Monday, April 30, 2012

Tamarack Golf and Ski Resort's Sad Collapse Continues

Unfinished buildings and "temporary" structures at Tamarack

A new chapter in the story of the once-promising Tamarack ski and golf resort was written on Friday, but not on the golf course or the ski slopes. After the resort filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2008, locals were hopeful that a white knight would rescue the floundering resort. Enter Matthew D. Hutcheson. The only catch? Mr. Hutcheson was indicted on April 10, 2012 by a federal grand jury in Boise on 17 counts of wire fraud and 14 counts of theft from an employee pension benefit plan. Oops.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Settlement Reached in Powder Ridge Lawsuit

 Photo Credit: Powder Ridge Ski Area

The good news is that media outlets are reporting that the town of Middlefield, CT has reached a settlement regarding the failed sale of Powder Ridge ski area to Alpine Ridge, LLC. The bad news is that with no buyer in sight, the ski resort looks unlikely to operate for the foreseeable future.

More about the settlement after the jump.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Garmisch's New Glacier 6-pack Chairlift on the Zugspitze

 Cables for the new Wetterwandeckbahn 
Photo Credit: Bayerische Zugspitzbahn Bergbahn AG

Frequent readers of Ski, Esq. know that Garmisch-Partenkirche is one of my favorite ski resorts. I penned a lengthy piece on my trip for last spring. Germany's most famous ski resort is having a very good year. Deep snowfall has led to a long season that shows no signs of quitting. The biggest news of the season, however is happening up on the resort's Zugspitze area with the arrival of a new 6-passenger bubble chair - the Wetterwandeckbahn.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Oak Mountain Sold

Photo Credit: Oak Mountain

2011-2012 was a tough season for ski resorts. We at Ski, Esq. expect that at least a few ski areas might not be able to rebound from the horrific winter. However, it looks like Oak Mountain in Speculator, NY will not be one of the resorts ending up on the slag heap.  

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Blizzard Reopens Seven Springs

Image Credit: Seven Springs Resort

Old Man Winter had some some sense of humor this year. First an October blizzard followed by a nearly snowless and warm winter. Now, a late April snowstorm has allowed  Seven Springs Mountain Resort in Champion, Pennsylvania to reopen today. Better late than never.

Seven Springs will open just for the day on one slope serviced by one trail. We at Ski, Esq. applaud Seven Springs for allowing those close enough to the resort to enjoy the rare late season storm.

Friday, April 20, 2012

5 Reasons You Should Book Your 2012-2013 Ski Trip Now

 Stowe, VT

The 2011-2012 ski season isn't over here in North America. In fact, technically, the season's end is probably still a few months away. Almost invariably a handful of resorts manage to ski into late June or even July. (As an aside, my bet for this season's last non-glacier ski resort to close is Crystal Mountain, WA. On just over 600" last season the resort closed on July 16. This year with over 550" in the bag already, a similar closing date would not be surprising.) However, outside of a few late season meccas which attract diehards even while most of us are working on our tans, 2011-2012 is in the books. 

The 2012-2013 season is still at least 6 months away and mid-winter trips are least 9 months off. That's exactly why now is the perfect time to book your vacation for next winter.

The top 5 after the jump.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Mammoth Lakes Headed Towards Bankruptcy?

Photo Credit: Mammoth Mountain

Thank you to my dear friend and Georgetown Law grad Hayley Neal for bringing this story in last week's New York Times to my attention. According to the article, visitors to Mammoth Lake's famous mineral springs may not be the only ones in hot water. 

More, including possibly a wooly mammoth joke, after the jump.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Snow Golf?

 (c) Alpine Meadows


After the Masters, thoughts of cold and snow tend to disappear quickly. Even for diehard skiers, the golf course starts to look a lot more attractive than the ski slopes. But now it looks like there may be no need to choose. Our friends at FirstTracksOnline are reporting about an interesting event happening at Alpine Meadows, CA this Saturday - snow golf.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Ski Season Closing Dates

 April Powder in Beaver Creek

Spring is many skiers' favorite time of the year. Snow is deep, temperatures have moderated and the sun ends its long winter hibernation. I always tell people that if you could introduce beginners to skiing during springtime, no one would ever quit the sport. Spring skiing is skiing without all the things even diehards don't like about the sport, things like flat light and sub-zero temperatures. Unfortunately, many resorts close year after year when conditions are great. Why?

