New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

So, where are the kids?

post #1 of 24
Thread Starter 
Reading the manufacturers thread got me thinking about skiing demographics again. Most everything I've read about the skiing population is a)it's getting older; b)it's getting smaller; c)the number of skier days is staying constant. The last point would lead me to believe that the average number of skier days per skiier must be going up, perhaps as a sign of growing wealth that leads to more 'consumption' of skiing on a per person basis. Yet I've also read that the average number of days that the typical skier skis per season remains at 10 days per year.

A couple of days ago, I picked up Tag Jr from his regular Saturday Ski School program (proud parent insert here: He is on the "Master's Elite" program which is the Ski School's demo team ). As I watched the two busloads of kids unload, I realized that this ski school has four other drop-off/pick-up sites, and each site has two or three buses. In other words, a lot of kids. Having had my daughter in Copper Mtn's ski school for a number of seasons (alas she has conveted to the Dark Side and taken up snowboarding this season : ), I can attest that the Schoolhouse at Union Creek at 3:00 most days, and weekends in particular, is a very busy place. Pierre has also told me about the busloads upon busloads of kids that visit his home ski area every weekend. Although this is pure anecdotal, I look upon this as being a very positive sign for skiing. My concern, given the 'numbers' as mentioned above, is that it isn't helping. What's the feeling/experience of the Bear's? Is this a sign of our future or a sign of our failure?

[ January 21, 2003, 09:07 AM: Message edited by: Tag ]
post #2 of 24
Tag. My kids are attending a 6 saturdays (afternoon) x2 hours
ski course. From my village there are 20 kids. From the nearby village 25-30, from another further away, 40...
So, the new generations are there.
Somehow, we loose them along the way. To school duties, to
the "dark side" (which I don't see as being as dark), to
other sports.
Culturally Italy it's the land of football (aehm, soccer).
Everyone plays soccer.
My older child has joined a team this year (his decision, not mine, soccer is not amongst my favourite sports, in this I'm atypical) and guess when the matches are being held?
Saturday afternoon/evening.
So, it should have been a matter of either ski or soccer.
Last saturday I drove to the resort (35 km), skied the afternoon with the kids, drove back home and then mum drove the older one to the match...how many times can I , or the kid last?
Sooner or later he'll choose one or the other...(for the time being he keeps wanting both, bless his heart).
post #3 of 24
The kids are snowboarding.

Last year's numbers showed that ski area visits are down slightly from the previous season, but still third highest overall. Most of the recent increase has been in snowboarding which continues to be one of the fastest growing sports in America. Skiing has seen some modest gains in the past 2 years, however.

My opinion is that some of the disenchantment of kids and skiing is peer pressure. Snowboarding is viewed as cool, even by kids who neither ski nor snowboard. Its links to skateboarding is one obvious possibility, but another is that the skiing crowd is turning them away. Skiing is viewed as elitist, as a sport for older, wealthier people.

On the other hand, new schoolers, jibbers, straightliners, huckers and big air is catching their attention. It may be in part, responsible for the slightly greater interest.

On my part, I got my son on skis at 3. He skis over 40 days each season, and is now racing at 8. (By the way, his program is 6 hours each week for 16 weeks, plus races and freesking. He has the option of adding an additional 6 hour coaching session each week as well.)

He has tried snowboarding, but he comes back to skis. Why? Partly because he's already mastered it, while he is stuck creeping down the greens on a board. Partly because peer pressure in his crowd is gate bashing. Partly because he has had the experience of floating down Chad's at Snowbird in hip deep powder. Partly because he was there to watch Bode take the silver in the combined. But I think that most of it is that we ski together, 20 days or more each year. It is part of his life, and has been as long as he can remember.
post #4 of 24
I also see a lot of kids in ski school classes, and a lot of young teenagers in snowboarding classes. Skiing has the natural advantage that most kids can begin having fun skiing at least a year or two before they can really enjoy riding.
Snowboarding on the other hand, definitely has a cool image working for it which will continue to be a draw for a while to come. There is probably a natural limit to this, however. True, just about nothing on snow looks cooler than a rider (on film) ripping up a sheer face high in the Chugach. But only a tiny fraction of 1% of riders ever do anything remotely like that.
Skis just seem to better "snow riding tools" -- faster, more dynamic, more maneuverable, and capable of handling a wider variety of terrain. The recently acquired "cool" of snowboarding will eventually reach it's sell-by date, and the market share pendulum will, eventually, begin to swing back somewhat in the direction of skiing. :
post #5 of 24
Here is a sucess story. After getting into boarding 2 yrs ago my oldest (15) is now turning to skiing. We went sliding for a day and he rented a board. I brought along my rock gear for him to try. For the hour that he was skiing all that I heard was,"How much longer do I have to do this; This sucks because I can't do it, and I'm out of my comfort zone." So back to the board he went and Dad has a long face as I thought I was close to a conversion. About an hour later I here this sheepish voice asking me if he could get the boards back on because "boarding is boring." There is hope!! Turns weren't pretty, but for a first timer impressive.
Note: He is 5'7" and was riding an inter 170cm. A nature athlete just like this old bear. Scares the poop out of he imagining what he could do on boards that fit!!
post #6 of 24
I was skiing at the local mtn one night last week for the weekly team race and couldn't help but notice kids everywhere. Chatted briefly with the manager who likes to poke around and say hello to people. He informed me that his mtn does 60,000 kids lessons a season!

