Aspen Skiing Company
||This article may be confusing or unclear to readers. (February 2009)|
Founded in 1946 by Walter Paepcke, it operates the Aspen/Snowmass resort complex, comprising four ski areas near the town of Aspen. The history of the company has in many ways paralleled, reflected, refracted entertained and tormented the inhabitants of the former silver town hamlet. Born out of the imagination of a cadre of World War II veterans, they hoped to create a skiing wonderland nestled deep in the middle of nowhere Colorado. In fact the company never paid dividends until its sale to Twentieth Century Fox. That is when the ticket prices began to soar. In the 1970s, ticket prices were just over 10 dollars a day. Now they are well over 100 dollars a day. Season passes are nearly 2000.
Paepcke, a successful Chicago industrialist, founded the company as part of larger effort at turning Aspen, a somewhat forgotten silver mining town, into an idyllic center for the advancement of the body, mind, and Spirit. As part of the larger effort, Paepcke also founded other cultural institutions such as the Aspen Institute and the Aspen Music Festival. The company established the Aspen Mountain ski resort on mountain of the same name above the town of Aspen. The first chair lift, Lift-1, opened on December 14, 1946 and was the world's longest chairlift at the time. In 1950, the company hosted the FIS World Alpine Championships, the first international skiing competition in the United States. In the following decades, the company opened Buttermilk in 1958 and the Snowmass (originally the Snowmass-at-Aspen Ski Area) in 1967. In 1993 the company assumed ownership and operation of Aspen Highlands, which was founded in 1958 by Colorado Ski Hall of Famer: Whip Jones. Previously, Jones successfully sued Aspen Skiing before the Supreme Court for antitrust violations in Aspen Skiing Co. v. Aspen Highlands Skiing Corp.
The Aspen Skiing Company is currently owned by the Crown family of Chicago. The Crowns also own significant holdings in General Dynamics and Wall Street's JP Morgan Chase. As of November 2006, the President and CEO of the company is Mike Kaplan, who succeeded Pat O'Donnell.