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I started skiing in 1989 at age 30 and early on I wanted to be an expert. I wasn’t sure what defined an expert other than some vague idea about being able to “ski anything.” What is an expert?
I recently skied with my six-year-old for the first time on a black rated trail. Gore’s Sagamore is essentially a long blue trail with two black pitches. Skiing it doesn’t make my daughter an expert. She’s an advanced beginner who skied expert terrain. Expert status is about how you get down not what you get down.
I did a little research and found a definition:
“Expert skiers are adept at handling varied terrain and different snow conditions. The terrain may include steeps, trees, and moguls, or a combination of the three. Snow conditions might include hard pack, ice, crud, or powder, as well as groomed or ungroomed snow.
Expert skiing requires quick adjustments to speed, turn radius, and balance to maintain control at all times.”
Over the past week, many skiers were excited to see video, images, and trip reports of skin tracks and powder from the forests of West Virginia. I saw them, and they were awesome for any time of year, let alone late October.
That joy we enjoyed on the backside stood in sharp contrast to the awful side of the storm that our neighbors faced at the front.
And now, the news cycle is turning the page to other stories about blue and red states. As the mainstream media and public suffer from disaster fatigue, the story of Sandy will inevitably be swept aside. In the process there are devastated communities that will also be brushed from our consciousness.
There are some basic truths that human beings are eventually forced to recognize — day follows night; winter is the best season; and lift-served skiing is a really expensive sport. After overcoming the hurdles of paying for equipment, clothing, gas, lodging, food, lessons, and lift tickets, it’s a wonder that we’re psychically capable of strapping on our boots at the base lodge.
As a survival technique, skiers and boarders are genetically wired to look for deals, and one of the most obvious places is lift tickets. 2-for-1 coupons, season passes, and buying at offsite ski shops are some of the time-tested ways to take a small bite out of this unavoidable cost.
Six years ago, Evan Reece and Ron Schneidermann figured out another way — one that benefits both the supply and demand end of the equation. By using a variation of congestion pricing, their popular website Liftopia enables skiers to score discounts and at the same time helps resorts sell tickets during off-peak periods. Harvey spoke to Ron about the company’s business model and core markets.
NYSkiBlog: How did Liftopia start? Is the company run by skiers?
Ron: Evan Reece and I started Liftopia back in 2005. We met while working together at the online travel website Hotwire.com. I worked in Business Development and Evan worked on the Supplier Team doing revenue management for hotels in ski areas. The whole idea originated over an IM conversation about whether to head up to Tahoe to ski despite the lack of fresh snow, and we quickly realized that there was a huge opportunity to help ski areas sell things like lift tickets, lessons, and rentals online and in advance with prices that change depending on the demand for any given date.
Advertisers spend a lot of time trying to fuse the words “effortless” and “skiing.” Flip to an ad for Beaver Creek in Ski Magazine and you’ll probably find a pampered skier making silky turns across a canvas of untracked corduroy. Just like a professional dancer, he or she has probably trained for years to produce a smooth performance.
Enter Bode Miller. He may be popular with the ladies, but his skiing is anything but smooth. Just listen to the yelling in the start house as Miller prepares to throw his body through every turn in the course ahead. The finesse is there, but he’s not afraid to look like he’s trying.
Miller’s win in the World Cup downhill shouldn’t be a surprise. He put together an exceptionally smooth run, betraying his fight against physics only a couple of times. The guy knows what he’s doing and last week at Beaver Creek, he served up a reminder to fans and competitors alike that he’s still got it.