Powdr Launches “Fast Tracks” Lanes at Killington, Snowbird, Copper, and Mt. Bachelor
I'll play devil's advocate here. As bad as Killington can get, it has nothing on Stratton - where the lines on popular weekends are much longer and the options around them are much fewer (choice of 2 fast upper-mountain lifts, plus 1 half-upper-mountain), and there are ski-schoolers and racers going through priority lanes at every lift. Stratton also has Bear Track lanes for its Mountain Club members, which don't get enough use to cause a riot. And in spite of all this, people keep coming.
So Killington has room to degrade, most likely without losing any business.
When I was living in communism, the foreign tourists, paying in hard currency, had priority. We HATED that from the bottom of our hearts. But we adapted, we didn't pay for tickets, but bribed the lift personnel and had total priority. America resembles that experience. If you ever skied in the Alps, you know how far behind the US is.
I'm with you Stuart, and let loose much more colorful language upon hearing the news. I have a place not too far from Killington. I got an Ikon pass and was figuring to add on a supplemental pass for extra Killington days. NO MORE. I will embrace the extra minutes to Sugarbush or Stratton, or spring for that Indy Pass I've been eyeing. I won't do anything to endorse this insidious, culture-destroying misstep. I hope they reconsider. I'm with Luke about how Disney handled the crowd-control mission much better. How can we organize heckling of those in the Fast Tracks lane?
Was it really necessary to use the F-bomb? Not very professional and I find it offensive!
Copper has had some sort of premium line cutting option. I've seldom seen anyone use it. At other ski areas' just hire a ski instructor/line buster for an all day private.
Can't decide which over the top - and thus entirely apropos - rantlet I like best in this piece. I guess it's between the quip about the Jargonator 5000 and "Free Market Guy."
I've always had mixed feelings about Powdr Corp. For a long time, my sentiment was mostly negative, for their business strategy was to neglect and squeeze every dollar possible out of every ski resort of theirs except for their golden child Park City UT. Ski resorts under their ownership that weren't Park City, would see little to no investment, shorter seasons, marginal grooming, lifts that are normally very reliable brands like Doppelmayr having critical failures, not focusing on reducing or eliminating emissions, base areas that weren't the main base area (at resorts with multiple bases and parking lots) not opening until the holiday season and closing by the end of February or March, and more. For example, in the late 1990's, Mt. Bachelor peaked somewhere around 1 million skier visits, but after Powdr Corp acquired that ski resort in 2001, visitation sharply fell over the years to a low of 397,211 visits in the 2008-2009 ski season, with similar visitation in the adjacent seasons. Mt. Bachelor's downfall during that era had ripple effects throughout Oregon - the economy of Bend suffered as a result, and other Oregon ski areas were getting flooded with newfound visitors and revenue. Hoodoo installed two new fixed grip quads to replace their aging Riblet fixed grip doubles, Timberline Lodge greatly expanded their terrain with the Jeff Flood Express, Mt. Hood Meadows installed the Vista Express, Stadium Express, and a covered carpet for beginners replacing the rope tow, among numerous other improvements. And probably my favorite was Willamette Pass, a comparatively small ski resort when compared to its other rivals in the Cascade Range installing Oregon's first (and as of this writing) only high speed six pack chairlift, converted to a gondola in the summer for mountain biking and sightseeing.
Mt. Bachelor is doing much better now, enough so that Willamette Pass is now struggling. Willamette Pass is running their six pack at a very slow speed to conserve power and reduce wear & tear, and they're hoping to sell it off to another ski resort and keep the towers to be used for a cheap fixed grip quad installation as a replacement, which is pretty depressing, but ski industry competition can be brutal! But I will never forget visiting Mt. Bachelor during their "dark ages", and staying with my father in a nearly empty and dead silent Sunriver. We were the only ones who rented a vacation home on that street, all the others were dark and had no cars in their driveway - the only sounds emanating from them were the chirps of smoke detectors with low battery power.
