreation is too extraordinary [to pass up]," said Moreno. "At a time when most kids in this state are facing epidemic dropout rates and rising diabetes and obesity rates, mountain recreation offers tremendous benefits."