Is the ski resort model dead?

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: Is the ski resort model dead?

Postby Marc_C » Thu Nov 18, 2010 2:28 pm

soulskier wrote:I am posting a photo from yesterday afternoon. This is a "ski bum" in action. Skiing first, working second.

And your point is?
Live and ski however, whatever, whenever. All those of us who you think disagree with you are saying is to not float the idea that being a ski bum in an entitlement or a right.
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Re: Is the ski resort model dead?

Postby longshanks » Thu Nov 18, 2010 8:04 pm

Ski Bum...every Ski Town needs one...but only one
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Re: Is the ski resort model dead?

Postby soulskier » Thu Nov 18, 2010 10:48 pm

Marc_C wrote:And your point is?
Live and ski however, whatever, whenever. All those of us who you think disagree with you are saying is to not float the idea that being a ski bum in an entitlement or a right.


I am not saying it is an entitlement or a right.

What I am saying is the current ski resort model of highly leveraged real estate and off slope amenities isn't what many people that chose skiing as a lifestyle, ie ski bums, are interested in.

It's really quite simple. We want a ski area that focuses on the downhill slide, not the other stuff.
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Re: Is the ski resort model dead?

Postby rfarren » Thu Nov 18, 2010 11:00 pm

soulskier wrote:
Marc_C wrote:And your point is?
Live and ski however, whatever, whenever. All those of us who you think disagree with you are saying is to not float the idea that being a ski bum in an entitlement or a right.


I am not saying it is an entitlement or a right.

What I am saying is the current ski resort model of highly leveraged real estate and off slope amenities isn't what many people that chose skiing as a lifestyle, ie ski bums, are interested in.

It's really quite simple. We want a ski area that focuses on the downhill slide, not the other stuff.


That's fine, but you have to make it economically feasible.
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Re: Is the ski resort model dead?

Postby Tony Crocker » Fri Nov 19, 2010 11:58 am

soulskier wrote:We want a ski area that focuses on the downhill slide, not the other stuff.

Like spending coop membership fees on alternative energy projects with questionable economics? :stir:
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Re: Is the ski resort model dead?

Postby soulskier » Fri Nov 19, 2010 12:40 pm

Tony Crocker wrote:
soulskier wrote:We want a ski area that focuses on the downhill slide, not the other stuff.

Like spending coop membership fees on alternative energy projects with questionable economics? :stir:


A ski area's number one cost is electricity. By including clean energy into the start up budget, and creating more energy than consumed, that expense is no longer an issue. What's questionable about that?
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Re: Is the ski resort model dead?

Postby rfarren » Fri Nov 19, 2010 1:13 pm

soulskier wrote:
A ski area's number one cost is electricity. By including clean energy into the start up budget, and creating more energy than consumed, that expense is no longer an issue. What's questionable about that?


The capital cost. Green energy is expensive to buy, costly to maintain, and isn't as efficient as you seem to believe it is. The ability to pay it off quickly, or pay it off at all is questionable.
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Re: Is the ski resort model dead?

Postby Marc_C » Fri Nov 19, 2010 4:47 pm

soulskier wrote:A ski area's number one cost is electricity. By including clean energy into the start up budget, and creating more energy than consumed, that expense is no longer an issue. What's questionable about that?

1. There is no way you can know that you will produce more energy than you consume.
2. There are no certainties that the power company will want to buy all the energy you produce.
3. Do you really think you'll be able to get investors to pay out X% more in increased start up costs for a technology that has a 10 or more year payback period to break even? Seriously?
4. What one electricity producing technology would you pick for this experiment, knowing that neither solar or wind operates 24/7?
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Re: Is the ski resort model dead?

Postby Geoff » Fri Nov 19, 2010 7:06 pm

soulskier wrote:
Tony Crocker wrote:
soulskier wrote:We want a ski area that focuses on the downhill slide, not the other stuff.

Like spending coop membership fees on alternative energy projects with questionable economics? :stir:


A ski area's number one cost is electricity. By including clean energy into the start up budget, and creating more energy than consumed, that expense is no longer an issue. What's questionable about that?



False. A ski area's #1 cost is labor.
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Re: Is the ski resort model dead?

Postby Geoff » Fri Nov 19, 2010 7:21 pm

rfarren wrote:
longshanks wrote:
So, just where is it written that everyone must contribute to Society? or that each must contibute in a way acceptable to you? Suggesting that those with an alternate perspective/view on life are any less valuble is a tad judgemental don't cha think? You are entitled to your Orwellian opinion nonetheless...


