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-   -   Economic strategies for trail systems... (http://www.skibanter.com/showthread.php?t=17291)

Jeff Potter (of OutYourBackdoor.com) February 29th 08 01:28 PM

Economic strategies for trail systems...
 
I just read the new issue of "Cross Country Skier" magazine. It has a
story in it about the economics of various ski areas---sm, med and
large. Interesting stuff!

One of the lessons: rapidly rising grooming costs due to fuel.
Probably equipment and operator cost aren't light either. And perhaps
a big chunk of operator cost involves, like fuel, another aspect of
the kind of costs that are overrunning the whole nation: health care
and govt fees (unemp comp; soc sec).

I detect also a two-prong aspect to the XC market: one was described
in the article in the other was ignored.

The described market is that "skiers are picky"---they want well-
groomed trails---and these are expensive. This would be the yuppy part
of the market, no doubt---they can handle the big day fees and any
amount of rising costs. Some ski systems might even seem a bit like a
winter and "healthy" version of elite golf courses. Fine.

The ignored market might be worth further consideration. This is the
SINGLETRACK scene of XC. It can still be high performance and high
satisfaction (like all good singletrack). This is less-groomed skiing.
Probably mostly classic done in a touring style. One snowmobile could
groom if need be. This would be the lowest cost form of XC possible.
Anywhere there's a trail there is GREAT xc. It doesn't have to be a
highly polished trail, immaculated groomed. Just the basics. It
doesn't have to be wide. It doesn't have to be bulldozed. It can
require skiing skill. A system of trails like this can be made out of
hiking trails in some cases. It would offer the same level of trail
fun in winter that the same trails offer hikers and mtbikers in the
summer: as good as it gets. If someone loves biking a trail in
summer---it's just as fun to ski it in winter. In some cases.
Obviously the rocks, roots, gnarlies are less user-friendly. The point
is that many of these trails see thousands of joyous riders in summer.
The same level of trail polish could deliver the trail to skiers for
the same kind of rewards.

The other point is that you could have your $20/day-pass "buffed"
trail system on one side of the road. And on the other side of the
road you could have a $1/day singletrack system.

Ski culture---and marketing---at present is focused on the $20/day
side.

Does $1/day elite skiing have any potential? To skiers, I mean. As
skiers. (Rather than consumers, say.)

If cost is ever an issue for someone who might be interested in
skiing---then I suggest minimally-groomed singletrack is the solution.
Because of it's very low cost. (Equipment needs to be a bit wider and
more supportive, otherwise it's the same sport.)

Would XC operators ever "split their ticket" to show the differences
and cater to AND DEVELOP the different markets?

I note furthermore that mtbiking seems to have more running/
snowshoeing being pushed its way for winter-use of its trails than any
kind of xc.

--JP

Melinda Shore February 29th 08 01:40 PM

Economic strategies for trail systems...
 
In article ,
Jeff Potter (of OutYourBackdoor.com) wrote:
The ignored market might be worth further consideration. This is the
SINGLETRACK scene of XC. It can still be high performance and high
satisfaction (like all good singletrack). This is less-groomed skiing.
Probably mostly classic done in a touring style. One snowmobile could
groom if need be. This would be the lowest cost form of XC possible.


Well, no - the lowest-cost form of XC is a person, a pair of
skis, and a bunch of land. Around here we've got a huge
amount of public land, paid for through taxes rather than
use fees. There are, however, occasional contentions around
multi-use issues, with some skiers frankly having
expectations of pristine conditions in state forests, which
is deeply, deeply uncool. So, I think to the extent that a
$1/day single-track resort might have any appeal beyond
public land, it might be guarantees that there won't be
people doing other activities on the trails.

BTW, I finally tried that Start grip tape last night and
really, really liked it. About 5F and a little humid, and
it just worked. No muss, no fuss, no stopping to tune up
the wax. Just skiing.
--
Melinda Shore - Software longa, hardware brevis -

Prouder than ever to be a member of the reality-based community

Jeff Potter (of OutYourBackdoor.com) March 1st 08 02:58 AM

Economic strategies for trail systems...
 
On Feb 29, 9:40 am, (Melinda Shore) wrote:
In article ,
Jeff Potter (of OutYourBackdoor.com) wrote:

The ignored market might be worth further consideration. This is the
SINGLETRACK scene of XC. It can still be high performance and high
satisfaction (like all good singletrack). This is less-groomed skiing.
Probably mostly classic done in a touring style. One snowmobile could
groom if need be. This would be the lowest cost form of XC possible.


Well, no - the lowest-cost form of XC is a person, a pair of
skis, and a bunch of land.


Yeah. I meant organized or optimized. Skiing off a trail is fun but
not such high performance. Skiing on most any kind of trail can be
darn high performance. A little packing goes a long ways.

