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I’ve Said it Before, I’ll Say it Again: Ski Resorts, Tell Your Story!

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I don’t understand, and likely never will, how a simple story can reach so deep into your heart or guts or whatever, and make an incredibly intimate connection with someone you’ve never met. Max Dercum, the ski industry legend who helped start both Arapahoe Basin and Keystone in Colorado, passed away a month ago. At the time, I naively had no idea who he was. Now, however, is a different story…in more ways than one.

When I heard about his death, the author of the article made mention of a book his wife Edna had written about their adventures in mid-20th-century Colorado. Looking to learn more about my new home state, I snagged a copy of “It’s Easy Edna, It’s Downhill All the Way” on Amazon and began to read. A handful of relaxing evenings and 222 pages later, I wanted to do two things: ski Arapahoe Basin, but most of all, ski Keystone. Here’s why.

The Story
Max had a background in forestry (before WWII), logging (during WWII), and skiing (his whole life). He loved skiing in a way that I don’t think I’ve ever heard of or seen before. When he and Edna moved back to Colorado after the war, got skiing going at Arapahoe, and started Ski Tip Ranch, their frequent trips to Frisco took them by a mountain. Max’s mountain, as Edna put it. He dreamed for years and years of turning that mountain into a ski area until, with a lot of work, it happened in 1970.

With his background in forestry, logging, and skiing, Max, then in his late 50s, put on knee braces and hiked the mountain day after day, scouting the terrain and mapping the ideal runs to fulfill his vision of the perfect ski area. Each trail was chosen and cut for a reason: some for the forestry aspect, some for the logging aspect, but everything was done to create a ski area a family could enjoy together.

I doubt I’m alone in admitting I’ve stared at dozens of mountains and mentally mapped my dream trails on their faces. Despite knowing the odds were against a single one of those runs ever being cut, a part of me secretly hoped I was wrong. When Max walked Keystone 41 years ago, I could only imagine what he was feeling and loved that fact that someone got to live that dream. I’ve never skied at Keystone but I can’t wait to. It sounds crazy, but I have a deeper connection with Keystone, a mountain I’ve never skied, than many resorts I’ve grown up with.

Your Mountain Has a Story
I’m convinced, big or small, every mountain has an intriguing story to tell. A story about the guys and gals who took the risks to make a dream come true. There are lots of ways to share these stories, but the real key is to get them out of the memory banks and into the written word. A while back I said that a “history” page on your website is a good start. It is, but the story of your mountain is too effective a tool to have sitting on some dusty shelf in your sitemap.

Tell the genuine, personal story of your mountain and you’ll connect with your skiers more than any print ad or Facebook contest ever will.

About Gregg & SlopeFillers
I've had more first-time visitors lately, so adding a quick "about" section. I started SlopeFillers in 2010 with the simple goal of sharing great resort marketing strategies. Today I run marketing for resort ecommerce and CRM provider Inntopia, my home mountain is the lovely Nordic Valley, and my favorite marketing campaign remains the Ski Utah TV show that sold me on skiing as a kid in the 90s.

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