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Small ski areas' closing.....is this a trend?


Bubba
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I found out today that the small ski area (19 runs) that I have instructed and coached at for the last seven seasons is up for sale and will not open this season. :angryfire:angryfire:angryfire I live in SE MN and besides us, Welch Village is the closest area (45 minutes) from Rochester, MN. I think that Aspen Ski Co. own's them. It just pisses me off that a small ma and pa ski area can't make it. It was only 15 minutes from my home and has been the best experience I have had after working at multiple ski areas over the last 20 years. Have I been spoiled by being able to get off work and be riding in 15 minutes? I will miss all the kids that I have seen grow as boarders and as good people over the last seven years. My question is: Are there other small ski areas' folding around the country because there is a bigger area (more crowds) that is more established and is the "IT" place to go, or is the ski industry really starting to suck? And by suck I mean, would you rather spend more money on gas, lift tickets, and have to deal with horrible crowds to the point of only being able to ride for a couple of hours in the morning or would you rather go where everyone knows your name? Sorry for the rant.

Kenton

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Well, there's a local ski resort in Cloudcroft, New Mexico, that has folded (apparently). It hasn't been open in the last several years (or maybe longer). Mostly the reason is that it's way too south in southern new mexico and has been gettin' poor snow coverage. It used to get lots of snow a long time ago.

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has been gettin' poor snow coverage

That is the other issue. We live on man-made snow and when you burn an entire seasons budget on snow-making and then have to suck up all the wages in proportion to "skier visits" it just doesn't equal out. When you have a major corporation footing the bill with excellent snow-making, being the "first to open" (with crap conditions) who doesn't give a d*** about you, versus someone who goes the extra mile to make your visit worthwhile, guess who wins.........ok I'm done for tonight.

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Bubba,

I read an article in ski magazine back in 1990 (or there abouts) about this same issue. They claimed back then that the mom and pop ski resorts were collapsing like crazy. I think they said that in the early 80's there were about 1100 ski resorts across north America and that at the time the article was written circa 1990 there were only about 800 and something. The blame at the time was pointed at major ski resorts opening or close to some of these small areas. It caused major competition. The big resorts were putting in high speed quads, new trail grooming equipment and some even started to make primative snowboard parks. Mom and pop resorts just couldn't compete, crowds diminished and they went out of business.

I don't know what todays problem is but back in 1990 Ski magazine claimed that major ski corporations owned about 25% of all ski resorts in North America. I would like to know what those numbers are like today.

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We live on man-made snow and when you burn an entire seasons budget on snow-making and then have to suck up all the wages in proportion to "skier visits" it just doesn't equal out.

I think this is the core issue. Here in Iowa I know our small hills are becoming increasingly stressed by the need for extensive snowmaking. Better equipment and water additives to make snowmaking possible at warmer temps is only postponing the inevitable and driving up costs. You can stretch a balloon only so far before it has to burst. Same for low elevation, southerly ski hills. At some point the lift tickets will get so expensive no one would be able to justify visiting the mom&pop and go to real mountians.

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Nothing but rumors, and I've heard them before down here, but there's scuttlebutt that Tyrol Basin's (SW WI) owners are trying to get out. They are definitely going to be open this year, and I don't know if the rumors are true, but some things have been happening there that make it more believable. I hate tio say it, but if it is true I hope that someone bigger buys them so they can stay afloat. I learned to ski at this place back in '74, and have taught there forever. It is my favorite place just because it gets a local crowd and is a ma and pa place.

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so much of each ticket cost is for insurance there is not enough left over for ma and pa.

Heck you can't even make it happen with just a ski lift and lodge any more, you need condos and resturants, and bars and shops all in on just to turn a buck!

Thank anyone eho has ever suied a ski area ??????

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Not that I have the $ but it seems that one way to alieviate this trend would be for groups of actual users to buy and operate small areas as co-ops that are essentially members only.I remember mountainbike racing at a ski hill hill in Michigan 20 years ago that was owned by something like 25 families.This kind of arrangement is common for wakeboarding and waterskiing co-ops on lakes/ponds where the ownership is for waterfront or even an entire manmade lake. There is so much private and accessable land near where I live that I think about this concept every time I'm out there on my bike.Of course,it helps to be pretty far north these days when it comes to our changing climate, but this has always been one of my 'if I won the lotto' dreams.

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If big corporations like American Ski Company and Intrawest can't stay in business profitably, then imagine what it must be like for mom and pop operations?

Combine the economies of scale needed to succeed in the resort industry, (you have to get your hill attractive enough to get the lifts bringing up people 12 months of the year) with global warming and the increasing need for artificial snowmaking, and you have a dying market.

I personally knew it was on the road to extinction when I read that Patagonia clothing was retooling its business to make surfing and summer sports their primary season, rather than their traditional winter business.

In 25 years, the number of ski resorts in North America might be down to less than 200...

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We have a small local non-profit ski area here that is partly owned by the county ( and I think the city has something to do with it too)

They have a small lodge, rejuvenated rope tow (goes up about 900 vert.).

