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The Top 10 'Storm Skiing Journal' Articles of All Time
Ranked by number of views
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Now that we’ve surveyed the top 10 Storm Skiing Podcasts of all time (by number of downloads), here’s a look at the most-read articles. Interestingly, none of them are podcasts (there are two ways to measure a Storm Skiing Podcast – by number of downloads across the various podcasting services, including Substack, and by number of views of the corresponding Storm Skiing Journal article). As you can see below, I’ve published 331 articles, including this one, since launching The Storm in October 2019. Here are the 10 most read:
10) This Chart Itemizes Every Lift Ticket Coalition in America – May 6, 2022
I’m not sure how well this chart aged. It’s a pain in the ass to maintain, and it’s not terribly easy to use. These maps, created by this guy, are much better. But I had to create it. And while I will continue to update it, eventually I’ll come up with something better that I can combine with my other monster, the Pass Tracker 5001. Until then, enjoy this peak inside my brain, where everything must be organized into rows.
Back when there was no such thing as the internet or my kids, I used to daydream about hitting every ski area in America in a single winter. It would be a rambling adventure, a delightful logistical puzzle, a pointless but interesting exercise of the sort that produces niche memoirs and “hey-I-once-did-this-dumb-thing” stories that make you legendary among your friends.
I never did the trip, and never even really planned it. But as the ski season pass has evolved from an expensive, locals-only, single-mountain product into a discount punch card accessing dozens of resorts across the continent, I’ve considered it often as a thought exercise.
9) Idle Lifts, Bare Slopes, Stunted Operating Hours – Vail Resorts Must Do Better – Jan. 6, 2022
Despite solid operating numbers, Vail Resorts did not have its best season last winter. I’ll say it again: anywhere Vail Resorts operates, it must provide the best possible ski experience in the region. That did not happen last winter. This dispatch, released just after a challenging holiday season defined by a personnel-crippling Covid surge, distilled many of the Epic frustrations skiers felt across U.S. America last year.
[Last week] Attitash, with a quarter of its terrain open, and Wildcat, with less than 20 percent, lagged far behind some other New Hampshire resorts – sprawling Loon was 60 percent open, with eight lifts spinning; Pats Peak – just 20 minutes from Crotched, with roughly half its trails live – was nearly 100 percent open. At least New Hampshire Epic Pass holders could ski: none of Vail’s four Ohio ski areas opened, and neither did Paoli Peaks in neighboring Indiana. Their independent competitors – Snow Trails, Ohio and Perfect North, Indiana – opened, albeit with limited terrain (A Vail Resorts spokesman said that temperatures have been insufficient to pursue snowmaking at its Ohio resorts, which are not as cold as Snow Trails). Both of Vail’s Missouri ski areas – the only two ski areas in the state – sat idle.
And then, of course, there’s Stevens Pass, the beloved Washington State beauty humping off the top of the Cascades. Vail’s Waterloo. Perhaps.
8) 2022-23 Season Pass Sales Begin – Here’s What I’m Watching – Feb. 26, 2022
This is the sort of post that I built The Storm for – not to just dryly report what happened, but to talk about what I think could happen and why. Sure, prices may go up, but why? Yes, Indy Pass has more blackout tiers than languages spoken on planet Earth, but what is the logic behind that? This sort of analysis was, for the most part, missing. There’s nothing special about this post, and I don’t know why it caught fire more than any other, but you can expect a lot more of this sort of thing in the future.
A circa 1998 skier, $1,700 mega-mountain season pass dangling from his neon onsie and rocking the latest parabolic skis, would be shocked to launch off a poached jump in the “snowboard park” and enter a wormhole into 2022. So many questions. “Why are there eight people on one chairlift? What’s a Revelstoke? American Skiing Company and Intrawest are still fighting it out for supremacy, right? No? Wait, why does Vail own Whistler? Why does Vail own everything? And why is their season pass five dollars? And why are there 5,000 people waiting in the liftline at Okemo? And why does a lift-ticket to Steamboat cost more than an RV?”
