newblocknew

Speakout & Issues

SPEAK OUT :: STANDING UP FOR SKIING


[THE FOLLOWING WAS ORIGINALLY WRITTEN FOR THE SNOWMASS SUN AND IS EXCERPTED HERE WITH PERMISSION FROM THE AUTHOR. WE RESISTED THE URGE TO PUT IN SKIING/SNOWBOARDING IN EVERY INSTANCE, BUT YOU GET THE PICTURE. —ED.]


Somebody around here has to stand up for skiing. In a great move that inadvertently defended the integrity of the sport, our Town Council...shot down the boringly pretentious Roaring Fork Mountain Club that, for a not-so-small fee, will valet park your car slopeside, carry your skis to the snow and set them down facing the correct direction, buckle your boots, confirm your après ski and wipe your nose to begin your pampered and properly sanitized mountain adventure.

I’m not saying that skiing has to be completely hard core, but the love handles we have sprouted lately aren’t doing much for the image. We’ve become soft around the middle, and that’s bad for the heart.

The greatest mystery in the industry appears to be why the sport is dying. Since 1979, participation in the sport has grown a measly 0.6 percent annually. The problem is that nobody is protecting the image of skiing.

We work so hard here to nurture our branding power with the Aspen Snowmass name. But, I think we’ve lost sight of the fact that we should be selling skiing first and our destination second. If you think about it, there is no Aspen without skiing, but there is definitely skiing without Aspen...unless places like Aspen, Vail, Beaver Creek and Deer Valley continue to up the ante on converting the sport of skiing into an activity for lazy rich people who refuse even to carry their own equipment to the slopes.

We are dumbing down and pricing up our sport to death. We are catering to a small group of people who have no interest or ability to promote the sport.

It’s no secret to ski industry executives that catering to the crowd that demands to be catered to is destructive for the long-term survival of skiing. Why do you think we go through the tremendous effort to stage the X Games here every year? It’s an attempt to clear the stuffy air.

The downward spiral caused by focusing on sweeping up the crumbs of the upper crust has to stop. Bending over backwards for the miniscule fraction of our guests causes inconvenience for the majority of our visitors.

Click Here To Order

PrintEmail

Write comment (1 Comment)

SPEAK OUT :: THIS IS ONE PROBLEM


NSAA’s recent spotlight on the leveling out, and even decline, in snowboarding’s numbers is a cop out. We are doing ourselves a disservice by concentrating on this single element in our numbers, and we are deflecting the glare off of our not-so-great conversion numbers for both skiing and riding. That’s the real issue.

Let’s collectively get our heads out of the snow pile and realize that we, as an industry, have failed to address an aging skier population and to welcome the new markets that grow bigger every year—viable markets full of new blood.

Snowboarding was a gift, a shot in the arm for our winter action backdrop. And that made us complacent. We jammed this new sport into the Alpine model and happily ran off to the bank for our Monday deposits. But, guess what? Snowboarders now have mortgages, too. And they’ve got jobs and families, just like skiers. Snowboarding is going through a natural growth and maturing cycle. Much like skiing did in the 1970s, and skateboarding in the 1990s.

So let’s stop singling out snowboarding and step back and take a look at our bigger picture. We have the unique venues to host action sports that thrill and excite. We can debate forever which one has more “edge,” but does it matter whether our guests choose two edges or four? Let’s let the manufacturers and the kids at school battle that one out. Our job, as mountain resorts, is to welcome sliders on whatever equipment floats their boat, help them learn, and make them want to come back for more.

And there are some great ideas out there to welcome emerging markets and make them part of our culture. And even better ideas about how to better teach them to love sliding in winter.

But this is going to require a huge shift in culture—our culture. Folks, we are not ski areas anymore. We haven’t been for a while—we’ve got snowboarders, tubers, zipliners, Segway riders, and the list goes on. We’ve got to throw out the Swiss chalet, the handsome instructor with the accent and rethink everything.

In future issues of SAM (yes, we will still be SAM, which now stands for Slide Around Management), we will gather some of these great new ideas, and we hope to hear many more. This discussion is just getting started.

Click Here To Order

PrintEmail

Write comment (1 Comment)

SPEAK OUT :: MEDIA AND CLIMATE CHANGE



Let me just state the obvious up front: I am not a scientist. Nonetheless, indulge me a little bit on the subject of climate change (a phrase that cracks me up; the climate has been changing since Earth first came into existence). During the month of December, two different reports came out that sounded enormous warning bells for our industry. One, from the Interdisciplinary Centre on Climate Change in Ontario, claims that more than half of the Northeast’s ski areas will not be economically viable in 30 years if the warming trend continues. The other, by two researchers from the University of New Hampshire, hit us where it really hurts. They claim that the impact of climate change has cost us up to $1.9 billion already this past decade.