Gadzooks!
I should mention that this is a county owned ski area which, in addition to teaching a lot of school groups, provides discount season passes and day tickets to area students.
post #7 of 24
Tag- both of my kids (ages 17 and 15) are skiers, not boarders, and have shown no inclination to change. My son goes to the Copper Mt. program every sunday, and there is a bus-full of kids just from our neighborhood and surrounding areas with him (some are boarders, too, but the majority seem to be on skis). His friends all ski, too- very few are on snowboards. My daughter tried snowboarding once at Snowbird (they had a free program one evening on the Chickadee chair), but it never went beyond that. I can't say I have much of an explaination for it, but I'm not complaining!
post #8 of 24
Tag's original post was not so much about skiers vs snowboarders as it was about the future of snowsports. The ski school that I work with on weekends now has about 4,000 kids enrolled in the after school and weekend five-week programs. The area where I used to be the SSD, about 25 miles away, has close to 10,000 a week. Yet I know that between us we are not turning out 14,000 new lifelong skiers and boarders each year. The question continues to be where do these kids all go? Should we all be doing a better job of "hooking" them on snowsports, or is the five-week learn to ski program as far as it goes?

When I used to actively and agressively market our programs to school groups I used to hear the criticism that we were exposing kids to a sport that they would never be able to afford later. (Kind of a "gateway drug" theory.) Anybody else ever run into this? Is it enough to simply get the kids for the five weeks of group lessons on rentals?
post #9 of 24
My theory: Once the kids move out from under Mom & Dad's wing, I doubt they can afford it! Heck, I can barely afford it.

The school programs at all the local hill here are full, and I know from speaking to other parents that its because costs are reasonable. There is one particular day-area hill in my local that offers season passes for about the cost of one day skiing at a Colorado resort. The lifts are antiquated and the food and service is general is bad, but the snow and terrain is just fine. I see a lot more smiles there from those on 1980's vintage gear skiing in jeans than I do from those decked out in duds worth thousands staying at the Chateau.

The ski industry has priced itself out of the market, going for too much too fast, with the if-you-build-it-they-will-come attitude. I love the advances that have been made in gear and lift technology, but perhaps its time the industry was satisfied with what they have now and concentrated on how to make it more affordable. Young people today are opportunists more than purists. If there are other activities out there to enjoy for less money, they move on.
post #10 of 24
Thread Starter 
David7, yes, thank you, this is not a skier vs. snowboarder rant. My tongue-in-cheek comment about my daughter was a joke. While I admit I would prefer that she ski, frankly as long as she is outside enjoying the mountain and having fun, I don't care if she is on one board or two. There are going to be lots of ski trips in her future and she ain't going to spend them sitting in the lodge if I have anything to say about it (spoken like a true parent : )!

My question/topic is exactly as you stated. Anecdotal experience says we are getting lots and lots of kids exposed to the sport. What's the feeling/research say about those kids becoming "skiers". Is this a bright sign for the sports future or another sign that the sport is not bouncing back?

Quote:
The ski industry has priced itself out of the market, going for too much too fast, with the if-you-build-it-they-will-come attitude. I love the advances that have been made in gear and lift technology, but perhaps its time the industry was satisfied with what they have now and concentrated on how to make it more affordable. Young people today are opportunists more than purists. If there are other activities out there to enjoy for less money, they move on.
I agree to some extent, JR. Copper Mtn has shown these past two seasons that the skiers are there if you set the right price. Copper has been heavily discounting lift tix and lodging and has set records for skier visits. Econ 101 - price it right and they will come.

As for opportunistic vs. purists, I think that comes with exposure. The first time I took Tag Jr to A-Basin, he whined about the slow chairs. Now he appreciates A-Basin for the terrain that it has to offer (even if he still wishes they would put in a high-speed quad or two). I'm intrigued to see what his reaction will be to Alta this weekend.
post #11 of 24
I was also not trying to steer this thread into another skier/snowboarder debate.

