Top Five Fridays - January 22, 2016 // Ski Industry News

Top Five Fridays January 22, 2016: Lead Image

Image: Squaw Valley Aspen Meadows' Facebook Page

#1: New Year Round Dryslope Skiing Facility Announced Near Toronto:

Just weeks after residents of Castle Rock, CO learned that a year round dry slope center might be coming to their city, a company based just North of Toronto, Canada has announced that they will be opening a year round dry slope and freestyle training facility. Based on the goal of creating a training facility for skiers and snowboarders year round, the Axis Freestyle Academy plans to open a 20,000 square foot facility just outside of Toronto in neighboring Vaughn, Ontario. Inside the facility, visitors will find an array of foam pits, trampolines, and of course dry slope terrain featuring rails and jumps. The goal of the business of course, is to create a space where skiers and snowboarders can comfortably grow their talents. As such, the facility will feature obstacles of varying difficulty for everyone from beginners to experts. With weather and snow becoming increasingly inconsistent, the trend of opening dry slope ski areas is likely to continue with more businesses continuing to open. This one, the Axis Freestyle Academy, is scheduled to open by April.

#2: Historic Ski Jump to be Renovated in New Hampshire:

Top Five Fridays January 22, 2016: Ski Jumps at Gunstock Mountain Resort

A few of the smaller ski jumps at Gunstock. Pictured here are a 5 meter beginner jump on the right, a 10 meter ski jump on the left, and a 20 meter ski jump in the background. Image: Gunstock Mountain Historic Preservation Society's Facebook Page.

Time and time again we’ve touted the value of small feeder hills. One of the points we’ve made is that they’re generally in better touch with the average skier’s wants and needs. Case in point: Gunstock Ski Resort in New Hampshire has announced that they’re working to reopen their historic ski jumps. Originally built between 1935-1937 on Mount Rowe by FDR’s WPA programs, the ski jumps at what is now Gunstock resort have sat dormant and unusable for years. Now, the Gunstock Historic Mountain Preservation Society is spearheading a movement to renovate the old structures in hopes of revitalizing the ski jumping scene in the area. Already the group has created two new, smaller ski jumps measuring 7 meters and 18 meters. Earlier this year the two operational ski jumps were used to host a contest in which over 50 local area high schoolers competed. It’s stories and reasons such as this why we continue to feel strongly that despite the odds against them, the continued existence of small feeder areas are crucial to the prosperity of the sports of skiing and snowboarding.

#3: All Lake Tahoe Ski Areas Above 200" of Snow on the Season:

Even before the ski season started, hopes were high that the West Coast would finally cash in on a solid snow year thanks to El Niño. After enduring a long stretch of dry winters, it wasn’t just a ski bum’s hope anymore- a strong snow year was absolutely crucial to slowing the rate of draught that’s been affecting California and Western states in recent years. Well, this Winter hasn’t necessarily erased those concerns, but an incredible start to the year is sure to slow them. Just how good has this year been? Well, according to Ski Lake Tahoe, the area’s ski tourism organization, all six ski resorts in the area have surpassed the 200” mark, and it’s still January. Compared to last year, many of these resorts have already doubled the amount of snow. Take Heavenly for example, which, according to the Sierra Sun, saw a total of 87” of snowfall last season. This year, Heavenly has already received 211” with more on the way. So while California certainly isn’t free from their water woes, this Winter’s incredible snow rate should simultaneously quench skier’s thirst for powder and the state’s thirst come Summer.

#4: Vail Buys 230 Foot Ski Hill in Wisconsin:

Those who follow our Chairlift Chat blog might be starting to notice Vail’s domination of headlines. From purchasing and then combining Park City and Canyons resorts, to that time they purchased Perisher resort in Australia and kicking off an international Multi-Pass arms race, Vail is constantly making news with their growing empire. The latest news from Vail? They’ve just purchased a tiny ski resort about an hour and a half outside of Chicago. Wilmot Mountain, located just over the border in Wisconsin, measures a measly 230 vertical feet. Of course the knee jerk reaction here is to question what the heck a Goliath like Vail, wants with a David like Wilmot? The answer is actually pretty strategic. Starting with their purchases of Afton Alps in Minnesota and Mount Brighton in Michigan, Vail has been purchasing these feeder hills in an effort to both preserve the existence of community ski areas, while also opening a pipeline to bring more midwestern skiers to their bigger, West Coast resorts. After purchasing these small ski areas, Vail spends the time to renovate them, creating a memorable experience for visitors with the hopes of converting them to lifelong skiers. Of course Vail also sweetens the deal for pass holders to these ski areas by giving them additional discounts and offers valid at their larger resorts. While many skiers might be turned off by the idea of mega resorts buying up small ski areas, we have to admit that we aren’t fully against the idea. Yes, Vail does stand to profit from the acquisitions, but so do the local skiers who benefit from what are presumably much needed upgrades to their local ski resorts that were already at risk of going out of business. This is definitely an interesting trend and something to watch as it progresses, but we’d love to hear some of your thoughts as well. If you’ve got an opinion, let us know in the comments below!

#5: And Now, the Edit of the Week:

We didn't choose this edit because LJ Strenio is one of our favorite skiers to watch. It wasn't because of the insane Japanese powder footage, technical urban rails, ice bikes, Asian alpine slides, or ridiculous terrain park lines. No, in all likelihood we chose this one because of the snowblading. Be sure to watch for it at the :37 mark, and then proceed to watch LJ do everything you love about skiing.


Written by on 1/22/16