Top Five Fridays - July 14, 2017 // Ski Industry News
#1: New York Governor Transfers $5 million from NYC Subway to Upstate Ski Resorts. People Get Mad:
We’ve all been there. Whether it’s between friends, family, or even schoolmates, we’ve all found ourselves awkwardly positioned between two arguing parties. On one hand, you can see the reason for party A’s outrage, but you also enjoy the benefits that caused the outrage, so you can’t really be mad at party B either. Too vague? Let’s check out a real life example.
This week, it was revealed in New York that Governor Andrew Cuomo had a $4.9 million check written from New York’s Metro Tranit Authority (MTA) to the Olympic Regional Development Authority (ORDA) back in March 2016. For those unfamiliar, ORDA owns and operates three ski areas in New York: Whiteface, Gore, and Belleayre. The payment itself was essentially a small “bail-out” package to help the resorts overcome a tough winter as the 2015-2016 ski season saw far less than average snowfall on the East.
Now, here’s the awkward part. As skiers and outdoor recreation enthusiasts, it’s hard to be mad at the news that the government helped three ski resorts stay open after a tough year. Afterall, outdoor recreation is incredibly important, and we all know how difficult it is to reopen a ski area once it’s closed. On the other hand though, and this is why so many residents of New York City are upset, Governor Cuomo pulled $4.9 million away from an already underfunded department in the NYC MTA. The financial struggles of the MTA are no small secret, so when New Yorkers caught wind of the bailout, the resulting backlash was nothing short of expected. So, it’s like we said: as skiers we’re sort of just caught up in the middle of this one. For more on this, check out this story from North Country Public Radio.
#2: Growing Ski Resort Multi-Pass Powder Alliance Adds Bogus Basin to Roster:
At a time when large ski companies are acquiring as many resorts as seemingly possible and creating huge multi-resort pass offers, many are beginning to question what the future of the ski industry looks like, and whether or not the smaller ski areas will be able to survive such consolidation. Enter Powder Alliance: an independently owned network of ski areas that have come together to form their own multi-pass arrangement. While ski resorts that are in on the deal range in size from small ski areas like Mt. Hood Ski Bowl to much larger resorts like Colorado’s Crested Butte, the common thread amongst them all is that they aren’t owned by a large parent company like Vail or Aspen.
That’s why we’re always thrilled to see headlines such as this week’s news that both La Parva, Chile and Bogus Basin, Idaho have jumped on board and are now a part of the Powder Alliance. While we certainly won’t be the ones to pass judgement on whether the actions of Vail, Aspen, and KSL are positive or negative for the ski industry, we will definitively say that the banding together of independent ski area is undoubtedly positive. As a result of this program, season pass holders at over a dozen independent ski areas can now access skiing all over the Northwest (as well as in Chile and Japan) for an affordable price. This allows skiers who can’t afford something like the Epic Pass to still be able to take the type of ski vacations that form lifelong memories and passion for the sport. So when a group like Powder Alliance adds two new names to the roster, there’s no more acceptable response than a round of applause! To find out more about the two new additions, see this article from the Ski Area Management association website, or view the Powder Alliance website directly.
#3: Matchstick Productions Releases Trailer for "Drop Everything" and it's Amazing:
It’s here, it’s finally here! This week, Matchstick Productions released the trailer for their 2017 ski flick: Drop Everything. Most years, Matchstick Productions is one of the first companies to release their trailer, and is often quickly followed by an onslaught of trailers from other ski films. For now though, let’s drop everything and focus on, well, Drop Everything. Right off the bat, we can tell we’re going to be big fans of this movie. The trailer is light hearted and consistently take friendly jabs at the ski film industry, as well as Matchstick Productions themselves. Remember last year’s post-apocalyptic, post-water themed movie? While it was certainly enjoyable to watch, it also had a serious tone that set itself up perfectly to be the butt of 2017’s jokes. Of course in addition to the high quality humor, the trailer is also packed with ridiculous footage of veteran athletes such as Mark Abma, Eric Hjorleifson, Michelle Parker, Sammy Carlson, Elyse Saugstad, and local legend Tanner Rainville. All in all, we’re pretty freakin’ excited to see this year’s movie, especially the 300% more sand. I mean send. Just watch the trailer.
#4: Aspen Skiing Company NOT in Violation of Anti-Trust Laws:
Finally, we’ll round out the week with an update from a story we’ve been covering that had the potential to set precedents in regards to ski resort conglomeration. As readers of the blog know, Aspen Ski Co. and KSL Capital teamed up to purchase a total of 10 ski areas this past Spring. Of those 10 resorts, 4 of them are located in and around Mammoth, Ca. The density of Aspen Ski Co. owned ski areas in Northern California ended up raising concerns over whether or not they constituted the formation of a trust, or a business environment in which lift ticket prices were controlled not by the demands of the free market, but by the desires and collusion between a small group of businesses (typically 2-3).
Now, with all that said, it’s important to inform you of this week’s news: according to the U.S. Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission, the acquisition by Aspen Ski Co. and KSL is fair and doesn’t require any further review in regards to anti-trust rules. This is a huge victory for the Aspen / KSL team as this ruling essentially clears the way to seal the deal on the merger. For more on this, take a look at this article from the Aspen Times.