Yeah, I caught that NYT article too. The demise of small time skiing is mainly due to costs. Some of which are noted in the article. However there are more and they all end up inhibiting more widespread skiing to generally less well to do people. Ski region locals will always have cheaper alternatives to skiing and resorts certainly go out of their way to make that possible. However for the masses of more distant people that is not the case. In the 70s into the 80s the cost of skiing was still reasonable. However then the Vails of skidom rose with all their new high speed quad lifts, real estate developers, and lodging costs really shot up. The resorts kept saying they HAD to join the upgraders with all those expensive lifts and fascillities. I saw that as just an excuse to chase the rich. What a bunch of kr!@. Then today we have the added costs of gasoline making transportation expensive too. I remember spending $20 to $35 for lodging in those days and there were even cheaper digs. Lift ticket prices were comparable too with small areas charging less than $10-$15 a day. For we weekend commuting skiers a 400 mile roundtrip cost about $10 to $15 worth of gas. Hard core ski bums always had alternatives sleeping in their vans in welcoming resort parking lots or anywhere outside anywhere-USA town limits. Instead the greedy higher priced lodging and real estate businesses everywhere not only jacked up their costs but realised as long as a Motel 6 and other low end lodging was nearby, a fair number of skiers were happy to go cheap. So in ski town after ski town those places were bought out by new owners, upgraded, and went with the $80 and up per night that now plagues ski regions everywhere. And we dirt bag ski bums were barred from not only ski parking lots but the lodging people made sure we couldn't park beside even lonely rural roads as vagrancy laws went nuts. Part of that was of course due to the abuse of the rising RV crowd in the 80s. Of course then there is actual ski equipment costs that are far higher now too.
Whatever the resorts do on their own to make skiing cheaper won't work for the lower classes because lodging, transportation, and all else are now a huge cost. Some might say people want the expensive lodging, fast lifts, massive terrain etc thus cheap is not an economic alternative and can't compete at even minimal levels. Some people do want all that stuff, especially those still well off enough to afford it. However if they put a 2000 room basic no frills motel charging $30 a night in resort regions like Frisco, Colorado, had $40 bus fares from urban areas, and had some small resorts still open charging under $30, they would do a bustling business that would show the expensive argument for what it is. There would need to be a lottery just to get a spot on the buses. ...David