The MRA going forward

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The MRA going forward

Postby rfarren » Thu Dec 16, 2010 9:51 am

Last night out of boredom I read all of the Shames thread followed by the Death of the Resort Model, followed by the Serious Vert thread. It is very interesting how emotion tends to get the best of us (including me) on these forums. I will say however, that Soulskier's idea was not initially that poor. I felt he made a major mistake when he criticized MRG right from the get go. He seemed to not understand the challenge that mountain presents, and rather than pleading his ignorance he flat out dismissed it. Even JSpin, who seems as even keeled as anyone on this board, responded unkindly to those comments.

As far as his MRA model was concerned, I think his error was in insisting upon using green energy. That left him vulnerable to questions of finances and where his limited spending was going. His further error was in pushing the idea that the MRA's core value was to be ski bum friendly. These should have been ancillary issues, figured out after the area was opened and not a core business practice. I think overall people were skeptical over the amount of ideology behind his business model, and were hoping that he would be a bit more pragmatic in his approach.

If I had some suggestions to Soulskier going forward they would be:
1. Don't criticize other peoples mountains or ski regions, rather stress the positives behind yours.
2. Forget the green energy component until you are well established. Don't use start up money that may be needed in case of a bad weather year etc...
3. A place like shames, albeit with better location would be optimal. It was a small family mountain with access to great BC. Keep the serious skiing as a side country/back country option. This will help to contain costs and best enable you to maintain a margin of profit.
4. Don't enter this with a wide eyed naivete, understand there are lots of mountains that are competing with you for different reasons. It's best to start small and no to take on everything at once, i.e. the urban jibber experiment, green energy, etc...
5. Don't ignore valid criticism and try not to perceive these as personal attacks on you. When you do that, it often does result in personal attacks, and worse, you ignore valid criticism that could help you going forward.
6. If you want big mountain skiing inbounds, insurance cost will be a huge part of your budget along with avy control. This will make it relatively expensive for a day ticket, think of Silverton, it's fairly expensive to ski.
7. We live in a litigious society, you will need to make sure you've done everything in your ability to avoid being found negligent in case of accident. That will raise costs, and perhaps lower the skiing experience as you see it, but understand the bar is quite a bit higher here than in Argentina.
8. Lastly, fund the project yourself and then sell shares after it has started. It may result in more risk for you, but most people would be willing to buy into something that already exist than an idea.

Those are my 2 cents. I wonder if anyone else has constructive points to lead the MRA going forward?
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Re: The MRA going forward

Postby Patrick » Thu Dec 16, 2010 1:06 pm

Am I responding to this because these threads, in my opinion, have been micro-manageable to Hell. The focus should be on the project, not on the MRA project versus (name the example you want, MRG, Bolton, Bridger, Silverton, etc.). I can see why soul might be annoyed by it. I am and I love MRG.

rfarren wrote:Last night out of boredom I read all of the Shames thread followed by the Death of the Resort Model, followed by the Serious Vert thread.

No kidding. Aren't you a newlywed too? I'm not newlywed, but I didn't bother re-reading any of it. So I'll go on what I recall from those discussions.

rfarren wrote:I felt he made a major mistake when he criticized MRG right from the get go.


Soulskier had an idea of what the ideal place would be. Bringing a place that he doesn't know that doesn't have the topography, physical or environmental attributes that he had in mind. Yes, he had a poor understanding of the dynamic of MRG at first. The terrain and location is miles away from where he wants to be and go. It's like someone always comparing you to an older brother...you're your own person and you would be annoyed.

rfarren wrote:As far as his MRA model was concerned, I think his error was in insisting upon using green energy.


It's a matter of opinion. Some areas are looking to lower their impact on the environment and lessen their carbon footprint.

rfarren wrote:His further error was in pushing the idea that the MRA's core value was to be ski bum friendly. These should have been ancillary issues, figured out after the area was opened and not a core business practice.


Ski bum friendly? He was stating that the ski industry was cutting it's wings off by focusing on the richest parts of society. I've never been a ski bum, but I have the same values. I don't care about heated gondola with piped in music...I only care about the quality of the skiing. Even Admin agree to this at one time in his life and possibly still does. The best places I've skied in South America generally have the less modern lifts around. My skiing values haven't change regardless of my income.

rfarren wrote:I think overall people were skeptical over the amount of ideology behind his business model, and were hoping that he would be a bit more pragmatic in his approach.


I've heard the same thing on the old rec.skiing newsgroups when the MRG Coop started.

rfarren wrote:If I had some suggestions to Soulskier going forward they would be:?


Some points that I'm sure Soul will be looking into. Some are valid, some I disagree with. Soulskier has been going a lot of homework on this, flightly from Argentina to Terrace and elsewhere proves that he is looking forward to study the pros and cons. People complain about the cost to fly to Terrace from Na, imagine from Bariloche.

rfarren wrote:8. Lastly, fund the project yourself and then sell shares after it has started. It may result in more risk for you, but most people would be willing to buy into something that already exist than an idea.


