Advocacy for Expanding US Skiing Capacity

tomahawkins

Putting on skis
Skier
Joined
Dec 3, 2019
Posts
69
Location
Bellingham, WA
The lift lines keep growing; available parking is depleting. Covid made the situation worse, but the problems have been increasing for some time.

Do we have an advocacy group working for the responsible expansion of US skiing capacity?

IMHO, we need:
  • More smaller to medium size ski areas. Less resorts.
  • More independent area operators. Fewer conglomerates.
  • Greater access, closer to population centers, equal racial participation.
  • Affordable ticket prices.
  • Environmental protection.
  • A greater safety culture.
 

CascadeConcrete

Putting on skis
Skier
Joined
Feb 29, 2020
Posts
62
Location
Seattle
A lot of that sounds lovely, although there are a few points I'd take issue with. But the bigger issue is who is going to pay for all that? Starting a new ski area is a huge and uncertain investment, which makes it relatively unattractive to most business people.

The thing I find interesting is that, modulo some noise and yearly fluctuation, the National Ski Area Association claims that skier days have been on a declining trend for a decade or more now. And yet, on the ground, the resorts only seem to be getting busier. Is the qualitative experience misleading somehow? Just a consolidation of skier days into the larger resorts with major decline for the smaller hills? Bad record keeping by the ski areas? Some great conspiracy to fool us all? I have no idea, but I've been wondering about this for awhile.
 

GB_Ski

Getting on the lift
Skier
Joined
Jan 29, 2019
Posts
305
For NYS, we have ORDA which runs Belleayre/Gore/Whiteface (I'm a season pass holder). They are not prefect, but they do a good job. I think the funding is part of the states, but as far as I know, they mostly break even each year. I don't know enough about ski resort business but I think ORDA is a decent model for other states to follow.
 

x10003q

Out on the slopes
Skier
Joined
Nov 19, 2015
Posts
556
Location
NYC Metro
For NYS, we have ORDA which runs Belleayre/Gore/Whiteface (I'm a season pass holder). They are not prefect, but they do a good job. I think the funding is part of the states, but as far as I know, they mostly break even each year. I don't know enough about ski resort business but I think ORDA is a decent model for other states to follow.
ORDA is a nightmare. NYS should not be in the ski business.
 

Kyle

Getting off the lift
Skier
Joined
Jan 28, 2016
Posts
270
Location
Utah
Utah certainly seems like it could support another ski area. I suspect that @CascadeConcrete hits some of the biggest issues squarely on the head that ski area development is an uncertain and, in many ways, unattractive business for most investors. Combine that with the prospect of the difficulty of obtaining the necessary environmental approvals and the uncertainty brought on with climate change further complicates the investment.

The market dynamics in the industry seem to be moving away from the small and independent to the large and corporate. The uncertainties mentioned above suggest that it will likely take a bigger player to make something happen. We probably need a populist tech billionaire to make this his or her pet project to get something done.
 

4aprice

Getting off the lift
Skier
Joined
Apr 2, 2018
Posts
383
To the op New Jersey, PA, NY and New England are littered with the ghosts of ski area's past. I know Colorado has their share too. But it does seem that there is a slight resurgence of interest in snow sports this year and the industry has got to try and hold on to that and improve. I think the numbers at the end of the season could be very interesting this year. Even with "limited capacity" things seem busier then usual. Deciphering those numbers might not be so easy. Question is where is this influx coming from and how do you keep it coming. The number I always heard was 85% of those who tried once never returned. Maybe this year with the number of other activities limited that number can be lowered and they can be hooked easier then in the past and that would be good for our sport.
 

crgildart

Gravity Slave
Skier
Joined
Nov 12, 2015
Posts
11,215
Location
The Bull City
Make more geographic terrain viable for skiing by installing underground chillers like those used in outdoor skating rinks. Imagine a hundred acres of ski trails with chillers under them to preserve the base longer between freeze cycles and rain events. Open back up some of those mom and pop places that failed because the snow making was too much of a challenge for them.. I'm not a fan of indoor skiing, but a little help to facilitate a longer outdoor ski season would be great.
 

Errand Wolfe

Ski like Stein
Skier
Joined
Nov 30, 2020
Posts
71
Location
Colorado
While I love to ski I would fight new ski areas on public land tooth and nail. If we are being honest they are a bad for the environment and I would hate to see tens of thousands of acres of public land removed from public use.

Now if they wanted to do it on private land I say go for it. That however doesn't seem to work real well, the plans to re-open Stagecoach south of Steamboat has been kinda dead in the water for a while, at least I can't find anything recent about it.
 

