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Newsweek Magazine article: "Selling the Snowplow"

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 
A brief story (by Alex Markels) in the current (Jan. 15) issue, subtitled "Struggling ski areas court a new market: novices," the current state of the resort business is featured, specifically how some areas (Vail/Beaver Creek pointed at here) are going after the first-timer with incentives, in an attempt to get, but more importantly, KEEP new skiers.
From the piece: "As aging baby boomers' knees weaken and they trade in their skis for golf clubs, the number of downhill skiers has dipped to a 10-year low - 7.4 million, down 30 percent from 1994 - and the influx of snowboarders hasn't picked up the slack. Struggling for new customers, resorts have tried to woo old skiers by offering low-price season passes, frequent skier discounts and non-skiing activities, from spa treatments to snowshoeing. Now, across the country, resorts like Vail are taking a simpler tack: court non-skiers by really teaching them how to ski...."
The article, which is very brief - a three-minute read if you're happening by a magazine rack - continues with details re: some enticements resorts are employing in their attempt to build the business, including "multiday novice lessons for dirt cheap." A Vail higher-up admits the offers, while not doing much for the immediate bottom line, are done "as an investment. We'll see less revenue out of our beginner program, but we figure we'll get more volume." The article concludes with mention of similar strategies ("newbies" getting hot chocolate and being able to watch ski videos "while their instructors outfit them with ski boots") used at Mt. Snow (Vermont).

Page 57, if you're interested.

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[This message has been edited by ryan (edited January 14, 2001).]</FONT>
post #2 of 20
I'll be darned, for the pittance that I make as an instructor, if I'll do an Al Bundy!!!
post #3 of 20
Reading your post, I suddenly had a thought. The inexpensive lessons and their perks do help; I was a recipent, and it certainly got me hooked. But perhaps the resorts need to market the benefits of skiing in a different manner, one that defies the myth that aging knees should not ski. We have a cliche in fitness "USE IT OR LOSE IT!". Nowadays physical therapy is done WEIGHT BEARING, with directional changes. Prevention of osteoporosis , it has been found, is done by performing weight bearing activities with UNPREDICTABLE directional changes. Sounds like a sport we know. As one gets older, balance and stability are challenged, unless one participates in activities that utilize them. This knowledge needs to be made more public, and people need to know what they can do, not what they can't. Its a shame that this research is known mostly by fitness professionals.
But, then again, here I am, preaching to the converted!

Be Braver in your body, or your luck will leave you. DH Lawrence
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[This message has been edited by Lisamarie (edited January 14, 2001).]</FONT>
post #4 of 20
Here in the northeast many ski areas are never far away from bankruptcy, as the closing of Burke and Magic Mts. will testify. Even the mighty, and venerable Stowe has had its shaky moments. Courting the yuppies has proven to be a tougher proposition than appeared, as their tastes are fickle and they want more and more expensive amenities. The increased costs of fuel and electricity are added burdens that haven't even been felt yet.
So I can hardly blame ski areas for wanting to appeal to as broad a customer base as possible. Here, at least, it's a simple matter of survival.
And if some of these "newbies" stay on, so much the better for the sport, in general. And if they fade away, let's hope they all bought new boots, skis, parkas, etc.,to keep competition alive, and prices down for the rest of us.
post #5 of 20
Lisamarie! Well, bless you, sweety! It's great to hear from someone who skis "wide blues" and is interested in the well being of us skiers who have passed the half century mark! I do respect the experts on this site, and at the same time, it gives me great comfort to read a post from another intermediate with an eye toward the not-so-young. Keep on posting!
post #6 of 20
Thank you Oboe. I used to be afraid to post on this site, since everyone was light years ahead of me in their technique, and I thought it may be boring for people to read "Hey, I pointed my skis down the fall line!" But everyone has been so gracious! Thanks!

Be Braver in your body, or your luck will leave you. DH Lawrence
post #7 of 20
Muscle through the turns. Yep, I can relate to that. What's worse, being in fitness, I will sometimes catch myself in the biomechanical thought process: Adduct here, flex here, etc. When I am doing that, I am actually skiing pretty badly. Your story is an inspiration. I will tell it to my students. Ski resorts should use people such as yourself to market the idea that your'e never to old to start.

Be Braver in your body, or your luck will leave you. DH Lawrence
post #8 of 20
Or you can link to it here:

and while your there, check out the link to "Powder Burns" on that page.<FONT size="1">

[This message has been edited by Tag (edited January 15, 2001).]</FONT>
post #9 of 20
Since I am working in a resort town and my bussiness depends on skiers and guest I feel that the resorts need to do more to improve the Teaching of this great sport.Lets get more people on skis and show them that its a fun family sport and yes you can ski past 50! Most of my ski Buddies are 50+ skiers and most are advanced skiers some did Not take up the sport untill late in life but all love It! And Have a true Passion for skiing and the mountains.
Good clinics and affordable work shops will get and keep more people on the slopes and reduce the risk of injury.They need to do work shops for the frustrated intermediate skier and show him and her that they can progress to more chellenging terrain and do it safely and keep it sane.I think the mags and ski films are Part of the Problem, They only show Young Jocks hurking off of cliffs and getting air this becomes the Hallmark of the expert skier? Or they show only skiers skiing bumps in the zipper line at high speed.I love to see some really talented young girl or guy let loss and rip up the mountain, But there is more to excellent skiing then that.I would Love to see some resort do work shops that are affordable and fun do a program for intermediate skier something like the beginer program that wems and wigs have been talking about.A Program that will guarantee that by the end of you ski trip you will be off the blue runs and onto the black.I just think there has to be abetter way to teach people to ski and ski better!
Ok my soap box is getting wabbly so I better get off it while I can.

