Where to Live, Part Deux, or How to Make the Best of It?

Topics of a general nature regarding snowsports, which don't easily fit into one of our other Liftlines categories. This is also the place to post Letters to the Editor.

Re: re: Where to Live, Part Deux, or How to Make the Best of

Postby Patrick » Sat Apr 14, 2007 8:39 pm

Tony Crocker wrote:Sacramento is an unusual place.

I'm going to base my analysis (what have I done???) based on uniquely on location.

Tony Crocker wrote:I'd recommend making the metro area definitions broad, like including Ogden and Provo with SLC for example.

I might do that at one point, however my analysis will be quantitative, but not precise. Example, Sacramento to Mammoth direct is shorter than the actual travel, especially with Road closures.

Tony Crocker wrote:I'm not sure I drew the line in exactly the right place on my western list. Someone recently told me that Boise has doubled in the past 5 years and might be bigger than Portland or Reno. I'd rate Boise between SF and Albuquerque for skiing.


In terms of populations, Portland metro is ranked #23, Boise #87 and Reno is #123 in the US.

I was under the impression if you went as low in size as Burlington, you'd end up with a list of ~100 areas instead of ~20.

Burlington is #199 on the list. :roll:

Tony Crocker wrote:I'd draw the line at broad SMSA somewhere between 500K and 1M.


My initial limit was 500K, however Reno didn't make the list...However they I'm done (whenever is that), I'll draw up a few list based on pop.

Tony Crocker wrote:I believe than most FTO skiers would rate Tahoe second to SLC for overall ski quality.


I don't discute the fact, but how many hours and miles is San Francisco from Tahoe? When I started drawing up a list, I started thinking of France and how would SF rate in France? I'm not sure yet, but distance is a big factor. Yes weekends are possible, but daytrips? I'm not going to debate now, I'm just going to enter some numbers at one points and rate some areas. I have a idea of a possible methology for this project.


Tony Crocker wrote:You easterners can also comment: how much better is Burlington than Montreal? Has border security made it more difficult for Canadians to ski Northern Vermont?


I would personnally rate Burlington ahead of Montreal, however Montreal has some advantages. One is that it can access different regions that are affected by the same system. Townships/Upper Vermont is one system, Laurentians is another and then there is Quebec City. So Montreal has more options, if it sucks in the first region, you can go up North or Quebec City.

jamesdeluxe wrote:Burlington within ~45-60 minutes:
-- Stowe, Smuggs, Sugarbush, MRG, Bolton
-- Jay a bit further

Montreal within ~45-60 minutes
-- Bromont, Shefford, Sutton, Orford... Mont Blanc, St. Sauveur, Alta and the other smaller Laurentian joints
-- Tremblant, Whiteface, and Owls Head a bit further
-- Jay two hours away?


Under or 90 minutes: All of the Laurentians and Townships including Tremblant, Jay, Smuggs, Whiteface.

Between 90 to 150 minutes:

Stowe, MRG, Bush, Burke

Up to 3 hours:

Ste-Anne, Kmart, Cannon, Loon, Waterville and just a few minutes more Le Massif (and Massif du Sud?), Wildcat, Tucks, SRiver and Sugarloaf. Why drive any further?

jamesdeluxe wrote:If we're purely concerned with skiing? Burlington.


If we're purely concerned with skiing? I would pick J.Spin location in Waterbury. Ah yes, Waterbury isn't a metropolitan area. :wink:
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Re: re: Where to Live, Part Deux, or How to Make the Best of

Postby jamesdeluxe » Sun Apr 15, 2007 5:23 am

Patrick wrote: I have a idea of a possible methology for this project.


Uh oh, now we're creating a methodology? You've been infected by the Tony virus. :lol:

Patrick wrote: I would personnally rate Burlington ahead of Montreal, however Montreal has some advantages. One is that it can access different regions that are affected by the same system. Townships/Upper Vermont is one system, Laurentians is another and then there is Quebec City. So Montreal has more options, if it sucks in the first region, you can go up North or Quebec City.


Right, Burlington has far better short-distance options, but Montreal is the best East-Coast metro skiing area with everything available between 2-3 hours.

