Top Five Fridays - November 17, 2017 // Ski Industry News
#1: Granby Ranch Ski Resort in Colorado Up for Sale in January:
Let’s start this week off with something of an abnormality this time of year: Granby Ranch in Colorado announced this week that it will be going up for sale this January. The current owners of the resort, Marise and Melissa Cipriani, have cited a handful of reasons for the sudden decision, all of which add up to the simple fact that owning the business has become more overwhelming than fun. Last winter, a visitor at the resort fell from one of the resort’s lifts and died. In addition to that tragic accident, the owners had also fallen behind on their property taxes, adding financial pressure to the mix. Ultimately it was these factors, as well as a desire to be closer to family, that led to the Caprini’s decision. As such, the resort along with all of its real estate holdings and amenities will be put up for sale by CBRE Land Services in January. The Caprini’s have stated that they hope to sell the resort and it’s properties as one piece, although they will separate their assets if they begin to linger on the market. As for this season, the family is aiming for business as usual. To learn more, read this writeup from Sky Hi News.
#2: Urban Snow Aims to Bring Skiing to the Bay Area:
As you likely know, the future of the ski industry is currently being challenged by two major threats: climate change and a decrease in new participants. While there are a number of initiatives out there attempting to stymie one or both of these trends, it could be argued that the slowly developing increase in dry slope ski experiences are the most effective. So far, most of these warm-weather ski areas are cropping up at different ski areas across North America. This week however, we caught wind of a new project that’s taking a slightly different approach. Urban Snow, a project currently funding on Kickstarter, is hoping to raise enough money to be able to open a year round dry slope ski experience in the heart of the Bay Area in California. Citing their history as skiers and their ongoing thirst for the mountain life, the founders of Urban Snow are hoping to create a ski area close to home for their fellow ski-lusters as well as those new to the sport. In addition to the novel idea of bringing skiing to a snowless metro area, the team also claims to have created a patent-pending method of creating a variety of terrain types, citing banked turns, rollers, and even moguls. All told, it’s a pretty awesome concept, especially if it proves to be effective in recruiting new skiers to the sport. Currently, the Kickstarter Campaign is about $8,000 shy of their $20,000 goal, with the campaign set to end on Sunday, November 26th. To find out more or to support their cause, you can view the campaign here.
#3: T-Bar Installations on the Rise:
Here’s one that we’re really excited about: according to a website called LiftBlog.com, T-Bar installations are back on the rise in North America. As avid skiers who’ve been doing this for years, we’ve always had a certain fondness for T-bars. Whether its the childhood antics we can all relate to, or just the unique feeling of skiing uphill with no effort, T-bars, J-Bars, and Poma lifts all represent a uniquely ski-experience. In the article on LiftBlog, site owner Peter Landsman dives into what he sees as the beginning of a rebirth and cites three reasons for the revival. In the order he listed, those reasons are race training, side country adventures, and economic viability. We won’t go too deep into any of these here as it’s worth reading Peter’s words, but the one out of this group that really catches our eye is the side country adventure argument. In the writeup, resorts like Bretton Woods and Dodge Ridge are cited as examples where T-bars have been installed purely for the purpose of granting more advanced skiers with easier access to side country stashes. This right here, is an amazing concept. As you know, there are plenty of vacant small ski areas around the country that have relatively clear trails but no easy way up. By utilizing the oft forgotten T-Bar, it could be possible to revive some of these areas and create incredible side country ski opportunities for skiers looking for a low-fuss experience. While we certainly don’t know the economic viability of such a plan, it’s at the very least an interesting thought.
Speaking of which, we also want to just take an extra second to shout out Mr. Landsman and what he's doing over at LiftBlog.com. As we cover the news each week, we’re constantly seeing a barrage of chairlift related stories, whether its new lifts going up or old lifts coming down. The volume of these stories is overwhelming, particularly over the summer, and as such we don’t always share news of new lifts. Peter though, loves chairlifts and does an incredible job of covering them. If you ever want to know more about new chairlifts, his blog is the undeniable authority on the matter.
#4: La Niña Brings Aid to the West:
Finally, let’s cap things off with some weather news. Frequent readers know that we don’t like to dabble in predictions, and as such have steered clear of most of this fall’s La Niña talk. Now that we’re into the middle of November though, La Niña has started to make its presence known. As we mentioned last week, ski areas across North America are officially open and the ski season is underway. A big part of the reason that so many ski areas have been able to open is because of the weather patterns created by La Niña. In Washington, snowpack is way ahead of pace across the state, with ski areas such as Stevens Pass, Snoqualmie, White Pass, and Crystal Mountain seeing snowpacks 300% or more of what their average is at this time of year. It’s not just the Pacific Northwest that’s benefiting either. In the midwest resorts have also been able to open, with resorts in Minnesota, Michigan, and Wisconsin all receiving enough snow and cold weather to start turning their lifts. All in all, it’s a welcome presence to areas that are hoping to repeat last year’s favorable conditions.