Tuesday, June 28, 2016

North America's Biggest Operators in the Ski Business (8): Aspen Skiing Company

Aspen Skiing Company (ASC) operates the four mountains in the Aspen/Snowmass area - Snowmass, Aspen Mountain, Aspen Highlands and Buttermilk - as well as the award-winning Ski & Snowboard Schools of Aspen/Snowmass.
Aspen Skiing Company is located in Aspen, Colorado, in the heart of the glorious Elk Mountain Range.
Originally a miningtown, Aspen began attracting recreational skiers after the 1932 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, New York create an interest in alpine skiing in the United States.
The first attempt at developing a resort at Aspen came in 1936, when three men (T.J. Flynn, Ted Ryan, and Billy Fiske) formed the Highland Bavarian Corporation.In 1938, a former member of the 10th Mountain Division, Friedl Pfeifer, banded together with industrialist Walter Paepcke and his wife Elizabeth to make the town and its mountain a destination for those seeking renewal of their mind, body and spirit. As Walter once said, "Aspen had fishing, climbing, skiing. Aspen had so much to add to leisure, to the renewal of the inner spirit. It was the perfect setting for music, art, education…all the things that make life worth living".
In 1945, Walter Paepcke began acquiring land and met with the original founder of Aspen’s ski club and school, which he was looking to acquire. A deal was struck and in January 1946, the Aspen Skiing Corporation was incorporated.
In 1958 Friedl Pfeifer opens Buttermilk Mountain. Whip Jones opens Highlands. William Janss, a former ski racer and land developer, becomes interested in Snowmass and purchases the majority of the land at its base.
In 1963 Aspen Skiing Corporation purchases Buttermilk Mountain from Friedl Pfeifer.
In 1967 Snowmass-at-Aspen, just 12 miles from Aspen, officially opens December 17 as a joint venture of Aspen Skiing Corporation and the Janss Corporation.
In the 1970s and 1980s there were further changes in the ski industry. Most significant, skiers were beginning to shun small, basic ski areas for those that provided the largest number of trails, the most and fastest lifts, and the best facilities. Aspen Skiing Corporation, like other ski resort companies, would respond by providing additional services and constructing more luxurious accommodations. The ballooning cost of running a ski resort was reflected in the price of a lift ticket, which at Aspen Mountain jumped from $13.00 in the mid-1970s to $52.00 in 1995.
In 1978 the company was purchased by Twentieth Century Fox. Two years later, in June 1981, businessman Marvin Davis bought Twentieth Century Fox, and in the process he changed the status of Aspen Skiing Corporation from a public to a private company. He also changed its name to Aspen Skiing Company.
This arrangement did not last long, as In September 1981 Aspen Skiing Company and other Twentieth Century Fox subsidiaries, including Pebble Beach, were transfered to a separate venture, 50 percent of which was acquired by Urban Investment and Development (a subsidiary itself of Aetna Life Insurance). The corporate shuffling continued in December 1983, when Urban Investment sold its 50 percent share to a management company headed by Davis, and then in July 1985, when Twentieth Century Fox sold its share to Bell Mountain Partnership, Ltd., owned by the Crown family of Chicago. Eight years later, in April 1993, Davis's management company sold its interest to the Crown family, which finally became the sole owner of Aspen Skiing Company. That same year, Aspen Skiing Company purchases Aspen Highlands to create a single four-mountain resort.
In 2008 Aspen Snowmass is named one of the top ten "Best Places to Work", by Outside magazine, an honor it continues to receive to this day.
On November 2014, Aspen Skiing Company announced an internal reorganization with the realignment of several departments and a new reporting structure. The changes are designed to enhance the guest experience through operational efficiencies, improve the collaborative environment for current employees, and allow the company to maintain focus and keep up with the pace of the changing business environment.
Aspen Snowmass was selected by the International Ski Federation for the March 15-19, 2017 races that will bring both the men’s and women’s tour to Aspen. The 2017 World Cup Finals will be the first outside Europe since 1997 and the return of men’s World Cup in Aspen for first time since 2001.
World Cup ski racing has a storied history in Aspen as the mountain not only held its first sanctioned ski race in 1939, but also hosted the first World Championships outside of Europe in 1950 and has been a regular stop on the men’s and ladies’ FIS Ski World Cup circuit since its inception. Next year’s event not only denotes the homecoming of March World Cup ski racing in Aspen since 1994, but also commemorates the FIS Ski World Cup’s 50th anniversary season.

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