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The longest thread I've ver seen! AKA: a response to Rant/note

post #1 of 38
Thread Starter 
I would have posted this in SCSA's Rant/Note thread but I got dizzy just trying to sift through it! Since everyone's entitled to their opinion here's mine; The way I like to think of the ski industry is Evolution vs. Revolution. It's quite apparent that SCSA is in favour of revolution but a revolution is unstable, much like the skiing stance that he is a proponent of. Evolution is steady and progressive. Has your head been in the snow for the last five seasons? People are coming back to skiing from snowboarding, ski areas like Whistler and Sunshine Village are posting record numbers this season, ski manufacturers are doing great. If anything, I'd say these are indicators of a upturn in the industry of late but you seem to think it's dying, I don't get it. You speak of "brilliance", are you still skiing on straight skis? Have you not seen a twin tip? I've been a ski instructor for 14 years now and the last 5 years have been the best. Rates of pay suck, I'll give you that, but ski pros at the school I work at are making more money than ever. We've never made a lot of money compared to some industries and we never will. For me and most of the people I know it's a lifestyle choice not a monetary one. The last thing we need is some lunatic flying off the handle screaming the sky is falling, because it isn't. Last thing, stretch pants? You're freakin' kidding right?
post #2 of 38
Hi Ski Professor,

I would be convinced to join you on the "cockeyed optimist" side of the fence, except for these facts from this side of the border:

U.S. participation in alpine skiing was 12.4 million in 1988 compared to 7.4 million in 2000, a decrease of 40%.

Skier visits were up 10% in 2001. Can you recall 2001? Good snow in the east, good early snow for Christmas? 75% of the total gain in skier visits was recorded by the conclusion of the Christmas holiday.

Skier visits in 1978-79 were 50.2 million; in 1999-00 they were 51.6 million, off the high of 54.6 million in 1993-94. The 22 year graph is essentially FLAT.

Skier visits and NSGA participation figures will not be out for a while, but the snow situation in the east and midwest does not bode well for 2001-02.

The current U.S. snow sports market is estimated at 14 million people. The total snow sports economy is estimated at 4 billion dollars, which means it does about half the business of Nike.

QED: The statistics are giving us a different picture than the one you paint.

NB

"Passionate about the sport; dispassionate about the facts."

[ May 06, 2002, 06:19 AM: Message edited by: nolobolono ]
post #3 of 38
Perhaps we are overlooking the obvious. With the obscene prices US resorts are charging, especially in New England, where you get low value at high prices, are more Americans skiing in Canada?

This year, we did. Instead of taking bi-weekly trips to NE resorts, we spent a longer vacation in the Canadian Rockies.

You can ski on a really crowded day at Sunshine, and not have to wait on a 40 minute lift line. You will also be less likely to have some idiot come ploughing into you.

Other things, that don't have anything to do with skiing, but add value, have to do with cafeterias in places like Whistler where you can actually eat and not end up with food poisoning!

If Canadian resorts are doing well, the Americans should take a look at what the Canadians are doing!

Vermont can start by eliminating the tax that is charged on lift tickets! grrrrr!!! :
post #4 of 38
Good point, LM. My husband and I drop thousands in U.S. currency every year to ski the mountains north of the border.

Ski Prof,

Do you have a group in Canada compiling annual statistics like those of the National Sporting Good Assoc. and NSAA? Could you guide me to them?
post #5 of 38
I spent 12 of my 15 or so days in Austria. I guess I didn't contribute to US skier days much.
post #6 of 38
I believe that Robin said that his hill Mtn. High
had record attendance this year, in spite of it being the WORST Los Angeles ski winter ever.
post #7 of 38
Okay. And last year, for under $1,000, we spent a week skiing in Italy. The price included airfare, transfers to and from the airport, 7 nights accomodation 6 day lift ticket, breakfast and dinner. If there had not been avalanches, we could have spent a day in St. Moritz for $25. lifts and transportation included!

I find that the higher the price, the less forgiving people tend to be. Fernie has the worst lift system I have seen anywhere, but at the price, I would not get too annoyed.

