skip to main content

If the Onion Wrote an Article About Small Ski Areas, it Might Go Like This

divider image for this post

Small Town, NY – After 40 years in business, Mount Peakvalley, a community ski area located just outside of Small Town, NY, has been forced to close their doors when a widely covered and talked about crowdfunding campaign failed to raise the $100,000 necessary to repair a 1980’s era RoBLING SMCC (skier-memories-to-cash-converter).

A quick tour of the machine, which lies just past the Small Town exit on the way to Veilsnowemoor Mountain Resort where it’s virtually impossible to miss seeing Peakvalley’s cute little slopes, made it clear that only a complete overhaul of the remember-when-we-used-to-race-there-inator would get it back up and running.

Despite the failure, ownership is upbeat.

“We couldn’t be more grateful for the tremendous nostalgic coverage in ski news outlets and forums, it really is humbling to realize how many people learned to ski here twenty years ago and have never been back,” said Warren McKoy, who founded the ski area as a teenager with his father. “But skiing’s changed. It’s simply easier for people to tweet about where they used to ski than to actually ski there. So with no way to turn all this reminiscing into revenue, it’s tough to make ends meet.”

But according to reports, the area has no one to blame but themselves.

Three years ago, many locals had no choice but to pay triple the price for their ski passes at Veilsnowemoor when McKoy was unable to meet their demands of both a new high speed quad and lower ticket prices, calling McKoy’s reference to rising insurance prices and debt, “irrelevant.”

“Skiing has totally priced out the middle class. If they wanted to stay in business, the only solution was to, like, lower prices…a lot,” noted one Small Town skier and Veilsnowemoor passholder who admitted he has never seen Peakvalley’s books or run a business before, but indicated this fact came from a Business Insider article tweeted with “THIS –>” before the headline, leaving little room for doubt.

McKoy disagreed.

“When you look at the trends, the other nail in Peakvalley’s coffin was that lunch at those resorts costs as much as a lift ticket here.” he said, pointing at a faded $25/day lift ticket sign. “Skiers are demanding expensive meals with their mountain recreation and we simply lack the locally-sourced organic gluten-free ingredients to raise hot dog prices to competitive levels. Why do you think our summer yoga series failed? It wasn’t because of lack of paddleboards.”

McKoy did admit that he had been approached by local groups who wanted to turn the hill into a non-profit so they could bleed money each year instead of him.

But even though he felt 40 years running a ski area wasn’t worth much and these recent college grads who cut their teeth as assistant managers at the local Subway could probably run things better than him, he decided to keep the financial losses in the family, noting that “there are few things more satisfying than running a business millions of skiers love but never actually spend money at.”

According to ski industry expert Donny Whitehard, a boost in Peakvalley interest will likely arrive in the next 3-5 years when an entry on NELSAP is created for the area. At this point, he noted, you may even see photos on Instagram of Veilsnowemoor passholders skinning and skiing the area during good snow years or someone writing up a business plan for Peakvalley as a thesis for their MBA.

I originally wrote this post a few years ago, but with some of the talk around small ski areas this week I figured it was a great time to resurface it.

Inspired by this.

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.

Get the weekly digest.

New stories, ideas, and jobs delivered to your inbox every Friday morning.