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Mountain News: What’s the solution for ski industry?

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KETCHUM, Idaho. - The snow sports industry, says the Idaho Mountain Express , is missing the boat. Instead of trying to entice visitors to luxurious lodges set among beautiful landscapes, ski areas and ski towns need to reach out more.

"Snow sports are often viewed as only for the young, the rich, the incredibly fit and those who don't mind risking their lives going 90 mph down a hill," says the newspaper in an editorial. "Shredding this baggage will require the industry to reach out with new programs for people of all ages and fitness levels."

The newspaper cites several strategies, although most of them bring to mind past efforts by... well, the snow sports industry.

One of the bloggers on the newspaper's website also took this position. "The ski industry is not missing the boat," wrote the blogger. "Plain and simple, the heyday is over."

 

Fewer overseas workers this winter

ASPEN, Colo. - Echoing stories done in 2002, the New York Times heralds the return of the well-educated ski bum. The newspaper tells of an investment banker, an information technology specialist and an international marketing manager who respectively are now selling ski school lessons, monitoring chairlifts and serving vegetarian fare.

"For well over a decade, many of the people operating lifts and ladling soup into bread bowls at restaurants in Aspen and other resorts had come from Australia, Europe and South America," says the Times , seeming to have forgotten about the economic slowdown in 2002-03 when employee housing sat empty and people with master's degrees were also schlepping coffee and brooming off chairlift seats.

But the change from the last two years is undeniable and the Times cites statistics: Only 15 per cent of Aspen's staff is from overseas this winter compared to 26 per cent in a previous season. Wyoming's Jackson Hole Mountain Resort has six employees from overseas this winter compared with 200 just two years ago. And Vail Mountain has 60 per cent fewer employees.

Some of the highly educated are jazzed to be in Aspen, but others are... well, they'll be glad to return to their cubicles and visiting Aspen and the other ski towns as well-heeled tourists.

 

Uphillers being segregated

WHITEFISH, Mont. - Ski area managers at Whitefish Mountain Resort intend to restrict uphill travel.

The new policy will likely designate a so-called "summit route" on one of the ski area's most popular groomed runs, reports the Whitefish Pilot . As well, the policy would allow uphill climbers only from early morning until the final sweep by ski patrollers.

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