I have no problem with what you're saying, each person is entitled to his or her own life choices.


I do. When that "ski bum" gets to age 50 with blown out knees, no job skills, and zero savings, I end up having to support him. The problem with a cushy safety net is that there are few consequences for your actions. You can live for today and not worry about starving to death tomorrow.
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Re: Is the ski resort model dead?

Postby Da wood » Fri Nov 19, 2010 8:06 pm

Wow, this forum is the land of "NO." Against my better judgement in getting involved in pointless internet arguments, I feel the need to comment. From the handful of you that actually contribute, it seems that the majority of you think that the MRA model is ridiculous. I guess they should give up on this hopeful and forward- thinking concept and build an amenity filled, real estate based "resort" utilizing the cheapest power -that being dirty coal- that caters primarily to wealthy skiers from the Big City. The MRA concept may fail because of the economics of energy, from poor weather, from another economic meltdown, or from any number of other reasons, but then again it may succeed and become a model that others will follow. Perhaps it will even revolutionize the industry and make skiing more affordable and thus more popular among those not fortunate enough to be able to afford a $8000 week of skiing at Vail. I would assume that you are all on this forum because you love the sport, the mountains, the lifestyle and the freedom that you get from skiing, so I wonder why you aren't offering more constructive criticism to help MRA succeed instead of simply bashing it, and Soul Skier's posts. He is excited and optimistic about the project and he has a lot of ski industry veterans that are part of the MRA team. What is so wrong with that? None of you are being asked to invest against your will or are being forced to ski at such areas, so what is the harm in giving them some support.

On the ski bums issue, those of you that haven't lived -and I mean in long-term sense, not just a season- in ski towns have scant knowledge of what it is like. Saying you do is the equivalent of me saying I know all there is to know about living in Manhattan or L.A. because I spend two weeks a year there visiting family. "In Search of Powder" explores the impacts of those of us that made our living in these towns and finally had to give it up because it became to difficult. The ski bum metaphor is a convenient and colorful way to illuminate this and I recommend reading the book (I finished it this week) so that you will have a better understanding of these forces. I know something about ski towns and ski town culture since I grew up in them and have spent most of my life in them and working in the industry. I've also been called a ski bum quite a bit, but I've never considered myself one since living in the mountains was much more to me than skiing as much as possible for as little as possible. In fact, I always thought that my life's work would be in the industry, but now people like myself; professionals, skilled workers, families; all those people that make communities -well, communities- are being driven from ski towns by the economics of the current "company town" resort model. Most of you on this forum don't know, or don't care, as you only go for a week or so a year, but there are many that do, just as you care about what happens in your community.

The resort model that many of you defend has resulted in both social and environmental losses. You can't have a healthy community when the majority of the homes are unoccupied 70% of the year, the average age of the population that does remains is in the mid-50's, your school enrollments decline 10-20% a year, the majority of your public employees live in towns 45 minutes to 2 hours away, and those folks that want to raise families cannot afford to do so without winning the lottery. Economic factors such as those that face Lake County, south of Eagle County and Vail, threaten communities that don't even have ski resorts. Since a significant portion (upwards of 40%) of Vail's lowest wage workers live in Leadville (a 50 minute drive on a good day), Vail gets the benefit of their labor and the tax income that results from that labor, while Lake County, the poorest (or 2nd poorest depending on the year) county in the state, gets none of the economic benefits and has the burden of providing public services for these laborers and their children. Thus the Town of Vail spends somewhere in the neighborhood of $400,000/year on flowers for the roundabouts in town while Leadville struggles to provide the most basic services and education.

The comment that someone posted about not caring if workers have to commute an hour to the resorts totally overlooks the environmental externalities of high-density urban sprawl in fragile high-alpine environments. On the I-70 corridor through Eagle County, one enters the urban zone in East Vail, and doesn't exit it until Wolcott (with the exception of Dowd Junction where the highway fills all available ground), a total of 25 miles of high-density development, including buildings in excess of 10 stories in height, all in a valley that never exceeds 2 miles in width. Areas on the valley walls are developed up to the elevation of 9500 feet and the only relatively flat ground left is taken up by golf courses. This same "down valley sprawl" is occurring everywhere there is a ski resort in the West. The impacts of this development on wildlife have been profound as they no longer have places to winter. When I was a kid and in my first year in Vail, in 1987, it wasn't uncommon to see a few hundred head of Elk in the meadows of Eagle-Vail, Edwards, Bachelor Gulch and Beaver Creek. Now all of that land has been developed and the last time I saw any Elk was 6 struggling animals on a steep hillside in Dowd Junction in 2004. They are gone, not moved elsewhere, not hiding in the woods, they simply have all died out. I can go on: habitat destruction, air pollution, water pollution, traffic jams... the impacts of the single industry, single company ski resort reaches far beyond the immediate environs of the ski area itself.

