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I’m currently on vacation with my family, so the next scheduled all-new Storm post will be a downhill Indy Pass partner drop on Wednesday, Aug. 24 (it’s a really cool one!). The next scheduled podcast is with the incomparable Jason Blevins of The Colorado Sun in early September – if you’re not familiar with his work, he is pretty much unanimously considered to be the best ski journalist in America. Beyond that, the fall lineup is absolutely stacked. I have conversations lined up with Boyne Resorts CEO Stephen Kircher and the general managers/presidents/whatevers of Sun Valley, Winter Park, Vail Mountain, Nubs Nob, Bromley, Pats Peak, Brundage, and many, many more. I’ve even booked a few episodes for early 2023, with the leaders of Mt. Spokane, Whitefish, and Eaglecrest all locked in. You can see the full lineup here (this is the kind of thing, by the way, that I update paid subscribers on weekly; paid subs also get new pods three full days before free subs):
There’s also a tab on the spreadsheet with links to all 107 previously published podcasts (95 Storm Skiing Podcasts and 12 Covid-19 & Skiing special editions, most of which were recorded at the height of the pandemic in early 2020). That’s a lot of content. It can be hard to sort through or keep track of. So I thought I’d give you a place to start. I didn’t really consider a “10 favorite episodes” list – I genuinely have enjoyed creating them all. But measuring by sheer number of downloads is an easy metric. So here you go, in reverse order from 10 to one, the most listened-to Storm Skiing Podcasts from the first two years and 10 months of the show’s life:
10) Summit at Snoqualmie General Manager Guy Lawrence – April 20, 2022
The raw and unapologetic passion of Pacific Northwest skiers has shocked me. I live in the Northeast, where people are like, “fuck you our mountains rule,” even though they only actually rule every so often. So I thought I was living the extremes of U.S. American regionalist ski enthusiasm. Wrong. I’ve only recorded three Pacific Northwest-specific podcasts, and all three are in the top 10. Even more notable, I recorded all three within the past nine months. I released this one the same day as Summit unleashed their ambitious 2030 plan, which will reskin Alpental with a new lift fleet and modernize the rest of the sprawling ski area with new lodges, more lifts, and - gasp! - snowmaking.
9) Steamboat President and Chief Operating Officer Rob Perlman – Dec. 9, 2021
No surprise here. Steamboat is one of Alterra’s flagship resorts, stuck in one of the snowier corners of skiing’s flagship state. Steamboat is big, fun, snowy, and easy, with some of the most approachable terrain of any large U.S. ski resort. Plus the town is terrific. It’s also undergoing what is perhaps the most dramatic transformation of any large U.S. ski area, a multi-year project that will make Steamboat the second-largest resort in the state after Vail with the gnarly Pioneer Ridge expansion and completely reconfigure large sections of the mountain. The centerpiece of the whole thing is the Wild Blue Gondola, a two-stage, 10-passenger, 3.1-mile-long monster, the first phase of which is going up this summer.
8) Timberline Lodge, Oregon Area Operator Jeff Kohnstamm – Jan. 21, 2022
Again with the PNW. The extreme popularity of any pod that I slap a “Washington” or “Oregon” tag on is the closest The Storm can come to merchandising (that makes it all the more painful that I had to cancel the Mount Hood Meadows pod earlier this month – I explained why in the paid-only section of this post). It makes me very curious to see how the Mt. Spokane pod will do. Anyway, this is another ski area in the midst of massive change. Last season, Timberline officially incorporated the small Summit ski area into its footprint, giving the resort the largest continuous vertical drop in the United States. You just can’t currently get from the bottom to the top without taking a shuttlebus, a chairlift, and then a Snowcat. But after this conversation, the U.S. Forest Service accepted an updated Timberline master plan, which includes a gondola that would finally connect the ski areas with a lift.
7) Smugglers’ Notch owner Bill Stritzler – Nov. 19, 2021
If I did ever publish a list of my all-time favorite podcasts, Bill might make the top five. He might make the top one. Bill is smart, fearless, blunt, and articulate. The Storm started in the Northeast and stayed there for nearly two years – the first 49 Storm Skiing Podcasts were focused almost exclusively on the region (with a handful of exceptions). The Smuggs pod is the only one to make the top 10. There’s good reason for that, as you’ll hear. But the lack of New England presence in the top 10 underscores that I made the correct decision in scaling this whole thing up to a national audience last September – there are a lot of skiers out there, and this format adapts easily and logically to new regions. Still, I have no intention of stepping away from the Northeast, and Bill is exhibit A for why that is.
6) Big Sky President and Chief Operating Officer Taylor Middleton – April 6, 2022
The timing was perfect here: in February, Big Sky owner Boyne resorts announced a base-to-Lone-Peak-summit gondola-tram network that will become one of North America’s most iconic skiing landmarks. Six weeks later, Taylor came on the pod to break the whole project down. That was an accident. I had actually timed this podcast to record just after I returned from my trip to Big Sky, which never happened. Because we all know why. Next year. But this podcast’s popularity was likely due to the confluence of many factors, the most important of which is that this is a kick-ass ski area, run by a dude who showed up out of the Alabama ether 42 years ago when it was a not-so-kick-ass ski area. Middleton is Big Sky. It was like getting to interview Mickey Mantle and ask why he never left the Yankees.
