Top Five Fridays - January 15, 2016 // Ski Industry News
#1: Almost 1/3 of Ski Areas at Risk for Closing:
This week, we start with some troubling news. You’ve heard us blow our horn before about the importance of feeder hills and their value to the ski industry. Well, as it turns out, we haven’t been the only ones to notice them. Earlier this week at the annual SIA trade show in Denver, Bill Jensen, an industry expert, released research that shows the financial landscape of ski areas in the United States. His overarching argument? That the top tier of ski resorts are thriving, while nearly 1/3 of the small feeder hills are likely doomed. Through a combination of increasingly unpredictable weather, lack of investment, and decreasing returns, 150 “sunset” ski areas are on their way towards extinction. This is understandably upsetting news, but why does it really matter? Well, as we’ve pointed out in the past, feeder hills are where the love for skiing and snowboarding is born in most people who eventually travel or relocate to destination resorts (who are currently thriving). The hope then, is that Mr. Jensen’s presentation served as a wake up call to mega resort owners who rely on these feeder hills to “recruit” new customers to the sport. You can read more about this research over at the Curbed Ski website.
#2: Mountain Rider’s Alliance Announces New Initiative :
After that last bit of scary news, we had to follow up with something a bit less bleak. Shortly after news broke regarding Mr. Jensen’s predictions, our friends at the Mountain Rider’s Alliance announced their new initiative: the Mountain Playground Group. In an effort to empower and preserve small Feeder Hills, the Mountain Rider’s Alliance is creating a group of small ski resorts who will band together to share strategies and increase their buying power (for example, buying a larger insurance policy), enabling them access to competitive operating costs. As it stands, large ski resorts or parent companies hold an incredible advantage over small feeder hills when it comes to paying for operating costs. In addition to working together, resorts that are a part of the Mountain Playground Group will also offer discounts to visitors who own a Mountain Playground Card. The model here is similar to multi-resort passes which have become increasingly popular over the last couple of years. Those interested in supporting the Mountain Playground Group can purchase a Mountain Playground Card for just $29.00, with 15% of the proceeds going towards SheJumps. To find out more about the new Mountain Playground Group, click here.
#3: Snowbird Resort Eyes Expansion:
This week, the news was all about ski resorts. The next item we’ll cover here is the announcement that Snowbird is finally ready to move forward with a plan that’s been in the works for about 20 years. This week, Snowbird Resort submitted a proposal to add two new chairlifts and a year round zip-line that would create access to Mary Ellen Gulch area of American Fork Canyon. If approved, the two new lifts would add approximately 500 acres of terrain to the resort, bringing their total to right around 3,000. Of course as is always the case, local residents aren’t thrilled with the possibility of Snowbird’s expansion. Although the land in question is owned by Snowbird, locals have enjoyed year round access to the land and they fear that the lifts will lead to further development- ultimately destroying what’s currently undeveloped wilderness. Still, the proposal looks promising for Snowbird as they do own the land. In order to expand, they’ll simply need to have their plan approved by the Utah County Board of Adjustments. If approved, construction of the lifts would begin this Summer and the expansion would be ready by next Winter.
#4: Breckenridge to Attempt World’s Longest Shot:
Now, let’s round out this week’s headlines with some true ski culture. This week, we’ll end on some good old fashion Aprés Ski news! Yesterday in Breckenridge, nearly 1,000 people attempted to break the world record for the World’s Longest Shot Ski. The former record was set at 777 participants, and was established in Breckenridge at last year’s Ullr Fest. For those unfamiliar with the concept, a shot ski is essentially a ski with multiple shot glasses mounted on it. To use it, each shot glass is filled an an equal number of participants lift the ski to take a simultaneous drink. As you can probably imagine, a 777 person shot ski is pretty long- 1,250 feet in fact. This year, event organizers hoped to beat their own high mark at the event, and in turn raise money for the local Breckenridge Mountain Rotary. Breckenridge Distillery helped host the event, which cost $5 to enter.
#5: And Now, the Edit of the Week:
This week, Sean Pettit shows us how to establish dominance. Enjoy.