Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows aren't just neighbors, they're more like adult siblings who could never quite forgive each other for the noogies and typewriters of their adolescence. Squawpine, hmm… Do You Think Squaw and Alpine Might Open on the Same Day This Season? or Maybe Even Close on the Same Day? | Unofficial Networks

Squawpine, hmm... Do You Think Squaw and Alpine Might Open on the Same Day This Season? or Maybe Even Close on the Same Day?

Squawpine, hmm... Do You Think Squaw and Alpine Might Open on the Same Day This Season? or Maybe Even Close on the Same Day?

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Squawpine, hmm... Do You Think Squaw and Alpine Might Open on the Same Day This Season? or Maybe Even Close on the Same Day?

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snow making gun under tram face

My money’s on Squaw to open before Alpine this winter. Squaw’s got more snow making capacity…  But the real question I’m interested in asking is what’s going to happen to the historic operational rivalry between the two resorts as a result of the merger?

Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows aren’t just neighbors, they’re more like adult siblings who could never quite forgive each other for the noogies and typewriters of their adolescence.

bush_saddam_noogie

Even the resort management of either mountain has always worked to one up the other, vying for attention. Lucky for us, the attention sought is that of skiers and riders, and it’s generally been the passholder who ends up on the winning end of this particular battle. In the past, if skiers and riders were ever dissatisfied with some managerial decision made by Squaw or Alpine you could always expect to hear a quick comparison of the two resorts being levied by passholders.

Whether it was related to pass prices, park quality, backcountry access, staffing, weekend operations or closing dates etc… Pressure has always been applied by the public for one or the other of the mountains to “measure up” to the neighboring resorts’ operations. And that pressure has historically been felt by management. Comparison of the two resorts has always struck a nerve thanks to the proximity and history of the adjoined ski areas. Do you think that contrast will still be noteable now that both mountains are under the same umbrella?

featus lady, south park

Squaw and Alpine are like twins really

The two resorts have each had their own “distinctive character” from the very beginning. When Alpine Meadows opened in 1961 on the heels of an historic Winter Olympic Games at Squaw Valley, the founders of Alpine had intended it to offer a more relaxed and laid back skiing experience in contrast to the glamorous, modern, and fast paced orientation of Squaw. This was well before the introduction of Hot Dogging or naked skiing. (two different things… sort of)

ski jump squaw 1960

Squaw, 1960

Sometime after Nick Badami purchased a controlling share of Alpine in 1971 he and Alex Cushing began competing very directly with one another to see who’s resort could stay open later in the season. Badami usually won back in the day. They would actually cordon off runs with hay-bales and mix hay with the snow to keep a few small areas open as long as they could. Imagine that! Alpine Meadows prided itself in its spring skiing.

Alpine Meadows, Summer 2011

When Badami sold to Powdr Corp. in 1994, Squaw took the upper hand in the battle to stay open later in the season but the grudge was still alive. Badami stayed on as Chairman of the board of Powdr until 2003 and JMA didn’t take over Alpine until 2007. But in 2006 Alex Cushing died at 92 and Nick Badami at 88 in 2008. Without these two personalities the spirit of the contest has waned some in recent years, but the memory of that direct rivalry is still present in the mind of the local skiing community and the two resorts (up till now) at least remained in competition from a business standpoint.

I’m not suggesting that I anticipate cutbacks on operations now that the resorts have joined forces. Quite the contrary, KSL means business and they are likely to expand and compete on a larger scale to attract destination travelers from all over. But the idea that the operations of the two mountains might begin to become more uniform over time and that I might not be able to brag about Squaw being open later in the year than Alpine doesn’t exactly rest easy with me.

What do you think? Will Squaw and Alpine passholders lose some leverage now that KSL is steering both mountains?

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