News Roundup: Merry Christmas

25 thoughts on “News Roundup: Merry Christmas

  1. carletongebhardt December 24, 2021 / 8:18 pm

    Attitash and Wildcat are also apologizing for the lack of terrain open. Perhaps other Vail resorts are as well, but I haven’t checked…

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    • Vail Sucks December 24, 2021 / 9:22 pm

      They could try paying more than $13/hr for snowmakers.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Donald Reif December 25, 2021 / 5:04 am

        Obvious username is obvious.

        Also, not much Vail Resorts can do about the weather being non-cooperative towards snowmaking efforts. And there’s only so much they can do about the staffing issues.

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        • Jaytrem December 25, 2021 / 5:59 am

          Problem in NH is that every other ski area around them is doing a much better job while dealing with the same issues. Vail is doing an okay job in VT for whatever reason. NH is a disaster.

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        • Ryan December 25, 2021 / 10:35 am

          Exactly, Donald. It’s not just about the pay. The weather has to be right to be able to make snow, and if people are not willing to work they will not work, even if the pay is higher. I think COVID has helped to teach people that life is too short to be doing work you don’t enjoy and that there are other opportunities out there. Additionally, I know that many of the mountains here in Colorado received quite a few seasonal workers from out of country and COVID has thrown that all out of whack as well. The truth is, there are a great number of monkey wrenches that have been thrown into the mix here that has caused a lot of problems these past 2 years. I suppose pay is one of them but then again so is finding some place to live/lodge close-by.

          Liked by 2 people

        • VAIL BORG December 25, 2021 / 3:39 pm

          Weird how Vail seems to struggle with these issues so much more than other skis resorts in the region. Also weird how it is a nationwide issue for Vail. Vail sure has a lot of excuses and lack of accountability. Especially out of Broomfield where they micromanage everything.

          Liked by 1 person

        • Donald Reif December 26, 2021 / 9:36 pm

          “I suppose pay is one of them but then again so is finding some place to live/lodge close-by.” This is definitely a big factor when one considers the cost of living.

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        • Will December 28, 2021 / 2:33 pm

          People here don’t like when big corporations swoop in and make changes that aren’t necessary or are overly homogenous. You just don’t seem to understand the fierce independence of PNW ski culture, and that’s ok.

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    • skitheeast December 25, 2021 / 3:59 pm

      Stevens not having Mill Valley or Big Chief open despite their huge base is entirely on them for not having adequate staff. Either raise wages, provide incentives, treat employees better, or do something.

      Wildcat refusing to say why the summit is closed is crazy. It is not a staff issue, as they are running Tomcat which is a less important lift, so it is either maintenance or snowmaking. They should read Magic’s Alpine Updates that explain exactly why the Red and Black Chairs are not open if they do not know how to phrase anything.

      Attitash is almost admitting they just do not have the staff to run more than three lifts. Flying Yankee was spinning a week ago, and it is now gone as Bear has opened. That is just embarrassing.

      These apologies are nice but meaningless when you can tell that parts of it were directly from higher-ups or PR and not the GMs. Transparency is key, and Vail does not have this when everything has to funnel through Broomfield.

      Other Vail properties that should issue some statement: Keystone (only 20 trails) and Crested Butte (similar to Stevens with a 60 in reported base and 28% open).

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Anthony December 24, 2021 / 11:57 pm

    I honestly think Vail has a serious problem on its hands.

    I don’t think they’re going to be facing any big revenue hits or anything company-wide, but they will in specific areas of the country. And they’re facing an increasingly hostile group of passionate skiers…passionate skiers who (contrary to popular belief) do have options. Baker and Mission Ridge are both fantastic resorts near Stevens, and they’re locally-owned and know how to operate a resort. Snoqualmie Pass and Crystal aren’t facing these ops issues, either.

    It seems to be a direct result of Vail’s:

    – tendency to have non-industry people running their resorts
    – general lack of real-time communication
    – cost-cutting and insurance-mindedness

    This situation just doesn’t seem sustainable.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Kirk December 25, 2021 / 9:02 am

    Vail staffing shortages in Tahoe also, NorthStar and Heavenly.

