Thursday, December 27, 2012

Freeride World Tour Kicks Off at Revelstoke

The Swatch Freeride World Tour by The North Face 2013 kicks off its season of exciting global big mountain freeriding competition with the first stop at Revelstoke, British Columbia, Canada, on January 07, 2013. The competition can be witnessed from anywhere in the world via the live webcast available at www.freerideworldtour.com.
Revelstoke Mountain Resort and its "Mac Daddy" face is an ideal location for the first stop of the 2013 FWT with its remote backcountry terrain, allowing for an exciting North American freeriding venue. "The snow conditions are setting up perfectly at Revelstoke Mountain Resort. With over 200 inches of total snowfall so far, the best case scenarios for the biggest, baddest North American venues are coming into play", stated FWT Americas Competition Director Bryan Barlow.
The excitement for the first stop of the 2013 FWT is also felt among the athletes. "I’m really looking forward to this season. With lots of new riders and great events, I’m sure it will be bigger than ever. The kick-off in Revelstoke is going to be great. A mountain like that is the perfect place for a freeride competition. I’m just glad to be a part of it and no matter what, I’m going to enjoy the show", remarked defending 2012 Ski Men’s Freeride World Tour Champion, Reine Barkered of Sweden.
"Revelstoke Mountain Resort is thrilled to have the Freeride World Tour return, even bigger and better than before", said Sarah Windsor, Marketing and Communications Coordinator for Revelstoke Mountain Resort. "To showcase both modalities on our terrain is an opportunity of a lifetime where top-caliber athletes will converge to show off their skills on Mackenzie peak. We are honored to be the only resort in Canada, and one of two in North America privileged to host this world-class event".
Revelstoke Mountain Resort is a four-season destination resort located in the Columbia Mountains of British Columbia just minutes from the town of Revelstoke. Revelstoke is located 200 kilometers (124 miles) north east of Kelowna and 413 kilometers (257 miles) west of Calgary. RMR is North America’s most significant resort development in over a quarter century.


Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Saas-Fee To Host Again The Ice Climbing World Cup

From 12 to 19 January 2013, ice climbing and ski touring fans from all over the world will once again flock to Saas-Fee. The preparations for the 14th edition of Ice on Tour are well underway – and a new climbing wall is set to make things more exciting than ever.
Rising up through the interior of Saas-Fee’s multistorey car park, the wall will get spectators closer to the action than they ever thought possible. The scaffold curves high into the air and has space for a number of different ice features. "We have about 20 items that we’re keeping in freezers at minus 20 degrees.We’ll hang them on the scaffold a couple of weeks before everything starts", says Kurt Arnold from the Ice Climbing association.

Action-packed weekends on ice

The weekends during Ice on Tour will offer an exciting programme of events.
From 12 to 13 January, up-and-coming young climbers will battle it out on Saas-Grund’s 30-metre-high ice wall during the first youth world championship in the history of ice climbing. Then in the middle of it all, on Wednesday 16 January, the ski tourers will go head to head on the Saas-Fee glacier.
Spectators attending the events on 18 and 19 January in Saas-Fee are sure to have a blast. Along with all the thrills of the ice climbing championships, they’ll get to enjoy an amazing atmosphere and delicious food at the stands in the village – as well as those legendary Ice Parties, of course!

Live stream during the World Cup

To video stream the event is a great solution for all those who are not able to travel to the heart of the action this year. The link to the live stream will only be active during the events and is posted on the official Ice Climbing World Cup Website: www.iceclimbingworldcup.ch

Program 2013
  • 12. & 13.01. UIAA Ice Climbing Youth Woldcup & Swissmasters, Saas-Grund
  • 16.01. SAC Ice Night Ski-Touring Race (Swisscup), Saas-Fee
  • 18. & 19.01. UIAA Ice Climbing Worldcup & Swissmasters, Saas-Fee
  • 18. & 19.01. World Cup Ice Parties

Friday, December 21, 2012

Winter Comes To The Mountains


Winter Comes To The Mountains from OnTheSnow on Vimeo.