Obviously, I am oversimplifying, shrinking a couple long reports into bite-sized media chunks. And the media bit, all right. A headline in the New York Times read, “Rising Temperatures Threaten Fundamental Change for Ski Slopes.” And here’s another from a local Connecticut paper: “Connecticut’s Few Remaining Ski Areas Adapt To Warmer Winters But Face Gloomy Future: One Scenario Says Climate Change Will End Ski Industry Here Within 30 Years.” And that’s just in my little corner of the world. The “shrinking winter” story was picked up from coast to coast, in media outlets both big and small.

According to the scaremongering going on in the media right now, a fair number of us might as well pack up our skis and head to Canada (you guys don’t mind, do you?) or start investing in water parks.

But wait just a minute here. Didn’t we just have a record season not two seasons ago? And didn’t we break 60 million visits nationwide in 2007? In fact, we’ve been breaking a number of records in terms of length of season and snowfall numbers, in addition to visits, over the last decade. And, these folks are not coming to slide on our dirt.

I am not going to get into the ins and outs of climate change here. That is for the scientists to wrangle over and there seem to be about 12 different points of view on the subject, each with compelling arguments. But we need to do something about the media. They are painting a very dismal future for us and listening only to one side: the trendy one. And by trendy, I mean the gloomiest and doomiest stuff they can dig up.

Where has fair-minded reporting gone? Thankfully, Jason Blevins of the Denver Post called it like it is, at least for Colorado. He pointed out that the report didn’t get it quite right for his state and that, “Colorado’s ski resorts’ experience wasn’t nearly that dismal last year, the worst [snowfall] season in decades. The local numbers show that Colorado’s resorts have swiftly adapted to low-snow years.”

Thanks, Jason!

There is another story to tell, we just need to be heard.

Click Here To Order

PrintEmail

Write comment (1 Comment)

SPEAK OUT :: KEEP KIDS IN THEIR SEATS



Our industry seems to be experiencing an increase in the number of children accidentally falling from chairlifts, as “Up in the Air” (SAM, July 2012) brought to light. This is an issue that will require more data and preventive measures.

These measures may include, among others: encouraging resorts to install restraint bars on all lifts; changes in restraint bar configuration; new employee procedures and training, coupled with guest education and awareness through signage; and stationary practice chairs.

In the meantime, I would like to share with you some of what incident statistics at Snow Summit and Bear Mountain show, and what we are doing to reduce most fall incidents.

The key discovery: small children tend to fall from the chair with the restraint bar up as they approach the top lift terminal in preparation for unloading. This past season, two-thirds of our falls fit this situation.

One reason children have trouble unloading is that, with their short legs, if they sit forward enough for their knees to bend over the edge of the chair, their center of mass is too close to the edge of the chair. This is true at any point during the ride—children can even slip under the bar when it is down. So, kids should sit far back in the chair with their legs extended.

In preparation for unloading, the child has to move forward to get in a position to unload. With this movement, however, the child is vulnerable to pitching forward and out of the chair, exacerbated by the weight of his equipment and/or his enthusiasm to get off the lift. An adult is already in position to unload.

To properly unload, children must move forward with the bar still down, and steady themselves for a few seconds before the bar is raised and the unloading spot is reached.

Since many of these premature unloadings occur beyond the scope of management’s physical ability to prevent them, we believe that warnings and instructions to adults who are riding with small children are the first and most effective steps.

Adults who ride with children should verbally or physically restrain them once the bar is raised, and then make them wait for the proper spot to unload. Accordingly, we intend to place signage in our base areas, lower lift terminals, websites, and other spots to warn adults of the danger.

Our tentative wording of such messages is: “Parents! Small children sometimes fall or jump out of a chairlift before the proper unloading spot, often by raising the restraint bar too early and/or jumping out before the unloading spot. Keep the bar down while your child moves forward in the seat in preparation to unload. Don’t let them unload too early!” A shorter version will be on tower signs on the approach to top terminals.  

Click Here To Order

PrintEmail

Write comment (0 Comments)

SPEAK OUT :: WE'RE IN GREAT COMPANY



The following ski areas are also celebrating a 50th birthday. We’ve listed those that were founded between 1961 and 1963 because we don’t know when, and for how long, these areas will celebrate this great milestone. Our congratulations to all! (The information was gathered from the NSAA Directory and is listed alphabetically by state, Canadian areas at the end.)

