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Gingersnap
12-08-2009, 10:39 AM
Colorado ski resorts alter approach as baby boomers fade away

By Scott Willoughby
The Denver Post
Posted: 12/08/2009 01:00:00 AM MST
Updated: 12/08/2009 05:59:37 AM MST

Ski resorts are catering more to young skiers with ramps and jumps, not ski runs. (Nathan W. Armes, Special to The Denver Post )As the nation's skiing populace ages, a massive face-lift appears inevitable.

Baby boomers, long the driving force behind the sport of skiing, may have reached their demographic peak on the slopes. And the diminishing virility of a traditionally robust skiing market has Colorado resorts searching for their own version of the little blue pill.

"We're talking maybe 5-7 years at this point until the boomers hang up their skis," said David Belin, 40, a lifelong skier from Boulder-based RRC Associates who led the Model for Growth research project for the National Ski Areas Association (NSAA). "The resorts can't wait five years and go, 'Oh, what are we going to do to replace these boomers?' "

Colorado resorts are attempting to attract a new generation of skiers and snowboarders to replace the boomers without turning their backs on a group that has been their core customers. Among the most visible attractions are sprawling terrain parks and massive halfpipes designed to appeal to Generation Y skiers and snowboarders. There are now more than 60 terrain parks in Colorado, an average of more than two per resort, and a dozen halfpipes. Indicative of their popularity is Echo Mountain, a 50-acre dedicated terrain park just 35 miles from Denver, which had 18,758 visitors during its first full year of operation in 2006-07 and 30,208 visitors last year.

The most recent statistics from NSAA serve to heighten the urgency of finding new snow-sport participants. According to NSAA, a third of all resort visitors last year were 45 or older, a continued expansion among that age group. During the past decade, the percentage of visitors defined as one skier or snowboarder riding a chairlift per day age 45 to 54 has increased from 14.0 percent to 19.9 percent, with age groupings above 54 also showing an increase.

Overall industry figures, though, dipped to 57.1 million skier visits last year, down from 60.5 in 2007.

(snip)

"There's no question that a 16-year-old and a 60-year-old have differences. But they aren't so severe that it's problematic," said Ford Frick, 58, whose lifelong dedication to skis led him to work with NSAA as a managing director of Denver's BBC Research & Consulting. "We learned to ski differently. The old-school method was that you learned technical prowess that mimicked the form and function of a ski racer. That's clearly not the dominant form today. Young skiers are not sitting around discussing the carving sensation."

Rather, younger skiers and riders such as Williams pride themselves on individuality through self-taught form, using friends and even video footage as style council for techniques that are as much about inventing jumps as smearing powder.

"You fall down and realize it's not what you want to do, so you figure out what you need to do to stay on your feet," said Williams, adding that he learned to skateboard much the same way.

Accent on retaining skiers

While the more established boomer market clings to more conservative techniques, the "error" portion of the trial-and-error method may help explain the limited growth of skiing and snowboarding among younger generations. Belin's Model for Growth recognized retention of new participants as a significant obstacle in replacing the boomers.

"One key element we learned is that we estimated that only about 15 percent of those who try skiing and snowboarding continue with the sports," Belin said. "That number served as a real wake-up call that we are not doing enough as an industry to make them into lifelong participants."

An increased willingness by resorts to break from tradition could make a difference. Places such as Copper Mountain are hopeful that offering better training will encourage younger riders to stick with the sport until they've mastered it.

"We're trying to get people away from what we call the 'huck and hope' method where they throw themselves off a jump, start spinning and hope it works out," Woodward at Copper director Ben Brown said. "This is just the next evolution of the sport, and we want to make sure we engage the next generation for a great experience for every kid that picks up skiing and snowboarding."

This a big deal for Colorado. I learned to ski as a little kid. Every public and private school, youth church group, Boy Scouts/Girl Scouts, and 4-H club along the Rockies had frequent and cheap ski trips and lessons for kids. Poverty was not an issue for skiers under 18. People got introduced to the sport early and you just about had to learn technique since there was no escaping the lessons.

Now, fewer kids learn alpine skiing and the boarders tend to hang it up after the second time they hit the ER for some totally avoidable injury. The resorts need to teach technique to the boarders and make it cheap.

Denver Post (http://www.denverpost.com/ci_13947928)

Rockntractor
12-08-2009, 10:55 AM
We are evolving into unskilled cavemen!

Gingersnap
12-08-2009, 11:11 AM
We are evolving into unskilled cavemen!

Unskilled is right. Normal-person skiing takes some practice and technique but in the end you get a lot more out of it and you can adapt to different conditions. Most of the baby boarders I see rely more on luck than anything else. There really aren't very many "older" boarders. The early 30s seems to be the cut-off point.

Every year I see stories about the 50+ crowd boarding or more women boarding but it's hard to see any of those demographic changes in real life.

linda22003
12-08-2009, 11:15 AM
New England was the same; you ended up on skis whether you really wanted to or not. When it began to cost me money, I had to ask myself whether I really enjoyed putting sticks on my feet and throwing myself off the side of a mountain. I don't, and I stopped.

Rockntractor
12-08-2009, 11:22 AM
Unskilled is right. Normal-person skiing takes some practice and technique but in the end you get a lot more out of it and you can adapt to different conditions. Most of the baby boarders I see rely more on luck than anything else. There really aren't very many "older" boarders. The early 30s seems to be the cut-off point.

Every year I see stories about the 50+ crowd boarding or more women boarding but it's hard to see any of those demographic changes in real life.

In the future they will make four tracks, two from their skis and two from their knuckles!