Mountain News Corporation, which includes Skiinfo and OnTheSnow, is the global leading snow media company with over 23 million unique users per ski season on web and mobile. The combined companies operates in 14 languages and 20 countries. The Company's mission is to give skiers the world’s most comprehensive and accurate snow reports, resort data and weather forecasts. Mountain News Corporation goal is to be the mountain traveler’s number one resource for planning their next epic mountain vacation.

Friday, December 14, 2012

The Wonder Reels: Episode 5 - The Crossing

What happens when a single man becomes the keeper of a world-record breaker? Switchback Entertainment documents the story of the caretaker of the PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola: Wayne Wiltse, Lift Maintenance Manager, Whistler Blackcomb.
Spanning the distance between Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains, the PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola is a 4.4 kilometre/2.7 mile, eleven-minute journey now recognized globally as a tourism icon of epic proportions.
Since its opening in 2008, the Peak 2 Peak Gondola has attracted tourists from all over the globe who want to experience its breath-taking views and revel in its world-record breaking engineering. The Canadian Tourism Commission has introduced the Signature Experience Collection to promote once-in-a-lifetime travel experiences found across Canada, and Whistler's own PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola has made the list.



Whistler Blackcomb has been named the No. 1 overall ski resort in North America by the readers of SKI Magazine. The 26th annual readers' poll ranks the top 60 North America ski resorts in SKI Magazine's Resort Guide, hitting newsstands on October 16. The survey of 20,000 SKI readers is the longest running and most comprehensive survey of its kind in the winter sports industry.
Along with being named the nº. 1 overall resort, Whistler Blackcomb ranked highly in many other individual categories, including: nº 1 overall in Terrain Variety, nº 2 overall in Service, Lodging, Apreski, Off Hill Activities, and Digital Presence.
Whistler Blackcomb also placed in the top five resorts for Challenge of Terrain, Lifts, On-Mountain Food, Dining, Scenery, Terrain Parks, and Overall Guest Satisfaction.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Vail Resorts to Acquire Two Ski Resorts in Midwest

Vail Resorts announced that it has entered into agreements to purchase two premier urban ski areas in the Midwest, Afton Alps in Minnesota and Mount Brighton in Michigan, for total cash consideration of $20 million. Both ski areas serve major snow sports markets in the Midwest with more than 468,000 active skiers and snowboarders in the nearby Minneapolis-St. Paul and Detroit metropolitan areas. Vail Resorts plans to upgrade and enhance the experience at each resort and create opportunities to connect guests from each of these ski areas to its seven world-class resorts in Colorado and Lake Tahoe through season pass and other lift ticket products.
"We are thrilled to welcome Afton Alps and Mount Brighton to the Vail Resorts family. These acquisitions are part of a new strategy for Vail Resorts to drive season pass sales and build broader guest loyalty by looking at premier smaller ski areas located near major urban markets. We plan to bring state-of-the-art racing, terrain parks, coaching and technology to the guest experience. We also will connect these urban ski areas to our world-class resorts in Colorado, California and Nevada with new season pass offerings, providing the chance to experience the best skiing and riding locally and in the West", said Rob Katz, chairman and chief executive officer of Vail Resorts.
"Afton Alps’ great terrain and strong heritage built by the Augustine family make it an ideal ski area for our entry into the Minneapolis-St. Paul market. Similarly, Mount Brighton is a great area for beginners and advanced skiers alike in the Detroit, Lansing and Ann Arbor markets with a strong snow sports tradition built over decades by the Tippett and Bruhn families. We plan to honor the important legacy of each ski area for their loyal guests while investing to enhance the experience in the years to come", Katz added.
Vail Resorts plans to enhance both the on-mountain and base area experience at each ski area. These enhancements will include redesigned and updated terrain parks, best-in-class coaching and instruction for all levels of skiers and riders, dedicated racing programs, expanded dining and entertainment options at the base area, and integrated technology and social media programs like EpicMix, EpicMix Photo and EpicMix Racing. The Company also will invest in each ski area’s infrastructure to improve snowmaking, parking and access to provide a more consistent experience throughout the season. Finally, the Company will be reviewing opportunities to add new summer activities. The Company will be outlining its plans in the coming months and meeting with the local communities to seek their input.
Nearing its 50thanniversary, Afton Alps is the largest ski area near a major city in the Midwest with 48 trails on nearly 300 acres, 18 lifts, four base areas, night skiing and riding, tubing and an 18-hole golf course. Afton Alps is located 33 miles from more than two million people and more than 161,000 skiers and snowboarders in the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area.
Open since 1960, Mount Brighton features 26 trails on 130 acres, six lifts, night skiing and riding and an 18-hole golf course. The ski area is located 43 miles from Detroit and is within reach of more than four million people and more than 307,000 skiers and snowboarders in the Detroit, Lansing and Ann Arbor metropolitan areas.
Vail Resorts is planning season pass products for both Afton Alps and Mount Brighton in time for the 2013-2014 season pass sales period, beginning in March 2013. In the meantime, to welcome both ski areas into the Vail Resorts family, Afton Alps and Mount Brighton season pass holders will immediately receive a 25-percent discount off of the window rate on lift tickets at Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone, Heavenly, Northstar and Kirkwood this season.

