jamesdeluxe wrote:And then there are places like Jackson Hole and Aspen with nosebleed day tickets AND season passes.
Geographically isolated areas will probably always have high season pass prices because their locals are a captive audience. At least Aspen and Jackson are both on Mountain Collective.
jamesdeluxe wrote: In his 2014 Zermatt TR, Tony brought up that "skiing participation is wider but more casual in Europe," which I suppose is another way of saying "skiing is a sport for the masses." Thus, Alps resorts make up the revenue difference in volume and have far more extensive ski areas in which to contain the larger numbers of guests?
I think that chain of causality is rather simplistic. A lot of these far flung trams in Europe were built originally for summer tourism. When you get off Grand Montets and walk down something like 150 stairs to get to the snow you are reminded of this. Summer tourism is still a big deal in a lot of these places, as we noted when we went up the Zugspitze tram from the Austrian side in 1999.
There's a huge Euro population within drive-up distance of the Alps. The major one that isn't, the Brits, seemed to establish a culture of cut-rate ski trips into cheap apartments in the French Alps a long time ago. Back in the day when US lift tickets were cheap, airfares were much more expensive so how many non-affluent people outside the West and New England were able to ski much?
Another point in favor of the Euros is how much vacation time they get. So if skiing is a casual, secondary interest they are using only one or maybe 2 weeks for skiing out of the 4 or 5 they get each year. An American needs to have a higher priority on skiing to devote half of his/her lesser vacation time to it every year.
The 3 factors above were all in place 35 years ago before the precipitous increase in US day ticket prices. And my understanding is that skier visits to the major alpine countries in Europe are on the same near flat trajectory as they are here.
That's not to say James' criticisms of the US pricing model don't have validity. Overall population growth in Europe is stagnant while the US population is still growing. So anemic growth of skier visits here does mean percentage participation is declining.