But ONE horrific lesson at a NE resort that I used to really love, caused me not to return for a long time. And when Mark was hit by a boarder at Killington, observed by a ski patroller, instructor, mountain ambassador, who did NOTHING, we decided to never go back.
post #8 of 38
Ski Professor talks about the difference between evolution and revolution. I agree that revolution is a violent outcome. Is there something in between the two? A sort of evolution by design--a purposeful evolution that is organized around a shared purpose. Exploring this partnership that Si and Sno'More talk about in the marketing and rant threads and what could be gained from it are great places to start, in my opinion.

To me, this is the heart of the matter.
post #9 of 38
LM:

We're seriously considering a week-long ski trip to Europe for next winter. Is there an old thread or some URLs you can direct me to for pricing?
post #10 of 38
Actually, the second best. 2000-01 over 570k visits. This season 520k...50 days less, 36" natural on <200 acres!
Nolo, try this http://www.canadianskicouncil.org/si...=Section&ID=21

They have similar reporting to NSAA.
post #11 of 38
Thank you, Robin.

The Canadian picture seems to line up with the U.S. one. There seem to be a higher percentage of young males in alpine skiing than in this country and a lower median age in alpine skiing as well.
post #12 of 38
jamesdeluxe - I've used Ski Europe twice (http://www.ski-europe.com/). Also check www.anto.com. It's not that hard to book it yourself once you know where you want to go, but I think it can be a little overwhelming the first time when you don't know the layout of the town, where the trains go, etc.
post #13 of 38
James,
Have you any idea where you want to go? If you were to give us a country, or resort, then I, or some of the other euro bears would be glad to help you out and advise you.

S
post #14 of 38
Thread Starter 
Although I contribute to the CSC on an annual basis, getting stats from them is a lot like getting abortion statistics from a pro-life group,(sorry about the comparrison, it's the only one I could come up with right now that fits) the numbers often paint a different picture. It's the Canadian Ski Councils' job to "sell" skiing. If they said things were rosey they'd be out of work. Secondly, the numbers they post are strictly Canadian skiers, does the NSGA only count American skiers? The two resorts I listed are international destination resorts, located in areas that depend solely on tourism. The stats you'll see from the CSC take into account ski areas in Saskatchewan, Northern Ontario, and P.E.I. none of which help the numbers because they don't see international visitors. Lastly, one thing the CSC stats do confirm from my previous statements are ski manufacturer sales, somebody is buying ski equipment, whether they're using it or not and where seems to be the question.
post #15 of 38
James, we went to Bormio, Italy. Although we can't find the original company we booked it through, I believe there are Bormio links throughout the internet. Don't search for my thread about Bormio about technique. I did not like the ski school. But i believe I wrote something in resorts.
post #16 of 38
From the NSGA:

Sales of winter sports products in sporting goods chain stores were down 8.7% for the August 2001 through February 2002 time period compared to 2001, according to the fifth Retail Audit for the season. Sales reached $458 million so far this year compared to $501 million in 2001, with unit sales down by 11.4%.

The SnowSports Industries America (SIA) Retail Audit tracks and reports sales in all snow sports product categories. This is the fourth of six reports that will look at sales through March 31, 2002.

All equipment (alpine, snowboard and Nordic) sales in sporting goods chains were down 19.1% to $111 million from $137 million in 2001. Specifically, alpine ski equipment was down 17.8% to $58 million, compared to $70 million last season. Nordic equipment was a bright spot, rising 19%% to $8.9 million compared to 2001 sales of $7.5 million. Snowboard equipment sales were down 25.4%, at $44 million in sales compared to $60 million last season.

Both apparel and accessories saw losses in sporting goods chains during the August through February time period, down 2.2% and 7.8% respectively. Sales for apparel were $192.5 million, while accessories were $154 million. Last year, apparel sales were $197 million; accessories, $167 million.
post #17 of 38
Let's get the realities in order.

Skier visits are down compared to the population. For me, That's good!

We all know there are too many people on the mountains on week ends and holidays. or, for that matter, any other time when "WE" want to go skiing.