Of course, Mt. Bachelor didn't recover without what seemed to be a fundamental shift in Powdr Corp's business approach after they lost Park City in 2014, after failing to pay their bills to the land owner Talisker. After Powdr Corp lost their golden child, they were forced to realize the value and potential of the rest of their properties, and thus began a great era of Powdr Corp reinvesting and breathing new life into their ski resorts and investing in new ventures like Woodward (even creating a whole new ski area, Woodward Park City), and greatly focusing on environmental sustainability.
But I guess some things don't change either. I hope this "Fast Tracks" concept creates a PR nightmare for them. I've realized that Powdr Corp can only be motivated to make the best and most ethical decisions when their horrible choices blow up in their face.
I think Storm King is a new addition to Copper's lineup of express-lane lifts (and the one I'm most bummed about). In all honesty, I never noticed the fancy pass holders cutting lines last season. Then again, I try to avoid Copper's base lifts at all costs. My understanding is in years past, only folks with a special *season* pass could cut lines at Copper. Now, with daily upgrades available, I imagine it could become a higher-volume occurence. No bueno.
Including Bear Mountain at Killington is just insulting. You're really going to add a premium line to an aging Yan fixed-grip? Maybe just start be re-commissioning the Devil's Fiddle Chair. As for Superstar, they should really just give Mikeala her own line. I would definitely be on board with that.
As for the rest of us, here's where I recommend making your turns this season:
- COPPER: Three Bears, Resolution, and Alpine ... I don't think I've ever seen a line on Resolution! But keep in mind knee surgery might be just as expensive as those pass add-ons.
- KILLINGTON: The Canyon Quad ... by far the best snow on the mountain
- SNOWBIRD: Just ski Alta
In all seriousness, this development is really bad news for the American skiing experience. I can already see the ultra-monied elite, in their fur-lined designer snowsuits, gliding past a maze full of jealous onlookers; their surgically modified noses held aloft. Maybe I should start bringing cans of old paint ... or tomatoes ...
Happy Anniversary. Congratulations to you and your wife/editor
Stuart, the reason I was so unhappy with Mr. China Peak Marketing savant dude and his wonderful opinion of himself, is that those people make big bucks writing stuff like : "We are exploring the opportunity to solve for our guests greatest pain points by becoming one of the first adventure lifestyle companies to provide upgrades that maximize the on-mountain experience.”
Kill that with fire.
Many are saying that, eh, this has been done before, but not in a time when flash mobs are formed on social media overnight. We'll see how it all works out. I mean, when ever has a U.S.. senator jumped into the frey over ticket pricing?
It only REALLY "works" for Powdr if it causes a significant revenue rise. If revenue is flat, or up slightly, or down this is a fail. Certainly when you factor in the PR value.
So it really all comes down to us. They've kind of stacked the deck in a BS way, by doing it well after your best customers already bought in, in a big way. The question is will we remember next year or accept it as reality at that time.
I guess on the other side, they could call our bluff and offer pass refunds this season. Haha, think about the PR on that story.
I’m not sure if Disney still does it, but years ago they had a system where _everyone_ could access the “fast” lines for free. You would basically go to their little machine, choose a ride, and it would give you a ticket with a time reservation. Show up between 2 and 2:15 and you got to skip the line at Space Mountain or whatever. That was the first time I didn’t hate on the “fast lanes” because everyone got a chance to use one.
W.r.t. Wolf Creek, the vibe on r/COsnow is basically “Wolf Creek just ensured they won't be first by announcing they WILL be first.” But they're also only planning on opening what’s effectively their bunny hills, and getting 14-inches in 24 hours certainly gives them an edge over Loveland/Keystone/A-Basin. But I guess we’ll see!
I completely agree with your take on this. Absolutely hate it. Let’s also look at it from an additional angle: through the lens of the lift operator. Can you imagine running this show, shuffling the privileged onto the lifts as the peasantry fumes? They are going to need riot control training. And the language around the announcement is outrageous. This is a zero-sum game if there ever was one: the benefit to one group is purely at the expense of another.