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Growing Skiing
Mt Bachelor is making one of their lifts free. Should you?

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GREGG
BLANCHARD
       

I’ve lost count of the times I’ve heard statements like “skiing is expensive” or “we need to make skiing more affordable” spoken as if rock-solid truth by members of our industry. It’s pointed to as a reason we’re struggling to grow.

As you’re probably aware, I disagree with this statement.

In short, because yes, some skiing is expensive, but other skiing is not. Our challenges isn’t that skiing as a whole is expensive, it’s that people think it is. It’s a perception problem.

My season pass costs less than many day passes. Deals abound that make skiing cheaper than lunch at Wendy’s. At times, skiing is even…free.

Free Skiing

In the news around the new Fast Tracks product, Peter from LiftBlog noticed something interesting.

I missed it as well, but sure enough, look at the FAQs and you’ll see this line:

screenshot of announcement stating: However, new this winter season, we're offering FREE access for all guests to Early Riser, our beginner lift in the Sunrise Base Area.

Mt Bachelor are not the first – among others, Alta’s Ski Free After 3 on the Sunnyside lift is how I introduced a long list of friends to skiing a couple decades ago – but they are the first I’ve heard of in quite some time.

I think this is an awesome step in a great direction. Our sport has virtually no form of trial because all of our trial requires such a massive, up-front commitment in dollars for a ticket or lesson. When we force people to pay to ‘try’ skiing, it’s like trying to sell a 20lb wheel of cheese by offering someone a tiny, toothpick-mounted cube as a sample…but then insisting each person pay for their sample. Which means the only people who “try” skiing are the ones who are sold enough on the sport to pay for it.

Moves like this one from Mt Bachelor change that.

They make skiing accessible but, more important, easy to try so the product can sell itself.

The Next Step

The next step, though, is to make sure the word gets out about products like these.

And not just individually, collectively.

As long as the majority of messages in the market are Ikon and Epic going back and forth on pricing and acquisitions and deadlines and window rates and lift installs and skiing that, yes, truly is expensive, then the perception of skiing being an expensive sport will never change.

Efforts like Bachelor’s open the door for us to alter this perception, but it’s up to use to take the first step and give this message some love.


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