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UK ski writer attacks bull

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 

As many US skiers will know (I write from London), American resorts and airlines host numerous hospitality trips for the foreign press to encourage tourism. Most of my US skiing (Utah, Washington State, Colorado, Vermont) has been paid for out of my own pocket but when I was writing for magazines and papers I took a couple of these trips myself. Obviously, there's plenty of wining and dining ... with some skiing fitted in too!

 

Comparisons of snow between Europe and the US generate enough heated debate to melt the very snow that's under discussion. Europe has substantial glaciers that preserve high quality snow at altitude (though some major storms earlier this winter put down exceptional snow at lower levels) and the top resorts offer big vertical. In typical winters, several US states usually beat Europe for snow depth and quality. But, let's face it, no place in the world can ever 'guarantee' the best.

 

In that context, here are some interesting - and some would say provocative - remarks by a colleague, James Cove, who edits a ski news website called Planetski.eu. He complains of ...

 

" ... being told endless bullshit on press trips to North America became somewhat irritating after a while. North America had much to offer but most of the the resorts are small compared to The Alps , the snow is not better than the Alps and the food is nowhere near as good.  And in The Alps we can all get on a lift without some goon making us get in a line and telling us how to do it. Awesome!"

 

His colleague Alf Alderson says ...

 

"Listening to the same bullshit as the editor [of Planetski] in the good ol' US of A - yes it can be a great place to ski but for God's sake guys cut the crap. Here's a classic example - I was on a chair at Deer Valley with a mate discussing the poor quality of the snow when the dude next to me pipes up "You obviously haven't skied here before!"


"Actually mate it's my third time and the snow has always been like this"

Stunned silence followed by the pithy remark "Well at least we know how to groom here, unlike Europe"

 

Source: http://www.planetski.eu/news/3696

And for balance: http://www.planetski.eu/news/3695

 

Clearly, the US has had an unlucky winter for snow ... though I recall the slogan "best snow on earth" used to promote Utah.

 

But I'm intrigued by the phrase "endless bullshit". Is Epicski a refuge from it ... or is it a myth?

 

Does anyone know anyone who generates "endless bullshit" in the furtherance of US skiing? !

post #2 of 10

So, Cove takes press trips designed to market how attractive North American skiing is to Europe, presumably paid for by by a tourism organization or combination of the resorts visited on the trips. 

 

He is then surprised he is subjected to the sales pitch for North American skiing during his trip?

 

I respect the idea that he is not obligated to write a positive review of his experience merely because it is being paid for (journalistic ethics and all that), but to complain about "being told endless amounts of bullshit" is ridiculous.  Of course they are going to try and sell him on all the positive aspects of skiing here at every turn.  Would he honestly expect to be handed a planet ticket, intinerary for meals, and lift tickets for each day with a note that says "Have fun"?

 

Would he go into a meeting with a potential advertiser on his blog with a laptop and say "there it is!" and get up and go home?  Or would he likely have some information about how he has increased revenue for other advertisers, with positive testimonials from officers in those companies?

 

So, he thinks European skiing is better than North American.  Super, write that in the blog and be done with it, but whining about people "selling" their mountains while paying for him to ski them seems more than a bit churlish.

 

post #3 of 10

Are you using this for a story or just as a discussion? Since you go into so much detail about being a writer, you should clarify.

 

All I see there is some candid remarks from a couple of guys. No facts, no real argument. Snow isn't better? Let's see some actual snowfall comparisons.

 

I don't doubt Europe is different from NA, some good, some bad. Doesn't make it bull shit. "The Greatest Snow on Earth" is obviously a marketing tool, but show me a handful of places that get not only more snow but more snow with the same dry quality. I've heard Niseko can compete, but outside of that, I don't know anywhere that boasts that combination.

 

The second guy's quote isn't even worth the keystrokes it took to type. So some random guy on the lift defended his home resort (or resort he paid thousands to visit)? Fascinating, tell me more.

 

I've never been to Europe, but what I've heard is more terrain, though not as diverse (mostly high alpine above treeline), beautiful mountains, authentic resort towns, but less snow. A list a couple of years ago about Top 20 Snowiest Resorts didn't include a single resort from the Alps. Maybe Tony Crocker can chime in cause I think that was all based on his data.

 

And I find the lift comment kind of funny. I've heard Europe is a chaotic shit show; I'd rather have someone dealing with the traffic in an organized way. Kinda' like getting mad at the government for all those pesky stoplights and street signs.

post #4 of 10

A few random remarks--at Chamonix to ride to the top of the Grands Montets--the best mountain at Chamonix, excepting the Aiguille du Midi--you have to make an appointment.  How does that compare to having a "goon" tell you how to get on a chair?  We were at Chamonix at a busy time--the lift lines were no less polite than Squaw's.  Personally I prefer an orderly maze--pushing and shoving doesn't increase the uphill capacity of a lift, but I guess some Euros prefer it that way.  As far as size goes there really is no comparison, except maybe Whistler. OTOH the advantage of smaller size is the ability to do avy control--the off piste powder skiing we take for granted in the US is much more dangerous in the Alps. As far as food again no comparison--especially when you consider price--you can get an excellent lunch in Europe for the price of a hot dog on a stale bun in the US.  Finally, snow--doesn't matter what the average is--a ski area is only as good as the last snow--lucky timing matters more than any of the above. Personally I'd ski the Alps every year if I could afford first class air travel--that 10-11 hour flight in steerage is brutal, and you still have to catch another flight and then a ground transfer, usually.  Based on my experience (once) I'd strongly recommend every serious American skier who can manage it to ski the Alps at least once.

