What does a belly-up of the Yellowstone Club mean in today's ski industry?

Yellowstone ClubFor a week, and with the worst possible timing for our industry as a whole, reports of the bankruptcy filing at Wyoming's elite Yellowstone Club have been running the wires. (See NYT >)

Locals everywhere can argue day in and out about the worth of the club to the general ski community. "They aren't true ski people looking for ski town living." "It's just a gimmick and had no place in the industry." "They treated us poor people like intruders, so excuse me while I grin from ear to ear." "How long before it gets sold and becomes a normal hill and I can cruise over and try some of the terrain I've been looking at from Big Sky?"

But the bottom line may be what it predicts. Skiing's roots are low-cost, low-maintenance fixed-grip lifts, limited grooming, economical operations, affordable tickets for families, and a complete lack of concern about any kind of stockholder. Intrawest, Vail (now trading at 21, down from 62 in '07), ASC, Tamarack... each of these has gone after the crust demographic and left working class meat to get systematically ground out of mountain communities.

At the same time, small and mid-range resorts often roll along with good cash flow even in tough years. Their operating and revenue models have been proven over 60 years and multiple recessions.

It appears it might be a great time to be small and be local. And let your neighbors play in your yard.