When Vail bought Canada’s famed Whistler Blackcomb ski mountain, locals were nervous. Now, after a record season of visitors, they’re enraged.
The takeover of Canada’s most iconic ski resort by an American corporation was never going to go smoothly. But Vail Resorts Inc.’s $1 billion acquisition of Whistler Blackcomb has Canadians seething.
The new owner’s offenses include the adoption of an on-mountain app that features Fahrenheit and inches, rather than Celsius and centimeters, and a season-pass pricing system that benefits globetrotting jet-setters at the expense of locals. Then there’s general discontent over the assimilation of a quirky, homegrown success story by an American corporate behemoth.
“They’re trying to cater to a wealthy, sheltered audience—I don’t know if that crowd really wants what we have,” says Cathy Zeglinski, a competitive athlete and family doctor who closed her Whistler practice last September, forced out by rising living costs and staff shortages in the town. “What we have is snow, extreme terrain,” she explains. “It's blustery, it's very hard to see. That’s why people come to Whistler—it's very extreme.”
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