You can't ask anyone to do it themselves unless you are printing money or you're rich. Not one people could get the MRG Coop started on their own. They needed over 1500 shareholders to go to bat.

rfarren wrote:I wonder if anyone else has constructive points to lead the MRA going forward?


Thanks for your concern.
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Re: The MRA going forward

Postby rfarren » Thu Dec 16, 2010 8:30 pm

Patrick wrote:
rfarren wrote:I felt he made a major mistake when he criticized MRG right from the get go.


Soulskier had an idea of what the ideal place would be. Bringing a place that he doesn't know that doesn't have the topography, physical or environmental attributes that he had in mind. Yes, he had a poor understanding of the dynamic of MRG at first. The terrain and location is miles away from where he wants to be and go. It's like someone always comparing you to an older brother...you're your own person and you would be annoyed.


I don't think that was the issue. He said quite unprovoked that he wouldn't ski MRG if he was given a free trip, with a spa, and someone to sharpen his edges. BTW that is a loose quote. I think it's dangerous to tell someone their region sucks when you're trying to get people in your corner
Patrick wrote:
rfarren wrote:As far as his MRA model was concerned, I think his error was in insisting upon using green energy.


It's a matter of opinion. Some areas are looking to lower their impact on the environment and lessen their carbon footprint.

I think that's fine. I just think it's not prudent to set that up initially. It would be wiser imho to wait and see how the financials break before increasing debt load.
Patrick wrote:
rfarren wrote:His further error was in pushing the idea that the MRA's core value was to be ski bum friendly. These should have been ancillary issues, figured out after the area was opened and not a core business practice.


Ski bum friendly? He was stating that the ski industry was cutting it's wings off by focusing on the richest parts of society. I've never been a ski bum, but I have the same values. I don't care about heated gondola with piped in music...I only care about the quality of the skiing. Even Admin agree to this at one time in his life and possibly still does. The best places I've skied in South America generally have the less modern lifts around. My skiing values haven't change regardless of my income.

I'm not saying that it's a problem to want bare bones mountains where the focus is skiing and not the other stuff. What I think people took issue was the class warfare aspect of it.

Patrick wrote:
rfarren wrote:8. Lastly, fund the project yourself and then sell shares after it has started. It may result in more risk for you, but most people would be willing to buy into something that already exist than an idea.


You can't ask anyone to do it themselves unless you are printing money or you're rich. Not one people could get the MRG Coop started on their own. They needed over 1500 shareholders to go to bat.

MRG was a mountain with a following before it became a coop. I don't think he would have to fund it himself if he were buying a mountain on the brink, but starting a whole new area...well that's tough.

Honestly, I would love to see him succeed, but if it were my vision, I might do it differently in the ways I outlined above.

Patrick wrote:No kidding. Aren't you a newlywed too?


The wife was at work till late last night.
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Re: The MRA going forward

Postby Tony Crocker » Fri Dec 17, 2010 2:16 am

I am in closer agreement to rfarren than Patrick's analysis.

Patrick wrote:The focus should be on the project, not on the MRA project versus (name the example you want, MRG, Bolton, Bridger, Silverton, etc.).

Those are logical frames of reference. The current December 2010 issue of Powder Magazine has an article, Silver Rush, the Rise of a Colorado Backcountry Mecca, centered upon Silverton but also "new homegrown hut and cat-ski ops in the San Juans."
Bogus Basin and Bridger Bowl are community non-profit ski areas, and as we know Bridger has a lot of
rfarren wrote:serious skiing as a side country/back country option.

The MRG (apologies for editing "MGR" for clarity) analogy is so obvious that it comes to mind for nearly everyone who reads about MRA.

Soulskier should be studying/analyzing these and other areas closely in order to maximize MRA's chances for success. On the other hand, he should not necessarily be disclosing these analyses to the peanut gallery here until he has his ducks in a row. So again I reserve judgment until we see the first business plan.

rfarren wrote:I don't think he would have to fund it himself if he were buying a mountain on the brink, but starting a whole new area...well that's tough.

I disagree here. Mountains are often "on the brink" because they are marginally viable (Magic, Waterman/Kratka). A brand new area might have some buzz among MRA's target coop members with the right snow and/or terrain. The problem with brand new areas, of course, is that they attract knee-jerk environmental opposition that takes a lot of $ to overcome. Let's see if soulskier can schmooze the local Save-Our-Canyons types with his green rhetoric!
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Re: The MRA going forward

Postby rfarren » Fri Dec 17, 2010 7:19 am

Tony Crocker wrote: The problem with brand new areas, of course, is that they attract knee-jerk environmental opposition that takes a lot of $ to overcome. Let's see if soulskier can schmooze the local Save-Our-Canyons types with his green rhetoric!