The question on where the kids are going is still: they are snowboarding. While many skier parents have skier kids who grow up into the sport, the reality is that a) Overall, ski areas are doing better than expected, given the economic climate. Last year's #2 ranking speaks to that, and b) The majority of new sliders are snowboarders.

So why aren't the kids that take ski lessons sticking with it?

1. Ski gear is considerably more expensive than snowboarding gear.
2. Snowboarding is "cool".
3. Skiing, as most "terminal intermediates" do it, is not "cool" or exciting to kids.
4. The traditional "ski scene" is numbingly expensive: travel, lifts, condo, ski gear, fancy ski clothes, apres-ski activities, hence skiing is viewed as a rich kid elitist sport.

I don't know about anyone else's experiences, but my local area is doing very well-but they are 70% boarders, 30% skiers. And yes, the boarders do continue beyond their early ski school experiences.
post #12 of 24
Quote:
Originally posted by Putt:
Skiing has the natural advantage that most kids can begin having fun skiing at least a year or two before they can really enjoy riding.
it's commonly accepted that snowboarding is easier to pick up than skiing. (you can become proficient at sliding sideways pretty quickly.)

skiing's cache among kids is definitely improving. twin tips, x-games, terrain parks, mosely, etc. have all made skiing more "cool". if only the media would start covering freeskiing competitions more often!

as an aside, did anyone else catch the recent "paul mitchell bumps and jumps" competition in which they had ski pros dueling in moguls, pipe and big air??? that was an INCREDIBLE show. : :

[ January 23, 2003, 08:08 AM: Message edited by: Adema ]
post #13 of 24
Every night of the week all season long, we have busloads of kids from schools all over the region come to H.V. to ski and ride. Most nights there are at least 30 bus loads. That's alot of kids, and problems.

Here's a switch though, my youngest Son has decided to take up skiing again instead of Boarding. Why? Because his closest friends ski. Now, that's something new! [img]graemlins/thumbsup.gif[/img]
post #14 of 24
There seems to be several things going on regarding current trends:

1. Snowboarding is continuing its growth, but the "new school"
[tricks on skis in the terrain park ] seems to be attracting a younger participant. Who knows, it may be cool to ski in the am, and after lunch, brake out the board. Kids want to hang out with their peers.
2. It is one thing to support your kids skiing or sliding needs at a relatively close skiing facility, it is quite another to make a family trip to a winter destination resort.
3. 9/11/01 hasn't made an already hastle laden ski trip any easier. The airline industry is in crises, and no one seems to be offering the values to get the sking and flying public back into making that $3000.00-10,000.00 annual family week ski trip commitment.
post #15 of 24
Adema,
Regarding the relative ease of acquiring skiing and snowboarding skills:
I was refering to the fact (based on our experience) that ski schools will take skiers at a younger age than riders.
My son is 7 and when we began going to ski resorts with him a few years ago we were repeatedly told that the ski schools would accept kids for ski lessons at 4 or 5, but for snowboarding lessons the kids had to be at least 7. (I'm not sure of the exact age for snowboarding, but it was about 2 years older than for ski lessons.) My son is now 7 and a good skier and has a great time on blues and greens, but he's only just old enough to strart riding lessons.
BTW, I'm not down on snowboarding. It's not for me, but it looks like fun, so I was considering it for my son until we learned that he'd have to wait to get started.
Putt
post #16 of 24
[quote]Originally posted by Adema:
Quote:

as an aside, did anyone else catch the recent "paul mitchell bumps and jumps" competition in which they had ski pros dueling in moguls, pipe and big air??? that was an INCREDIBLE show. : :
We were at Steamboat before Christmas when they filmed the "bumps and Jumps" -- it was great to watch. (Ended up eating lunch at a table next to Johnny Mosley and my son got his autograph.) I agree with you that this side of skiing has a lot of potential.
post #17 of 24
Thread Starter 
Responding to several points raised....

I hadn't heard that their was a difference in starting age between snowboarding and skiing. Looking at Copper's ad's for their ski school, there doesn't seem to be any difference. I had also heard that snowboarding had a quicker 'learning curve' than skiing, so I'm surprised that they wouldn't let young kids start boarding at the same age that they ski. Unless it's a strength issue (harder to muscle around that one heavier board?).