A cool thing is that working there can be used to pay off community service if someone is in that position. So the ski area gets some free labor.

Not that I have the $ but it seems that one way to alieviate this trend would be for groups of actual users to buy and operate small areas as co-ops that are essentially members only.I remember mountainbike racing at a ski hill hill in Michigan 20 years ago that was owned by something like 25 families.This kind of arrangement is common for wakeboarding and waterskiing co-ops on lakes/ponds where the ownership is for waterfront or even an entire manmade lake. There is so much private and accessable land near where I live that I think about this concept every time I'm out there on my bike.Of course,it helps to be pretty far north these days when it comes to our changing climate, but this has always been one of my 'if I won the lotto' dreams.
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Mad River Ski Area in Vermont has made coop ski resort owning a success for decades, but they still don't allow snowboards (WTF?)

I think that resorts can't just sell skiing anymore. It's retail and real estate that make the $$ and lift tickets are just a drop in the bucket. Big resorts can offer big discounts and buddy passes to get warm bodies with big wallets in town. When riders have experienced the big guys at low cost, with 6-pack lifts and huge acreage, it's hard to settle for the little guys at higher pass prices.

Some small resorts have survived, like Arapahoe Basin. Some have died, like Berthoud Pass. Berthoud had some of the sickest terrain on the planet (still does, it's just backcountry now), but all it had to sell was lift tickets and 99 cent bowls of chili. And it was about 85% expert, which doesn't appeal to the masses.

Global warming is just exasperating the problem. Most scientists believe that over 50% of the world's ski resorts will be closed within 50 years due to global warming. Even the big resorts can't escape global warming! Of course, they will have a different vacation to offer: one with cold air.

I prefer smaller resorts, too. I would gladly trade less acreage for a better overall experience. But let's face it, resorts don't make much money off people like me. I don't take lessons or buy much food or logo wear, I don't buy slopeside condos or pay extra for close-up parking. I'm a cheap f'n snowboarder!

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A Basin could have been bought for 4,000,000 when Vail Associates had to sell it in order to clinch approval of their buyout of Breck,Keystone and the Basin as I recall.They sold it to someone who sold real estate .Sounds a little pie in the sky, ut for the price of a time share and dues 200 people with 20,000 each could conceivably have owned the Basin.I think Berthoud went for much less after one of it's belly ups.

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Vail -- I reckon they were taken to court for "anti-trust monopolizing" the ski resorts, and A-Basin was excluded as per se agreement. Correct me if I'm wrong.

Community owned ski resort -- the only place I can think of would be Bridger's Bowl. I wonder how they do it with the fiscal revenue and keep it a-floating.

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Nice site, Jack -- IM gonna bookmark it. I came across a lost ski resort out in southern Utah -- Monticello. Used to be called Blue Mountain. Old old old ski lift. Haven't got around to really explore it, tho I might on my bike someday.

As for lost ski resort, I have this particular poster of all lost ski resorts in Colorado which I prize very much. It was out of print for a while, and apparently, it was revived out of high demand and reprinted. here's the site for Colorado's lost ski resort (includes Utah and New Mexico):

http://www.coloradoskihistory.com/lostresorts.html

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A Basin sold to Dundee Real Estate for $4 mil, Canadians, eh? It was kind of a shady deal, with one local offering $12 million. The Basin also stayed under Vail Resorts in it's lift passes and bus system, so that helped it survive. Dundee has taken good care of the place: snowmaking and mountain top dining, even an expansion into Montezuma Bowl planned.

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Going with global warming ...

* flame suit on *

2 in my area closed. One was an hour away the other was just 30 min. Grrr ...

There are a bunch of european ( some german , some in eastern europe, here and there. ) resorts that folded over the summer too. :(

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The owner and I had been talking co-op for the last two seasons. The city of Rochester (pop. approx 90,000) is home of the Mayo Clinic and there is a ton of money in this town and alot of skiers and boarders. Why can't a small area make it being 15 minutes from town? Does it just have that stigma of being a "small area"? Welch Village is about 45 minutes with I think 45 runs. Most prople choose to go there. Try and hop on the race board there on a weekend. I think that I would rather cut the roll cage out of my stock car and burn a few laps. I'd love to have A-Basin or other great area's within driving distance. Go to skisteeplechase.com to see what we have to ride. It may not be much but I can go out on any weekday and rip all day long with no crowds. There is no demand for condo's, fine foods or fluff, just the desire to have fun without breaking the bank. Cindy, I'm with you; cheaper is better.

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kenton - is that you on the steepchase trail map?

i was worried about buck selling out part of their property to condos but i guess that was a good move. at least buck seems committed, they put in a new chairlift last year. they did a decent job of grooming despite lack of snow.

i do like welch except for the 45 minute drive. sucks driving that far on those farm roads.

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Karl - I will be coaching at Buck this season (d-team gs in January) so I guess I will be able to ride with you guys more this season. Longer drive but at least the the price is right. Welch should be miserable this year. Good for them, bad for us.

Bobble - (sorry don't know your first name although we have probably ridden together) no that is not me on the trail map. Don't know where that picture was lifted from.

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