Speakout & Issues


As the minimum wage continues to increase in several states, and even fast-food restaurants are offering higher wages, how are winter resorts being affected—and how are they responding? SAM caught up with Richard Wren, director of guest services at Michigan’s Boyne Highlands Resort, to understand the scope of the challenge and Boyne’s reaction.


In response to “The eCommerce Wait Problem” (SAM, March 2015), I’d like to suggest that there’s only so much we can do to simplify our product offerings and thus speed the growth of eCommerce. But it’s true that we must do what we can to make purchasing easier for our guests.


The man was a legend in the world of rope splicing. Dale was known by literally thousands of ski area personnel throughout the East and Midwest, but also across the entire U.S. He had been in the splicing business since 1984, and must have spliced thousands of lift lines, as well as other ropes.

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The mountain resort industry lost a great friend earlier this year—Dick Williams. In 1962, Dick and his partner, Rufus Barringer, founded Barringer and Williams (B&W)—providing the first-ever stable and committed insurance alternative for the U.S. ski resort industry. In 1975, B&W merged with Kendall Insurance, which has since morphed into today’s MountainGuard. In the late ‘70s, Dick was one of the prime movers in initiating legislation to offset the loss of the Assumption of Risk Doctrine (after the Sunday vs. Stratton verdict), as well as the formation of the Association of Ski Defense Attorneys (ASDA). Dick was a huge supporter and promoter of the NSAA and made countless contributions to the ski industry.

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I’m writing in response to an article in the SAM January 2014 issue by Patrick Torsell, titled “Where Are All the Moguls?”

As a proponent of the power tiller, I am one of the reasons for the disappearance of the mogul. The power tiller was needed to deal with all of the inclement weather in the East and skier traffic. The first high-power tiller started out with a one-piece tiller, the width of the grooming vehicle—at that time it was a Thiokol 3700. After seeing what a 16-foot straight tiller would do, I told Thiokol it had to flex, because we couldn’t groom the different contours of our trails with a 16-foot straight edge. I worked with Thiokol and helped them make the Flex Tiller, a two-piece tiller. Thiokol wanted to further develop the Flex Tiller into a four-piece tiller, but we settled upon a three-piece.

In 1981, the Thiokol Chemical Corporation’s grooming division was sold to an individual who eventually ruined the company. I also received a commission from Thiokol before it was sold to do a full-sized painting (16 feet by 10 feet) of a Thiokol 3700 with a tiller in 1981 for their booth at the NSAA show in California. When I started the painting it was known as a Thiokol 3700 Hydromaster. By the time I finished it it was known as a DMC 3700. The painting was at the show, but it was never shown. Mr. Delorean’s car, however, was.

The concept of the tiller has been improved on, but it is basically the same tiller concept for the past 40 years. It’s time to move on in the grooming world, or this generation and the next will never have the opportunity to enjoy good moguls.

One big impediment is that two different sports are using the same trails, and the moguls that are formed are usually no fun to ski or ride—so they disappear by grooming. When we achieve moguls that can be groomed in a certain rhythmic flow, we will see the return of moguls, to our guests’ delight.

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