I drove through Waterbury the other day and was thinking about how well placed it is -- a few minutes to Bolton, Mad River Valley and Stowe/Smuggs, 30-40 minutes to Kmart/Pico and Burke/Jay within an hour. Nice.

BTW, has anyone checked out Bristol, VT? Every time I drive home from Sugarbush/MRG on Route 17, I stop at the cafe there, and it's the most happening little village... a few cool restaurants, lots of young people hanging out, and hot girls too! You'd think you're in a small college town, and it's maybe 15 minutes from MRV.
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re: Where to Live, Part Deux, or How to Make the Best of It?

Postby Tony Crocker » Sun Apr 15, 2007 8:38 am

I have a idea of a possible methology for this project.

Many years ago I thought about formulating a calculation and decided it wasn't worth the effort.

Basic outline and issues:
1) How many ski areas do you count? Having 25 little areas shouldn't add up to one Mammoth IMHO. My feeling is that the cutoff should be somewhere between 10 and 20 areas.
2) Value of each ski area is not that easy to quantify. Is size based on acreage? Not too bad, tends to favor flat areas over steeper ones, at least in the West. I constructed a "variety index" where 1 = 1 run of 1,000 vertical. Better, but still tough to estimate the increased variety of areas with open bowls and well spaced glades. Lots of work to do it right, and requires detailed first hand knowledge, not just looking at trail maps.
3) The area's value should have a reliability grade multiplier. I think my methods in constructing http://bestsnow.net/scalhist.htm are very good for this. But now you need a bunch of week-by-week historical data. Even I have this essentially only for SoCal and Mammoth. Since about 2001 I could probably come up with something decent on a regional basis. Still won't pick up nuances among areas within a region.
4) Distance multiplier. I was going to use 1 for an hour or less, .7 for 2 hours, .5 3 hours, .35 4 hours, .2 5 hours, 1/hours for > 5 hours. This will of course be controversial. There is certainly some value to being able to pack up a family and drive 8 hours to Tahoe for 4 days, or 11 hours to SLC for a week for that matter.

Now you can see why I didn't pursue this any further.
Last edited by Tony Crocker on Mon Apr 16, 2007 1:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: re: Where to Live, Part Deux, or How to Make the Best of

Postby riverc0il » Sun Apr 15, 2007 2:06 pm

jamesdeluxe wrote:I drove through Waterbury the other day and was thinking about how well placed it is -- a few minutes to Bolton, Mad River Valley and Stowe/Smuggs, 30-40 minutes to Kmart/Pico and Burke/Jay within an hour. Nice.

If I could pick a town to live in Vermont without consideration for current employment, it would most certainly be the Waterbury area. Though Kmart and Pico are MUCH further than 30-40 minutes. IIRC, It is almost an hour from Kmart to Mad River Glen alone. Burke would be slightly longer than an hour but close enough but I think Jay would be slightly longer than an hour as well. Probably both of those in the 1:15 range or so pending favorable traffic and weather.

The key areas of Mad River, Stowe, and Bush are right there and just over an hour to Jay isn't much worse than my current setup though Route 100 instead of the 91 deal would be a royal pain. Though at that location, I would probably consider a pass to Mad River and take the $39 Vermonter ticket at Jay when it would be the better bet. Skinning options from that region are off the hook, practically backcountry options in your backyard. It would be two hours from Mount Washington instead of one hour for the draw back. But having Burlington right up the Interstate would be the key to seal the deal despite the drawbacks of travel to Jay/Burke/Cannon/Mount Washington etc. compared to my current locations.

But then again, that would be relocation specific which just is not happening at this point.
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re: Where to Live, Part Deux, or How to Make the Best of It?

Postby Tony Crocker » Tue Apr 17, 2007 1:52 pm

These finer distinctions are splitting hairs. 99+% of eastern skiers would be delighted to have Riverc0il's current location. On a national scale, anywhere in the northern half of Vermont is going to rate slightly above Montreal and somewhere below SF, depending upon one's individual circumstances.