5) Alterra Mountain Company CEO Rusty Gregory – March 25, 2021
This was the second of Rusty’s three appearances on The Storm, and his podcasts have more combined downloads than anyone else’s. He is a fantastic interview, and these regular appearances have become one of the more impactful Storm traditions, in which Rusty gives us about 40 percent more insight than Alterra’s [very excellent] PR team would like him to.
4) Jackson Hole Mountain Resort President Mary Kate Buckley – Nov. 17, 2021
A lot of skiers consider Jackson Hole to be the top ski resort in America. It probably is. And for a while, it was the most controversial. The Ikon Pass hit like an asteroid in 2018, threatening to immolate the ski area’s Local Bro culture along with it. But Buckley, however improbably, tamed the liftlines with a deft mix of reservations and ticket and pass limitations. That’s not what we talked about here, but if you want insight into how America’s most-prominent ski resort runs day-to-day, start here.
3) Crystal Mountain, Washington CEO Frank DeBerry – Oct. 22, 2021
For about three weeks in early 2020 (before 2020 really got going), Crystal Mountain was the megapass Sacrifice of the Month that everyone was gaping at. After six snowless weeks to start the season, the snow came, Tahoe-style, all at once. Ikon-equipped Seattle-metro skiers activated Ski Mode, and suddenly traffic was backed up 42 miles to Enumclaw every Saturday and Sunday. The parking lots were full by 7:30 in the morning. “Turn around now and go change back into your flannel shirts,” Crystal warned via roadside signs and social media. At the time, the ski area was unlimited on the Ikon Base Pass, and it seemed as though everyone in affluent, ski-crazy, ski area-underequipped Seattle had one. This wasn’t going to work. Frank fixed it. Alterra let him. It’s a pretty cool story actually.
2) Alterra Mountain Company CEO Rusty Gregory – May 5, 2020
This is the only podcast from 2020 on the list. And it’s the only one other than Rusty’s second Storm appearance in April 2021 that wasn’t released in the past 10 months. There’s a pretty straightforward reason for that: when I shifted The Storm’s scope to national last September, it instantly turbocharged the platform. The increase in email subscribers was immediate and permanent. More subscribers, more downloads. But this one is an anomaly for a couple reasons: first, it hit right around the height of Covid stay-at-home orders, when millions of people didn’t really have anything else to do (millions of people did not listen to this podcast). Second, Rusty does an awful lot of interviews with the business press, who ask truly insightful questions, such as, “when will Alterra do an IPO?” and “when do you think the company will go public?” and “have you considered a public stock offering?” Good stuff, Guys. Me and Rusty have this thing where we just talk about skiing and the Ikon Pass. It’s pretty rad.
1) Vail Resorts Executive Chairperson of the Board Rob Katz
A predictable win for the biggest name in the ski biz. The lead on this one is comfortable enough that it will be some time before anyone surpasses Rob for most downloads of a single episode. Some notes here: this interview hit at the height of Vail Resort’s troubled 2021-22 ski season. Vail did not ask me to avoid any topics or specific questions. Rob answered everything I asked. He gave me way more time than I’d requested. He’s as smart and insightful as you’d imagine. This is an Epic Pass 101 history course, a counter to Vail Sucks Bro’s indiscriminate gunfire, and a peek inside The Machine. If you’ve never listened to a Storm Skiing Podcast before, start here.
The Storm publishes year-round, and guarantees 100 articles per year. This is article 84/100 in 2022, and number 330 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.
I haven't listened to all of these yet, but definitely good material in there. I think a lot of people will really miss out on some other gems if they dont go beyond this list -- especially some of the small resort ones like #75 Rick Schmitz and #87 TJ and Wendy Kerscher. And then there is the Jackson Hogen episode which is just it's own thing. And then there's #78 Beaver Mountain and #82 Arapahoe which feature such refreshing independent operators. Oh my gosh, almost forgot about #50 Caberfae Peaks Tim Meyer. Those are some of my favorites so far
Tyler Cowen is on to something when he says one of the best ways to learn about business it to read (or listen to) a lot of material on a single topic that you find interesting. Almost every podcast episode has really good business stories, insight, experience, and wisdom.
PS, finally subsrcibed, partly to make this comment, but also, because I value what you are putting out. Thank you!
Speaking of Top 10's, I'd be really interested in seeing a list of your Top 10 favorite ski resorts! Not looking for any objective, uniform metrics that sites dedicated to reviewing things have, I'm just totally curious what resorts come to your mind. My guess, is Jay Peak would be one of them with how you regard that place on The Storm. And probably one that wouldn't make that list is that Massachusetts ski area with the angry lifties yelling at you for raising the bar slightly too early lol