We, as a Nation, need to change our "ethic".

'Four day work weeks MAX! and revolving "week ends" ! Then, everyone can have a good experience of their chosen activities. I don't think success in competition is the way. Let there be opportunity for all.

This solution would be treating the cause , not the symptoms.

Still, people might contract other "illnesses" like trips to the islands, snowmobiling, the arts etc. There are no givens in this life.

I like to share the mountains with others of similar mind.

CalG
post #18 of 38
Quote:
Rates of pay suck, I'll give you that, but ski pros at the school I work at are making more money than ever. We've never made a lot of money compared to some industries and we never will. For me and most of the people I know it's a lifestyle choice not a monetary one.
Ski Prof, what do you suppose the "brain drain" in the professional ranks is from maintaining that position?
post #19 of 38
Apparel sales may be down because people decide to do a little bit less conspicous consumption, and just wear last season's things. Or, maybe they just think some of the new stuff is so darn ugly its not worth the extra money! [img]tongue.gif[/img] {sorry, could'nt resist!}

But perhaps people are getting a little bit smarter and realize that they don't have to go out and buy the latest equipment every year.

Another point, which links this thread with SCSA's, who talks about the "esthetics" of the ski experience. Yeah, areas like Louise and Sunshine are doing well. Anybody been there? Two of the most beautiful places on the planet.

Disclaimer: I am NOT a big fan of Disneyfied ski towns. But Rutland, the area surrounding Killington makes Newark NJ look like the Botanical Gardens. What is the benefit of going out of your way to make the area surrounding the mountain as ugly as possible. Ludlow, near Okemo, is hardly quaintville {thank goodness} but the real estate is not reminiscent of pr glastnost Russia!

I realize for some, it is ONLY about the skiing, how steep, how much powder, how many moguls. No problem. But for others, spending mega bucks on a vacation, the quality of the total exoerience is important. Bormio is not a quaint little ski village, but an interesting medieval town.

What Cal says in gest is actually a serious issue. When you spend massive amounts of money at your local resort, and the place is ridiculously crowded, you are not going to be giving them much sympathy.
post #20 of 38
Here's an idea. It's something like what the Wizard of Oz told Dorothy. Consumers have had the power to define the future of this sport all along, we just haven't harnessed it.

We talk about unionizing instructors. How about organizing consumers?

Consumers drive the snow sports economy! Marketers don't. Resorts don't. Manufacturers don't. Instructors sure as hell don't.
post #21 of 38
Anyone look at the correlation between sales($)and snowfall (inches)? By region?
post #22 of 38
LM

I was not jesting, but I don't think I can change anything.
I speak from my own experience. The "alpine ski thing" has staled on me twice, and I really love going down snow covered hills. For those who are "terminal intermediates", "There has to be something better to do than stand in a #%@#% lift line"!
Many of my friends and neighbors express astonishment that I would still even be interested in skiing. There are so many more socially acceptable activities that are not so consumptive ($$).
I feel fortunate that there are enough people in the world with more money than sense, that will subsidize my preferred winter activity. No area could survive on what I could afford.
The revival of the ski industry? Is it committment or elitism? I hope the former. The better I get, the better it gets.

As I said, I don't mind sharing the Mountain with those of similar mind.

Tuckerman's is calling.

CalG
post #23 of 38
Nolo,
Unfortunately the Wizard of Oz was made in the days when an 8 year old girl (or whatever age Dorothy was) had intelligence, looking around me, I see very few adults with that level of intelligence or true concern.
Most of the consumers I know read magazines, watch TV, and surf the web, and worst of all, BELIEVE what they see/read to be unbiased and true.
When magazines, sports, wars, etc are sponsored, then you'll not get unbiased information, and many don't realise that, or can't be bothered to find out the truth.
(oops, I'm ranting again)

What it boils down to is this:

1. You can't organise sheep without a shepherd.

2. If the shepherd is just hired for the job, and more concerned about his pay than the sheep, then the sheep are not going to be led safely.