That's an interesting point. In that case it might very well be fundamental to the success of the project to have green energy. Should be interesting to see if this all plays out.
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Re: The MRA going forward

Postby ChrisC » Sat Dec 18, 2010 10:10 pm

Soulskier is just whatever....why do you guys even address him and his ideas?
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Re: The MRA going forward

Postby Patrick » Sun Dec 19, 2010 10:35 am

ChrisC wrote:Soulskier is just whatever....why do you guys even address him and his ideas?


Because "Hate Him" or "Love Him", he's trying to do something that he loves and cater to a need in the ski industry. Something that I would love to see. If it would be someone just talking it would be another matter. This guy is serious (or nuts some would say), agree with him or not, how many people do you know would bother flying from Argentina to Terrace (people were saying that flying to Shames was too expensive from NA, imagine from Argentina) to see the lay of the land.

At least, he's putting his money where his mouth is.

I wish him all the best of luck and hope MRA because a success if offering an alternative out there.
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The MRA going forward

Postby rfarren » Sun Dec 19, 2010 12:06 pm

Patrick wrote:
At least, he's putting his money where his mouth is.

I wish him all the best of luck and hope MRA because a success if offering an alternative out there.

I second that... I just hope he doesn't burn too many bridges to get it done.
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Re: The MRA going forward

Postby Geoff » Sun Dec 19, 2010 5:40 pm

Patrick wrote:
ChrisC wrote:Soulskier is just whatever....why do you guys even address him and his ideas?


Because "Hate Him" or "Love Him", he's trying to do something that he loves and cater to a need in the ski industry. Something that I would love to see. If it would be someone just talking it would be another matter. This guy is serious (or nuts some would say), agree with him or not, how many people do you know would bother flying from Argentina to Terrace (people were saying that flying to Shames was too expensive from NA, imagine from Argentina) to see the lay of the land.

At least, he's putting his money where his mouth is.

I wish him all the best of luck and hope MRA because a success if offering an alternative out there.


All we've seen so far is that he's put crap up on the internet. I highly doubt the guy has the capabilities to pull it off.
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Re: The MRA going forward

Postby Mike Bernstein » Sun Dec 19, 2010 10:42 pm

Geoff wrote:All we've seen so far is that he's put crap up on the internet. I highly doubt the guy has the capabilities to pull it off.


I've seen absolutely nothing in his writings indicating he has such capabilities. Just a lot of airy-fairy sounding jargon that, while seductive from 10,000 feet, is painfully short on details and almost certain to not get funded.

Oh BTW, weren't we promised that the MRA would reveal the location of its fist "ski energy center" by the end of December. Clock is ticking and I'd be laughing pretty hard if the MRA chose to make their announcement the week after X-mas when no one is around to read it.
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Re: The MRA going forward

Postby Tony Crocker » Mon Dec 20, 2010 12:25 am

Mike Bernstein wrote:I've seen absolutely nothing in his writings indicating he has such capabilities.

Back in the Shames thread I recall some references to soulskier (and his wife's) background indicating they might be quite capable of an entrepreneurial venture like MRA. His diplomatic skills could use some work, as evidenced by how Shames played out as well as the reactions here. Perhaps part of his MRA plan should involve someone else to do the marketing. Patrick?
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Re: The MRA going forward

Postby Geoff » Mon Dec 20, 2010 10:35 am

Tony Crocker wrote:
Mike Bernstein wrote:I've seen absolutely nothing in his writings indicating he has such capabilities.

Back in the Shames thread I recall some references to soulskier (and his wife's) background indicating they might be quite capable of an entrepreneurial venture like MRA.


Such as?

I'm a career startup guy. I've been taking companies from "3 guys and an idea" to marketable product since the 1980's. Until you've stood in front of a venture capitalist and had to sell your business plan and team a few dozen times, it's all internet fairy dust. Silverthorne was an awful lot of unpaid 100 hour weeks. It takes a special breed to start a company. I've seen no evidence of it.
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Re: The MRA going forward

Postby berkshireskier » Mon Dec 20, 2010 1:44 pm

Geoff wrote:
Tony Crocker wrote:
Mike Bernstein wrote:I've seen absolutely nothing in his writings indicating he has such capabilities.

Back in the Shames thread I recall some references to soulskier (and his wife's) background indicating they might be quite capable of an entrepreneurial venture like MRA.


Such as?

I'm a career startup guy. I've been taking companies from "3 guys and an idea" to marketable product since the 1980's. Until you've stood in front of a venture capitalist and had to sell your business plan and team a few dozen times, it's all internet fairy dust. Silverthorne was an awful lot of unpaid 100 hour weeks. It takes a special breed to start a company. I've seen no evidence of it.


So true. IMHO, it would be extremely difficult to start a new ski area from scratch and make it a financial and operational success (no matter how good it may sound on paper). There are enormous hurdles to getting a ski area off the ground, in today's world.
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Re: The MRA going forward

Postby Patrick » Wed Dec 29, 2010 9:38 pm

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