I'll anticipate one more argument from the close-in daytrippers. JSpin is a prime example of the value of having something, anything, close-by so his kids can learn to ski in frequent, short duration sessions. No question that explains Ty's more rapid progress than Adam at similar ages. Many of you will say this is too difficult even at the distance from SF Bay area. However, Adam's college experience suggests otherwise. He says there is a dramatic difference in the quality of Northern vs. Southern California ski teams. Adam is among the elite in SoCal but would be just another skier up north. Recall that Jonny Moseley grew up, graduated high school and still lives in Marin County.
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re: Where to Live, Part Deux, or How to Make the Best of It?

Postby From_the_NEK » Wed Apr 18, 2007 10:26 am

Someone can correct me, but if I'm not mistaken:

Burlington within ~45-60 minutes:
-- Stowe, Smuggs, Sugarbush, MRG, Bolton
-- Jay a bit further

Montreal within ~45-60 minutes
-- Bromont, Shefford, Sutton, Orford... Mont Blanc, St. Sauveur, Alta and the other smaller Laurentian joints
-- Tremblant, Whiteface, and Owls Head a bit further
-- Jay two hours away?

If we're purely concerned with skiing? Burlington.


I consider Burlington to be a cross between Boston and Boulder, CO as far as feel to the city. Sure it is not a huge metro area but it is a lot of fun and the is a lot of stuff going on (lots of colleges make it feel young and diverse).

Maybe an exception can be made to the city list for any metro area that is the largest in a given state even if its population is under 500K? It would of course come with an "**" explained in a footnote :) (Then would Manchester, NH and Portland, ME also qualify?)

Also within an hour of Burlington:
Middlebury College Snow Bowl

If you expand the travel time out to 90 minutes from Burlington you can officially add:
Jay Peak
Burke Mt
Killington
Pico
Whiteface
Gore
Mt. Sutton
Bromont

Within 2 hours you can add several NH ski areas to the list.
IMO Burlington is also a great place to be in the summer as well.
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re: Where to Live, Part Deux, or How to Make the Best of It?

Postby From_the_NEK » Wed Apr 18, 2007 10:39 am

Billings, MT ** would have to be considered as well as the "largest metro area in a state that has no metro areas over 500K"
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re: Where to Live, Part Deux, or How to Make the Best of It?

Postby From_the_NEK » Wed Apr 18, 2007 10:47 am

These finer distinctions are splitting hairs. 99+% of eastern skiers would be delighted to have Riverc0il's current location. On a national scale, anywhere in the northern half of Vermont is going to rate slightly above Montreal and somewhere below SF, depending upon one's individual circumstances.


You just can't deal with letting an East Coast metro area into the top 10 can you :D
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re: Where to Live, Part Deux, or How to Make the Best of It?

Postby Tony Crocker » Wed Apr 18, 2007 12:14 pm

Admin has lived in the East a lot longer than in the West and drew the same conclusion as I, slotting Montreal #12. The cities I listed above SF all have easy day commute skiing at areas far superior in scale, terrain quality and/or snow conditions to anything in the East. The next few below that have lesser daytrip skiing but superior weekend or longer drive trip skiing, and I've conceded the point that different people will assign different values to those options.

There are very few people for whom skiing is a high priority that move back East after they have lived in a western location convenient to skiing, though I know we have at least 2 here on FTO. And those few move back for job, family or other reasons, not the skiing. And more power to them when they figure out "how to make the best of it."

Smaller cities can be added to the list and I'll put my two cents in on them if you want. Montana doesn't have a big city, and distances are large up there if you're not close to the mountains.
Billings 99K, a long way from anywhere except Red Lodge, which is nicknamed "Rock Dodge" for its less than abundant snowfall.
Missoula 63K, close to 2,600 vertical Montana Snowbowl, reputation is great terrain, OK snow, 100+ miles to anywhere else I think.
Great Falls 56K, looks like ~150 miles from any mountains.

Bozeman is next in population at 34K, best ski location in the state, not as good as top 9 metro IMHO, and vs. SF you get into the day vs. weekend value issue again. This is interesting. I now think JSpin (Bitterroot Valley, probably analogous to Missoula for skiing) downgraded his skiing with his move, but not all that much.
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Re: re: Where to Live, Part Deux, or How to Make the Best of

Postby Patrick » Wed Apr 18, 2007 2:30 pm

Tony Crocker wrote:There are very few people for whom skiing is a high priority that move back East after they have lived in a western location convenient to skiing, though I know we have at least 2 here on FTO.


