Top Five Fridays: May 19, 2023

MAY 19, 2023 | WRITTEN BY Matt McGinnis

Lead Image: This week, Tremblant was able to make an announcement that’s been years in the making: this season, the resort will play host to two FIS World Cup alpine races. Details directly below! Image: Tremblant on Facebook

#1: FIS Updates - Two New North American Venues Confirmed Ahead of Next Week’s Annual Congress:

Top Five Fridays May 19, 2023: Mont Tremblant Race Image

A look at Tremblant’s World Cup venue, as seen in a recent trial run. Image: Mont Tremblant's Official Press Release

Hello, and welcome to Top Five Fridays, the May 19, 2023 edition! This week we have the pleasure of kicking things off in a most familiar way: by sharing news from the FIS World Cup circuit! Earlier this week, two big announcements were made ahead of next week’s annual congress. The first of those two announcements is that Canada’s Mont Tremblant, located about an hour and a half northwest of Montreal and about four and a half hours from Killington, is set to host two women’s World Cup ski races next season. On December 2nd and 3rd, Tremblant will host two giant slalom races. For those of you in tune with the FIS schedule, you’ll already have made note of the fact this this puts a second consecutive weekend of women’s races in Eastern North America, as Killington will play host to a slalom and giant slalom race over Thanksgiving weekend, on November 25th and 26th. Ultimately it’s the combination of these two events that make this news exciting for us. While the Tremblant event is a Canadian event, it’s proximity to us here in the U.S., and on the East Coast in particular, should go a long way in terms of growing regional interest in ski racing. As you’ll recall from last Summer’s “Inside the Skiing Pipeline” series, one of the best ways to ensure the long term health of ski racing in the U.S., is to bring the highest levels of the sport to our own backyard. Assuming all of last year’s host venues are on board to host World Cup events again this season, that brings the total of North American venues to six, with Killington, Tremblant, Lake Louise (Canada), Beaver Creek, Palisades Tahoe, and Aspen all hosting World Cup Races. This represents a huge boost in exposure for the sport in North America, even over recent years, as it was just three seasons ago, in the 2020/2021 season, that North America only featured three host venues. For an organization that’s actively interested in growing global interest, the FIS has certainly been playing their cards well here in North America.

Speaking of which, we have a second announcement this week in regards to bringing more World Cup events to North America. On Tuesday, the U.S. Ski Team shared the news that Waterville Valley, NH is set to host two freestyle events in 2024 and 2025: a moguls and dual moguls competition. These mark the first ever World Cup freestyle events to be hosted by Waterville Valley, although the resort has historically hosted a number of World Cup alpine races throughout the years. Much like the news regarding Mont Tremblant and North American alpine races on the whole, the addition of Waterville Valley to the FIS freestyle calendar marks a joint effort between the FIS itself and the U.S. Ski and Snowboard team to continue to bring exposure to the freestyle sides of the sport to North America. Should all go to plan at next week’s congress, Waterville will look to host the first events of their two year stint on January 27-28, 2024.

Finally, on a closing note, we also just want to quickly mention that next Friday the FIS will be hosting their annual congress. As a quick reminder, this event is a gathering of member nations to vote on new measures, approve schedules, and the like. Typically, it’s a pretty straightforward affair where official votes are held to approve decisions that’ve been all but approved already. That said, in recent years things have been a bit more contentious at times, thanks to the arrival of Johan Eliasch. We covered the dynamics at play here quite a bit last year, so for the full story we’d encourage you to re-read last year’s update. In short though, in Eliasch’s quest to make the FIS a global brand on par with sports leagues like the PGA and Formula 1, he’s ruffled some feathers of the old guard as he tries to spread involvement beyond the borders of Europe. By all means, this year’s congress should go smoothly, although discussions regarding international broadcasting rights could certainly stir up some strong emotions. To follow along with all the action, you can live stream the event next Thursday, May 25th, at 12:30 CET. For us East Coasters, that means you’d have to start streaming at 6:30 AM, while West Coasters would need to turn on the YouTube at 3:30 AM. If this sounds like something you’d want to do, head on over to the FIS YouTube channel to catch the live stream when the time comes.