I'm not saying "don't go skiing," I am saying you should care about the impacts your favorite pastime can have on other people and our shared environment, and you should be concerned about the legacy that you are leaving for future generations. What ever your favorite ski area, you should let them know that these things matter to you and learn more about them and how to mitigate them. If you still don't care, then you are are selfishly making life worse for the rest of us that do...

BTW Geoff, read the book and tell me how many of the "ski bums" in it receive any form of public assistance from you or anyone else? (answer: zero, most of them even own their own homes). In all my years of living in ski towns, I can't recall a single person that received so much as food stamps.
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Re: Is the ski resort model dead?

Postby soulskier » Fri Nov 19, 2010 10:15 pm

Marc_C wrote:
soulskier wrote:A ski area's number one cost is electricity. By including clean energy into the start up budget, and creating more energy than consumed, that expense is no longer an issue. What's questionable about that?

1. There is no way you can know that you will produce more energy than you consume.
2. There are no certainties that the power company will want to buy all the energy you produce.
3. Do you really think you'll be able to get investors to pay out X% more in increased start up costs for a technology that has a 10 or more year payback period to break even? Seriously?
4. What one electricity producing technology would you pick for this experiment, knowing that neither solar or wind operates 24/7?


Allow me to respond.

1) Why is that? Lifts require a certain amount of energy and can be calculated. It isn't rocket scientry. And it's been determined before. Mt Abram, Maine is in the permitting stage to become North America's first net negative ski area.

http://mrablog.com/2010/09/27/mt-abram- ... n-it-uses/

2) That's true, it depends on the state. At the very least, the electric company will issue a credit, thus eliminating the electric bill, which according to many besides Geoff, is the number one expense of a ski resort, especially if the area requires snowmaking like Killington.

3) You betcha Bro! Not only that, I predict we will sell many more shares because we are also in the clean energy bizness.

We are currently fighting two wars and just had one of the largest environmental disasters in US history as a result of our dependence on oil. Unlike some on this board, many US Citizens realize we need to get of foreign oil and fossil fuels yesterday.

Here's a good website for ya, Coal Kills Snow.
http://coalkillssnow.org/

"Coal is killing snow...that's a fact. Mining and burning coal is the dirtiest and most environmentally destructive process to generate power - the resulting CO2 has a direct negative effect on climate change. Our mountain regions are in the cross-hairs of climate change, yet host many dirty coal projects. Reducing our dependence on coal is the single most focused thing we can do to fight climate change and we have the collective power to do it. Coal Kills Snow is a coalition of organizations who's mission is to build awareness of dirty coal projects in our mountain and wilderness areas and to transition them to alternative, cleaner energy sources."

It is also worth mentioning that when you include clean energy into any project these days, there are many resources and grants available. We might even use some of your tax dollars to support our ski bum lifestyle, thanks in advance for that.

4) Each area will be analyzed to determine the best use. If I could choose one clean energy technology, it would be hydro as it is 24/7 and 365 days per year if the creek is year round.

If you guys need some Kool Aid to drink, I have extra.
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Re: Is the ski resort model dead?

Postby rfarren » Fri Nov 19, 2010 10:40 pm

Da wood wrote: Perhaps it will even revolutionize the industry and make skiing more affordable and thus more popular among those not fortunate enough to be able to afford a $8000 week of skiing at Vail.


If the only other choices was that $8000 week at vail I would absolutely be confident that it would revolutionize what we expect from a ski area. However, I feel that there are plenty of products that fill that niche well already, and that it is more or less idealistic, and redundant.
Da wood wrote: I guess they should give up on this hopeful and forward- thinking concept and build an amenity filled, real estate based "resort" utilizing the cheapest power -that being dirty coal- that caters primarily to wealthy skiers from the Big City.