Around here we've got a huge
amount of public land, paid for through taxes rather than
use fees. There are, however, occasional contentions around
multi-use issues, with some skiers frankly having
expectations of pristine conditions in state forests, which
is deeply, deeply uncool.


Ouch. Expecting grooming for free? Well, it probably IS a good use of
tax money! : )

So, I think to the extent that a
$1/day single-track resort might have any appeal beyond
public land, it might be guarantees that there won't be
people doing other activities on the trails.


I used to be somewhat fussy about other users but no more. Oddly the
change for me occurred when I got good at classic rollerskiing---when
I no longer needed a track for optimal striding. To keep a growth
model I'd think we'd want to be as open about the trails as possible.
But hippo tracks in the ski tracks are lame. Walkers are OK, shoers
OK...runners get a little severe...bikers are really bad when the snow
is soft or slushy---then freezes! Maybe any other use gets tiresome
when there's slush-and-freeze.

BTW, I finally tried that Start grip tape last night and
really, really liked it. About 5F and a little humid, and
it just worked. No muss, no fuss, no stopping to tune up
the wax. Just skiing.


Someday I'll apply the batch that I have. But I just keep on putting
on the wax of the day and having great skiing so I haven't been able
to make myself do anything different. My hand just keeps reaching for
"easy best." Someday I'll do the tape...


32 Degrees B March 3rd 08 12:07 AM

Economic strategies for trail systems...
 
Jeff, I've been throwing around the idea of getting an old snowmobile
(or better yet a new 4 cylinder, less exhaust output model) and a
simple single track pull behind groomer (or having one made by a
friend who welds even cheaper). Take this out on some sweet state
land near my house and bammo, 30k of single track. The kind of single
track that mountain bikers enjoy - over hill and dale, around trees,
winding, twisting, turning. Like you and the terrain are one. I'd
take that over the 20 foot wide trail any day.

PS. did the black mountain 34k this weekend. Now, there's some
terrain.

JKal.


On Mar 1, 8:46*pm, gr wrote:
Jeff Potter (of OutYourBackdoor.com) wrote:



I just read the new issue of "Cross Country Skier" magazine. It has a
story in it about the economics of various ski areas---sm, med and
large. Interesting stuff!


One of the lessons: rapidly rising grooming costs due to fuel.
Probably equipment and operator cost aren't light either. And perhaps
a big chunk of operator cost involves, like fuel, another aspect of
the kind of costs that are overrunning the whole nation: health care
and govt fees (unemp comp; soc sec).


I detect also a two-prong aspect to the XC market: one was described
in the article in the other was ignored.


The described market is that "skiers are picky"---they want well-
groomed trails---and these are expensive. This would be the yuppy part
of the market, no doubt---they can handle the big day fees and any
amount of rising costs. Some ski systems might even seem a bit like a
winter and "healthy" version of elite golf courses. Fine.


The ignored market might be worth further consideration. This is the
SINGLETRACK scene of XC. It can still be high performance and high
satisfaction (like all good singletrack). This is less-groomed skiing.
Probably mostly classic done in a touring style. One snowmobile could
groom if need be. This would be the lowest cost form of XC possible.
Anywhere there's a trail there is GREAT xc. It doesn't have to be a
highly polished trail, immaculated groomed. Just the basics. It
doesn't have to be wide. It doesn't have to be bulldozed. It can
require skiing skill. A system of trails like this can be made out of
hiking trails in some cases. It would offer the same level of trail
fun in winter that the same trails offer hikers and mtbikers in the
summer: as good as it gets. If someone loves biking a trail in
summer---it's just as fun to ski it in winter. In some cases.
Obviously the rocks, roots, gnarlies are less user-friendly. The point
is that many of these trails see thousands of joyous riders in summer.
The same level of trail polish could deliver the trail to skiers for
the same kind of rewards.


The other point is that you could have your $20/day-pass "buffed"
trail system on one side of the road. And on the other side of the
road you could have a $1/day singletrack system.


Ski culture---and marketing---at present is focused on the $20/day
side.


Does $1/day elite skiing have any potential? To skiers, I mean. As
skiers. (Rather than consumers, say.)


If cost is ever an issue for someone who might be interested in
skiing---then I suggest minimally-groomed singletrack is the solution.
Because of it's very low cost. (Equipment needs to be a bit wider and
more supportive, otherwise it's the same sport.)


Would XC operators ever "split their ticket" to show the differences
and cater to AND DEVELOP the different markets?


I note furthermore that mtbiking seems to have more running/
snowshoeing being pushed its way for winter-use of its trails than any
kind of xc.