#2: Utah Department of Transportation Spent $41 Million Plowing Roads This Winter:

Top Five Fridays May 19, 2023: UDOT Transportation Image

Think you know how much it costs to keep the roads clear during the snowiest year on record? Well, you’ll probably want to at least quadruple whatever amount’s in your head. Image: Utah Department of Transportation on Facebook

In other ski news this week, we have another story featuring the Utah Department of Transportation that happens to complement some of our coverage from last week quite well. In an article from Utah’s Deseret News, we learned the staggering cost of keeping Utah’s roads clear this winter, as well as ongoing costs due to runoff season. For us, the interesting part of this story are all of the ridiculously large numbers. Whatever you thought it might take to maintain clear roadways throughout the winter, you’ll probably want to double, triple, or even quadruple that figure for this story.

To get into some of the numbers we learned about this week, the dollar amount in the headline of this highlight is a great place to start: UDOT spent $41 million plowing roads this winter. For comparison’s sake, UDOT’s total annual budget for road maintenance is $182 million. Of that number, about $24 million is set aside annually for plowing purposes. Interestingly enough, that number is determined by an estimated cost of $1 million per snow storm. Think about that for a quick second: every time there’s a snow storm, it costs Utah $1 million. This season, UDOT spent $41 million. Again, for comparison’s sake, the 2021/2022 winter cost UDOT $21.5 million.

Now, at this point you’re probably thinking, “this is insane, how could it possibly cost so much to plow the roads?” While we don’t have a full breakdown of costs, we can start to piece things together pretty quickly with a couple of key figures provided by the article. First, of the $41 million spent this year, almost half of that was the cost of salt, which came in at $18.7 million. In addition to that came the sheer mileage logged by plow drivers. In the 2021/2022 season, drivers plow approximately 2.2 million miles of roadway. This past year, that number shot up to over 6 million miles. With that amount of travel and roadtime, you can start to imagine the costs of fuel, vehicle maintenance, and driver wages adding up pretty quickly. In fact, in doing some math of our own based on the figures provided, we determined that it would work out to about $3.71/mile to cover the cost of clearing the roads this winter. A reasonable figure all things considered. All in all, we don’t really have any big conclusions or takeaways with this particular piece, other than to say that winter road maintenance is quite expensive. To learn more, check out the full writeup from

#3: Locals Push Back on Plan to Make Tahoe’s Homewood Ski Area Semi-Private:

Top Five Fridays May 19, 2023: Homewood Mountain Resort

It’s not the biggest mountain in the Tahoe area, nor is it the steepest. But, it is home for many skiers and snowboarders who may soon be shut out if Homewood Mountain Resort is able to restrict pass sales to those living in select housing developments. Image: Homewood Mountain Resort on Facebook

Also in the news this week was Tahoe’s Homewood Mountain Resort, a public resort that’s currently considering a transition to semi-private. We first covered this story about a year ago when it first crossed our screens. At that time, the story was from Homewood’s perspective, and focused on how the ski area was exploring a new business model that it hoped would stabilize what was quickly becoming a failed business due to the rise of multipasses. In last year’s report, the two stand out statistics were the facts that season pass sales were down 60%, and on one particular day in February, the mountain hosted only 115 skiers. In other words, the resort found itself staring directly at their demise unless they acted fast. The solution proposed in that article was to convert the resort to a semi-private business model in which it would only sell season passes, and season passes would only be made available to a group of local homeowners associations. By converting to this business model, the mountain hoped to be able to secure its annual pass sales before the season started, while enticing new guests to the resort who would more or less be signed up to buy in each year for the foreseeable future. In other words, this new model would guarantee a baseline of income each season, making the business itself more stable. At the time of our writing, we were excited by the new concept, as we tend to be when novel new ideas are presented.