Or we should be wide eyed naive. Or how about something in between. Seriously, this criticism is constructive, it brings up a lot of honest questions that need to be asked. Any good business should have a realistic view of what they are doing, not just an idealistic one.
Da wood wrote:

The resort model that many of you defend has resulted in both social and environmental losses. You can't have a healthy community when the majority of the homes are unoccupied 70% of the year, the average age of the population that does remains is in the mid-50's, your school enrollments decline 10-20% a year, the majority of your public employees live in towns 45 minutes to 2 hours away, and those folks that want to raise families cannot afford to do so without winning the lottery. Economic factors such as those that face Lake County, south of Eagle County and Vail, threaten communities that don't even have ski resorts. Since a significant portion (upwards of 40%) of Vail's lowest wage workers live in Leadville (a 50 minute drive on a good day), Vail gets the benefit of their labor and the tax income that results from that labor, while Lake County, the poorest (or 2nd poorest depending on the year) county in the state, gets none of the economic benefits and has the burden of providing public services for these laborers and their children. Thus the Town of Vail spends somewhere in the neighborhood of $400,000/year on flowers for the roundabouts in town while Leadville struggles to provide the most basic services and education.

The comment that someone posted about not caring if workers have to commute an hour to the resorts totally overlooks the environmental externalities of high-density urban sprawl in fragile high-alpine environments. On the I-70 corridor through Eagle County, one enters the urban zone in East Vail, and doesn't exit it until Wolcott (with the exception of Dowd Junction where the highway fills all available ground), a total of 25 miles of high-density development, including buildings in excess of 10 stories in height, all in a valley that never exceeds 2 miles in width. Areas on the valley walls are developed up to the elevation of 9500 feet and the only relatively flat ground left is taken up by golf courses. This same "down valley sprawl" is occurring everywhere there is a ski resort in the West. The impacts of this development on wildlife have been profound as they no longer have places to winter. When I was a kid and in my first year in Vail, in 1987, it wasn't uncommon to see a few hundred head of Elk in the meadows of Eagle-Vail, Edwards, Bachelor Gulch and Beaver Creek. Now all of that land has been developed and the last time I saw any Elk was 6 struggling animals on a steep hillside in Dowd Junction in 2004. They are gone, not moved elsewhere, not hiding in the woods, they simply have all died out. I can go on: habitat destruction, air pollution, water pollution, traffic jams... the impacts of the single industry, single company ski resort reaches far beyond the immediate environs of the ski area itself.

Seriously, cry me a river!

With the precipitous fall of the dollar and the rising Euro, Manhattan became too expensive for many in NYC. We routinely commute 40 to 50 minutes to work every day. Once upon a time there were wolves and deer roaming Manhattan, but that no longer exists. In midtown manhattan the average height of building 90 years ago was 5 stories, now it's probably around 20. The upper west side was once farmland. When my parents moved to the NYC they were able to buy their apt in the upper west side for 70k, where most of the stores were of the mom & pops variety, and subway cost 50 cents. Now, the subway costs $2.50, their apt would sell for 2.5M and most of the store fronts are taken up with banks and or large corporate stores. Guess what: things change. If you don't like it, move.

We live in a country where if you work hard, make enough, and are so inclined, you can buy yourself a vacation home wherever you want. With transportation being cheap, it's now easy enough to live in the cities and vacation in the mountains. Why should those who can afford to deprived of it. It's sad that it comes to the detriment to some of the locals, but to make an omelette you have to break a few eggs. Furthermore, those ski area don't necessarily owe it to the community to take their needs into account first, especially when they are concerned about the bottom line, which frankly most businesses are. Whether or not you feel that is moral is immaterial.

One other thing. Let's say that MRA is really successful. What's to keep private developers from building around there? I
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Re: Is the ski resort model dead?

Postby soulskier » Sat Nov 20, 2010 12:38 am

Bolton Valley, Vermont just installed a wind turbine. I believe that's ski area number 3 in the US with a wind turbine(s). Note all 3 have a large snow making demands.

http://snowboardgreen.blogspot.com/2010 ... izing.html
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Re: Is the ski resort model dead?

Postby soulskier » Sat Nov 20, 2010 12:48 am

rfarren wrote:One other thing. Let's say that MRA is really successful. What's to keep private developers from building around there? I


In my fantasy world, I would create community and affordable housing projects (with an eco/green focus) for everyday folk to be able to purchase. Back at Squaw Valley USA, we used to refer to them as the Squawjects.
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