Well, one thing is for sure. Squaw Valley knows how to divide a community. A controversial post appeared on the Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows Facebook page today titled “An Open Letter To Our Small Corner Of The Internet…” It’s a “love it or hate it” letter. The TL;DR is that they expect only stoke to be posted on their social media pages. Negativity and criticism will no longer be tolerated and may cause users to be banned. And, by the way, poor us.
Who’s likely to love it? (and there is no shortage of these people)
- People who ski at Squaw Valley one week a year
- People that have had their helmet signed by Jonny Moseley or once rode a chairlift with JT Holmes and are now starstruck
- People that stop and take Instagram selfies at the Olympic flame on Highway 89
- People that will continue to profit from over-growth at SquAlpine
- Some employees at Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows
Who’s likely to hate it?
- People who ski at Squaw Valley or Alpine Meadows more than 7 days a year
- People who have been around long enough to really notice the differences since KSL came to town in 2010
- People who are pissed off about the hostile takeover of Alpine Meadows by Squaw Valley
- People who are angry that Squaw Valley spent nearly a million dollars to stop the incorporation of Olympic Valley, taking control away from locals and keeping it in the hands of Placer County supervisors that live 100 miles away
- People who have worked tirelessly to get meaningful reductions in the proposed Village At Squaw Valley project that is being rammed down our throats, against the will of the community, and who are also likely to oppose the proposed Base 2 Base gondola project
- Some employees at Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows
Are you intrigued now? Here’s a copy of the post:
Hey, it’s your Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows family.
When we first started hanging out on the internet together, things were fun. We had a great relationship. You share your good times with us and we share ours with you.
At some point that got lost. This little bubble of ours stopped being fun. All the sudden our social community became a black hole for negativity. It became a place for trolls and haters to hide behind a keyboard and bash our family. And that’s not cool with us anymore.
We want to remind you why WE’RE here in this funny little corner of the internet. Because the act of sliding down snow is fun. Skiing IS fun. Snowboarding IS fun. We want to share our favorite moments with our adoring fans just as we hope you want to share your good times with us: that season you worked here in ’71, your kickass turns down Chute 75, your kids first turns on Bailey’s Beach. Yeah, those times. We love you passionate skiers and riders. And above everything, we at Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows will continue creating moments and memories with you and your family. To this we are 100% dedicated.
So here’s where we stand. This social network we built is our home. And it was built for a place to share stoke. When you choose to visit our home, you don’t have to agree with everything you see and you can choose how you interact with it, but if you rant, spew hatred or bully our family and friends in our home we will break up with you. This behavior will no longer be tolerated.
Another friendly reminder (in case you forgot) is we are people who work here. Not robots. Not suits. Not invisible. We are community members that are passionate about sliding down snow. We are just like you! We come to work every single day giving 110%. Why? Because we have passion. Passion for our home, passion for skiing and snowboarding. Remember that all of those team members out on the mountain are human. Just like you. And it is those individuals, with collective knowledge of hundreds of years of combined experience, that open these magnificent mountains.
While the logistics of operations are tremendously complex, one thing is simple. If terrain can safely open, as deemed by Patrol, Lift Mechanics, Groomers and other mountain operation folks, it opens. Team members out on the mountain always are in the best position to use their professional discretion to assess lifts & terrain. Decisions about when to open, and what to open, do not originate in an office or a board room. They originate with the patrol leaders for terrain, and with the lift mechanics for lifts, based on the most up to date information, on the mountain. You would not want it any other way. Safety and readiness guide the actions of patrol and lift maintenance, not management directives about when to open terrain. There is simply no other narrative. There’s no such thing as money hold. There’s no such thing as holding terrain. If the hard-working and professional men and women out on the mountain call in and say terrain can open, we open. If they say it cannot open due to conditions or weather, or other factors, we don’t open. When we say that terrain is “scheduled” it is not a guarantee that the terrain will open; it is a promise that we have brought the staff and material that is necessary to open and operate that terrain, if it becomes safe and possible. Lifts are closed or taken off the schedule when we have assessed that operations won’t be safe or possible.
After this massive 23 foot storm, can we all take a step back from our keyboards and phones and remember why we’re all here? Why are YOU here? We only come back to one thing: the simple fact that skiing and snowboarding here is FUN. We hope you agree. We look forward to sharing the stoke with you here, and at Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows.
As of this writing, that post has generated more than 220 comments, and hundreds of additional replies to the comments. In summary, it’s a war out there. In the words of Edwin Starr, it’s good for absolutely nothing.
Although Squaw Valley is quick to focus on negativity over the last month, during which 23 feet of snow has fallen and a patroller lost his life, there is much more to it. The reality is that people have been frustrated far longer than just during the month of January 2017. The bigger reality is, frustrations at Alpine Meadows go back to JMA ownership and even POWDR Corp. ownership.
There’s not any doubt that although pass prices are cheap, everything else has gotten much more expensive. Lines are longer, traffic is much worse, there’s essentially no Alpine Meadows specific activities any more (other than waiting for the Snow Golf Tourney in April)…the list goes on and on. We’ve been writing about it since 2008 (yes, three years before KSL was at Alpine). Personally, I would love it if all we ever had to do was present stoke and positivity here at Unofficial Alpine…if only every day was a powder day with no lines and 100% of lifts operating. It doesn’t happen that way. Not for any ski resort, much less for any business, of any type, anywhere.
The reality is that we live in a world where it is really easy to share information. It’s not just Facebook…it’s a world of Yelp, TripAdvisor, Tinder, RateMyTeacher…the list goes on and on and on. In this world of instant feedback, you have two choices: listen and learn, or get overly defensive and threaten your customers. Today, Squaw Valley chose the low road and started threatening customers with banning them from their social media pages if they post anything that is not positive stoke. They also went so far as just telling people to go ski a different mountain. I am sorry, that is not how you build a positive relationship within your community and customer base.
I wish I could say that this was just an isolated moment of bad judgement from Squaw Valley. It’s not. In the last couple of days, two other people have shared similarly disturbing e-mail communications from Squaw Valley.
I know I am truly appreciative for every bit of work done to keep SquAlpine open throughout every season. There are many employees that are doing everything that they can to make it work. There’s also plenty of employees willing to share that they’re sometimes forced to do it with a hand tied behind their backs. In publishing this post today, we intend no disrespect to anybody that is employed by Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows in any capacity. We just hope they can treat all of their customers with the same respect. It’s a two way street.
I love Alpine Meadows. I don’t want to just go somewhere else….and neither do many other people. Thanks for listening Squaw Valley.