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Aspen Skiing Company

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The Aspen Skiing Company, known locally as "Ski Co", is a commercial enterprise based in Aspen, Colorado in the United States.


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 rural Colorado. The company didn't pay dividends until it was bought by Twentieth Century Fox, which is when the ticket prices began to soar. In the 1970s, ticket prices were just over 10 dollars a day; now, they are more than 100 dollars a day; season passes are nearly 2000.[1]

Paepcke, a successful Chicago industrialist, founded the company as part of a 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 Aspen Skiing Company established the Aspen Mountain ski resort on Aspen Mountain above the town of Aspen, Colorado. 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.


The Aspen Skiing Company supported in the Water Rights Protection Act. The bill would prevent federal agencies from requiring certain entities to relinquish their water rights to the United States in order to use public lands.[2] In 2012, a court ruled "in favor of the ski companies... that seizing the privately held water rights usurped state water law."[3] However, the United States Forest Service decided to pursue a "new regulation to demand that water rights be transferred to the federal government as a condition for obtaining permits needed to operate 121 ski resorts that cross over federal lands."[3] The Colorado ski industry supported the Water Rights Protection Act because it believed the legislation was "needed to block a water extortion scheme by the Forest Service to withhold government permits unless the companies relinquish their valuable water rights."[3] Vice President of the Aspen Skiing Company David Corbin testified to the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Water and Power that the company would go out of business without the water.[3]


  1. ^ "Passes | 2016/2017 Season Pass Info & Pricing | Aspen Snowmass". Aspen Snowmass. Retrieved 2017-05-08. 
  2. ^ "H.R. 3189 - CBO". Congressional Budget Office. Retrieved 11 March 2014. 
  3. ^ a b c d Hudson, Audrey (11 October 2013). "Tipton Bill Seeks to Stop Feds from Trampling Water Rights". The Colorado Observer. Retrieved 12 March 2014. 

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