To the friends and fans of EpicSki Academy,
After several weeks of number-crunching, brain-storming and soul-searching, the organizers of EpicSki Academy have decided not to offer any events in the coming ski season. For the past 9 years our mission has been to provide world-class instruction at an affordable price to our community of dedicated skiers -- and we did it! We started strong: after our first outing at Brighton in January of 2003, which was very loosely organized but well-received, we went to Snowbird in 2004 and had a huge turnout, which was the pattern for the next several years. During that time we learned that we had to make our very part-time coaches employees and also to purchase liability insurance. With these obligations added to the organizational duties of putting on a first-class event, the administration of the clinics went from a small job to a big job. The price of the clinic also had to be increased commensurately to cover the added costs. We never added in the cost of administration, however, so the job continued to be a volunteer one, despite that fact that it had become very time-consuming and somewhat stressful, for the administrator has to manage cash flow while our customer base is accustomed to wait until the last minute to decide whether to attend.
While there were many administrative difficulties, they could have been overcome if there had been adequate customer support, but unfortunately, for whatever reason, enrollments began declining in 2008. We are aware that other ski camps experienced a similar drop in business at the same time, so we can assume that external economic causes played a substantial role. We were able to hang on three more years, but the numbers didn't improve. Last year we suffered substantial losses that forced our hand.
For the next several months ESA will be back on the drawing board, with the charge to its designers to bring us something that fits our community more perfectly and is sustainable. All of us who have been involved since its inception -- Weems, Bob Barnes, Cgeib and I -- believe that ESA's mission can be carried out in many creative ways that we just haven't thought of yet.
We hope you'll share your comments, suggestions, regrets, testimonials, rants, and words of wisdom here. This is not only an announcement but also an appeal for assistance from the community in the form of input, for example:
- would you like us to provide a means for on-snow coaching with top-notch coaches--maybe embedding them in groups or as a formal offering at the main Gatherings?
- how about organizing a virtual ESA right here on EpicSki, with top-notch teachers leading classes in general and special topics?
- shall we sponsor regular blogs from recognized experts who would also answer submitted questions?
- what should ESA be?
As always, we appreciate your efforts to keep this discussion on the rails, with respect for all.