APRIL 21, 2023 | WRITTEN BY Matt McGinnis

Lead Image: This week, skiing lost a legend as Jeremy Nobis has passed away. Beginning his career on the FIS Alpine Racing circuit, Nobis ultimately left his mark by skiing big mountain faces like no one ever had before. More on his life and legacy below. Image from Warren Miller / Rossignol, discovered via

#1: Loveland Ski Patrol Votes to Unionize Citing Desire for Livable Wages and Health Insurance:

Top Five Fridays April 21, 2023: Loveland Ski Area Image

A happy member of Loveland’s Ski Patrol team, who might be even happier if they were paid a liveable wage. Image: Loveland Ski Area on Facebook

Hello, and welcome to Top Five Fridays, the April 21, 2023 edition! This week, we’ve got a light round of news as ski season starts to wrap up here in North America and we begin transitioning into Spring weather. Typically we see a lull in ski news this time of year as ski coverage takes a few weeks off before the summer cycle kicks in - bringing us more in depth pieces, such as last year’s “Inside the Skiing Pipeline” series from Vail Daily, as well as summer training news and updates from a variety of ski teams. While we have that to look forward to, this week headlines were a bit harder to come by. Still, the ski news never truly stops, and as such, neither do we.

With that in mind, we bring you our first highlight this week: news that the Loveland Ski Area ski patrollers and paramedics have voted to unionize, officially becoming members of the United Professional Ski Patrols of America. If you were reading along with us last winter, this story might sound a bit familiar, as the 2021-2022 season brought a tremendous amount of upheaval amongst ski patrollers with the desire to unionize. As was the case in those instances, the underlying desire for unionization is both simple and reasonable: ski patrolling is a high skill, high risk job, and it should be rewarded as such. Specifically, for the patrollers at Loveland, a liveable wage and employee benefits are desired. In the report from Summit Daily, patroller Allison Perry is cited as saying that many Loveland patrollers commute between 50-100 miles to work as they’re unable to afford housing any closer. Without diving too deeply into the figures here, it’s hard to know if a reasonable wage increase could fix that issue, but the hope is they could at the very least move closer. The other ironic request being made from ski patrollers is the desire for health insurance to be covered by the resort. For a group of employees tasked with keeping guests of the mountain safe, it feels unsettling that the mountain wouldn’t be proactive in ensuring that their ski patrollers are healthy as well.

Now that the Loveland Ski Patrol has voted to unionize, it will be up to each individual ski patroller as to whether or not they’d like to join the union. If they do, they’ll vote to elect a bargaining committee who will take on the challenge of negotiating with the resort. While we know the broad strokes of their requests, specifics such as desired hourly wage are unknown. As we saw in Park City last year, the bad news is that ski resorts can be really stubborn when it comes to raising wages. The good news for ski patrol though, is that they ultimately hold all of the power. Without a patrol force to keep the mountain safe and respond to calls, the mountain simply can’t run. We suspect we’ll hear more about this story in the coming months, as well as from other ski patrollers at other mountains facing similar issues. When we do, we’ll be sure to let you know. Until then, read more about the story unfolding at Loveland, here.

#2: Introducing: Wasatch Peaks Ranch, the Next Ultra Exclusive North American Ski Resort:

Top Five Fridays April 21, 2023: Wasatch Peaks Ranch Image

Wasatch Peaks Ranch’s property, as shown on their website.

In other ski news this week, we want to put a new ski resort on your radar: Utah’s Wasatch Peaks Ranch. To be fair, this resort has been in the works since 2019, but we learned quite a bit more about it this week thanks to a report from the Salt Lake Tribune, so it felt like a good time to share its story for anyone currently unfamiliar with it.

In Big Sky, Montana, there’s a private ski resort called the Yellowstone Club. This ski resort is only accessible to members and their guests. With a high price of joining and costly annual dues, the resort is essentially built around catering to the 1%. It’s the kind of place where someone like Tom Brady would go skiing. Wasatch Peaks Ranch, located just North of Salt Lake City, in Morgan county, hopes to be Utah’s version of the Yellowstone Club.

Since purchasing the Gailey Ranch, a mountainous 12,700-acre property, a group of wealthy investors have begun developing the area with plans of making it an ultra exclusive, luxury ski resort. In total, developers plan to sell just 705 memberships at a rate of $500,000 a piece. From there, members will also be expected to pay an annual membership fee, the price of which has not been made public. So far, the resort has sold approximately 94 memberships, good for $94 million. When the developers’ vision is complete, these members will have bought into a 475 home community, centered around a ski area offering 5 lifts, 3,000 skiable acres, 70 miles of trails, and a mountain village.

Of course, as you might expect, the project hasn’t been without pushback. As is always the case in mountain communities, there’s been friction in determining whether the development of such a resort will be a net positive or net negative for the community. Along with the increased traffic to rural parts of Morgan County, so too will come jobs and increased tax revenue for the surrounding municipalities. Highlighting this tension both amongst locals and between locals and the resort, are two separate lawsuits that challenge the rezoning changes that enabled the project to begin in 2019. Still, despite the litigation, developers are proceeding with their plans to build America’s next private luxury resort. To learn more about this, check out the recap report from the Salt Lake Tribune, or if you’re a subscriber of theirs, you can read a longform report here.