Elk Ridge, AZ 1963
Alpine Meadows, CA 1961
Homewood, CA 1962
June Mountain, CA 1963
Breckenridge, CO 1961
Crested Butte, CO 1962
Eldora, CO 1962
Steamboat, CO 1963
Vail, CO 1962
Brundage, ID 1961
Pomerelle, ID 1963
Schweitzer, ID 1963
Mt. Crescent, IO 1961
Lost Valley, ME 1961
Wachusett, MA 1962
Ski Butternut, MA 1963
Alpine Valley, MI 1962
Timber Ridge, MI 1961
Afton Alps, MN 1963
Powder Ridge, MN 1962
Ski Gull, MN 1962
Las Vegas Ski/Snowboard Resort, NV 1963
King Pine, NH 1962
Pats Peak, NH 1963
Ski Apache, NM 1961
Holimont, NY 1962
Song Mountain, NY 1962
Appalachian, NC 1962
Cataloochee, NC 1961
Boston Mills/Brandywine, OH 1963
Mad River, OH 1962
Snow Trails, OH 1961
Camelback, PA 1963
Obler Gatlinburg, TN 1962
Park City, UT 1963
Stratton, VT 1962
Crystal, WA 1962
Cascade, WI 1962
Grand Geneva, WI 1963
Fernie, AB 1963
Glen Eden, ON 1962
Horseshoe, ON 1962
Panorama, BC 1962
Sun Peaks, BC 1961

Click Here To Order

PrintEmail

Write comment (0 Comments)

 

SPEAK OUT :: MINIMUM WAGE WAR

Coming to terms with the rising "minimum" wage in SAM, November 2015.
 

SPEAK OUT :: THE E-COMMERCE CHALLENGE

Jonathan Davis, IT director at Perfect North Slopes, responds to the article, "The e-Commerce Wait Problem" in SAM, March 2015.
 

SPEAK OUT :: MEANINGFUL ACTION ON CLIMATE CHANGE IS FREE

The ski industry, because it is fun, popular, beloved, pressworthy, and an economic engine in many states, has political power, the use of which is free.
 

SPEAK OUT :: WHERE ARE ALL THE MOGULS?

Twenty years ago you could hardly find a ski area that wasn’t littered with moguls. They were everywhere. But by the mid-’90s, moguls were on the way to extinction...
 

SPEAK OUT :: STANDING UP FOR SKIING

Roger Marolt on saving skiing.

SPEAK OUT :: THIS IS ONE PROBLEM

A SAM editorial on snowboarding's "decline."

BLOG PATROL :: FOR THE SKI PATROLLERS

Gretchen Brugman, wife of Sugar Bowl patroller, Andrew Pinkham, tells her story of our unsung heroes.

SPEAK OUT :: MEDIA AND CLIMATE CHANGE

When it comes to climate change, the media has not been helpful. Publisher Jennifer Rowan calls for mountain resorts to respond.

SPEAK OUT :: KEEP KIDS IN THEIR SEATS

Richard Kun, Pres. Snow Summit Ski Corp., on chairlift safety and kids.

SPEAK OUT :: WE'RE IN GREAT COMPANY

Birthday congratulations.

SPEAK OUT :: MAKE SNOWBOARDING HEALTHY AGAIN

Editor Rick Kahl on the state of snowboarding.

BLOG PATROL :: PEAK RESORTS INITIAL PUBLIC OFFERING. WHAT'S GOING ON?

This week's Blog Patrol is brought to you by Jeff Harbaugh, industry consultant and analyst.

WHO IS QUALIFIED TO CERTIFY TERRAIN PARKS--A SKI INDUSTRY VETERAN SPEAKS OUT

UPDATE TO BLOG: This Blog Patrol is brought to you by John Rice, General Manager, Sierra-at-Tahoe.

 

HURRICANE IRENE :: IN AND AROUND KILLINGTON MONDAY AND TUESDAY, AUGUST 29 & 30

This Blog Patrol is brought to you by Bernie Weichsel, President, BEWI Productions, Inc.

BLOG PATROL: MOBILE MARKETING

This Blog Patrol is brought to you by Samantha Rufo, nxtConcepts, myMarketingGuide.com.www.nxtconcepts.com/srufo/

PrintEmail

Write comment (0 Comments)