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Old March 3rd 08, 01:07 AM posted to rec.skiing.nordic
32 Degrees B
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Posts: 34
Default 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


On Mar 1, 8:46*pm, gr wrote:
Jeff Potter (of 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

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.


$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) (
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 (
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..
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