March 2016


Below is the Table of Contents. We have selected a few articles that you can read in their entirety online.

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Grooming Vehicles 2016

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Both PRINOTH and PistenBully continue the transition to Tier 4, the emission control technology mandated by the Enivronmental Protection Agency. Yes, after years of anticipation, the change is actually happening. All PRINOTH vehicles are now Tier 4. PistenBully is introducing Tier 4 more gradually, incorporating it into its PB 400 models this year. The PB 600 and 100 vehicles are still available with Tier 3 systems for a limited time. By law, manufacturers must cease production of Tier 3 vehicles by 2018.

whistler festival

Here it comes again, hurtling toward you like that old double chair that whips into the back of your legs no matter how prepared you are for it: survey results forecasting doom and gloom for the snow sports industry. Reams of data telling you what you likely already know: snow sports participation has been flat since Franz Klammer made his epic downhill run at Innsbruck four decades ago, and it could head south, soon, if something drastic isn’t done.

Reaching New Markets

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Mountain resorts have their share of challenging winters. Last year, the Pacific West barely eked by, and this year the East had to use snowmaking muscle to power back from a weak start. Some resorts are finding a key strategy for such times, and one that may just help push the winter sports industry to a new level in the future: broadening their markets by recognizing, attracting, and then embracing the diverse communities in a mountain resort’s demographic.

E-Commerce Solutions: Still Waiting?

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About a year ago, mobile devices surpassed the desktop in Internet usage, which means more people are accessing information on the go and using it to make buying decisions. One year ago, mobile visits to ski area websites in the U.S. (nxtConcepts sample study) were 49 percent of total visits. This year that figure is 56 percent. This extremely rapid adoption of mobile has opened a proverbial can of worms for all businesses today—but especially ski areas.

The 2016 SIA Snow Show in Denver Jan. 28-31 showcased the usual overwhelming number of products and brands. SAM searched the show halls and gathered the latest and greatest that caught our eye. Top trends include innovative accessories, products catering to women in just about every category, and softgoods brands finding inspiration in sustainability. Visit for more detailed reviews and products.

With hundreds, if not thousands, of old lifts running across North America, many managers are asking themselves, “Should I repair or replace these older lifts?” It’s an important question, and it’s not always easy to answer. But here’s an approach that can help you make decisions to manage the most risk with the capital you have available.

Publisher's Memo - March 2016

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Cyber Hacking, Active Shooters, and Unions, Oh My!
As one operator said at the recent NSAA winter shows, after attending sessions on unions, ADA web compliance, active shooters, and cyber hacking, “This is not what I bargained for—I got into this business for the free skiing and hot girls.”

Industry Reports - March 2016

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In late January, after 45 years as majority owner, Fritz Buser, 95, put Mt. Rose Ski Tahoe up for sale. Over the last 15 years, Buser oversaw millions of dollars in capital improvements to the resort, including adding the Winters Creek Lodge, installing two high-speed six-passenger lifts, and expanding terrain. Day-to-day operations continue at the 1,200 acre resort. Details on the listing have yet to be released.

claire humber

Third in a series on individuals who have had a significant impact on developing the North American mountain resort industry.

Time for a Guinness

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The Guinness Book of World Records is still evaluating the results of the World’s Largest Lesson (WLL), which drew about 6,000 first-time skiers and riders nationwide—not all of whom will count toward the official tally, as some didn’t meet the Guinness verification requirements. But records were still set, not the least of which was the all-time high level of enthusiasm it generated for January Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month (LSSM).

From Obsession to Progression

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There is a preoccupation in the park world with continually pushing to reach the next level. This notion has endured from a time when going bigger was better. But it’s time to treat our parks as a business, in which progression is the key to our success.

Resort Rental Gear Remains Hot

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Performance, demo, and backcountry rentals are helping to fuel growth in rental overall, according to a recent survey conducted by SAM Magazine and Snowsports Industries America (SIA). More than 170 respondents from resort-owned, mountain, and urban specialty shops chimed in on trends in equipment and the general rental market.

Sliding on Air

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inflatable sled

The urge to slide down slippery slopes seems to be primal, embedded in the human DNA. For centuries, people have been coming up with all sorts of devices to satisfy that urge: skis, snowboards, sleds, toboggans, inner tubes, snurfers, snow bikes, skiboards, sit-skis. Now, you can add one more device to the list: airboards. These could become the latest in the expanding options available at winter resorts.

Idea Files - March 2016

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scenic chair“We decided to start to run our Stevenson Express for scenic chairlift rides, but it only had a ramp for winter use. So we had to design and build an unload/loading deck. We decided to go with a traditional- looking deck with railings that we stained. We dug 24 footers around 60” deep. With winter in mind, we had custom brackets made in key locations, and had a custom-made hinge fabricated. With the brackets we can remove two small deck sections and hinge the rest down, instantly transforming it back into our winter ramp. The downhill deck stays year-round, helping downloading employees and patrollers assist guests who might find themselves above their ability to get back to the bottom safely.”  
—Tim Bayer, Lift Maintenance Supervisor, Camelback, Pa.

Blue Pages - March 2016

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The Assembly, conceived and run by Denver-based DestiMetrics, has quickly become a staple of the annual mountain tourism seminar cycle. Held Jan. 29 in Denver during the SIA Snow Show, this year’s summer-focused symposium, “Balancing the Peaks and Valleys of Mountain Tourism,” highlighted the community-wide nature of summer visits and the impact of the sharing economy on the traditional lodging business.