Vail Resorts is the leading mountain resort operator in the United States. Vail Resorts operate the mountain resorts of Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge and Keystone in Colorado, and Heavenly, Northstar and now Kirkwood in the Lake Tahoe area of California and Nevada, and the GrandTeton Lodge Company in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. The Company's subsidiary, RockResorts, a luxury resorthotel company, manages casually elegant properties. Vail Resorts Development Company is the real estateplanning, development and construction subsidiary of Vail Resorts, Inc. Vail Resorts is a publicly heldcompany traded on the New York Stock Exchange.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Future of the Industry Survey conducted by SE Group: Part 4

By Claire Humber
As published in Ski Area Management (SAM, November, 2012)
CHALLENGE 4: DEMOGRAPHICS
"We must consider population dynamics in the queries we are making about the future".
There have been many ongoing discussions about the lingering effects of the Boomer’s exit from the marketplace and the winter resort industry, and for good reason. Their presence has dominated the marketplace for the past 20 years, and their absence will be felt. As noted in the 2011/12 NSAA National Demographic Study, "the boomers will increasingly need to be replaced with new participants to ensure the long-term health and future growth of the ski industry".

The winter resort industry will also continue to be challenged by the national geographic shift in the population base to the south and the west, resulting in the resorts of the northeast and Midwest having to draw visitors from farther away.
Where will the snowsports enthusiasts of tomorrow come from?

OPPORTUNITY: DIVERSIFICATION OF THE SKIER DEMOGRAPHIC

The next generation. Understanding Gen X’s and the Millennials’ product demands remains critical. Their differing perceptions of loyalty and brand commitment pose a challenge for resorts. On the other hand, continuing to promote the family experience may be a way to gain traction with this group: "Gen X and Millennials are pushing back marriage and parenthood to their mid to late 30s, resulting in more affluent parents of young children. This is exciting from a resort development standpoint, because developers can now focus on higher-end, creative children’s programming and facilities", says one industry insider.

Ethnic diversification. "The ski business has failed to recognize the changing ethnic make-up of our country", claimed another survey participant. The need to penetrate ethnic segments that have lower incidents of snow/ski participation has been a topic of conversation within the industry for several years. How can you make it easier for minorities to visit your resort? Strategies should include education, community outreach, as well as modification of hiring practices.
International visitation. "The interest in and opportunities for our customers to go abroad and foreign nationals to come here to participate in winter recreation constitute both threat and opportunity". While the ease of international travel threatens to dilute our sliding population as North American skiers head overseas, the world of internet marketing allows for North American resorts to attract international guests to come and play in our mountains. Can U.S. resorts compete and attract the discerning European skier? To do so will require complete and sophisticated offerings in terms of shopping, culture, dining, etc., to create a cultural and recreational vacation.
Families. From a recreation/leisure standpoint the family unit is stronger than it ever has been: the family is playing together, and there is no activity better than skiing or snowboarding to foster family interaction. This is a positive trend for the industry, especially as facilities offer more year-round activities for the family to engage in. At a recent session at IAAPA (the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions), panelists were noting the similarities between the ski industry and the waterpark industry. Both appeal to the multi-generational complexities of the family, and both continue to attract and maintain visitation in times of recession. Perhaps we can learn a thing or two from our waterpark friends?
Women. A volume of marketing research has identified the key role that women play as family decision-makers. While moms are not making all the decisions, more often than not they are doing the research and presenting the “finalists” for evaluation. Think about this as you craft your marketing messages