    Altera’s ski areas are not near as micro managed as Vail’s. The individual resorts can actually make some decisions on there own and no vaccine passport required for employment.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. colosteve December 25, 2021 / 3:20 pm

    Is magic truly that much of a shoestring operation?? They seem to get a lot of love for an area that cannot finish a lift for multiple years and now this problem.

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    • skitheeast December 25, 2021 / 4:43 pm

      Magic is really in a tricky situation. It is in between the large, well-funded Stratton and Okemo, and Bromley is already the “alternative” option in the region. People love the mountain because the terrain is pretty great, but it needs snow to be firing, which is problematic in the current age of warmer temperatures and less snow. Previous owners have tried to grow its market size and failed. As a result, the current management team acknowledges that revenue will always be limited due to the small market and has lowered expenses as a result. They have also made the decision to be open and transparent to their market to make them feel a sense of ownership and connection to the mountain in an effort to have high retention.

      Liked by 1 person

      • colosteve December 25, 2021 / 4:54 pm

        That’s great information. I just thought it was strange that despite hearing things on the storm skiing podcast that their visits are way up but pragmatic leadership seems to be the correct answer in this case.

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    • ne_skier December 25, 2021 / 6:37 pm

      Compared to its nearby resorts (Stratton, Okemo, Bromley) Magic is still on a shoestring, but not as much as prior to the current ownership. For what it’s worth, the current ownership took Magic from a severely underfunded resort with just about no snowmaking and only one lift to rely on to what it is now, which is by no means wealthy, but they are no longer in a state of imminent bankruptcy, which is where they were in 2016. Had the sale not been made, Magic would have been NELSAPed without a doubt.

      As a Magic skier I am a bit biased here, but although the slow installation of Black is far from ideal, there are legitimate reasons for it, and it simply isn’t enough to spoil the mood of most of their regulars. Last year saw just Red and Green operating, and with the exceptions of MLK, President’s Weekend, and other powder days, Black was not desperately needed. Keep in mind this was with capacity limitations in place on both lifts due to Covid (Situations like what’s happening now with Red however demonstrate the perhaps more important use of a secondary summit lift, as a backup if the primary goes down). Additionally, a great sum of Magic’s frequent skier base is made up of expert skiers, which makes sense considering Magic has arguably some of the best ungroomed skiing in the east south of Killington. It’s not very likely that Magic skiers would willingly make an exodus to Stratton or Okemo unless something much more drastic were to happen.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Peter L Burkett December 25, 2021 / 4:44 pm

    Lift Blog claims Stevens Pass has 5 lifts operating. Amend that please. 2 of the 5 “lifts” are magic carpets that are used to prepare beginners for the Daisy chair, which itself is a beginner chair. In reality Stevens Pass is maybe operating Skyline, Brooks and/or Hogsback chairs and at night only Daisy and one of the forementioned lifts. Pretty sad for a ski area. Real sad when considering that Vail (Fail) has the wherewithall to actually run a class operation, but is determined to run SP into the dirt.

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    • pbropetech December 26, 2021 / 3:48 pm

      According to my contacts and the general industry grapevine, Stevens is running five aerial lifts: Daisy, Hogsback, Skyline, Brooks, and Seventh Heaven. Night skiing consists of Daisy and either Skyline or Hogsback (can’t remember which). I hesitate to be too critical of another operation, knowing what it takes to operate a ski area, but it does seem as though the current management and operational philosophy up there is at odds with their customer base and staffing realities. I used to know the staff there pretty well and all of them are gone. From what I understand, they left mainly because of their new employers. I’ve heard they’re cross-training F&B workers to run lifts. Meanwhile the two places I used to work for up there are doing just fine facing the same realities.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Wiggles December 26, 2021 / 4:18 pm

