It’s impossible to cruise through a ski forum or imbibe at a bar in a ski town without hearing plenty of complaining about the big, bad Vail Resorts. The complaints, while they may be beaten to death, are often valid. “Vail killed the vibe at mountain X, that place used to rule” or “I’m thinking about bailing out of town Y, the Vail-effect is too much to handle.” This disdain for Vail may be a little overstated, dramatic, and one-sided, but it is loud and sometimes– can be justified.
A huge portion of the ski population kicks off their boots in the spring and jump straight onto their mountain bikes. Skiing and mountain biking are two thrilling sports meant for one another and Vail Resorts, whether they like it or not, is now in the mountain bike business during the summer months.
Mountain bikers in Tahoe or the Bay Area who’ve visited the Northstar Bike Park in the past few summers will tell you about the crazy lack of effort Vail has put into their bike park. Some wooden features on Gypsy have not been fixed following the heavy snowfall of the 2016/2017 ski season and one of the ladder drops on Flameout has had a crack in one of the wooden supports all season.
Washboard ruts in almost every berm is becoming the norm and the people ripping Livewire at blistering speeds are endangering themselves every time they got off the lift.
Prices at the Northstar Bike Park are also higher than ever before. While we won’t speculate as to where that money is going, it is safe to say it isn’t being used on the trail maintenance budget. Talk to any Tahoe locals and you will hear about the glory days of the Northstar Park and how Vail appears to be ‘going through the motions’ over the past few seasons
No, Tahoe isn’t the center of the mountain bike world, but Whistler is and there’s already been plenty of chatter among the mountain bike community that the hallowed ground dubbed, The Whistler Bike Park is not being maintained at the same level it was prior to Vail’s acquisition.
Vail, you can and should do better. With climate change comes the inevitable shortening of ski seasons. With the shortening of ski seasons comes a longer bike park season. As a result, it is time to start investing more effort and money into a well-maintained bike parks at all their resorts.