3. If you want a good shepherd, they need to be
a) Completely concerned for the sheep
b) Above and beyond the influence of others

Then we can start thinking about organising the sheep.

S
post #24 of 38
Quote:
Originally posted by nolobolono:
Hi Ski Professor, I would be convinced to join you on the "cockeyed optimist" side of the fence, except for these facts from this side of the border: U.S. participation in alpine skiing was 12.4 million in 1988 compared to 7.4 million in 2000, a decrease of 40%.
NB, how does that statistic reflect a decline in skiing? I can recall when it was more "popular" or trendy to ski. This was in the late 80s and early 90s. Then, as do most fads, that died off.

I think these marginal statistics are hogwash. The question critical to whether I will be able to continue skiing lift-served areas is:

what is the historical trend over the past 50 years, comparing annual total US population to total US lift tickets sold annually?

From that point, if the trend is downward, I would have to ask:

Does that trend reflect wishy-washy human nature? Does it depend upon snowfalls? How much of it depends on our national economy's actual strength and perceived strength? What other factors have affected the trend? US Performance in winter olympics? Madison Avenue trends in "marketing" imagery?

etc, etc, etc

but if you want 'em to bolster your proposition, I'm sure they can be "interpreted" to do so.



[ May 06, 2002, 02:36 PM: Message edited by: gonzostrike ]
post #25 of 38
Examining statistics has obvious merit, and is essential to understanding the environment. However one must be cautious to examine them in relation to the overall economy before attempting to cast blame on the industry itself. That is, is the decline in sales a "cause" due to a decline in ski interest, or an "effect" of a decline in the overall economy. To be valid data, a decline in ski apparel should not only be compared to previous years, it should be compared to sales of general and other sporting apparel. A decline in skier numbers should be compared to participation in related sports and sports in general.

Skiing is considered a “luxury” by many, when the economy turns down or looks “shaky” people will take less expensive holidays,or not holiday at all. Consider this in relation to the overall economy and feelings of uncertainty in the US economy at this time. If the economy is extremely buoyant, yet skier visits are down, then it’s time for the industry to be concerned. If the economy is depressed, or perceived to be by the target population, macro factors are at play.

Statistics don’t lie, only the interpretation of them.

Cheers,

Pete

[ May 06, 2002, 06:32 PM: Message edited by: Pete ]
post #26 of 38
I don't know, Pete, do you remember what 1988 was like economically? As I recall, the U.S. economy was at an ebb then, as it is now.

I think a 40% decline in 14 years is pretty scary. If your business had a 40% increase in 14 years, how would you say you're doing?

True, Gonzo, if it snows early in the populous regions, the industry looks good.
post #27 of 38
That is very true, but that was not the only statistic to be quoted. Sometimes it pays to step back to get a clearer view.
post #28 of 38
Quote:
Originally posted by Lisamarie:
And when Mark was hit by a boarder at Killington, observed by a ski patroller, instructor, mountain ambassador, who did NOTHING, we decided to never go back.
I hope you told them!!!! I had a suspicion this year that some resorts pay a disproportionate amount of attention to customer complaints, while failing to appreciate that obnoxious and dangerous behaviour on the part of some customers will drive many more (quieter) guests away.
Squeaky wheel, and all that.
post #29 of 38
Mark DID tell them. Their response, "well, this is Killington, that's the way things are around here!" :

[ May 07, 2002, 06:05 AM: Message edited by: Lisamarie ]
post #30 of 38
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally posted by nolobolono:
Ski Prof, what do you suppose the "brain drain" in the professional ranks is from maintaining that position?
Each season I know of a small group of Level 4's that head south to the big ski areas like Vail and Aspen. I did it myself two years after I passed the Level 4, and I made a lot of money compared to what I was making in Canada. Another popular draw these days is heli-skiing. There are a couple of heli-ski operations now in Canada offering Level 4's incredible opportunities for work and great rates of pay. In a meeting with the ownership of the ski area I work at, the value of certification was a point for discussion and the competition for 3's and 4's was also discussed. The ownership was receptive but we'll seen what happens with our proposed increases in pay rates and improvements.
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