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Letters to the Editor 10/14/21

Guest Opinion: Fast Tracks and the Degradation of Ski Culture


Editor's note:

The first few freezing nights this past week brought the point home: Ski and snowboard season is right around the corner. After a summer of smoke and fires, I'll go out on a limb and say even the most Scroogy winter-hater is a little less miffed about the cooler weather this year. This summer was a doozy.

For those looking forward to shushing along the slopes this year, we're rolling out some feature stories that might interest you. Trevor Bradford shares the story of Bend's figure skating club, while Jack Harvel looks at the potential connection between the economy and snow levels. We also offer a look at some of the season's winter events, and update you on the already-controversial new lift-line policy at Mt. Bachelor. Stay cool and stay warm, Central Oregon!

Guest Opinion: Fast Tracks and the Degradation of Ski Culture

For many Bendians, Mt. Bachelor was/is the flag pole, and destination for a migration from all over the country. At one time, ski "areas" didn't care what you did or what you have, but how much fun you were having. Ski areas were built for release, a place to enjoy nature safely. The ski area was your family's playground. And for many skiers now, it's the metaphor of flying and floating down the mountain that allows us to manage whatever hardships and challenges that we face off the hill. 

Fast Tracks balks at that culture and is evidence that skiing is now all about appeasing shareholders and whoever is willing to pay a bigger pricetag. Gone are the days of beater camp trailers that were willing to pay the $35 charge in the hopes of being first in line and getting fresh tracks down Zimmermanns. Now it's a $100 camping charge and Fast Tracks $$'s so "More Fortunate, Disposible Incomers" can calculate to the minute time away from their laptop, so they can make it back to town for the $2 million transaction at 10:30am.  

I can sympathize with management when they first read these implementations from POWDR, but can they not draw the line somewhere? How can they not see that it would divide passholders that are already seeing disparaging changes in our community fraught with a housing crisis, and income inequality?  

As someone who spent 100s of hours in support of Mt. Bachelor by acting as a community liaison in creating the Mt. Bachelor Apres Ski Bashes and POWDR Winterfest events on Mirror Pond, I am disgusted by the change of heart that I have in my soul for this company.  

Will I continue to buy a pass? Yes.  

No matter my anger and sadness for POWDR and Bachelor management's decision, I will always hold the ethereal feelings that is core of the sport over the contempt feelings I have for these changes. The feelings I get from gliding down a mountain, or sharing a good conversation on a soaking-wet chairlift, or seeing the stoke shine through my son's face after a good day on the mountain is why I choose to fork over my money.  

With these decisions and changes, I am assured that even Bill Healy would walk away from such blatant degradation of the fabric of the ski culture he created.  

"Seek the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop away from you like the leaves of Autumn," but more for the people who are willing to drop extra coin to do so.  ­— Not John Muir

—David Marchi, Ski Shop Owner

Kamikaze Americans

It is reliably reported that as many as 200,000 Americans have suffered preventable COVID deaths since the widespread availability of a vaccine in the late winter/early spring of 2021.

We are witnessing an act of mass suicide in America that makes kamikaze pilots in World War II look like innocents. At least those pilots died in small numbers and in the cause of their country. 

Our citizens are dying in droves to save the nation from an enemy that can only be called good health and common sense. 

Japan's pilots surely wanted to take down as many Americans as they could along with them. Our own citizens appear to want to do the same.

—Kimball Shinkoskey

Pet Owners and Environmental Sustainability

While out on a recent jaunt into a Central Oregon officially designated Wilderness Area, I encountered six different parties, all with dogs, and with owners having varying levels of control over their pets/companions. I found it inspiring. In fact, so inspiring I came up with an idea for an organization: "Pet Owners With Environmental Responsibility" or "POWER." I know, pretty awesome name and acronym! Alas, I'm too old to try to start something new, so if you like the idea it is yours; please feel free to start a movement! The premise? Environmental responsibility ... for pet owners. As an example, if you own a cat, be sure it is neutered, and consider keeping it indoors most/all of the time to keep it from murdering native songbirds. Own a dog? Feed it sustainable dog food, and be sure to keep your well-fed pet from murdering the native small mammals and harassing the big mammals when out camping or on a hike. In fact, perhaps consider leaving your pet at home when venturing into a Wilderness Area, unless, perhaps, you need it for personal protection. Into birds as pets? Be certain they're from a reputable breeder, and not some wild-caught nestling smuggled from the nest of a fussy parent. In this magical yet finite Central Oregon landscape, more people mean more pets and more potential impact on the natives. The POWER is in your hands for a sustainable future! The idea is yours if you want it. Take it and run!

—Kevin P. Tanski

RE: Do you agree with the fireworks ban in the city of Bend? Poll question, bendsource.com

Fireworks on the 4th of July — a celebration of revolutionary war. A small theater of smoke, explosions, people maimed, buildings and countryside burned. Will we remember without the small lesson or forget that war is hell?

—Geoff Reynolds

Letter of the Week:

Geoff—Fireworks as a celebration, or a reminder that war is hell? I thought most modern people considered them the former. In any case, come on down for your gift card to Palate!

—Nicole Vulcan

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