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Why Ski Resorts Are Dying - Cheddar Explains

this is the Nivelle ski resort it closed

in 2009 after being open for over a

hundred years it used to be a Grand

Hotel where New Yorkers would go to

spend indulgent weekend's skiing and

going to the spa but it fell into

disrepair and when we went it looked

like this it's just one of the 45

American Ski Areas to shut down in the

last 20 years the ski industry is

struggling but will this be the end

skiing gained in popularity through the

80s and well into the 90s and early

2000s but last season ski visits were

down 11% the number of alpine skiers

fell from over 11 million to just over 8

million now the number of ski visits are

back to what they were 30 years ago we

went to war in Vermont and spoke to wind

Smith former owner and now president of

sugar bush mountain I think it's headed

in the right direction but I think

there's some challenges you know the the

growth in the ski industry has been

pretty flat you know we've been sort of

averaging about 55 to 60 million skier

visits there only about nine million

people maybe 10 million that actually

ski so as a percentage of our population

it's really small it's partially because

skiing's base is getting older according

to the National Ski Areas Association

baby boomers represent 21% of all skiers

and snowboarders which is down from 36%

a decade ago the Millennials share is

growing but they don't ski as often and

take shorter trips for every boomer who

retires from the slopes to Millennials

are needed to replace the income

generated by the older skier

even millennial skiers are getting out

less six or seven days per winter

compared to 12 to 15 a decade before a

few years ago we were at a national

scary Association presentation and the

president was saying you know the ski

industry has some problems because all

these baby boomers who made the ski

industry they're starting to age they're

gonna ski less and he said they're gonna

die now that's the facts and he said the

problem is is you look at the Millennial

population which was equal to the baby

boom population they're not skiing it's

having some significant affects the NSAA

says that there were 45 fewer ski areas

in operation during the 2018 to 2019

season then there were just twenty years

ago still if you looked at the raw

numbers you probably wouldn't think that

it's that bad

take the winter of 2016 for example some

twenty million people went skiing and

the sport contributed twenty billion

dollars to the US economy and supported

around two hundred thousand jobs but

it's not like that every winter during

the years of low snowfall skier visits

dropped by 5.5 million climate change is

another big issue facing the ski

industry in ski seasons without much

snowfall skier numbers plummet ski towns

in the ski industry take a 1 billion

dollar hit home values near ski resorts

could drop by at least 15 percent due to

warmer winters and at lower elevations

ski areas like Utah Idaho Nevada and

parts of California they could fall as

much as 55 percent

the amount of snow in the western United

States has seen an average yearly drop

of 41%

since the early 1980s according to

research published in the journal

Geophysical Research Letters that means

that the snow season shrunk by 34 days

data from NASA shows that we could see a

rise in temperature between two and six

degrees Celsius by the end of the 21st

century lastly most Millennials simply

can't afford it and if they don't know

how to ski its prohibitively expensive

to try it

Plus college loan debt has doubled in

the last ten years paying interest on

their loans has left men and women in

their 20s with less money to spend on

recreation for new skiers costs rise

exponentially

they must have warm clothing buy a

ticket and rent equipment and pay a ski

school to learn how to slide down a hill

without wiping out that's not even

mentioning that most have to travel a

long way to do it according to NSA a

research more than four out of five

newcomers exposed to this experience

eventually decide not to take up the

sport after all with the risk of bodily

injury cold discomfort and a possible

fear of heights who could blame them so

what are mountains doing about it they

said we're pretty good at getting people

to try skiing we're terrible ever

attaining it we're retaining about 7% so

think of any business if you spend all

the money marketing you get the customer

in the door and you only keep 7% of them

that's a terrible business model so what

do we have to do better but we have to

understand how to teach people we have

to motivate people to want to learn and

then continue learning and a lot of

people are doing some very interesting

things here at Sugarbush we've developed

something called the first time -

lifetime program so for about $300 you

get three two hour lessons you get your

rental equipment and if you complete

those three days we give you a season

pass for the rest of the season they're

not alone Whistler Blackcomb started the

never-ever days program

a $25 ticket and rental for new skiers

women normally make up about 30% of

skiers but their 65% of never-ever

participants minorities are 40% of the

program compared to 11% usually but this

just addresses one aspect of the

Millennial problem what about the price

of skiing for non newcomers in 2008 a

man named Rob Katz came up with an idea

Katz was a Wharton grad and had worked

at Apollo Consulting Group but was also

a lifelong skier he became CEO of Vail

Resorts two years before and he was

ready to roll out what would become the

most driving force in skiing the

multipass but now they're not the only

one on the market in 2017 a few private

investors banded together to form Altera

a new skiing conglomerate that had

bought some of America and Canada's

biggest resorts through the winter of

2017 to 2018 America's biggest mountains

were picking sides

Sugarbush is the most recent acquisition

just two months ago

Sugarbush agreed to be sold to Altera

it's former majority owner Wynn Smith

who had run the resort for some 18 years

was to stay on as president now Altera

and vales passes can be swiped at 58

North American resorts as well as a

handful of resorts in Oceania and Europe

in 2018 Altera said orders were ahead of

expectations by 30 percent and the

company was on track to book 1.5 billion

dollars in annual revenue

it's become a huge part of the industry

and some people think that it'll stop

skiing's decline but others aren't so

certain in the next 20 years as climate

changes effects become more pronounced

the ski industry will be facing even

greater challenges the aging consumer

base means that the ski industry's

income will keep declining as the years

go on

so does this actually mean that skiing

is going to become a relic like the

nouvelle resort not yet

a lot of people who are passionate about

the sport are fighting to keep it up and

making money but there are some big

hurdles that the ski industry is going

to need to jump over to keep from going

downhill

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