I don't think that Hamdog and JSpin regret their choices. It was interesting to speak to Hamdog on Feb 15 and I believe that he was telling me that he was having a great year, better than it he would stayed in Montana.

If I would moved out West, it wouldn't be because of the superior skiing, but more for a change of diet. I lived in the East all my life and at one point it's nice to experience something else.

As for the analysis (whenever I have the time meaning probably a few weeks after the lifts have stopped turning in the East), I was going to try to incorporated:

Distances - not road distance (too long to calculate)
Categorized ski areas (yes, ski areas aren't created equal) - thinking 4-5 categories.
Numbers of ski areas within a certain radius (by class and not absolut numbers)
Size of Metro area.
I try to figure out of a climat wildcard (don't know how I can easily do this).
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re: Where to Live, Part Deux, or How to Make the Best of It?

Postby From_the_NEK » Wed Apr 18, 2007 2:51 pm

I was just throwing those cities in since they are somewhat close to mountains and they fit the population stat of being the largest metro areas in states that don't have a city with a population over 500K. I do realize they are not conviently located next to much, if anything and therefore not really in the running for a spot in the top 20.
Burlington is easily the location winner in this category and I would place it in the top 10 as an exception to the 500K rule. Montreal would follow at 11 with San Fran moving to 12.
Maybe because I'm a right coaster but I've never heard of anyone moving to SF specifically for the skiing. I do know that a good percentage of the students attending colleges in the Burlington area move there for the skiing. They easily could have gone west and I'm sure you would twist their arm to do so. But in the end they are happy with their decision (look at the Meatheads).
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re: Where to Live, Part Deux, or How to Make the Best of It?

Postby Tony Crocker » Wed Apr 18, 2007 5:08 pm

I would caution Patrick on the project for the many complexities. My last post on Montana caused me to rethink my list a bit. It's easiest to do this subjectively comparing places head to head.

For example Bozeman vs. Calgary. First step is Louise + Sunshine vs. Big Sky/Moonlight + Bridger. Different skiers will have different opinions here. I'm quite sure Patrick prefers the former by a considerable margin. I'd pick Louise/Sunshine for terrain also, but I think it's close. Some might pick Bozeman for the closer driving distances and/or slightly better average snow conditions/low skier density. The main reason I'd pick Calgary is the greater choices at slightly farther distances: Kicking Horse, Fernie/Castle, Panorama. Furthermore some of those can be good in years when Louise/Sunshine is sketchy. The Bozeman skier is looking at 4 hours to Targhee if Big Sky/Bridger aren't doing well, which Hamdog noted was the case for much of this season.

This analysis led me to think maybe Calgary belongs above Spokane or Portland. Spokane's areas get more snow than Calgary's but are not as extensive in terrain. Portland is another unique case. The best skiing for snow (Bachelor) and terrain (Crystal) is 3+ hours away. Though Mt. Hood is not that exciting relative to many other ski areas in the prime of winter, there is obvious value to being one hour from the only year round lift service in North America. Since different skiers place different relative values upon commute distance, snow, terrain and length of season, it is likely that not all skiers would rank Calgary, Spokane and Portland in the same order. Similarly someone with a structured schedule might prefer Denver for Colorado's consistent snow conditions, while the flexible powder hound would prefer Seattle for the bigger dumps and steeper terrain.

People are usually most comfortable staying in the culture where they grew up. For a young eastern skier, zeroing in on the prime spot (Burlington) near home rather than moving 2000+ miles away is an understandable choice.

Judgment is involved in crunching numbers, and in deciding whether it's relevant to crunch the numbers in the first place. I think it's very questionable in this case. Baseball is a good analogy. You hear announcers dredge up completely useless statistics all the time. The genius of Bill James is that his stats nearly always reveal some useful information.