7) The Storm Is Tracking Every 2022-23 U.S. Ski Season Pass With This Chart – March 6, 2022
See number 10 above. I’m a little bit insane. But this particular chart runs back a little farther in Storm history – I made the first, Northeast-specific, highly shitty version of this list back in April 2020. It’s evolved since. It still needs to be better, but this simple post always draws a ton of email sign-ups, which is ultimately how this whole operation continues to grow.
… after roughly 500 more hours than I had estimated it would take, I am pleased to provide you with the Pass Tracker 5001.
6) Rob Katz Changed Skiing. What Comes Next for Vail Resorts – Dec. 29, 2021
This article took me a really long time to write. The news hit, first of all, while I was on vacation, so I missed the initial news cycle. With the extra time I had, I decided to take a deeper look at Katz’s career, interviewing some of his biggest competitors – Boyne CEO Stephen Kircher, Alterra CEO Rusty Gregory – and a bunch of other high-level ski folks to get their take on Katz’s impact and legacy. Then I just didn’t quite have the time to focus on it until, well, my whole family got Covid over Christmas and I spent eight days sequestered in the basement. Anyway, the reaction to this story was kind of hilarious to me. There are a lot of people who want to view Vail as all good or all bad, and assume any commentary I write on the company must be freighted with some agenda. It isn’t. I’m not pro- or anti-Vail. I just write what I think. And this article was as honest an assessment of my worldview as anything else I’ve written.
Fourteen years ago, it looked like this: A season pass to Palisades Tahoe was $1,799; Park City, $1,150; Whistler, $1,399; Vail Mountain, $1,849. Nearly every mountain had its own pass, good at that mountain and no other mountain. Sales typically began shortly before ski season.
If you had a season pass, you were probably a local. Or a second homeowner who racked up 50 days a year on weekends up from the city. Otherwise, why bother? Lift tickets were cheap, deals plentiful. Ski-shop vouchers proliferated. A few years before, I had flown to Colorado last-minute after finding an amazing lift-ticket deal online: ski six of nine late-season days at Vail’s four Colorado resorts for $99.
5) America’s Hidden Megapass – 3 Days Each at 48 Mountains, Plus a Season Pass, for $299 – July 12, 2021
If any Storm article ever had a material impact on the volume of ski passes sold for a particular resort, it must have been this one. I was shocked by how much traction this story received. This pass, after all, has been around for years. It was the Indy Pass before the Indy Pass – multiple days at an eclectic selection of mountains. Lots of western mountains have extensive reciprocal networks, of course, but most of the partnerships live in the mountain west – only Ski Cooper has created something that could truly be called a national pass. And the price is low enough to make this a peak-day escape-from-megamountain-chaos option for anyone who already has a megapass.
Ski Cooper’s sprawling season pass access is also the logical end state of a lift-served skiing universe increasingly defined by the Epic and Ikon passes, with their dazzling collections of poke-through-the-clouds resorts, relentless marketing, and fantastically achievable price points. Small ski areas, sitting alone, have a harder story to tell and far fewer resources to do it. Band together, and the story gets more interesting. And Ski Cooper is telling one of the best stories in skiing.
4) Ikon Pass Adds Snowbasin, Sun Valley, Chamonix for 2022-23 Season, Drops Crystal from Unlimited Tier on Full Ikon Pass, Alta and Deer Valley Leave Base Pass for Base Plus - March 3, 2022
This one likely wins the prize for longest headline in Storm history. There was a lot to cover, and I had to write fast, so the headline ended up having more keywords than a table of contents. I’ve written dozens of pass stories, so I’m not sure, exactly, whey this one exploded. But it did capture, frankly, a number of consequential developments that reshaped skiing’s second-largest megapass in important ways: Snowbasin and Sun Valley ditched Epic? Chamonix to Ikon! No more unlimited Crystal on any Ikon Pass? No more Alta or Deer Valley on the Base Pass? Any one of these is a story on its own – wrapped all together, and you need a few thousand words to process it all.