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Denver's KSL Capital acquires share of Whistler Blackcomb ski resort

Denver-based KSL Capital Partners, a private equity firm that has been purchasing ski resorts like Squaw Valley/Alpine Meadows and leasing them back to their operators, scooped up Whistler Blackcomb Holdings Inc’s (WBH) 24% of Intrawest shares, 9,092,500 to be exact, on December 3 for $12.75/per share. WBH owns a 75% stake in Whistler Blackcomb resort.
As a result of the sale by Intrawest, Bill Jensen has tendered his resignation as a director and Chief Executive Officer and each of Wes Edens and Jonathan Ashley has tendered his resignation as a director of the Corporation, effective as of the time of closing. Also effective as of the time of closing, the Corporation’s board of directors has appointed Dave Brownlie, the Corporation’s current President and Chief Operating Officer, as the Corporation’s President and Chief Executive Officer and a director, and appointed Eric Resnick and Peter McDermott, both of KSL, as directors to fill the vacancies created by these resignations. Mr. Resnick is co-founder and Managing Director of KSL and has deep, long-standing ties to the ski industry. Mr. McDermott is a partner at KSL.
Concurrently with these appointments, the Corporation’s board of directors has appointed Flora Ferraro, the Corporation’s current Vice President of Finance, as Interim Chief Financial Officer. The Corporation intends to announce the appointment of a permanent chief financial officer shortly.
"KSL is delighted to be acquiring a 24% interest in a world-class ski area. Whistler Blackcomb is the largest and most visited ski resort in North America and we feel that it complements our portfolio of premier travel and leisure properties. Peter and I are looking forward to working with the board to grow the business. Whistler Blackcomb has a very experienced and successful management team and we are enthusiastic to work with them as they continue to deliver a fantastic mountain experience for Whistler Blackcomb’s guests" commented Mr. Resnick.
"On behalf of the board of directors, I am very pleased to welcome Eric Resnick and Peter McDermott to the board. We would also like to express our appreciation to Wes Edens and Jonathan Ashley for their contributions to Whistler Blackcomb during their tenure on the board, and especially to Bill Jensen, for his valued service as Chief Executive Officer and as a director", commented Graham Savage, Chairman of the Corporation’s board of directors. "We are also pleased to appoint Dave Brownlie as Chief Executive Officer and as a member of the board of directors. With over 24 years in ski resort management, Dave brings insight and experience to the position and I am looking forward to continuing to work with him to grow the business".
According to the release KSL expects to hold the purchased shares for investment purposes.
However, KSL and its affiliates expect to evaluate on an ongoing basis the Corporation’s financial condition and prospects and its interest in, and intentions with respect to, the Corporation and KSL’s investment. KSL and its affiliates may from time to time acquire additional common shares of the Corporation or may dispose of all or a part of their shares.

Whistler Blackcomb Holdings Inc. owns a 75% interest in each of Whistler Mountain Resort Limited Partnership and Blackcomb Skiing Enterprises Limited Partnership, which, together, carry on the four season mountain resort business located in the Resort Municipality of Whistler, British Columbia. Whistler Blackcomb, the official alpine skiing venue for the 2010 Olympic Winter Games, is situated in the Resort Municipality of Whistler located in the Coast Mountains of British Columbia 125 kilometres (78 miles) from Vancouver, British Columbia. North America’s premier four-season mountain resort, Whistler Mountain and Blackcomb Mountain are two side-by-side mountains, connected by the world record-breaking PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola, which combined offer over 200 marked runs, over 8,000 acres of terrain, 14 alpine bowls, three glaciers, receive on average over 1,192 centimetres (469 inches) of snow annually, and offer one of the longest ski seasons in North America. In the summer, Whistler Blackcomb offers a variety of activities, including hiking and biking trails, the Whistler Mountain Bike Park, and sightseeing on the PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola. Whistler Blackcomb Holdings Inc. is listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