Few people realize that for some resorts closing (and opening) dates have just as much to do with the law as they do with snow depths or skier visits.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Mother Nature Salts Northeast Resorts' Wounds

 Late season snow on top of a closed Stowe Mountain Resort

Normally a foot and a half snowstorm on April 10th would be cause for celebration - not so this year. In a parting shot that can only be described as bitterly ironic, a late season snowstorm swept across the Northeast early this week dropping upwards of 18" on ski resorts across the Northeast. The only problem? Almost all of those resorts were shuttered for the winter.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Quoted in todays edition of First Tracks Online (Wisconsin Ski Safety Act)

Check out my quote in today's First Tracks Online:

Skier Safety Act Enacted in Wisconsin

The quote:

“In most regards, the act is typical of ski statutes found in other jurisdictions, commented attorney David B. Cronheim, Chief Legal Correspondent for First Tracks!! Online Media and the author of the ski law blog Ski, Esq. “The act places certain burdens on ski area operators, most notably a duty to install signage and trail markers. In exchange, it provides resorts with a degree of protection from lawsuits by mandating that all skiers and snowboarders accept the risks of participating in their sport.”

“One area where the Wisconsin law differs slightly from other states is in its approach to helmets,” Cronheim notes. “While some states are advancing paternalist statutes requiring helmets, at least for minors, Wisconsin’s statute is decidedly more libertarian. It requires ski resorts to post a sign saying that ‘helmets are recommended’ or ‘consider wearing a helmet,’ but does not require skiers or snowboarders to wear a helmet. In essence, Wisconsin has left the decision to the individuals, but is telling them not to expect recourse from the courts because they had fair warning."

Similarly, with respect to padding obstacles, Wisconsin has also taken a more laissez-faire approach,” Cronheim continues. “The statute does not specifically require all obstacles of a certain class to be padded (as is the case in some states), but requires the resort to formulate a written policy determining where padding should be placed to minimize risk to skiers and snowboarders. Failure to implement the policy would not only be a breach of the statute, but would almost certainly be negligence per se, resulting in tort liability for the resort.”

Friday, April 6, 2012

Jay Peak Expansion


Northern Vermont's Jay Peak Resort is forging ahead with its ambitious expansion plans. In recent years the resort has built new hotels, houses, condos, and even an indoor/outdoor water park.  However, many Jay skiers have long hoped for expansion to the resort's ski terrain. The resort's recent Act 250 application is a first step towards new lifts and trails on adjacent Doll Peak.

Much of the expansion has been financed by use of EB5 Visas. The EB5 Visa program allows foreign nations who invest $1,000,000 (or $500,000 in certain "targeted areas, of which Jay Peak is one) to obtain greencards. 

Regardless of the funding source, the ongoing transformation of Jay Peak is nothing short of remarkable. Jay has always been known for its snow; it receives more than anywhere else in the East, but Jay also had a well-deserved reputation for remoteness and tiredness. While it's just as remote as ever, no longer is the resort known for tired accommodations and slow lifts. New lifts, lodges, and hotels have Jay poised to breakout as one of the East's premier destinations.

After the jump, a link to the plans.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Mailbag: Suing a Ski Resort for Misrepresentations?

Thank you to a reader for reaching out to me with a question. Two quick notes - first, I will keep all questions anonymous and may paraphrase or rephrase your question for the sake of clarity or brevity. Second, please read the disclaimer at the bottom of the page. Any question I answer will be in the abstract and is not intended as specific legal advice.


Dear Ski, Esq.

I was a season passholder at [redacted] resort this winter. Their website advertised a season from late November through early April. The mountain was open only from Christmas through the first week in March. I feel cheated. Is there anything I can do?

The answer after the jump.