With that barn fire still pushing towers of smoke over the horizon, Alterra had considerable leverage to raise prices coming into the 2022-23 pass-sales season. The price had stood at $999 for two years. The Ikon Pass hosts what is unquestionably the strongest wall-to-wall collection of ski resorts on the planet. Even after a slight price increase, the pass (especially the child pass), is a tremendous value.
3) Single-Day Lift Ticket on Vail Mountain Hits $1,566 – April 1, 2021
Long before I started The Storm, I wrote a satire column for McSweeney’s. I could write satire and nothing else and be perfectly content. I love doing it. But U.S. American reality long ago became weirder than fiction, and I started The Storm partly so I had something to distract me from politics. But I still get to do satire once per year, and I love the April Fool’s post. I didn’t do one the first year – no one was in a laughing mood on April 1, 2020, so this absurd post - which some people still, amazingly, bit on - was the debut.
Skiers arriving at Vail’s namesake Colorado resort over the weekend were shocked to find four-digit prices greeting them at the ticket window. Adult one-day lift tickets were listed at $1,566, a nearly 700 percent increase over the previous peak price of $229. A child’s one-day lift ticket rose to $798.
“This is an outrage,” said Abner Stevens, 92, a retired mining engineer who was walking back to the car with his wife and six grandchildren. “Why I remember when you could barter a little squirrel meat and a shotgun shell for a ride on the chairlift. Now these damn kids will just waste the whole day Faceposting on their Nintendos.”
2) Band of Nitwits Highjacks Gunstock, Ski Area’s Future Uncertain – July 24, 2022
On the national ski scene, Gunstock barely registers. Even in New England, it has a tough time squeezing into a conversation about the top 25 resorts. But the notion of a ski area commandeered by a pack of ideological twits got lots of attention – enough that this one jumped past the Vail day ticket post, which I thought was cemented in the number two spot until the end of time.
Without senior leaders, the ski area now has even less to work with. “I'm not sure that the commission understands how many moving parts there are to running a ski area,” [Gunstock General Manager Tom] Day [who had just resigned] told me. “Winter approaches a lot faster in the ski business than it does in the normal person's world. I sincerely hope that the commission can recognize that they've got a large hole to dig themselves out of. We offered to stay for two more weeks as a transition period, but obviously they didn't feel that that discussion was worth having. So how will Gunstock operate this winter? I think they've got their hands full, and I wish the best of luck to our staff who bust their ass to make things run there. But winter comes fast and right now it's in total disarray.”
1) Alta, Deer Valley, Mad River Glen Must Allow Snowboarding, Court Rules - April 1, 2022
Leave it to The Storm to break the really important stories. After holding out for decades from the snowboarding fad, a federal judge finally forced Alta, Deer Valley, and Mad River Glen to allow the sport earlier this year. So now you can totally go snowboarding at Deer Valley and you should definitely do that next season. Seriously, though – the funniest part of this article may be the outraged comments at the bottom.
“Brah I’m hella stoked,” said Den Carruthers, the 19-year-old Carlsbad, California-based snowboarder who brought the suit after he skied over Sugarloaf Pass from Snowbird in 2019 and Alta personnel refused to allow him to board the lift back up. “They made me take the bus home and shit. I was like, ‘Brah do you even know how much money my dad makes?’”
Snowboarders who had experienced similar encounters at Deer Valley and Mad River Glen joined the suit, and yesterday’s ruling ends all on-slope snowboard bans in the United States. Carruthers said he intended to head back to Utah “as soon as my mom is done ironing my hoodies.”
The Storm publishes year-round, and guarantees 100 articles per year. This is article 85/100 in 2022, and number 331 since launching on Oct. 13, 2019. Want to send feedback? Reply to this email and I will answer (unless you sound insane, or, more likely, I just get busy). You can also email firstname.lastname@example.org.