“We did it so no one else could,” explains Vail spokesman Paul Witt, on why the Colorado ski conglomerate registered a dozen or so Internet addresses last spring that are more at home in a bathroom than a boardroom. Vail Resorts now owns vailsucks.com, beavercreeksucks.com, keystonesucks.com¿you get the idea. After animal-rights protesters torched lifts on Vail Mountain last fall, the company added burnvail.com and vailfires.com to its cyber stable. “There always will be people who don’t care for our resorts. There’s no point in giving them a platform,” Witt says. This preemptive strike comes cheap: Registering an address costs about $70. Vail also recently settled a lawsuit against Stuart Weiss, who had registered vail.com and beavercreek-.com in 1993, outmaneuvering the ski giant to its two most obvious Web addresses. (Before the settlement, Vail had resorted to using snow.com as its Internet address.) The settlement was sealed, but it’s safe to guess that Weiss could now register a website at easymoney.com.
It’s open to debate whether California’s Northstar-at-Tahoe has stepped over the line with “The Zorb.” Thrill-seekers are strapped spread-eagle into the 10-foot-high ball and then shoved down a track for a 40-second run. The track curves at the bottom to scrub speed, with a snow bank applying the final brake. That wasn’t always so. During a training run “the Zorb bounced off the track and landed on the lodge deck,” recalls resort staffer Erin Bernall. “We recalculated the pitch of the track after that.”