DanoT

RVer-Skier
Skier
Joined
Nov 12, 2015
Posts
3,159
Location
Sun Peaks B.C. in winter, Victoria B.C. in summer
Make more geographic terrain viable for skiing by installing underground chillers like those used in outdoor skating rinks.
I would guess that installing a refrigerator plant large enough to cool a ski run or several runs would be way beyond the financial capability of a small ski area.

Today's skiing public want high speed lifts, perfectly groomed slopes as well as all the base amenities.

IMHO, we need:
  • More smaller to medium size ski areas. Less resorts.
  • More independent area operators. Fewer conglomerates.
  • Greater access, closer to population centers, equal racial participation.
  • Affordable ticket prices.
  • Environmental protection.
  • A greater safety culture.
The above, imo, is a blueprint for a failed ski business. Overcoming environmental opposition and government red tape to open a new ski area is one of the main reasons there have been no new ski areas developed in North America that I know of, in decades.
 

gilligan

Putting on skis
Skier
Joined
Dec 8, 2017
Posts
43
Location
Gig Harbor WA
Unless there's a real estate play with maybe golf involved, I can't see any sane business person even beginning to think about plunking down the many, many millions it would take to start a ski area from scratch. That's assuming you can even find a place to build one. Throw in a warming climate and I think it would be a hard pass. The best we can hope for is expanding existing areas.
 
Thread Starter
TS
T

tomahawkins

Putting on skis
Skier
Joined
Dec 3, 2019
Posts
69
Location
Bellingham, WA
The above, imo, is a blueprint for a failed ski business. Overcoming environmental opposition and government red tape to open a new ski area is one of the main reasons there have been no new ski areas developed in North America that I know of, in decades.
I'm not proposing a business model. Really I'm just wondering what would be ideal federal and state level policies that would promote a healthier ski environment? And are there enough motivated skiers to lobby the government to affect change?
 

GB_Ski

Getting on the lift
Skier
Joined
Jan 29, 2019
Posts
305
ORDA is a nightmare. NYS should not be in the ski business.
Why is ORDA a nightmare? As this season shown, private business isn’t that good at ski business as well, maybe to share holders, but not skiers.

As far as government involvement, doesn’t Europe has relatively successful model?
 

crgildart

Gravity Slave
Skier
Joined
Nov 12, 2015
Posts
11,215
Location
The Bull City
I would guess that installing a refrigerator plant large enough to cool a ski run or several runs would be way beyond the financial capability of a small ski area.
More costly than this?

1613093253381.png
 

noobski

Putting on skis
Skier
Joined
Dec 29, 2020
Posts
88
Location
Midwest
IMHO, we need:
  • More smaller to medium size ski areas. Less resorts.
  • More independent area operators. Fewer conglomerates.
  • Greater access, closer to population centers, equal racial participation.
  • Affordable ticket prices.
  • Environmental protection.
  • A greater safety culture.
I appreciate your vision, but almost everything you want is massively expensive, requires investor capital, years if not a decade of planning, government and municipal oversight and so will likely never happen. Environmental practices are already widely in place, especially at large resports. They can afford to do this, small independent can not always afford it. The economics of the rest are difficult if not impossible. Fixed up front costs are massive to build new. The land is also beyond expensive. Government regulations and insurance companies are major up front and ongoing holding costs. High cost infratructure in snow making and high speed lifts coupled with government regulations are beyond entry level. No one would show up if you don't have this. And if you miss weather for the year, you may just one more season away from out of business. Finally, the contract you sign on your lift ticket caps out your safety culture and that will never change due to insurance and state regulations on liability. If it did change your ticket price would go up even more or the resort would go out of business. Who would then put with all of this? Big resorts for people with money to spend in order for the numerous risks to be worth it. Thus why big resorts own things and will continue to gobble up and build. Actual skiing is not really profitable. Scale, anxilary stores, real estate and subscriptions/passes drives profitability.

Regarding new resorts coming on line. Possibly Utah next to Deer Valley in the next 2-5 years. https://www.forbes.com/sites/everet...ew-billion-dollar-ski-resort/?sh=60b3bfdb7a72

There are other plans including Little Cottonwood improvements among others throughout the US. Read Vails' annual reports, they project MASSIVE influx of foreigners (Asia) in the coming 10-30 years as China becomes the worlds largest middle class. So old resorts will expand and new resorts are coming online as long as they can make snow.

