Top Five Fridays - July 24, 2015 // Ski Industry News
#1: Sheffield Ski Village on Fire Again:
A few weeks back, we shared a video from SALT-STREET Productions that showed a couple of skiers somehow skiing on what’s left of Sheffield Ski Village. Once a popular dry slope ski area, Sheffield Ski Village has been the victim of numerous intentional fires. The goal of the video we shared, was to generate support for the revitalization of the ski area. Unfortunately, it seems as though the success of the video hasn’t been enough to save the area.
Earlier this week, the ski area was on fire yet again, marking the fifth time that fires have been seen at the resort. While it’s still unclear whether this most recent incident was the result of arson, it seems to be the most likely answer. It also remains to be seen how this will ultimately impact the revitalization efforts focused around bringing the ski area back to life. Hopefully Snowsport for Sheffield will make an announcement regarding this soon. Until then, maybe you can at least find a way to enjoy this series of Twitter comments from locals who saw the first first hand.
#2: Saddleback Mountain in Maine Needs $3 Million to Reopen:
Unfortunately before we can get to the good news this week, there’s more bad news. Just a few days ago, Saddleback Mountain in Maine announced that unless it can raise $3 Million before August 1st, then the mountain won’t be able to open for the 2015-2016 ski season. The main reason? According to part owner Mark Berry, the resort needs to replace the Rangeley Double Chair which has been showing its age at 51 years old. The goal would be to replace the old double chairlift with a four person lift- doubling the uphill capacity. Replacing this chairlift would get Saddleback back on the playing field and, “a return to sustainability, to profitability,” for the mountain.
That right there’s the lynchpin of the problem. According to the general manager at Saddleback, Chris Farmer, the mountain’s been operating at a deficit since 2008 when the real estate crisis hit. For the last 7 years, Saddleback’s been economically unstable and the need to replace their Rangeley Double Chair may just be the straw that breaks the camels back. As the third largest ski resort in Maine, the closing of Saddleback could have potentially devastating effects on skiers and the surrounding economy. Here’s to hoping that they’re able to raise the money they need to install the new lift and stay open for next winter!
#3: Nearly Enough Funds Raised to Purchase Ascutney Mountain Land:
Finally, let’s get to some good news! Back on June 4th, we told you about the Public Land Trust in Windsor, VT trying to raise enough money to purchase what used to be Ascutney Mountain. Their goal in purchasing the shuttered resort would be to create a network of trails and open the land for public use by hikers, mountain bikers, cross country skiers, and of course back country skiers. Well, about a month and a half later, we’re excited to share that they’ve nearly hit their goal of raising $135,000 by August 31st! So far, The Trust for Public Land has raised nearly $112,000, putting them at 83% of their goal. With just over a month left before the unofficial end of their fundraising campaign, it seems likely that the Land Trust will succeed in reaching their goal and they’ll be ready to take the next step forward! As avid backcountry skiers ourselves, we’re keeping our fingers crossed and are excited to see what the future holds for Ascutney Mountain!
#4: China Makes a Final Push to Host 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing:
With the final decision on who will host the 2022 Winter Olympics being made on July 31st, it’s officially time for potential hosts to make their closing arguments. With the selection process narrowed down to just Beijing in China or Almaty in Russia, it’s really anyones guess as to which country will win the bid. Despite concerns surrounding snow quality as well as human rights, Beijing is still the slight favorite in this competition, and Chinese officials are doing everything they can to win. Earlier this week, statements came out from multiple Chinese ski industry experts who touted China’s Chongli County as “very ideal for such events.”
Wei Qinghua, one of the country’s foremost ski experts, says, “Chongli is a special place… We have lots of snow there. The average total snowfall is around 1 meter, and there is always at least 80 cm of snowfall.” Wait, what? The Winter Olympics might be held at a resort that has an average of one meter per snow each year? That’s about 39 1/3 inches. Maybe it’s just our Vermont bias showing (where the average statewide snowfall is 81 1/3 inches), but we think the host of the Winter Olympics should have an average annual snowfall of at least 50”. But, China also says that they have sufficient resources to produce artificial snow. It’s a good thing too- it sounds like if 2022 is an average year, it might be needed!
Best of luck China!
#5: And Now, the Edit of the Week:
Ever wonder what it’s like to setup for a ski base jump, and then actually do it? Check out this edit from Wes Coughlin that shows what Matthias Giraud goes through in moments before, during, and after a successful ski base jump.
While it’s not skiing, it is down right impressive. Filmed in one continuous shot, an injured Brandon Semenuk puts down one of the smoothest mountain biking lines of all time. Check it out!