Each fall when SKI Magazine publishes their annual reader survey of eastern ski resorts, we hear a lot of griping about the results. This year one of our contributors, Coach Z, decided to set up a similar poll and put it out for NY Ski Blog readers.
Coach used the same mountains as the SKI survey, except that he added, admittedly arbitrarily, Gore Mountain to the mix. The survey was posted in our Forums and ran from Oct 20 to Oct 31, 2012.
A note on methodology: we don’t claim that our survey was scientific or all-inclusive. It was done somewhat “on a lark” and the volume of response surprised us. It is now our intent to do this survey annually. We’ll work to make it our own and improve its value next year.
Respondents were primarily from New York and New Jersey:
• 25% live North of Glens Falls or in the North Country
• 33% live Upstate from Glens falls down through the Hudson Valley
• The remainder, over 40%, are flatlanders
They ski in New York:
• 40% called Gore Mountain their home mountain
• 20% are Whiteface passholders
• 15% are Catskill regulars (Plattekill, Belleyare, Hunter)
• 15% were free agents, not tied to a ski area
NYSkiBlog readers are avid skiers and consider themselves accomplished:
• 50% ski 25 or more days per season
• 30% ski over 50 days each year
• Over 75% have a season pass to a ski area
• Survey respondents rated their skills on average 7.8 out of 10
• A few are either World Cup skiers or delusional
How we choose our mountains: Terrain variety is most important to survey respondents followed closely by snow quality and challenge. Lifts and ease of access to the ski area follow, with après ski and lodging uniformly last. Comments in the forum suggest that the most important après activitires are malt beverages on the deck and a good nights sleep.
Resort Rankings are directly from the numbers, and comments are distilled by our editorial staff.
1. Stowe: The combination of the hard core terrain and good snow with the new lodging and vacation experience put Stowe at the top. The terrain delivers with tough bump runs, trees, and plenty of fun cruising blues.
2. Jay Peak: Best snow by far, great tree skiing, plus the new resort lodging and amenities make Jay a very close second. Remote location is one negative factor.
3. Whiteface: Tops in challenge and sustained vertical. Not as popular with intermediate skiers and still retains the “Iceface” moniker from many respondents. Lake Placid, while not slopeside, is a strong positive.
4. Smuggler’s Notch: Has both a soft and hard core side. Great snow and terrain. Lifts are old and slow.
5. Gore Mountain: Big area with multiple terrain pods and different aspects which helps on windy days. Steep in parts, but many runs are short. Good tree skiing. Very popular with intermediate skiers. Proximity to big population areas is a plus.
6. Killington: The biggest area in the East sprawls over a huge area. Can be very expensive and crowded. Traffic can make trails icy on weekends. Good skiing for all levels.
7. Sugarloaf: Low rating is likely due to remote location: many respondents have not skied it. Huge mountain with excellent skiing for all levels. Good destination vacation experience. The Loaf is currently going through growth period with a focus on adding more glade skiing.
8. Sunday River: Good large, but remote area, that’s hard to access for NY skiers. Plenty of terrain for all levels. Does not get as much snow as some other areas.
9. Mt Tremblant: “Alpine Village” may gain points with Ski Magazine readers who rate the resort #1 but the skiing didn’t stack up for our readers. Expensive and crowded.
10. Loon: A nice intermediate mountain popular with the Boston market that gets very crowded on weekends.
11. Holiday Valley: Good lake effect snowfall, but 700 vertical was an issue for our readers. Holiday Valley is the closest resort to many Midwestern markets and may influence the Ski Magazine ranking.