The Best skier in the world is the One with the biggest smile. Utah49
post #10 of 20
I recently took a 3 day women's ski workshop at Okemo. Not only was it affordable, the all inclusive element, which included overnight ski and bag check made it hassle free. Although its nice to take women's ski workshops, these programs should be available to both men and women. But somehow, the non skiing public needs to receive the information that would motivate, and supply the impetus to participate in these programs. As I mentioned in a previous post, this information is already known by fitness professionals, and those who already ski. The rest of the population is practically being brainwashed about their limitations. The irony: The new direction that cutting edge fitness professionals are taking involves a strong focus on balance, centering, stability and alignment. What better way to put those skills to use, than learning to ski?

Sadly, my own journalistic skills are limited to what I can post in marginally decent grammar and sentence structure on internet message boards. Those who are more "media savy" should spread the news.

Be Braver in your body, or your luck will leave you. DH Lawrence
post #11 of 20
Lisamarie, I hope you are never hesitant to post on this site. Everyone here was once a beginer and if they forget that it is their problem not yours. I enjoy reading the posts from people just starting to experts.
post #12 of 20
Thread Starter 

Having read a bit this weekend about D.H. Lawrence's connection to Taos, N.M., and thus learning more about him than I knew before, I can't help but wonder what HE meant with the "Be braver in your body..." line.
post #13 of 20
I think that the fitness industry helps the brainwashing with the tv ad bombardment's depicting the only way to enjoy activities is to get in shape first. That's hooey, lots of fat out of shape people enjoy themselves immensely while skiing etc., not that i am saying being in shape is not a good thing, everyone knows the benefits, its just that it is not a pre-requisite to fun.

Blow up your TV, throw away your paper, move to the country,,,ahh you know the rest....
post #14 of 20
Personally, I welcome the decline in number of skiers. All we ever do on this website is complain about how crowded everything is and how quickly the powder gets tracked out. If people want to quit, then good, that's more powder for me. Slight declines in the total number of skiers will not kill the industry, it will just reduce the number of new lodges being added where you can buy a hamburger for $15. I don't think it's a huge loss to see mountains like Magic and Burke go down the tubes. They're good for kids, but they really don't offer any real skiing that the bigger resorts don't have. Their prices are better, but you generally get what you pay for when it comes to ski terrain.
post #15 of 20
Hmmmm....The closing of smaller ski areas will make for more open and less crowded ones? Good riddance to places where kids can learn to ski without breaking Mom and Dad's bank account? I fail to see the logic here. When we're all forced to go to mega areas owned by some giant international, a $15 dollar hamburger will look like a good deal. I love uncrowded slopes as much as anyone on skis, but I also realize that if I want that slope there, a price has to be paid. And by the way, Magic was one of the few areas around here where a black diamond meant "Advanced and Expert Only...All Others Stay the Hell Off".
post #16 of 20
I agree that there's something to be said about small ski areas. I grew up at one, and they do offer a lot to the sport. My last post was pretty snippy because it's been snowing here all day and I CAN'T STAND being stuck in a cubicle in front of a computer....it’s driving me nuts! GET ME OUT OF HERE......
post #17 of 20
I advise that you get on some powder ASAP! Tell the boss it's an emergency! Get outta that cubicle and onto some skis! The world looks a whole lot better from a chairlift.
Take care!
post #18 of 20
Lisa -
I found this thread while looking for a different one.

I saw what you said about prevention of osetoperosis and skiing's generally beneficial effect on health.

I guess that would explain the astonishingly high percentage of skiers in my club that are clearly in their 50's, 60's and 70's.

In fact, at 36, I seem to be fairly young for my club.
It's good to know that after waiting so long to even get started I can still look foward to decades of skiing.
post #19 of 20
Glad you found this! You should see some of the agility drills we promote in fitness nowadays. We've come a long way from telling people to use the leg extension machine to prevent osteoporosis.

Be Braver in your body, or your luck will leave you. DH Lawrence

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[This message has been edited by Lisamarie (edited August 12, 2001).]</FONT>
post #20 of 20
I don't want to sound like a foot fetishist but I think the new soft boots coming out from Kneissl, Saloman, Rossignol and one in the works by Dolomite I think, will hopefully do a lot to make skiing a fun rather than painful experience for many.

With the advances in ski technology making learning to carve turns much easier, it's about time that boot fit and comfort were addressed for the many who rent equipment rather than buy when they think they may want to take up skiing.

I understand that Footloose Sports at Mammoth has a demo boot program. They seem to make it work although I'm not sure how it opperates. I've ranted about boots in other threads so I will quit talking about ski boots for now.

Perhaps ski areas should make lessons their loss leader for beginners and low intermediates. Pay instructers a living wage so that retention and professsional development of dedicated professionals improves.

When students both learn and enjoy themselves in the proccess more will come back. Someone mentioned (I think it was D.Chan) that equipment and lessons could be packaged with some on hill equipment evaluations from instructers.

Areas can make up revenues in other ways. This may sound a little Disneyesque but base area entertainment and eating options could be diversified and money made there.

Look what there doing to airports these days. They used to be as dead as most mountain base areas are today. Now many are looking like malls and making money.

If skiing is going to survive it is going to have to change and evolve. Do I like the idea? Well admittedly I'm not that excited about the prospect.

After years of skiing in Vermont, Summit County, Tahoe and Mt. Bachelor I find myself liking Big Sky Montana more and more for the amount of terrain and its lack of anything I've ever seen approximating a crowd. But how they stay in business is beyond me.

As uncomfortable as it may, be ski resort management at many areas has got to change with the times if the sport is going to survive and prosper. Then I will be able to keep on skiing.
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