This week, we learned more about the other side of the story. As it turns out, locals who call the ski area home are not particularly fond of the idea of Homewood going semi-private. In addition to the fact that those who don’t live in one of the designated housing developments would lose access to one of the more family friendly ski areas in the Tahoe region, they also take issue with the way in which Homewood is going about the process. In addition to shifting to a semi-private business model, Homewood also has plans to develop the base area, featuring the addition of a new hotel, condos, amphitheater, bike share program, and more. In a master plan originally approved back in 2011, Homewood pitched the idea of becoming a year round resort with the goal to, “restore Homewood as a key gathering center for Lake Tahoe’s West Shore and to maintain the heritage of a ski resort that can be enjoyed equally by local residents and visitors.”

Ultimately, it’s this pre-approved master plan that’s causing a bulk of the issues, according to Keep Homewood Public, a group that organized in an effort to do exactly that. According to them, the team behind Homewood is pulling a classic bait and switch. After receiving approvals for their development plans under the premise that the resort would be a community resource that’s open to the public, resort developers are now looking to privatize the resort while retaining their previously granted development approvals. According to the development team, their new plans are consistent enough with the approved plans that re-approval isn’t necessary. And thus, we have something of a standoff, with local opposition growing in volume, while resort developers hope to push ahead, so long as approvals remain in place. As such, Keep Homewood Public is actively campaigning for the public to make enough noise that approvals are at the very least put on hold while the master plan is given a second look to see if the new plan still falls within its scope. It’s a contentious situation for sure, which you can learn more about via this writeup from

#4: Keystone Mountain’s Safety Manager Hopes to Change the Public’s Perception of Safety Patrol:

Top Five Fridays May 19, 2023: Keystone Mountain Safety Image

Keystone Safety Manager Johnathon Cernanec, hard at work, preaching the gospel of mountain safety. Image: Keystone Resort on Facebook

Finally, we end this week with the story of a man who finds himself fighting an uphill battle. At Keystone Mountain, Safety Manager Jonathan "Panic" Cernanec has been nominated by the National Ski Areas Association as a finalist for the “Safety Champion of the Year” award. Presumably given out to the person in the ski industry who’s had the biggest impact in promoting on hill safety, Cernanec has been nominated due to his goal of changing the perception of the role of on hill safety managers. Now, before we dive in further, let’s first clarify something: while Cernanec got his start as a Ski Patroller, his current role is as a Safety Manager which is slightly different. Rather than being on the team that responds to on hill accidents, Cernanec’s role is in prevention through encouraging safe on hill habits. As such, he’s amongst the team that stands behind the “slow” signs or has conversations with skiers on the mountain. Also as such, he recognizes the fact that he’s somewhat akin to a mountain cop, where skiers and snowboarders who go whizzing past him find themselves in fear of being “pulled over” and facing consequences. Ultimately it’s this association that Cernanec is hoping to change as he sees his role at the resort differently. Rather than being the fun police, Cernanec hopes to be an influence that steers the ski and snowboard community at Keystone towards one that’s made up of respect for their fellow skiers and riders, and one that creates a safe environment for all those on the mountain, regardless of ability. To do this, Cernanec is simply instilling his values on the rest of the safety patrollers and hoping that through conversation, they can set a safer tone for the mountain. As locals to a resort that has its own on hill safety patrol, it was interesting to read this piece from Vail Daily to get some insights from the other side. If you currently see safety patrol as mountain police, we’d encourage you to give the article a read as well.

#5: And Now, Your Edits of the Week: Check Out the Final Kimbo Sessions Recap Video "Kimbo Sessions Pt. 3 - Celebration":

Go Backcountry Skiing with the Locals at New Hampshire’s Damnation Gully:

Finally, Enjoy “Chasing Kasper”, the Story of How a Ski Family Uses Mountain Biking to Work Through Grief:

Written by Matt McGinnis on 05/19/23