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Stevens Pass under avalanche of criticism

An online petition is gaining traction and accusing the owners of the beloved Stevens Pass ski resort of mismanagement.

SKYKOMISH, Wash. — Jeremy Rubingh has been skiing at Stevens Pass for 14 years. The last few of which have been more frustrating than fun, according to Rubingh.

“The lines are completely backed up,” Rubingh said. “They only have 3 or 4 lifts open.”

The slide started when Colorado-based Vail Resorts bought the 82-year-old resort in 2018. Since then, Rubingh claims less and less of the mountain has been open for skiing.

Rubingh said he still had to pay $800 for an annual Epic Pass, although 60% of the terrain is closed.

“The numbers don’t lie,” Rubingh said. “Look at every single ski area in the state. Every single one has the majority of its terrain open, doesn’t have these crazy lines and every single ski area has the majority of its lifts open.”

And there are plenty of angry pass holders who agree.

Rubingh authored a change.org petition calling out Vail for what he says is mismanagement of the resort.

In just 5 days is racked up more than 26,000 signatures.

Jeremy believes so much of the resort is closed because Vail can’t find people willing to work for what the company is willing to pay.

“These employees that are running the place are heroes, but they’re not given the resources to run an actual ski area,” says Jeremy. “What we’re hearing from everyone is staff are underpaid, overworked and undervalued.”

Vail turned down KING 5’s request for an on camera interview.

Instead a corporate spokesperson sent a statement reading, in part, “We are listening to feedback carefully. Stevens Pass is working hard to address operational challenges, including staffing shortages, to open more of the mountain as quickly – and safely – as possible.”

Stevens Pass also bumped up wages last year to $15 an hour and cut season pass prices by 20%.

Jeremy’s petition is calling for 60% refunds for pass holders since 60% of the mountain is closed.

More than anything, though, he wants Vail to treat its workers and customers better.

If not, Jeremy believes there will be “epic” consequences.

“If things are status quo there’s no way I’m buying an Epic Pass from Vail resorts again,” he says, “and I’ve heard from a lot of people who say they won’t either.”

The Vail spokesperson asks people to be patient, saying, “It’s also important to recognize that some of the challenges we are facing are complicated further as we are in the middle of one of our busiest times of the year and contend with the impact of the Omicron variant as it effects our staffing levels in a variable way. This means we haven’t been able to open as much of the mountain as we would like, and not every on-mountain restaurant is operating fully. However, it’s our intent to add terrain and services as the season continues – it's still early yet, and we’ve been open for less than 20 days. Our teams deserve the utmost recognition – they continue to work incredibly hard and wear a variety of hats as we navigate these challenges.”

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