--JP


$1 would be nice, but would not cover costs very well. If someone did it
as a hobby, on public land (so no land taxes to cover) it could work.
Locally (Rochester NY) we have several parks which have various types of
grooming (Mendon Ponds in particular, which had trails laid out with xc
in mind) (http://www.monroecounty.gov/Image/MendonPark.pdf).
And another place on NY state land, down in the Finger Lakes (Harriet
Hollister Spencer) (which gets much more reliable snow). Both places
almost lost all grooming because *for one place the coach that was doing
it for free retired to Florida, and for the other because the county had
no money to pay a groomer.
A few years ago a local xc ski foundation was formed (xcrochester.com)
which provides (through donations) 100% of the grooming cost for the
Harriet site, and pays 50% of the groomer cost for the county.
For the public this ended up being free grooming. The Foundation website
even lists trail conditions (mostly very up-to-date) and when last groomed..http://xcrochester.com/new/conditions.htm#
gr- Hide quoted text -

- Show quoted text -



[email protected] March 3rd 08 11:42 AM

Economic strategies for trail systems...
 


- Show quoted text -


FYI: In the local foundation setting up grooming for trails, they found
that the snowmobile needs to go quite slow to do a good job (I don't
know why though), and because of this a std air cooled machine does not
work (overheats), and a pricier water cooled snowmobile is needed. They
had to get rid one an air cooled one at the one site and replace it.
gr


This is because the county bought the wrong machine in the first
place. The Ski-doo Skandic SWT is a proven machine for grooming ski
trails and is used by many to groom. The equipment operator also has
to understand how to properly operate the equipment. I have groomed
with Skandics for years and they work great. I have also groomed with
lesser machines with good results also, just need to use more brains.
Fast skis do not always mean fast skier, good machines do not always
mean good grooming- both take learning and practice.

Joe

Dave M-K March 3rd 08 02:00 PM

Economic strategies for trail systems...
 
It's not just yuppies that want high quality grooming. At our local trail
system, if the grooming is sub-par, we hear it from guys in spandex and guys
in Dickies and Packer's jackets. You might mistake a yooper for a yuppie in
print but not on the trail.

Last week I was skiing our trails and noticed someone from out of town, I
was a bit bummed becasue the grooming was below our standard, mostly a
function of snow conditions. The people I saw later posted a trail report
saying the trails 'couldn't be better'. It's all relative.

I think overall the expectations for grooming have gone up considerably in
recent years. The bar has been raised and it's hard to go back.

Having said that there are lots of trails on public land that are much like
the single track you describe. They are often groomed by govt entitites
because they are the only ones that can afford to do it. You don't hear
much about them becasue they don't spend any money on marketing. Even a
very modest grooming operation takes money. If you are charging even $2 a
day and get 1000 skier days a year, pretty high use, you've got a grooming
budget of $2000. That doesn't go very far when you factor in equipment
costs and upkeep.

There are some places out there that manage to pull it off but it's hard.
The most successful have someone involved who is doing a labor of love. I
know volunteer groomers that are regularly up at 5 grooming, but they are
the exception.

Dave
"Jeff Potter (of OutYourBackdoor.com)" wrote in
message
...
On Feb 29, 9:40 am, (Melinda Shore) wrote:
In article
,
Jeff Potter (of OutYourBackdoor.com) wrote:

The ignored market might be worth further consideration. This is the
SINGLETRACK scene of XC. It can still be high performance and high
satisfaction (like all good singletrack). This is less-groomed skiing.
Probably mostly classic done in a touring style. One snowmobile could
groom if need be. This would be the lowest cost form of XC possible.


Well, no - the lowest-cost form of XC is a person, a pair of
skis, and a bunch of land.


Yeah. I meant organized or optimized. Skiing off a trail is fun but
not such high performance. Skiing on most any kind of trail can be
darn high performance. A little packing goes a long ways.

Around here we've got a huge
amount of public land, paid for through taxes rather than
use fees. There are, however, occasional contentions around
multi-use issues, with some skiers frankly having
expectations of pristine conditions in state forests, which
is deeply, deeply uncool.


Ouch. Expecting grooming for free? Well, it probably IS a good use of
tax money! : )

So, I think to the extent that a
$1/day single-track resort might have any appeal beyond
public land, it might be guarantees that there won't be
people doing other activities on the trails.


I used to be somewhat fussy about other users but no more. Oddly the
change for me occurred when I got good at classic rollerskiing---when
I no longer needed a track for optimal striding. To keep a growth
model I'd think we'd want to be as open about the trails as possible.
But hippo tracks in the ski tracks are lame. Walkers are OK, shoers
OK...runners get a little severe...bikers are really bad when the snow
is soft or slushy---then freezes! Maybe any other use gets tiresome
when there's slush-and-freeze.

BTW, I finally tried that Start grip tape last night and
really, really liked it. About 5F and a little humid, and
it just worked. No muss, no fuss, no stopping to tune up
the wax. Just skiing.


Someday I'll apply the batch that I have. But I just keep on putting
on the wax of the day and having great skiing so I haven't been able
to make myself do anything different. My hand just keeps reaching for
"easy best." Someday I'll do the tape...





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