KSL is a private equity firm specializing in travel and leisure enterprises in five primary sectors: hospitality, recreation, clubs, real estate and travel services. KSL has offices in Denver, Colorado and New York. KSL’s current portfolio includes some of the premier properties in travel and leisure, including The Belfry, The Grove Park Inn, The Homestead, Montelucia Resort & Spa, Barton Creek Resort & Spa, Rancho Las Palmas Resort & Spa, The James Royal Palm, La Costa Resort and Spa, and ClubCorp, one of the world’s largest owners of private golf and business clubs. KSL also owns other premier recreation businesses, including Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows, two of the leading ski resorts in North America; and Western Athletic Clubs, the owner and operator of luxury fitness clubs in California.

Monday, December 3, 2012

The Scorpions Hit Ischgl

On 1 December 2012, the German cult rock band The Scorpions fired up 13.000 fans with mega-hits at the Top of the Mountain Opening Concert in Ischgl. In cooperation with Volkswagen, the alpine lifestyle metropolis hosted a full Opening Week for the first time under the motto "The Golf moves mountains", offering thrilling rides in the new Golf in addition to an open-air series of concerts with mega-stars including Amy Macdonald and DJ Antoine.
The Festival Opening Week in Ischgl culminated with the Scorpions concert on 1 December 2012: At the Top of the Mountain Opening Concert, the five rockers transformed the alpine lifestyle metropolis into a veritable "rock-zone". The German cult rock band was giving its debut in Ischgl in front of an audience of 13.000. Local and international fans came from near and far to rock to the beat of the Scorpions' top hits after a perfect day of skiing on the 238 km of slopes that make up the Silvretta Arena. Strumming their guitars like there was no tomorrow, the five band members rocked the open-air stage in front of an impressive mountain backdrop. On their Ischgl debut, the band harmonised perfectly and literally oozed rock-passion – even after nearly half a century.
In addition, Ischgl in cooperation with Volkswagen also provided for fringe events of the highest order under the motto "The Golf moves mountains". Thus brave guests could take the Golf on thrilling rides, testing the vehicle under extreme conditions on the prepared test tracks. The Festival Opening Week ended on a rocking note with one of the last concerts by the Scorpions. Following their successful world tour this year, the five rock musicians are looking to end their careers after 47 years of band history. The Festival Opening Week was a real success. The biggest opening to the season ever.
The Scorpions follows in the footsteps of a galaxy of superstars who have entertained skiers and boarders in the Austrian resort's traditional Top of the Mountain gig. Long time ago, Ischgl decided to put its entire advertising and marketing budget into staging two massive concerts a year to open and close the winter season. Elton John was the first star to feature in the Tirolean resort's now famous season closing concerts, back in 1995. Since then the resort has hosted Rod Stewart, Bob Dylan, Sting, Tina Turner, Diana Ross, Bon Jovi, Enrique Iglesias, Atomic Kitten, Peter Gabriel, The Corrs, Alanis Morissette, Lionel Richie, Pink, the Scissor Sisters, the Pussycat Dolls, Rihanna, Elton John again, Gabriella Cilmi, Leona Lewis, Kylie Minogue, Katy Perry, Alicia Keys, Gossip, The Killers,Roxette and Mariah Carey.
The Ischgl skiing area opened earlier than ever this year. As early as 23 November, skiers and snowboarders were able to hit the freshly groomed 238 kilometres of slopes that make up the Silvretta Arena. Getting lost or taking a wrong turn in the Silvretta Arena is also a thing of the past, thanks to the "iSki Ischgl APP". But that’s not enough: Those wanting to relive their thrilling day in the Ischgl skiing area in the evening can record their pursuits directly in their smartphone using the GPS-tracking feature, and then review information such as top speed, distance covered, route or duration in Google Earth or on the Ischgl 3-D Map.