I had heard last season or the prior season that, for the first time, snowboarding growth was flat. Maybe it was that snowboard sales were flat, but I thought the fellow was discussing the snowboarding population. Which again goes back to an earlier comment about today's kids being opportunistic. ie. They (kids) tried boarding for a few years, it was cool, but they're movin' on, and boarding is something they do once in a while, if at all. In other words, "we" haven't hooked them and made them into "purists" for lack of a better term. Maybe devotee's would be better. Maybe if we could get MTV to send the Osbourne's to Aspen for the winter....

Wink, I hear ya on the pricing bit. When you add up airfare, lodgeing, rental car, lift tix, ski gear, etc. it can be a very expensive trip.
post #18 of 24
Tag,
I apologize on missing your point on the skier vs. snowboarder issue. For us it is a cost issue just like most others. If it wasn't for the fact that he fits into my old gear, he wouldn't be skiing either. My local hill has been overrun with school groups since the kids have gone back to school and for most this will be the only chance that they have to try a snow sport. Just to $$$$ for most of the general public.
post #19 of 24
It's all a matter of economics. If it costs too much people aren't going to play.

At my little area, the whole city dumps their kids at 6:00 at the hill then comes back at 10:00 to pick them up. There are 100's of the ankle bitters out there, boards, racers, double tips, and blades (very dangerous.) Turns out that half of their parents work at the area just to get passes.

Soccor is much cheaper. How much can cleats be?
post #20 of 24
Quote:
Originally posted by Tag:
Responding to several points raised....

I hadn't heard that their was a difference in starting age between snowboarding and skiing.
We were surprised as well when we inquired about snowboarding lessons and were told the same thing in very similar language at two different places (Intrawest's Snowshoe in WV and Bretton Woods in NH that gets rated highly for kid's programs by the Ski press).
Our son was about 4 years 10 months at the time. We were gently told that it's much better to wait until kids are at least 6 (for very athletic kids), and probably best to wait until they are 7 years old and have developed better strength and coordination before trying snowboarding. Each place said something along the lines of "we haven't had good success with younger kids."
They were willing to put him in "ski and play" at 4, he was at ease skiing beginner's slopes at 5 and now, at 7, he's eying the black diamonds in a manner that makes me very nervous.
post #21 of 24
Quote:
Originally posted by Tag:
Responding to several points raised....

I hadn't heard that their was a difference in starting age between snowboarding and skiing. Looking at Copper's ad's for their ski school, there doesn't seem to be any difference.
While doing trip planning for Heavenly I noticed that their wedsite shows a kids' ski program beginning at 4, but explicitly limits snowboarding clinics to kids 7 and up. http://www.skiheavenly.com/skiing_ri...ect_turn/kids/

Same thing at Steamboat where they start kids as young as 2 in a ski program http://www.steamboat-ski.com/winter-...CategoryId=205 but they want the kids in 1st grade before they begin snowboarding http://www.steamboat-ski.com/winter-...?CategoryId=97

And Copper: http://www.coppercolorado.com/03_les...dsclasses.html
where ski lessons start at age 3 and snowboarding at age 7.
post #22 of 24
Well, not having taken up skiing till I was 36, I can't relate my personal experience, but my observation as someone fairly new to the sport (5 seasons now)is that the desire is there, but the kids just plain get priced out of it.

I am a member of the local ski patrol (Being a nurse, the first aid was easy - had to work my butt off to learn to ski well enough and am still learning), and am constantly amazed by how many of the young people I know out there not only board, but ski also, and there are lots who tele in addition. It seems like they want to experience all facets of "ripping" the mountain. However, as soon as these kids leave home for college, they not only can't afford to ski as much, but they sure can't afford new equipment for 3 sports. I think the love of the sport is there, but as was observed earlier, the cash flow is lacking.
post #23 of 24
I am coming out of my hibernationjust for this thread.

I think Cost is the major factor (as someone else pointed out). When I started college I did not have the money to ski as much as I did in High School, and the older I got the more it seem like I didn't a have the money.

Now I want to get my oldest into skiing ( she is 3.5yrs) and get her hooked young. Thank God for Play-It-Again Sports, I was able to get her used ski's and boots for 75%less the other places. Many of the local ski area's around here let your kids ski free if they are 4yrs/under and you buy an full price adult lift ticket.

Don't know if any of your places Out West do that.

It takes lots of balance to have one child skiing and the other one in a sled. I think I have spent more time sitting snow then I have in a long time.

Back to my hibernation. [img]graemlins/thumbsup.gif[/img]

Becca
post #24 of 24
No kidding on the cost factor. My son raced 4 runs this weekend for a combined time of less than 5 minutes. It worked out to about $100 per minute of race time.
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: General Skiing Discussion