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Let’s Face it, Skiing Is No Longer Enough – Part 1

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I don’t often write solely from personal perspective but this has been hanging on my mind for weeks. The story begins five years ago when I took a trip to New England with family. As we wandered the countryside enjoy views and vistas I made it a high priority to find the site of the original Woodstock Ski Tow, the first of its kind in the US, whose Model-T powered wheels started turning way back on January 18, 1934.

Three months later I was waiting in the lift line of a high speed quad with 4-dozen other skiers and boarders on a busy day at Brighton. Half had iPods blasting in their ears, a few had their phones out texting who knows who, behind me a group of skiers enjoyed the fresh mountain air through the filters of their Marlboros.

For a moment there I wished I were back at the White Cupboard Inn, waiting, instead, for that early rope tow to spring to life. Skiing has changed, there is no doubt about that.


  • It all started as nothing more than a ski hill
  • Then, as terrain expanded, ski hill became ski area.
  • When ski area no longer described the other activities the area offered, it became a ski resort.
  • Finally, the word “ski” was dropped altogether to make way for the mountain resort.

In 76 years, we’ve gone from people being fulfilled by being dragged up a 900′ slope by a jimmy-rigged rope tow to being whisked miles upon miles in high-speed chairs and resting at night in a 5-start hotel. The simple act of skiing is no longer enough. We need something else, we need…more.

Looking around today’s resorts it seems what we need are fancy hotels and villages, world class restaurants, spas, and zip lines. Then, after we get home, we spend hours editing video of our exploits and uploading pictures to Facebook that we risked frostbite to capture. We download apps to our iPhones so we can know how much vert we racked up or how fast we were going down a steep groomer. We spend thousands of dollars to ski on the latest gear, follow ski fashion trends, watch ski movie after ski movie in fall and then collect wickets on our coat zipper in winter.

Skiing of course is not alone. During a long bike race in September I rode away from my group and hung with a handful of guys on $10,000+ Cervelo bikes, full pro team jersey kits, and enough GU packets in their back pockets to choke a camel. They told stories of last year’s race, reliving the LOTOJA experience while they were in the process of creating next year’s stories. To these guys, and most cyclists, pedaling on a road is not enough, they need more: an image (Cervelo owner) , a label (cyclist), a group to fit into (Big Mike’s Cycling Club / Team Radioshack fans), and a story to tell. And that’s okay.

The truth is that skiing both IS and IS NOT enough. With skiing, the words carefree, adrenaline, and heaven come to mind. Not too many sports can claim all three of those adjectives, much less simultaneously. But that’s how awesome skiing is. When you fly down a groomer or drift through bottomless powder, in that moment skiing is more than enough. That moment, however, doesn’t last. As that feeling dissipates, our desire to have it back grows.

So yes, in the moment, skiing is enough. Long term though, because we can’t be carving turns 24/7, we need something else to help us remember the feeling, to help us get it back or forget about it for a little while by enjoying something else. And that is what I am going to talk about tomorrow: what resort marketing has to do with helping people get that feeling back and how hotels, saunas, zip lines, bars, casinos, iPods, Facebook, baggy pants, $500 jackets, and helmet cams fill that role.

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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