ASPEN, Colo. --
There is a new, youthful vibrancy about this Aspen community that
resonates against its popular image of exclusivity, wealth, status,
celebrity and luxury.
In a town
characterized by remodeled Victorian homes mixed with architectural
designs that border on modern art, fur coats with cowboy boots, and
skis poking out from the open top of a Porsche convertible, these
are not the only fashion statements anymore.
tickets, package deals and a drive to attract youthful snowboarders
and skiers to town are changing -- in some ways -- the look of
The ski runs on
Aspen Mountain, just above the town, have the reputation of being
steep, both in altitude and price. And from the top of the
mountain, the brightest thing in the valley may still be the
reflections from rows of private jets shimmering in the sun at
Aspens one-strip airport.
But with an eye
toward higher skier numbers and improved profits, Aspen Skiing Co.,
one of the largest privately owned ski companies in the U.S., has
gone in search of a new breed of winter sports enthusiasts who dont
fit Aspens stereotype -- snowboarders.
Aspen has this
image of being for rich old guys, said Ed Ryberg, ski industry
program coordinator for the U.S. Forest Service in Colorado. For
years they even prohibited snowboarding on Aspen Mountain. But now
they are promoting the X Games at their ski areas, and they have
become associated with the extreme skiing crowd.
Aspen Skiing, owned
by the Crown family, also is expanding into less-exclusive
marketing territory by partnering with Intrawest Corp. to develop a
new base village and lodging at Snowmass, Colo., a more modest ski
resort less than 10 miles from Aspen Mountain.
according to Ryberg and others, has been among the most successful
in attracting new business from under-30 skiers with multiday
ticket package deals and by investing in larger, faster ski lifts
and things like half-pipes and other popular snowboard
The company also is
drawing new attention from younger skiers who shop the Internet for
last-minute ski and lodging deals, Ryberg notes.
These folks start
looking now for openings in late November, and they are finding
great deals to ski and stay at some of Aspens fancier places, he
said. That is one thing thats changing their image. --