• Lifestyle
    The Daily Beast

    What the Hell Is Going to Happen With Ski Season?

    America’s two largest ski conglomerates have drawn their line in the sand. While 2020 has been a banner year for corporate uncertainty, not a single mountain resort has been able to say with confidence what the upcoming ski season will look like. Nobody knows. Obviously things like face coverings and social distance and adherence to local health guidelines will be the norm; but until now, the burning question since resorts closed in March of this year has been, “Who will get to go skiing this year, and how?” This week, however, Vail Resorts and Alterra Mountain Company made it clear where they stand: Vail Resorts will institute a reservation system, and Alterra will not.The last decade has been something of an arms race between these two companies as they continue to add resorts to their portfolio at breakneck speed. Highlights of Vail Resorts include Vail Ski Resort, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Heavenly, Park City, Whistler Blackcomb, Stowe, Okemo, Crested Butte, Mount Snow, and Hunter Mountain; Alterra’s lineup includes Deer Valley, Mammoth Mountain, Squaw Valley/Alpine Meadows, Steamboat, Stratton, and Mont Tremblant.Diehard skiers tend to hold that Vail Resorts and Alterra’s growth is the death of the ski industry as we know it as local flavor (and decision making power) defers to corporate structure; however the expansions have been a boon to the average ski consumer. Both Vail Resorts and Alterra sell multi-resort ski passes on a pre-commitment model—by paying for an Epic Pass (Vail Resorts) or Ikon Pass (Alterra) in some instances as early as a year in advance, consumers are able to ski each of the respective companies’ entire portfolio of resorts on a single pass product, for the same price it traditionally would have cost to purchase a season pass to one mountain. Each pass extends beyond the portfolio of each company’s owned-and-operated resorts, as well, and includes a number of independently owned partner resorts. The Epic Pass includes access to Telluride, Sun Valley, Resorts of the Canadian Rockies, and Hakuba and Rusutsu in Japan. Ikon Pass includes access to Copper Mountain and Aspen Snowmass. These pre-commitment, multi-resort pass products are a win for the resorts as well, which get their share of the cash earlier than if they were selling their own season passes. That means that regardless of how the 2021 ski season unfolds, both companies have already received a significant chunk of their revenue. Vail Resorts’ institution of a reservation model demonstrates a distinct preference of season pass holders over impromptu single-day lift ticket purchasers.The reservation system requires all pass holders to make a reservation before arriving at the mountain. Throughout the season, pass holders will be able to make as many week-of reservations as their pass type and availability allow. The early season will be reserved for pass holders only, and no individual lift tickets will be sold until December 8th. Epic Pass holders will have the opportunity to book up to seven core season “Priority Reservation Days” in advance; beyond those seven guaranteed days, pass holders will be able to make week-of reservations. Due to the need to both manage lift ticket sales and implement minimize physical contact, no lift tickets will be sold at ticket windows at any Vail Resorts—they have to be pre-purchased online and picked up on the premises. In a letter, CEO Rob Katz noted that “It is possible that at some point in the season, as we evaluate the dynamics of our operations, we may decide that we no longer need the reservation system at certain resorts.”While the reservation system purports to be an efficient way to control the amount of people on any given Vail Resorts property on any given day, it also serves as a complicated layer of bureaucracy which will deter those who usually purchase single-day lift tickets. Furthermore, the average skier might only plan a handful of days each year—and if you’re late to the reservation system for the same school vacation week for which everyone else is vying, you might be out of luck for 2021.“Certainly this year we’re prioritizing passholders,” said Jennifer Smith, a spokesperson for Whistler Blackcomb. “The focus this year isn’t revenue, the focus is safety.” While each pass product guarantees its owner a certain number of days, it remains entirely possible that Epic Pass holders might be left out in the cold if they are unable to reserve their number of days on dates that work for them. Alterra, on the other hand, is trying its best to retain the spontaneous nature of the sport—any skier will tell you that the best days are the unplanned ones. Season pass holders will not be required to reserve days in advance, however there will be a cap on single-day lift ticket sales. John Bleh, a spokesperson for Sugarbush Resort in Vermont, said, “If you have a local’s season pass or an Ikon, you have no restrictions on when you can come outside the normal restrictions on your pass product. We’ll also offer day tickets in advance so we’re working with capacity limitations, which we only expect to hit on a handful of really peak days. You’ll probably never see that cap met on the majority of days except for holidays and school vacations.”While uncertainty still plagues many of the Western resorts, the Northeast is cautiously optimistic for a strong season despite all of the new COVID safety protocols. “Sugarbush is definitely lucky because we have a huge share of locals from the Mad River Valley and Burlington areas,” said Bleh. “Boston and New York are our two biggest markets. We foresee a higher demand, because people aren’t getting on planes and are looking to stay regionally.” Another segment of the ski industry which expects a relatively prosperous fiscal year, all things considered? Heli-skiing. Beat Steiner, founder of Bella Coola Heli Sports located in the mid-coast region of British Columbia, noted that despite having to cancel almost 200 bookings last year at the beginning of the COVID pandemic, many of those clients have rescheduled for 2021, and that other than some new social distancing protocols in their guest lodges, all is well in the mountains. He has already completely sold out several weeks of the upcoming season, and expects next year to be even busier. “I actually think 2022 is going to be a banner year in terms of demand. The people who still might not come this year are going to build up that need to ski fresh powder, and will be even keener to get out on the slopes. Some people are already booking two trips just to catch up,” he said. “Heli skiing is the ultimate social distancing sport there is. You’re in a vast wilderness with nobody else around you.”Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.

