BY ROBB GAFFNEY
Not long after KSL purchased Squaw Valley Ski Corp. several years ago, I found myself dreaming about what was possible for this valley. What kind of new lifts would there be? What would the connection through White Wolf look like? Would we be able to start up a backcountry skiing program and take advantage of all the amazing terrain surrounding Squaw’s boundaries? I wasn’t alone. Many conversations I shared with local athletes and community members revolved around this lofty and ceiling-less experience of possibility. I would rarely run into someone who opposed my inspired state, mostly when I spoke excitedly about supporting the Olympic bid, which if successful would require massive regional developments.
Over the next couple years, I welcomed the much needed improvements to the mountain and base area, including the addition of the Big Blue chairlift and the elimination of the ticket portals so visitors could see the beautiful Funitel building. I found myself defending the decision to cut down the tree next to the KT sundeck in order to open up the area and create a large amphitheater. Remember the venue for the July 4, 2011 Big Head Todd concert?
But this buoyant honeymoon period was followed by something interesting. My enthusiasm about what could be gradually took a back seat, pushed out by thoughts of what was really going on here — the mechanisms of big business, the intricate strategies employed, and the bottom line. My eyes opened up to a very real threat facing our precious valley. Were we on the cusp of losing our unique character in this North American trend of homogenizing ski villages? Something truly valuable was at stake.
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