Ski season, so far

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This past holiday weekend is traditionally a big one for the ski
industry. So how are Vermont’s ski resorts fairing this winter? On the
next Vermont Edition, we’ll learn how resorts in our area are working to
draw in visitors, despite the high cost of skiing and riding. And we’ll
look at what people expect when they pay a high price for that lift
ticket. Our guests are Mary McKhann of the Snow Industry Letter, and
Parker Riehle of the Vermont Ski Areas Association.

Also in the program, the determination of one Bennington County woman
launched a fundraiser for low-income heating assistance that’s raised
$110,00 over the last several years. We talk with Martha Robertson about
the program she founded, "Ski for Heat," and the annual fundraiser
they’re sponsoring this weekend.(Listen)

And VPR’s Nina Keck reports on how ski resorts use terrain parks to attract new business. (Listen)


Listener comments:


Michael in Rutland:

Have Parker discuss if the insurance rates
for Vermont ski areas are expensive compared to other states.  As a
lawyer, I can only say that there was an interesting case against a ski
area about 30 years ago that made them more liable than before and many
ski areas went out of business as a result of that case.  It’s really
sad because we need small local ski hills for families and those who
don’t have much money.


Trey in Weston:

I am an Alpine race coach at Bromley Mountain in southwest Vermont. The
mountain offers a $39 midweek ticket that doesn’t seem to draw as many
snowsports enhtusiast as it could. Bromley’s snowmaking and grooming (not to mention Mother Nature’s best efforts to date) have provided us with the best possible skiing you could ask for. Where the heck is everybody? (And no, I am not employed by the mountain itself.) 


Moises in Middlebury:

My family and I are enjoying our second winter here in Vermont after
relocating from Arizona. We are learning to adjust to a real winter. Now that
we are a bit more comfortable with cold weather we are looking forward to
participating in winter recreation. What are some resources which we could use to learn about winter recreation and how to become involved? I am especially interested in how do it in the most economical way possible. We are a family with four children and the perceived high cost of winter sports has seriously concerned us.  


Paul in Bridport:

Is the constant building at ski areas sustainable? What is the end point of these developments? Is the out-building of these areas just ways to keep the money flowing?  


Scott Clarkson, Okemo Mountain Resort:

There are lots of deals for locals… those that don’t
agree are just not looking very hard. Here at Okemo we have special rates on
Wednesdays for $39 early & late in the season. We also have Appreciation
Thursdays for $39 during these times. We also have a Sunday Morning Solution
ticket for Vermont & New Hampshire residents for just $35. This ticket is valid
from 8:00 AM until 1:30 PM EVERY non-holiday Sunday. That’s 5-1/2 hours (the
best 5-1/2 hours of the day!) for only $6.36 per hour. You can’t go bowling
for these rates.
Okemo and Stratton share a midweek pass for $299 that anyone
can buy, and a 7-day non holiday pass valid at both Okemo, Stratton and Mt.
Sunapee (NH) is just $589. These are 2008-09 rates, and are subject to 6% tax.



In response to your guests comments, I’d just like to say, first, that mid-week deals are a sham since most Vermonters work during the week and, second, that most of those jobs that the resorts provide are low-paying and low-benefit seasonal jobs.  



I myself find the serenity and calm of  back country touring on such trails as the Catamount Trail.  This seems to be a growing trend, with metal-edged back country skis.  As an employee of Onion River Sports I see more and more people coming into get away from the resorts and into quieter, more wooded areas.  What do you think resorts can do to attract these people?  I see this as a growing trend.




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