All that said, even though the resorts aren't probably going to do it for you, you do have an option: find some friends and some back country.
 

DanoT

RVer-Skier
Skier
Joined
Nov 12, 2015
Posts
3,159
Location
Sun Peaks B.C. in winter, Victoria B.C. in summer
Regarding new resorts coming on line. Possibly Utah next to Deer Valley in the next 2-5 years. https://www.forbes.com/sites/everet...ew-billion-dollar-ski-resort/?sh=60b3bfdb7a72
From the article: "It’s too soon to tell but what is known is that The Mayflower Mountain Resort has been announced, a 5,600 acre resort with somewhere between 400 and 900 skiable acres."

Either the skiable acres is a misprint or Utah's next resort will be a commercial/retail/housing development with a few ski runs.
 

pchewn

Making fresh tracks
Skier
Joined
Apr 24, 2017
Posts
1,416
Location
Beaverton OR USA
While I love to ski I would fight new ski areas on public land tooth and nail. If we are being honest they are a bad for the environment and I would hate to see tens of thousands of acres of public land removed from public use.
Ski areas on public land is still used by the public. I don't follow the objection. The land is being used and the public is welcome to it. So what's the objection?
 

raytseng

Making fresh tracks
Skier
Joined
Mar 24, 2016
Posts
2,079
Location
SF Bay Area
The lift lines keep growing; available parking is depleting. Covid made the situation worse, but the problems have been increasing for some time.

Do we have an advocacy group working for the responsible expansion of US skiing capacity?

IMHO, we need:
  • More smaller to medium size ski areas. Less resorts.
  • More independent area operators. Fewer conglomerates.
  • Greater access, closer to population centers, equal racial participation.
  • Affordable ticket prices.
  • Environmental protection.
  • A greater safety culture.
You are aware of this right?

I don't want to put words in your mouth, but the OP seems there is an assumption that industry goal is just to maximize short term gains and they've put no thought themselves into "resposible" expansion.
On the NSAA website as a whole, 3 or the things in your are list are top menu items/initiatives:: Diversity, Safety, and Environmental are all right there; AND with actual things they've done or are promoting.

If you get into the growth docs, they've done homework and research and the docs do have pretty in-depth discussion of what should be the metrics of "success" and sustainable grown in the future taking into consideration customer experience, ammenities etc; and what resorts should be; and not judging "success" based on only maximized revenue/profits.
So I'd say take a look at the docs to understand what the "industry" side is doing and get the background before starting up your Opposition Lobby that potentially is asking for something they already are doing.
 
Last edited:

Goose

Out on the slopes
Skier
Joined
Sep 11, 2017
Posts
1,256
The lift lines keep growing; available parking is depleting. Covid made the situation worse, but the problems have been increasing for some time.

Do we have an advocacy group working for the responsible expansion of US skiing capacity?

IMHO, we need:
  • More smaller to medium size ski areas. Less resorts.
  • More independent area operators. Fewer conglomerates.
  • Greater access, closer to population centers, equal racial participation.
  • Affordable ticket prices.
  • Environmental protection.
  • A greater safety culture.
Skiing was never really the average poor mans recreation per se. And its heading more and more in the direction of being something that requires more and more disposable income. Its not nor ever was a necessity and never really important. Its a recreation for most people as it always (for the most part was) and its an expensive one requiring resources if time and money.

Its never ever going to be something that hits majority of households. Not every household has a skier in it nor has it ever nor will it ever nor does that have to be the case just because we like (or love) to participate.

Answers to your suggestions in my own opinion.
  • More smaller to medium size ski areas. Less resorts.
  • here in the lower northeast they are too small and are extremely over crowded especially primetimes.
  • More independent area operators. Fewer conglomerates.
  • Operational costs are not affordable for the mom and pop anymore. there is too much to overcome
  • Greater access, closer to population centers, equal racial participation.
  • Mountains and whether exist where they do and denser populations where they do. Just is what it is. Miami or Kansas City are where they are (for example). And why does race have to play into this?
  • Affordable ticket prices.
  • Well, isnt that the magic notion and doesnt that relate to the same cost expenses that have killed the mom and pops.
  • Environmental protection.
  • Thats part of the expense problem and also operational and construction problem.
  • A greater safety culture.
  • dont know what to comment there nor dont know if thats relevant to make much any difference.

As I mentioned its skiing and is not a necessity nor is it really important. its like golf or any other recreation that requires resources. Certainly i wish there was more skiing that was more easily accessible and affordable. But its a luxury and is what it is.
 
Top