Rockntractor
12-08-2009, 11:44 AM
When I was a kid we had steel runner sleds that went fast down our sliding hills. We would wax the runners and pour ice don the sloops and create jumps and tunnels. We didn't have mountains but we had nice steep hills ending in frozen lakes, the walk was long back to the top of the hill and there were very few fat kids. By the time I grew up and was moving south it had devolved to plastic animal shapes and saucers that barely made it down the hill. A lot of times the parents would haul the kids back to the top with snowmobiles.

Gingersnap
12-08-2009, 11:55 AM
New England was the same; you ended up on skis whether you really wanted to or not. When it began to cost me money, I had to ask myself whether I really enjoyed putting sticks on my feet and throwing myself off the side of a mountain. I don't, and I stopped.

I switched to XC. It's cheaper, you have more versatile options, the people are better conversationalists, and you can drink while you do it as long as you remember to offer some decent cheese and crackers to anyone who sees you. :D

linda22003
12-08-2009, 12:00 PM
I used to love cross country skiing with my mother (she took it up at 60). Since moving to Virginia, there's been surprisingly little call for it.

Rockntractor
12-08-2009, 12:01 PM
I switched to XC. It's cheaper, you have more versatile options, the people are better conversationalists, and you can drink while you do it as long as you remember to offer some decent cheese and crackers to anyone who sees you. :D
More dam initials. Jeez woman do you come with a decoder book!

noonwitch
12-08-2009, 12:02 PM
I used to love downhill skiing when I was a teenager. I wasn't all that good at it, but I loved it, anyways. It is expensive, though.

I'll never be able to ski again, at least not without knee replacement surgery.

Rockntractor
12-08-2009, 12:04 PM
I used to love downhill skiing when I was a teenager. I wasn't all that good at it, but I loved it, anyways. It is expensive, though.

I'll never be able to ski again, at least not without knee replacement surgery.

You could slide down on your butt!:D

Gingersnap
12-08-2009, 12:17 PM
I used to love downhill skiing when I was a teenager. I wasn't all that good at it, but I loved it, anyways. It is expensive, though.

I'll never be able to ski again, at least not without knee replacement surgery.

You should look into cross country (XC). Quite a lot of people with knee issues are in it. There's not a lot of turning and what there is, is slow. There's no jarring or stomping. Your poles will take a lot of stress off your knees. XC is about as easy on your knees as riding a bike sedately. :)

AmPat
12-08-2009, 01:48 PM
This a big deal for Colorado. I learned to ski as a little kid. Every public and private school, youth church group, Boy Scouts/Girl Scouts, and 4-H club along the Rockies had frequent and cheap ski trips and lessons for kids. Poverty was not an issue for skiers under 18. People got introduced to the sport early and you just about had to learn technique since there was no escaping the lessons.

Now, fewer kids learn alpine skiing and the boarders tend to hang it up after the second time they hit the ER for some totally avoidable injury. The resorts need to teach technique to the boarders and make it cheap.

Denver Post (http://www.denverpost.com/ci_13947928)

How about a PM for some intel on ski deals around C.S? My kids are coming in on the 13th from the Great State of TN and want to ski/snowboard.

On topic, I believe this is a mistake. The new generation is going to get older and will be bringing into old age some broken bones.

noonwitch
12-09-2009, 08:52 AM
You could slide down on your butt!:D


I did plenty of that when my knees were still good! That's not how I ruined my knees, though. That came from work-related falls in more recent years. One was off a front porch, the other over a messed-up sidewalk.

AmPat
12-09-2009, 09:37 AM
I did plenty of that when my knees were still good! That's not how I ruined my knees, though. That came from work-related falls in more recent years. One was off a front porch, the other over a messed-up sidewalk.

How about dance class, you appear to be clumsy? :confused: *ducks and covers*:D

noonwitch
12-09-2009, 12:43 PM
How about dance class, you appear to be clumsy? :confused: *ducks and covers*:D

My mom tried that with me when I was in third grade. I was terrible, and the teacher told her not to enroll me the next year. I am clumsy-I never could even do a cartwheel as a kid.


After my last fall, I wrote up the incident report and was honest. My supervisor sent it back to me and told me that I couldn't admit to being a clutz on an incident report.

Rockntractor
12-09-2009, 12:49 PM
My mom tried that with me when I was in third grade. I was terrible, and the teacher told her not to enroll me the next year. I am clumsy-I never could even do a cartwheel as a kid.


After my last fall, I wrote up the incident report and was honest. My supervisor sent it back to me and told me that I couldn't admit to being a clutz on an incident report.
Your not enhancing your beverages a little during the day are you?

megimoo
12-09-2009, 01:02 PM
More dam initials. Jeez woman do you come with a decoder book!Man are you getting old and cranky.
X=Cross, C= Country ?Sliding down hills on those Fastback Snow Sleds sure brings back old memories.

They were great as long as the snow was packed down hard but if we hit a bare spot we were likely to go ass over tea kettle into a drift.

We finally settled on old cardboard boxes as the best way to slide down the ice coated hills at the local golf course !

noonwitch
12-09-2009, 03:17 PM
Your not enhancing your beverages a little during the day are you?


No, but perhaps I should. I always move better when I'm a bit drunk.

My employer has 0 tolerance for drinking on the job. There are some who still do drink on the job, but most of the old school workers have either died or retired. Also, driving other people's children around is part of my job at times.

PoliCon
12-09-2009, 03:46 PM
We try to go to 7 Springs at least 2x a season - but not to ski - gotta LOVE LOVE LOVE snow tubing! We take the niece and nephews and have a blast! It's loads of fun watching the little ones go down and wanna run right back up to do it again!