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  • Politics
    The Wrap

    Lindsey Graham Backpedals After Saying ‘Use My Words Against Me’ on Supreme Court Vacancies

    Sen. Lindsey Graham, who said in 2016 to “use my words against me” if he were to advocate the nomination of a Supreme Court justice in any President’s final year of their term, feels very differently in 2020.Following the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Friday, Graham retweeted President Trump’s comment that the GOP has an “obligation, without delay” to appoint a new justice to the Supreme Court, adding that, “I fully understand where President @realDonaldTrump is coming from.”“Harry Reid changed the rules to allow a simple majority vote for Circuit Court nominees dealing out the minority. Chuck Schumer and his friends in the liberal media conspired to destroy the life of Brett Kavanaugh and hold that Supreme Court seat open,” Graham tweeted Saturday. “In light of these two events, I will support President @realDonaldTrump in any effort to move forward regarding the recent vacancy created by the passing of Justice Ginsburg.”Also Read: Tucker Carlson Is Not Happy Ginsburg Didn't Want Trump to Pick Her Replacement (Video)In 2016, Graham used the election year as an excuse to block the Republican-led Senate’s consideration of Obama appointee Merrick Garland to replace Antonin Scalia on the high court. After the media was swift to hold Graham’s 2016 words (and his 2018 words) against him as he requested, Graham on Saturday morning pointed to other, more recent comments he made to NBC News and The Hill.“In 2016, Graham said that people should use his own words against him if he ever tried to advance a SCOTUS nominee in an election year,” Yashar Ali tweeted. “Now he’s tweeting out a statement he made where he says after Kavanaugh the rules have changed.”Back in 2016 as Senate Judiciary Committee chairman, Graham said, “I want you to use my words against me. If there’s a Republican president in 2016 and a vacancy occurs in the last year of the first term, you can say Lindsey Graham said let’s let the next president, whoever it might be, make that nomination.” But in August after the appointment of Brett Kavanaugh, he told NBC News that ” the rules have changed as far as I’m concerned.”He also cited comments he previously made in May (via The Hill) that when Obama appointed Garland, the situation was different because the White House was in the hands of the Democrats but the Congress was controlled by the Republicans, and that “appointing judges is a high priority for me in 2020.”Also Read: Fundraiser to Defeat Mitch McConnell Raises $13 Million Overnight After Ruth Bader Ginsburg's DeathSenate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has already vowed that President Trump’s yet-to-be-named nominee would get a vote on the Senate floor, though a handful of more moderate Republicans have already indicated their hesitation at appointing a new Supreme Court justice with just 45 days before the election.Former Obama advisor David Axelrod told Anderson Cooper on CNN Newsroom Saturday that the Republicans may be willing to appoint a new justice quickly should the Supreme Court be called upon to decide a contested election, and having a 6-3 conservative to liberal majority on the bench instead of a 5-3 margin would help President Trump get re-elected. That said, a rush to do so could further risk Americans’ trust in our democracy.“We are already straining in terms of public trust in terms of our democratic institutions. This would really add to that, and this is really worrisome,” Axelrod said.See Graham’s most recent comments alongside his 2016 and 2018 comments below:I fully understand where President @realDonaldTrump is coming from. https://t.co/qlhtEwTCdX— Lindsey Graham (@LindseyGrahamSC) September 19, 2020As to my view of filling a Supreme Court vacancy in 2020, I’d encourage you to review these most recent statements.NBC Newshttps://t.co/wGnCdcpJjrThe Hillhttps://t.co/cagapf6S9t— Lindsey Graham (@LindseyGrahamSC) September 19, 2020The two biggest changes regarding the Senate and judicial confirmations that have occurred in the last decade have come from Democrats.1— Lindsey Graham (@LindseyGrahamSC) September 19, 2020“I want you to use my words against me. If there’s a Republican president in 2016 and a vacancy occurs in the last year of the first term, you can say Lindsey Graham said let’s let the next president, whoever it might be, make that nomination." pic.twitter.com/quD1K5j9pz— Vanita Gupta (@vanitaguptaCR) September 19, 2020“If an opening comes in the last year of President Trump's term, and the primary process has started, we'll wait to the next election.” \- Lindsey Graham, explaining why Republicans would not allow Trump to make a Supreme Court appointment in 2020 pic.twitter.com/k5GBiM3gOd— Keith Boykin (@keithboykin) September 19, 2020Read original story Lindsey Graham Backpedals After Saying ‘Use My Words Against Me’ on Supreme Court Vacancies At TheWrap

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  • Politics
    ABC News

    Amy Coney Barrett front-runner to replace Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Trump's list of justice nominees: Sources

    A conservative female federal judge appears to be the lead contender on President Donald Trump's list of potential nominees to fill the seat of the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, multiple sources familiar with the thinking of the president and his advisers told ABC News. Trump is expected to put forth a nominee in the coming days, and while it is still early in the process, U.S. Circuit Judge Amy Coney Barrett is seen as a leading contender, several sources told ABC News.

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