Planning Guide

Things Your Ski Resort Won’t Tell You

1.    "Snowboarders Are Our Best Friend – and Our Worst Enemy"

Sky TrailSince the number of Alpine skiers has dropped to about 14 percent for the recent decade, most ski resorts experience tough time. In order to maintain the decent level of profits ski resorts do everything possible to attract snowboarders whose number has increased roughly 21 during the same period. But skiers must beware of snowboarders who are very hazardous to their health. Very often a skier can be knocked down by a snowboarder and this can lead to injuries. Having both skiers and snowboarders on the mountains always means trouble. First of all these two sports have a completely different rhythm. In addition snowboarders have a blind spot whereas skiers don’t and a reputation of being really reckless. But profit margins dictate that the resorts let snowboarders rule the mountains.

2.    "We Fudge Our Snow Conditions"

Have you ever wondered why one ski resort boasts 12 inches of perfectly packed snow while the other one down the road reports only 4 inches? Many snow-surface advisors do admit that their estimates are not precise but rather approximate. They account it by the fact that there can be 2 inches in one place and 18 inches in another so they typically provide some average figure. And when the weather conditions are really bad many skiing resorts count primarily on euphemisms. By saying "thin spots" they actually mean rock, and the taboo words are "frozen" (because it is often associated with ice) and "rain".

3.    "Climate Change Could Run Us Into the Ground"

A soft winter can easily make any ski resort go in the red. And as the climatic changes are inevitable and the weather is rather unpredictable, all ski resorts now have snowmaking equipment that considerably increases their expenses. And the snowmaking costs continue to grow meaning the increase of the cost of services. In fact skiing as a form of recreational activity has already become pretty expensive. Resorts also try to save where possible, primarily on staff and supply. For instance, there can be fewer ski patrollers on the slopes with half equipped portable safety kits.

Fortunately not all resorts care only about profit. 12 of Colorado’s 26 ski resorts offset 100% of their energy use with renewable energy credits. Also environmental impact statements are run to minimize land damage when new lifts are installed or new terrain is added. For instance Arapahoe Basin recently has added 400 acres of terrain and cut down only 1 percent of trees.

4.    "Only Suckers Pay Full Price"

Planning skiing in Colorado Springs make sure you check the local retailer Ski Shop for discounted one-day lift tickets. Here you can get $20 off the on-the-mountain rate when purchasing a one-day ski ticket for Winter Park or you can save about $10 if you prefer to ski Copper Mountain. 

Indeed, the lift ticket price system is rather complicated and can seem a real maze for the beginners as each season the prices do fluctuate several times and are typically up by 4 percent from one year to the next. But those willing to score good deals can always get discounts. Check www.cheapskiingguide.com for discounted tickets in nine states including Vermont, New Hampshire and New York.

5.    "Our Instructors Need Lessons Themselves"

In fact, about half of all ski instructors have only minimal experience which allows them to do only the most basic turns. According to the Professional Ski Instructors of America (PSIA) that set guidelines at most resorts many certified instructors have Level One and only 25 percent of instructors have Level Three which means the highest level of skiing mastery. Moreover, in most cases the instructors aren’t PSIA certified at all as some of them become instructors just to get the free season ticket and enjoy the slopes.

6.    "We’re Blowing Snow - And a Lot of Hot Air"

Ski resorts don’t stop boasting about the first-rate snowmaking equipment they are using to create the perfect conditions for their skiers all season long. For example, Heavenly Mountain Resort in Nevada brags to have the largest snowmaking system on the West Coast while Maine’s Sunday River claims to own 1, 570 snow guns. But the problem is that snow making equipment can create first-rate powdery snow only under the condition that the weather is really very cold. Man-made snow is only good if the temperature doesn’t exceed 29 degrees. If snow is made above 29 degrees it is not fluffy and has the consistency of a snowball. Besides, no resort can blanket all its terrain and most of them depend heavily on the help of Mother Nature to create the superb conditions they boast on their sites. In fact, there are only few resorts that could cover all the mountain slopes with man-made snow but the weather must be ideal for that. Unfortunately such perfect conditions come along rather rarely.

7.    "Skiing Is Getting More and More Dangerous All the Time"

 Skiing is really becoming more hazardous to your health, especially the knees. Vermont Safety Research that gathers data on skiing injuries revealed the statistics according to which there were about 15,000 tears of the anterior cruciate ligament in the 2006-7 season. And ski resorts are to be blamed as well.

The problem is that some resorts have "groomed" their trails, or removed some snow to make the slopes smoother and sleeker, increasing the chances of having knee injuries as skiers can easily increase the speed and tend to ski more aggressively. Another reason is active promotion of shaped or "parabolic skis’ which make it very easy to turn that is why many people ski at higher speeds and more recklessly.

8.    "Beware of Scenic Trails"

Nowadays many ski resorts offer scenic wooded trail which are very popular among the skiers. Of course, skiing down the picturesque runs through beautiful groves of pine trees offers unmatched "natural ski experience" which is hard to resist. But there is a substantial drawback to this kind of commuting with nature: there have been approximately 38 skiing deaths across the country per year for the past 20 years. And in most lethal cases a skier hit an obstacle which was often a tree. Those who still can’t resist the temptation of running the wooded trails must stay alert and try to ski reasonably slow. And consider wearing a snowsports helmet, if possible.

9.    "So Sue Us – You’ll Never Collect’

Many personal injury lawyers don’t even want to take on a skiing related injury case as the chances of winning such a case are very slim. It is next to impossible to prove that it is the fault of the resort. The problem is that every state where skiing is widespread has a statute that indemnifies resort operators from "injuries to skier that result from the inherent risks of the sport’. The only exception can be really severe cases of gross negligence on the part of the resort like not removing a huge tree that has fallen right on the trail. But such incidents are rare and there is still no guarantee of wining the case. Skiing is a very dangerous sport and if you are a beginner in skiing running the slope meant for professionals in case of an accident the resort will claim that it is your own fault.

10.    "Welcome to Rocky Mountain High"

While most people like to treat themselves with hot chocolate when skiing, there are people who have other preferences – marijuana. Some skiers believe that if they are high in the mountains they are free from prosecution. But this is not true. Pot gives thrill-seeking skiers and snowboarders extra adrenaline making them more receptive to nature they see around them. But smoking marijuana makes skiing too reckless and the desire to "feel good" can result in having the limbs broken and being taken to ER.