Top Five Fridays - June 9, 2017 // Ski Industry News
#1: This Week in the “Ski Resort” Classifieds Section:
To get things rolling this week, we’ll start in the proverbial “classifieds” section of the ski news, where the annual ski resort shuffle is in full swing. What do we mean by this? Well, just about every off-season in North America, a handful of ski areas inevitably hit the market, offering new opportunities for resort ownership. This year’s no different as this week brought two new ski area sales to light.
First up is Tyrol Basin, a popular feeder hill in Wisonsin. Earlier this week, the owners put the resort up for sale with an asking price of $3 million. What makes this sale a bit interesting, is that the current owners seem to be getting an early start on the sale as they’ve stated that it won’t affect the operation of the resort. In other words, it sounds like the owners are looking to sell, but if it takes some time then they’re willing to stick around and keep the resort open for as long as necessary. Ultimately, that might not be an issue though as it’s being reported that there have already been a dozen or more inquires from prospective buyers.
Next up: Blacktail Mountain Ski Area in Montana which is on sale for $3.5 million. Unlike Tyrol Basin, Blacktail Mountain boosts some significant vertical (1,400’ vertical), as well as snowfall (250” on average). That said, the resort is far from a behemoth: it comes with two doubles, a triple, and a tow-rope. So what does it all add up to? Well, in our opinion it seems like a pretty sweet deal, and potentially an opportunity for someone looking to invest in a ski resort. Not being locals, it’s hard to say for certain, but judging by the trail map, it looks like there’s room for some serious trail expansion. But, that’s up to whoever purchases the mountain, which could be you!
#2: Intrawest Stockholder Challenging Acquisition by Aspen:
Here’s a headline we had to read twice this week: Aspen’s purchase of Intrawest is currently being legally challenged in court. That part’s not surprising, and touches on a point we discussed about a month ago regarding anti-trust laws. What’s surprising, and the reason we had to read the story twice, is that this lawsuit has nothing to do with anti-trust laws, or even Aspen Skiing Co. really. No, this lawsuit is being raised by a shareholder in Intrawest who’s arguing that the management team at Intrawest didn’t do their due diligence to explore all financial options before agreeing to sell their ski resorts to Aspen. More specifically, the shareholder takes issue with the fact that Aspen will be buying back shares in Intrawest at a rate of $23.75, which is $1.75 less than the $25.50 that the shares were trading at just prior to the acquisition. That actually plays back into the due diligence issue as the shareholder’s claim ultimately boils down to the belief that selling shares back to Aspen at a discounted price was not the most strategic option, and that if the Intrawest management team had explored their full set of options, a more favorable outcome could have been achieved. All told, it’s a pretty tricky situation, and one that serves as a reminder that in the world of ski resort acquisition making headlines doesn’t mean it’s a done deal. (Unless it’s Vail buying Stowe. That’s a done deal as of this week).
#3: Popular Ski and Snowboard Summer Camp, Camp of Champions, Closes:
Ok, we put it off for almost as long as we could, but now we’ve got to break the bad news: After nearly 30 years, Camp of Champions announced this week that it’s closing up shop. For those unfamiliar, Camp of Champions was one of the leading glacial summer camps where skiers and snowboarders would migrate each summer to experience a week on snow and instruction from a slew of professional athlete-coaches. Perhaps what’s most notable about this news, and what makes it so sad, is that Camp of Champs was one of the longest running ski camps on the Whistler Glacier. Started back in 1989, C.O.C. (as it’s called) outlasted several ski camps that came and went over the years at both the Whistler Glacier and Mt. Hood. Ultimately though, it wasn't the level of competition or financial issues that caused the shutdown. No, unfortunately it’s the condition of the glacier. According to a letter written by Achenbach and posted by Newschoolers, he cites low snow pack and a perennially receding glacier for raising concerns that Camp of Champions would be unable to build the quality of terrain park that their campers have come to expect. Rather than charge his campers the same rate and deliver a sub-par product, the decision was made to close up the camp. It’s sad news for sure, but undoubtedly the right call. We thank Ken for all he’s done to contribute to the worlds of freeskiing and snowboarding, and wish him the best of luck moving forward. For more on this, and to read Ken’s letter, check out this article on Newschoolers.com.
#4: Beartooth Basin Reopens After Weather Induced Two Year Hiatus:
In the late 1990’s a sort-of-sonic band sang, “Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.” It’s the kind of thought that could leave your mind pretzeled for days, but for time’s sake we’ll tell you why we bring it up today: As Camp of Champions makes the tough decision to close, Beartooth Basin in Montana has already started its summer operations after being forced to remain closed for the past two years. This time around, the ski area is teeming with activity as a new generation of skiers have discovered the ski area and have flocked to the mountain to ski its terrain park, as well as unique summertime big mountain terrain- something that other summer options mostly lack. Currently scheduled to remain open 7 days a week through July 2, the pinnacle of Beartooth Basin’s short season will undoubtedly be the Mountain Rider’s Alliance Summer Shredfest. This event will feature a big mountain competition that serves as a qualifier for the Freeride World Tour, a women’s specific event sponsored by SheJumps, and a ski mountaineering race. In addition to actual competitions, the Shredfest will also feature community building events like a “Community Ski Areas at Risk” symposium. All in all, it’s looking like a solid summer up at Beartooth Basin. For more on the ski area, check out this article from the Billings Gazette. To learn more about the Mountain Rider’s Alliance Summer Shredfest, you can read the press release here, or check out the event website here.