#3: Former U.S. Olympian and Big Mountain Ski Legend, Jeremy Nobis, Has Passed Away:

While we started this week off by referring to this round of news as “light,” we made sure not to refer to it as “light-hearted” as this next highlight is anything but. This week, we have the solemn task of reporting that legendary big mountain skier and former Olympian, Jeremy Nobis, has passed away. Nobis originally burst onto the ski scene with his ski racing skills, first making the U.S. Ski Team at age 16, becoming a World Junior Champion at 17, and competing for the U.S. Ski Team at the Lillehammer Olympics in 1994. Then, as quickly as he entered the racing scene, he exited, quitting the circuit in 1996. From there, he did the typical ski bum thing, working in ski shops and coaching, before finally finding himself in front of TGR cameras in 1997. When that happened, both Nobis’s life and the trajectory of skiing changed forever. That year, TGR filmed an Alaska segment for their upcoming film, “Harvest”. Prior to Nobis, freeskiing was being outpaced by snowboarders in the most literal sense. When boarders would take to big mountain faces, they’d make long, smooth turns down the face. Skiers however, were still taking a technical approach, making plenty of careful hop turns as they worked their way down the mountain. That all changed when Nobis was filmed in Alaska, where he took his ski racing pedigree into the mountains, making mind-blowingly long, fast GS turns. In doing so, he proved that skiers could charge open faces just like our snowboarding counterparts, ultimately opening our collective eyes up to a new world of opportunity.

In the years that followed, Nobis continued to live his life in the same way in which he skied: fast and loose. Following his ski career, Nobis was arrested multiple times for alcohol related incidents. Back in February of this year, Nobis was again arrested for driving while under the influence. At the time of his death, Nobis was incarcerated, awaiting his sentencing. While details surrounding his death are unavailable, it’s being reported that the death doesn’t appear to be suspicious. With that, we close the book on Nobis’s life with a tragic ending for one of skiing’s all time greats. Rest in Peace Jeremy Nobis, and thank you for opening our eyes to a world of new possibilities.

#4: New Study Shows That a Significant Number of Skiers and Snowboarders Overestimate Their Number of Days on Snow:

Before we wrap things up this week, let’s see if we can lighten the mood a bit before signing off for the weekend. For our final highlight, we’re sharing the results of a newly released study from The Langston Co., a firm specializing in consumer insights, that takes a deeper look into the current thoughts, feelings, and trends amongst skiers and snowboarders. Within the 32 page sample report, there are quite a few interesting revelations that touch on a number of aspects of the ski and board industry. Amongst those are straightforward numerical calculations, like the fact that the average skier or snowboarder spends approximately $575 on lift tickets each year, as well as interesting insights examining how participants feel. For example, here’s a fun one: snowboarders generally feel more positive about skiers than skiers feel about snowboarders. For example, when snowboarders were asked whether or not they think skiers are friendly, 87% of respondents agreed that they were. On the flipside, when skiers were asked if they thought snowboarders were friendly, only 68% agreed. Another example of a random yet interesting insight, is that for skiers, the most important part of skiing is “having fun.” For snowboarders, their focus was on “feeling adventurous.”

The report itself is not meant to focus specifically on the dynamics between skiers and snowboarders though. In fact, that’s just a part of it. In addition to these insights, one of the most interesting findings, and the one that was picked up by most news outlets, is that skiers and snowboarders have a tendency to lie about the number of days they hit the hill each year. According to Langston representative Tom Anderson, the inaccuracy of ski day claims isn’t malicious- it’s due to a phenomenon he calls “ski optimism.” In his words, nostalgia plays into a person’s mentality when they’re asked to cite how many days they plan to ski the next season, and buoyed by those good feelings, they tend to give an overly generous figure. In Langston’s research, they found that a full one third of skiers and riders were inaccurate when estimating their days on snow.

What’s interesting to me personally about this, is that I’m pretty sure I’ve also over estimated my ski days countless times. Not on purpose- simply because I lost track and for whatever reason felt inclined to round up. I know this because I’ve most certainly claimed to be a 50+ day skier for many years, fully believing it. This year, thanks to season passes tracking ski days, I was able to do the math and determined that as of today, I’ve skied 54 days. Here’s the thing though: I’ve skied way more this year than I did last year, let alone the year before. If this is what 54 days of skiing feels like, I’m inclined to think that I was barely scratching 40 days during all of those seasons when I was quoting myself at 50. It’s an interesting thing, this ski optimism concept. At the end of the day though, I have to buy into it, even if only as a means of copping out of my falsehoods. To learn plenty more interesting insights about the ski industry, check out the report from Langston.

#5: And Now, Your Edits of the Week: Real Skifi is Back With Yet Another Creative Banger:

The Sit-Ski Revolution Continues, as Paralympic Athlete Rob Enigl Becomes the First to Ski Big Sky’s A-Zs:

Finally, Finally, Simon Bartik and Daniel Hanka Are Back With Another Ultra-Fun Installment of “Czechmate”:

Written by Matt McGinnis on 04/21/23