  

post #5 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by oldgoat View Post

.... Personally I'd ski the Alps every year if I could afford first class air travel--that 10-11 hour flight in steerage is brutal, and you still have to catch another flight and then a ground transfer, usually.    



A 10-11 hour flight is luxury. From here it is 12 hour to Japan, 13 Hours to West Coast USA, 15 Hours to Vancouver and 23-25  hours to Europe.


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by JoeUT View Post

I've never been to Europe, but what I've heard is more terrain, though not as diverse (mostly high alpine above treeline), beautiful mountains, authentic resort towns, but less snow. A list a couple of years ago about Top 20 Snowiest Resorts didn't include a single resort from the Alps. Maybe Tony Crocker can chime in cause I think that was all based on his data.

 


Never got the idea that more snow is better. Once a functional base is established, surely regular top ups to keep off piste fresh would be preferable? Skied in Kashmir a few years ago and a three day/two metre dump of snow closed the upper mountain (Gulmarg) for another three days.

 

And if anyone is arguing over what is better and they haven't yet been everywhere and seen every place at its best; then they really need to get out more and do more research. Other wise it's all dick waving from a a position of no or limited knowledge.
 

 

 

post #6 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by Taxman View Post



A 10-11 hour flight is luxury. From here it is 12 hour to Japan, 13 Hours to West Coast USA, 15 Hours to Vancouver and 23-25  hours to Europe.


 


Never got the idea that more snow is better. Once a functional base is established, surely regular top ups to keep off piste fresh would be preferable? Skied in Kashmir a few years ago and a three day/two metre dump of snow closed the upper mountain (Gulmarg) for another three days.

 

And if anyone is arguing over what is better and they haven't yet been everywhere and seen every place at its best; then they really need to get out more and do more research. Other wise it's all dick waving from a a position of no or limited knowledge.
 

 

 


 

More snow isn't necessarily better, but you're definitely more likely to have good conditions if you're getting consistent storms. Common sense. You're basically saying the same thing - you don't necessarily need huge storms, but you do need regular storms. And you don't need to travel the world to compare snow totals.

 

Also, the discussion was about whether US resorts prop themselves up with BS, not about what resorts are better or worse.

post #7 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by JoeUT View Post


More snow isn't necessarily better, but you're definitely more likely to have good conditions if you're getting consistent storms. Common sense. You're basically saying the same thing - you don't necessarily need huge storms, but you do need regular storms. And you don't need to travel the world to compare snow totals.

 

Also, the discussion was about whether US resorts prop themselves up with BS, not about what resorts are better or worse.


 

Hopefully this is back on track for you.


Every resort that has a marketing department props the place up with bullshyte. Fortunately, with the divergence of sources that the internet allows, a discerning person can usually see past the hype and hopefully the worst excesses of marketing hype are called out by places such as this.

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by JoeUT View Post

And you don't need to travel the world to compare snow totals.

 


 

True, but it is a lot more fun finding out for yourself than simply looking up a book of snowfall tables to decide where to ski.

 

post #8 of 10
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by JoeUT View Post

Are you using this for a story or just as a discussion? Since you go into so much detail about being a writer, you should clarify.

 

 

 

Hi Joe. You have my word that nothing posted here is for a story. I rarely write about skiing for money these days, but get down to a bit of ski-scribbling on web forums. As you can see ... on epicski back to 2001 but not so much recently

 

Here in the UK, the "endless bullshit" comments by James Cove and Alf Alderson have caused some amusement amongst fellow ski hacks. There's a famous line from Shakespeare "The better part of valour is discretion" ... or 'discretion is the better part of valour'.

 

A journalist will often test or question marketing claims and 'press packs' and often share those doubts with readers ... but will rarely actively insult the host in public! 

 

Groucho Marx, of course, made a living out of it.

 

On another point of yours ... "I've heard Europe is a chaotic shit show" ... Brits have a lot of fun discussing the queuing techniques of rival European nationals. Sadly, some foreigners don't know how to behave, and there can be occasional fights. The British, as you may know, regard orderly and polite queuing as a national virtue, which is why we exported that culture to America.

 

 

 

 

post #9 of 10

As an American who lives abroad and has skied the Alps for the past 6 years, here are my observations:

 

1.  Generally, I prefer the Alps (I have been to Val D'Isere, Zermatt and Verbier) to the American, planned resorts.

2.  The one thing that holds me back is the snow quality.  Not only to the Alps get less snow on average but the snow in the Alps tends to come in huge dumps with long dry spells in between.

3.  The lift line system (and the quality of the lift operators) is infinitely superior in the U.S.  In the U.S., when the lines get long the lift ops make sure all the chairs are filled.  I've never seen that happen in Europe.  Nor have I ever seen a European lift op wipe a chair when it snows.

4.  Food is better at European resorts but you have to pay to get quality.  You cannot get a good meal for the price of a US hot dog.

post #10 of 10

Go to France if you prefer. Bigger mountains, more snow, better food. I'd be bitter too if I flew all the way from England to ski at Deer Valley.

 

"Actually mate it's my third time and the snow has always been like this"

 

You might learn after a while to quit coming back. Or do you still believe the hype?

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