Your Life as a Skier: Our Community Ski Area Survey Results // Ski Industry News
Before we dive into this article, we want to start out by saying thank you to each and every one of you who took the time to respond to the Community Ski Area Survey, created by us at Skiessentials.com, the Mountain Rider's Alliance, and the Antelope Butte Foundation. In just two weeks, we received over 1,400 responses to our survey, providing the statistical data to backup some of our suspicions, as well as provide new insights into the ski industry. So what did the results tell us? Well, let's jump right in with some graphs.
Question 1: How old were you the first time you skied?
The first question we asked was, "How old were you the first time you skied?" Unsurprisingly, most of you learned sometime between the ages of 6-17. That makes sense as it's the biggest chunk of youth, and the period of your life when you had the most idle time and energy. What surprised us a bit though, is that almost a full 32% of skiers started skiing between 2-5. Just think about that for a second... just about 1 out of every 3 people you see on the hill started skiing before they turned 5. Maybe that will make you feel a bit better when you see some 12 year old flying past you on a double black diamond. Chances are, they've already been doing this for 7-10 years!
Question 2: Who took you skiing for the first time?
Question two paid more attention to who you went skiing with your first time out. Not surprisingly, the results showed that a majority of skiers go with their family their first time. The one figure that does stick out to us is that only 10.9% of responders went skiing with their school or a club for the first time. In a sport that's so community oriented, it comes as a bit of a surprise to us that schools and clubs aren't encouraging more kids to be active throughout the winter. This sticks out to us as an area that has the potential to help grow the sport even more if someone can figure out how to get more kids involved through these avenues.
Question 3: What is your current age?
Moving right along, we have our third question: "What is your current age?" Now, admittedly the results of this question are going to indicate who we convinced to take this survey more than anything. Still, the information we gained from this question is crucial in helping us draw conclusions between our results. We'll have more on this in a follow up article, but for now, take a look at the results. Almost all of you are between the ages of 18-65, with a full quarter of reposes coming from people over the age of 50. The coolest takeaway from this question alone, is that you don't have to stop skiing as you get older! Unlike a lot of physical sports, skiing is something you can continue doing for your entire life.
Question 4: What size ski area did you ski at?
Our fourth question was a bit of a setup. One of the things we really wanted to look at with this survey is whether or not most skiers actually tend to move to bigger and better mountains, or if that was just a misconception. To figure this out, we had to set a starting point for the data. Question four asked, "What size ski area did you ski at?" The results were actually pretty much in line with our expectations. A full 70.36% of you started skiing as what we classified as a small ski resort in our Feeder Hills article. It's also worth noting that only 10% of those who took our survey started skiing at large ski resorts with over 2,600' of vertical. We'll dig into this question a bit more in a follow up article as well.
Question 5: Do you still ski?
Question five might seem a bit silly. "Do you still ski?" Of course you do. Nobody stops skiing if they can help it, and you probably wouldn't have found yourself taking this survey if you didn't ski. About 95% of you agreed with this, as you're all still skiing. Still, we had to include the question in the survey to help support our arguments, and prove that the results are relevant to skiers. Had the results somehow been flipped and 95% of you didn't ski, then most of this data would've been irrelevant.
Question 6: What size ski area do you primarily ski at now?
Following the fifth question, question six asks "What size ski area do you primarily ski at now?" We'll draw more conclusions about the response to this question later, but for now take note of how even the results are. All in all, there's a pretty even distribution of skiers at all size resorts, with the exception of the smallest ski areas (under 600'). No real surprise there. Also worth noting is that just about 20% of responders ski at multiple size resorts- presumably meaning they call one mountain home and take one or more trips throughout the year.
Question 7: Do you ski with members of your family?
The seventh question from our survey brings family back into the discussion. It's obvious that skiing is a great family activity, but we wanted to get a better understanding of just how much of a family sport it actually is. What we found was actually pretty interesting. In all, 76.75% of you ski with your family sometimes or always. Only 9.98% of our responses indicated that they never ski with family. So far, those results are expected. What we found interesting though, is that 41.63% of our responders say they "Sometimes" ski with family. What's cool about this, is that it shows that skiing is just as much of an independent activity as much as it is a family activity. The idea that as a skier, you can go off and take solo laps, or laps with friends in the morning, and then meeting up with your family later on is pretty cool to us. Or maybe one weekend you spend skiing with your family, and the next you go on a ski trip with your buddies. Either way, it's one of the only sports we can think of that gives you that kind of freedom to bounce between groups of people, all while enjoying the same thing. Think about it, what other sports offer that? Football? Basketball? Skateboarding, Bowling, or Soccer? Not so much.
Question 8: What do you think is a fair price to pay for a lift ticket?
Question eight addresses something that's been on the mind of most skiers over the last few years. As ticket prices steadily rise, skiing has been becoming more and more of an "elitist" sport. As is the case with question 4, we wanted to see if most skiers thought current lift tickets were priced too high, or if that was also a misconception. So we asked, "What do you think is a fair price to pay for a daily lift ticket?" Not surprisingly, only 3.43% of responders thought anything over $79 was an acceptable amount to pay for a lift ticket. Additionally, a full 77% of our responses indicated that lift tickets should cost under $60. Unfortunately, according to an article from NBC news, the average lift ticket last season (2012-2013) was $85.52, with dozens of resorts charging $100 or more for a single day's lift ticket. The results from this question show a clear indication that there's a schism between what true, lifelong skiers want from a ski resort, and what a ski resort expects from it's customers.
Question 9: What amenities are important to you at a ski area?
Question nine picks up where the eighth leaves off. In order to give us a better idea of what skiers expect from ski areas these days, we asked, "What amenities are important to you at a ski area?" With over 1,000 answers to this question, we expected there to be a lot of variety, and there certainly was. From lockers to ski through coffee stands, you guys mentioned just about everything a ski resort could have. By far the most common responses though were really just the basics. For most of you to have a good time, all you need is a reliable lift, somewhere warm to get lunch, and good terrain to ski. Oh yeah, and we had A LOT of people mention good bars. Go figure.
Question 10: What is your favorite ski memory?
And finally, our tenth question. For the last question of our survey, we asked our participants to tell us their best ski memory. Again, we had over 1,000 responses to this question, and hundreds of great ski stories. Narrowing it down to the final three winners was quite a challenge as so many stories rang true and were entirely relatable. We had all kinds of stories: hilarious falls, classic Spring days, days with friends. Some of the best stories came from proud parents who watched their kids accomplish great feats of skiing. And the powder day stories... man did we get some powder day stories. All in all, each and every one of these stories was a great read and was relatable on some level. It was cool to see so many people, from so many areas, all have such great memories from their days on the snow. When it came down to it, the three winners we chose all had some sort of extra element. If you're interested in reading our winning stories, you can see the third place winner here, second place winner here, and first place winner here.
So what does it all mean? Well, you'll have to wait for our follow up article to hear our analysis and conclusions from the data we gathered. In the mean time, feel free to analyze our results yourself and start drawing some of your own parallels. If you think you've found something interesting, feel free to start a discussion in the comments below!