Comments on Patrick's list:
Distances - not road distance (too long to calculate)
Has to be road distance. Aspen and Crested Butte are 40 miles apart if you're a bird, but 4 hours in a car during ski season. And you've already noted the Sacramento to Mammoth example.
Categorized ski areas (yes, ski areas aren't created equal) - thinking 4-5 categories.
Not nearly enough categories. If your Ottawa locals count as 1, Whistler counts for a much larger number than 5.
Numbers of ski areas within a certain radius (by class and not absolut numbers)
Have to use multiple radii, with a decreasing factor for the more distant ones.
Size of Metro area.
Yes, depending on how ambitious you want to be.
I try to figure out of a climate wildcard (don't know how I can easily do this).
But the exercise is completely useless without it. Mt. Baldy (same terrain category as Stowe/Jay but horrendous reliability) is Exhibit A.
Last edited by Tony Crocker on Wed Apr 18, 2007 5:34 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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re: Where to Live, Part Deux, or How to Make the Best of It?

Postby SoCal Rider » Wed Apr 18, 2007 5:21 pm

Tony,

Interested in your quickie comments about Montana Snowbowl. The company I work for has a significant presence in Montana, so I've already compared Billing/Missoula/Bozeman based on city size and proximity to ski areas. Your reference to "OK snow" ---- I assume you mean quantity, not quality?
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re: Where to Live, Part Deux, or How to Make the Best of It?

Postby Tony Crocker » Wed Apr 18, 2007 5:41 pm

The local areas in Montana are a soft spot in my knowledge. There's an EpicSki poster VolantAddict who lives in Missoula that you might want to contact. It's also 2-3 hours from Big Mountain, which is a pretty good area. Missoula is probably next best to Bozeman of the larger cities, and I wouldn't go any lower on the list. Montana is of highest value to those for whom getting away from crowds is top priority. JSpin's reports from Lost Trail give a good impression of this.
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Re: re: Where to Live, Part Deux, or How to Make the Best of

Postby Patrick » Thu Apr 19, 2007 8:00 am

Tony Crocker wrote:For example Bozeman vs. Calgary. First step is Louise + Sunshine vs. Big Sky/Moonlight + Bridger. Different skiers will have different opinions here. I'm quite sure Patrick prefers the former by a considerable margin. I'd pick Louise/Sunshine for terrain also, but I think it's close.

This one for me is a no brainer, especially when you know my option of Bridger and Big Sky. Great places, but totally unbalanced areas. Remove Lone Peak and the Ridge at BB and these places wouldn't even be close to crack my top #5 in the East.

Tony Crocker wrote:People are usually most comfortable staying in the culture where they grew up. For a young eastern skier, zeroing in on the prime spot (Burlington) near home rather than moving 2000+ miles away is an understandable choice.

I would like to spend a sabbatical in Bourg St-Maurice (France) :mrgreen: . Not my culture and some things about France drive crazy, but I would still be happy to do it.


Tony Crocker wrote:Comments on Patrick's list:
Distances - not road distance (too long to calculate)
Has to be road distance. Aspen and Crested Butte are 40 miles apart if you're a bird, but 4 hours in a car during ski season. And you've already noted the Sacramento to Mammoth example.
Categorized ski areas (yes, ski areas aren't created equal) - thinking 4-5 categories.
Not nearly enough categories. If your Ottawa locals count as 1, Whistler counts for a much larger number than 5..


I'll see about the distances. I might be able to do something about it if I get funding and a research grant. This would be a great Geography thesis project. I already have a Master, do I hear Ph.D? :lol: :wink:

Yes, 5 categories, but if Ottawa local = 1, areas from the 5th category would definitely be worth something like 100. I was thinking something like 1, 10, 50, 100 as a point structure.

Tony Crocker wrote:
Numbers of ski areas within a certain radius (by class and not absolut numbers)
Have to use multiple radii, with a decreasing factor for the more distant ones...


Something like that, yes.


Tony Crocker wrote:
Size of Metro area.
Yes, depending on how ambitious you want to be.
I try to figure out of a climate wildcard (don't know how I can easily do this).
But the exercise is completely useless without it. Mt. Baldy (same terrain category as Stowe/Jay but horrendous reliability) is Exhibit A.


That isn't going to be easy, but might be factor in the ski area categories.
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