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Vail Resorts buys Park City Mountain Resort

There might be a business case study written about this some day.

The punchline is that Vail Resorts bought the Utah-based Park City Mountain Resort (PCMR) from its previous owner, Powdr Corp. PCMR will now be a part of the Epic Pass for the 2014-2015 season, and by the 2015-2016 season, PCMR will likely be connected to neighboring Canyons Resort to form the largest resort in the United States. 

This transaction might not sound remarkable, but the backstory is worth a few minutes of your time to learn about. Here is the short version:

  • A company named Talisker owned the land under Canyons resort and most of the land under neighboring Park City Mountain Resort.

  • Since the 1970s, Talisker leased the land to Park City Mountain Resort for about $150,000 per year. That’s a very cheap lease for PCMR.

  • The 20-year lease was up for renewal in April 2011, but PCMR forgot to renew the lease and submitted the paperwork a few days late.

  • Because PCMR was late in requesting a renewal of their lease, Talisker, the owner of the land under PCMR, took the opportunity to look for a new tenant. PCMR then sued Talisker, and a three-year legal battle began.

  • If Talisker won in the courts, they would have the right to change the lease terms (request more money) or evict PCMR from the land owned by Talisker.

  • After three years of legal arguments, during the summer of 2014, a Utah court essentially handed the victory to Talisker. It was a complicated case but a simple outcome: The tenant didn’t abide by the contract offered by the landlord, and now the landlord had the right to find another tenant.

  • The wrinkle is that in May 2013, Vail Resorts made an agreement with Talisker. Vail Resorts would pay Talisker to be able to run and profit from Canyons Resort, AND Vail Resorts would take over the legal case against PCMR from Talisker. The payoff to Vail from taking over the legal case would be that if they won against PCMR, Vail would reap the rewards of a victory.

  • Since the Utah court sided with Vail / Talisker and against PCMR, there was a choice. PCMR could pay a much higher rent to Vail / Talisker each year (set by the judge at $17.5 million per year, much higher than the $150,000 they were paying previously). Or, Powdr Corp, the owner of PCMR, could sell PCMR to Vail Resorts.

  • And the latter is exactly what happened last week with Vail buying PCMR for $182.5 million in cash. Since Vail expects to make about $35 million per year from PCMR, the sale price is about 5 times the expected yearly earnings, which is a great deal for Vail (see article below for more).

  • Overall, Vail bet it could get two resorts — PCMR and Canyons — if they just started with Canyons and helped the legal case against PCMR. And it worked.

  • And all of this was made possible because PCMR forgot to renew their lease on time in the spring of 2011. That is a very, very big “oops”.

 

For more on the final part of this story, see Jason Blevins’ excellent article in the Denver Post: 

http://www.denverpost.com/business/ci_26512934/powdr-sells-park-city-mountain-resort-vail-resorts

 

JOEL GRATZ

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Pictures of last week's snow

Even though it's common for the Rocky Mountains to see snow in September, we should still allow ourselves to get excited when frozen precipitation returns to the mountains we love so much. Here a few of the best snow images from last week's storms.

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This satellite image from Friday September 12th shows melting snow in Wyoming. In the absense of clouds over Wyoming, the satellite can 'see' snow on the ground. Watch how the extent of the snow decreases through the day as the sun warms the earth and melts the snow. The white colors in the bottom-right of the image are low clouds over eastern Colorado, not snow. Source: Weathertap.com

Looking ahead to this upcoming week, will we see additional snowfall over the US and Canada? Not so much. The forecast below shows that the only snow will be confined to the northern parts of Ontario, Quebec, and Newfoundland provinces. And perhaps add the highest peaks in New England to the list.

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JOEL GRATZ

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Snow in September

There will be two interesting weather events this week.

First, a surge of moisture will bring 1-3 inches of rain to southern California, Nevada, Arizona, southern Utah, and Colorado. Many of these areas need the moisture, so aside from flooding concerns, this is a good thing.

Second, and likely more interesting to snow lovers, a surge of cold air and snow will move south from Canada during the middle and end of the week.

The cold air will start the week in Alberta and will then move south to Montana on Tuesday, Wyoming on Wednesday, and Colorado on Thursday. Notice in the images below that the coldest air will stay east of the mountains, so the east side of the continental divide and the plains will feel the coolest readings.

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Forecast temperature difference from average. Source: Weatherbell.com

This airmass will be cold and somewhat moist. This means snow for areas along and east of the continental divide, with the best accumulations likely to fall in Alberta Canada, Montana, and Wyoming. The eastern foothills and plains of Colorado could also see a few flakes Thursday night into Friday ... maybe.

snow forecast

Snow forecast for 24 hour periods from Monday through Friday. Source: Weatherbell.com

For most of the rest of the month, the long-range forecasts show the coldest air staying east of the mountains, similar to the path of the cold air above. While this may be disappointing, I'd rather have this pattern occur now and hope for a switch to a more western storm track when ski season cranks up in another two months.

JOEL GRATZ

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Infographic: Epic Pass vs Mountain Collective

[Update 9/15/2014: Vail Resorts bought Park City Mountain Resort and has added it to the Epic Pass for the 2014-2015 season. The graphic below does not reflect this late addition, but you can find an updated graphic here.]

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In the 1990s and early 2000s, many large US resorts sold season passes for well over $1,000. However, during the last five to ten years, the multi-resort pass has come into vogue. This is a great deal for skiers and riders who can enjoy multiple mountains for well under $1,000. For us at OpenSnow.com, we like this because you can chase powder instead of being locked in to one mountain!

There are many multi-resort passes, and two of the most prominent are the Epic Pass by Vail Resorts ($749), and the Mountain Collective Pass spearheaded by Aspen ($389).

Below is a pretty cool info graphic detailing these two passes. Enjoy, and please leave your thoughts and questions about multi-resort passes in the comments below!

Epic Pass vs Mountain Collective

Epic Pass vs Mountain Collective

Epic Pass vs Mountain Collective

Epic Pass vs Mountain Collective

Epic Pass vs Mountain Collective

Epic Pass vs Mountain Collective

Epic Pass vs Mountain Collective

Epic Pass vs Mountain Collective

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Where did the snow fall last season 2013-2014?

Where did the snow fall last season 2013-2014?

While we’ve been busily looking ahead toward next season (El Nino, Other Models, Farmer’s Almanac), we should also take a moment to remember last season.

Tony Crocker has a summary of the top resorts here, and below I summarized the season in visual form.

But before getting to the maps, I wanted to share two quick nuggets about last season that are at the top of my mind:

- In February 2014, Jackson Hole recorded snow on all but three days of the month (25 of 28 days). This snowfall totaled 143 inches or 11.9 feet.

- On 14 consecutive days between January 29 and February 11, 2014, Monarch Mountain in Colorado measured snow each day for a total of 123 inches or 10.25 feet.

Ok, now on to the maps:

winter snow ski conditions

Each map shows how things were compared to average. For temperatures, the eastern half of North America was cold while the west coast was warmer than average. For snowfall, the northern Rockies and mid-Atlantic were well above average. Source: NOAA

 

winter snow ski conditions

The coldest air was generally focused on the central and eastern part of the US while the southwest saw above-average temperatures for most of the winter. Source: NOAA

 

winter snow ski conditions

The mid-Atlantic and southeast saw above average snow/ice/rain in December, while February and March dumped well above-average snowfall on the northwest and northern Rockies. Source: NOAA

I like looking at the season in monthly chunks because it can show the timing of great (or bad) conditions even if the season as a whole was the opposite.

JOEL GRATZ

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