slippery slope

The Fading Dream Of The American Ski Bum

Jan 24, 2019

For generations, the siren song of deep powder and steep inclines has lured starry-eyed young people into the time-honored tradition of "ski bumming."

The phrase is as much a term of endearment as an aspiration to a life lived simply: Pick a mountain, find some roommates, and ski or snowboard as much as humanly possible. But decades of corporate mergers and tourism are turning once-scrappy ski towns into high-end resorts, leaving the alluring glow of ski bum life to grow dim in much of the Mountain West.

 

Wearing flannel, sporting beards and donning beanies, many of the workers at the DPS ski factory in Salt Lake City look like ski bums warming up between runs at the local resort. But they are hard at work crafting some of the most advanced skis in the world.

There's no doubt skiing can be a very expensive sport, and now there's a concern that mergers and acquisitions could make it even more pricey. So is it increasingly a sport for the wealthy?


Ali Budner / 91.5 KRCC

The ski industry is one of the most important contributors to the economy in the Mountain West. And it's dealing with some pretty big changes right now. Probably the biggest one is climate. Winters are getting shorter and mountain resorts are having to adapt. 

Elyse Cosgrove / Protect Our Winters

The ski industry is an important economic driver in our region, but it's facing a lot of changes. Climate change, for one, is transforming ski resort leaders into activists and lobbyists.