        Vail seems like a company who culture is to treat employees as expendable because they had a healthy supply of cheap employees who would rather work at a Ski Resort than McDonalds for similar pay and near unlimited J1s to keep things running. Treat them like shit, pay them peanuts, over staff and churn was the approach. They have not adjusted to this new reality where employees and hard to come by and McDonalds pays more, offers more incentives and a better culture. Valuing employees and keeping them around is not something they know how to do. They where always replaceable. It definitely shows and is clearly a culture problem coming from Broomfield. A season pass is no longer an incentive to work for them. Unlimited supply of J1s are a thing of a past. Sadly I don’t see Broomfield changing course until it starts to effect their bottom line, stock price and/or epic pass sales drop. They also have near monopoly in a lot of markets so little incentive to change. Also no apology from those markets. Only from markets where they have a healthy competition that is kicking their butt. Which is very telling in itself. I personally will not ski a vail resort until they treat their employees better and let resorts have some individual character/culture. Between the INDY and IKON passes competition is still alive in some markets. I plan on supporting that competition.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Collin Parsons December 26, 2021 / 8:41 pm

          I’m starting to see Vail as the “discount chain” in the ski industry. To get that 600 dollar pass, something has to give. Either they make it up in volume, cut costs, or some combination of both. But if it continues to be much cheaper than the competition, then people will still buy it. Also, keep in mind that the Epic Pass is useable in a much wider geographic area than the Ikon Pass. Pretty much anyone in a cold climate metro area is within day trip reach of a resort on the Epic Pass, where you get unlimited access. That’s not the case for Ikon. If you live in or near NYC, Epic has JFBB and Hunter, which are both day trips. Ikon has Windham, but it’s only a 5/7 partner.

          Liked by 1 person

        • Muni December 26, 2021 / 9:25 pm

          The staffing issue at Vail resorts seems to be not just one of quantity, but also ‘quality’ (at least in terms of training and experience). Prime example: On 12/24 at 11:15 am, I was in line for Chair 11 (Northwoods) at Vail when a beginner snowboarder loading with five other passengers fell to the ground. Totally normal. What happened next was not at all. The chair just kept going. It dragged them along the ground as the rider’s friends yelled, repeatedly, “stop the lift!”. The lift did not stop until the chair had dragged the rider past the loading platform where they then fell into softer snow. I’d never seen something like that before. The lifties are usually fully alert and stop the chair nearly immediately.

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        • Wiggles December 26, 2021 / 10:55 pm

          @Muni Take a look at Northwoods before employees became harder to get.

          Vail had 3 lifties watching it. That used to be their way. Overstaff it with cheap disposable labor they did not train or care about. Now they can barely find 1 employee to watch it. They still don’t train, invest or care about that employee, just churn so that employee in return doesn’t really care. In theory they could find one competent employee, pay them double and make them feel valued and come out ahead… But that is not their culture. Employees are disposable.

          @Collin Vail defiantly has a monopoly in a-lot of markets and it shows. People are just stuck with subpar service. Id bet good money 7springs shortens their season and never opens lifts or trails in the coming years. In the markets like NH and Washington where they don’t have a monopoly you see faux apologies and a lot of unhappy customers. Hopefully Alterra can catch up. They should have the resources as the Henry Crown Company is unbelievably loaded and KSL is no slouch. The Indy Pass add-on is also a very competitive option if you have a Indy Resort near by you can get a season pass at.

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        • Ryan December 27, 2021 / 5:44 pm

          You seem to think that all they have to do is pay more money and then people will come wanting to work. I think it goes deeper than that. I bet they could raise the price $5.00-15.00 more an hour and would still struggle to find people wanting to do that type of work. There is more to a job then just the pay. A lot more. It needs to be something you enjoy and are passionate about and that is what people have been learning these past few years.

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        • pbropetech December 31, 2021 / 9:31 am

          Ryan, you hit the nail on the head. I feel that the culture is just as big a part, if not bigger, than the paycheque. It’s definitely one of the reasons why I don’t work in a more traditional industrial setting despite the pay differential.

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    • Cascade Concrete December 27, 2021 / 8:17 pm

      As a Crystal guy, I desperately wish Stevens was in better shape. We already have a crowding issue here without dealing with refugees from Stevens too

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  6. Yair December 30, 2021 / 5:48 pm

    This is the second year in a row Kimberly has to deal with the outcome of the stupid decision to have only one chairlift out of the base to access the entire mountain.
    They should really consider changing their chair lift situation.
    In general the chairlift infrastructure in most of the Canadian ski resorts suck, even for the bigger resorts.

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