The past few years, I notice fewer and fewer people really getting excited about skiing. Sure, there are the people that identify with skiing as their lifestyle, but many, many more people I speak with these days just don't seem like they really are all that interested in skiing. Our mountain has been open over a month, and we have had several nice powder days, a few weeks of high pressure, sunny skiing (a rarity here in the PNW this time of year) and a couple of days of crappy rain. Overall, it has been a great start to the season. Yet, I know more than a few season pass holders! who have not yet skied a day this year. Here is the range of excuses I have heard so far at points during the season: "oh, I hear it is crappy up there" (what is it you don't like? The sun, or the snow?), "I heard the snow is too firm" (grippy and cold, definitely not East Coast ice, and awfully fun), "not enough of the mountain is open" (4 full-length chairs with 1300 vertical average on each chair, I bet PA skiers would like to trade), "I might damage my skis" (we had a 3-4 foot base earlier, now 4-5 feet; again, plenty of people would kill for that base in December), "we haven't had a storm in a few days" (guess you don't like skiing except on a new snow day? Don't get many days in, eh?), "not enough grooming" (ONLY 70% of the mountain; or you can learn to ski and ditch the groomers altogether).
It isn't so much the excuses that bother me, it is that not many really seem to be that enthusiastic about skiing these days. When I was a kid, Bend had 6 full service ski shops and a population of 10,000: now we have 70,000 and 1 full-service shop, 1 shop that only sells softgoods and tunes, and 1 that tunes only. The mountain seems downright empty. I skied today (Christmas break, Saturday, sunny and 30 degrees), I expected the mountain to be packed, and the only time I waited more than 30 seconds for a lift is when it had stopped due to a blown breaker.
Have we just become too spoiled? People don't like to cope with the elements, the physical strain, the cost, the logistics of skiing? They would rather spend the day in a mall, buying stuff they probably don't need and won't use? Or, has skiing lost some of it's luster? The images of the alpine cottage in Switzerland and the gorgeous women in stretch ski pants sipping toddys have somehow become less an image that people view as a bit of an attainable pseudo-reality when they ski? Or, are people simply lazy and would rather get exercise on the Wii? Skiing itself, if anything, has become more enjoyable for those who don't do it regularly, and is just as addicting.