The Top ‘Storm Skiing Podcasts’ of 2023 Are Not What You Think They Are
'The Storm's' annual year in review
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Before I reset the article odometer and race toward 100 in 2024, let’s reflect on where Storm Nation traveled in the past year.
I kicked out 115 articles, 46 of which were podcasts (44 Storm Skiing Podcasts and two live podcasts), in 2023. This was fewer than the 140 that landed in your inbox in 2022, for two reasons: 1) I wasn’t stuck on my ass with a broken leg for 80 percent of the year, and, 2) a far higher percentage of this year’s articles included original reporting, which considerably ratchets up the time required to produce each one. So quality over quantity, or perhaps just an evolution of the product. The number of Storm Skiing Podcasts, I’ll note, was (coincidentally), exactly the same.
The Storm continued to grow both as a business and as a cultural influence and reference point. Free and paid subscriber numbers grew substantially (thank YOU for that). The number of exclusive or embargoed (meaning I have the information and can write the story before it’s known to the general public) stories increased as well. The non-ski media is noticing: I’m quoted in The Wall Street Journal (The $300 Lift Ticket That Every Skier Hates), The Boston Globe (These Days, Even a Ski Bum Needs A Spreadsheet), KPCW Utah, and Outside (Can the Indy Pass Save Skiing from the Ikon and Epic Pass Hordes?). I also appeared on podcasts with RealSkiers’ Jackson Hogen and Travel Weekly. (If you’re a media person writing about the world of lift-served skiing, I’m available to talk about it. Email me at email@example.com).
But not everything I write resonates equally. And while I don’t sit around obsessing over metrics, they exist, and they help me understand where The Storm is most valuable, and what track it ought to follow in the coming year. Here’s a look at what hit biggest in 2023:
THE TOP 10 STORM ARTICLES OF 2023
There’s no good pattern to explain what hits big and what’s merely average, traffic-wise. How to explain that three of the top 10 (really top 11), articles of the past year focused on Indy Pass, while only one directly explores the Ikon Pass? Some of the top stories itemized below (10b, 5, 2, 1) are laboriously reported exclusives (meaning The Storm reported the story first). Others are barely better than press release reprints (8). Analysis and opinion (9, 7, 6, 4, 3) always hit big. Others (10a) I just made up.
So you never know. In conclusion: expect another mad mix of these sorts of stories in 2024. Here, by number of views, were the top 10 (really 11) Storm Skiing Journal articles of 2023:
10) (tie) U.S. Forest Service Lifts Advertising Ban; Vail, Jackson Hole, Mammoth & More Announce Corporate Sponsorships (published April 1)
In an alternate universe, I’m writing satire full-time. It’s probably my favorite thing to do (and I briefly nudged my writing career that way, before the entire world became satire). With The Storm, I get to do it once per year. This one didn’t hit quite like the 2022 and 2021 editions, which each claimed the number one spot for total views in their respective years. Perhaps that’s for the best, as far as brand integrity goes. Still, this was one of my favorite posts of the year.
Vail Mountain, the largest ski area in Colorado and one of the most-visited in America, signed a 10-year, $100 million agreement with Taco Bell that will touch nearly every part of the resort.
The most significant element will be a rebranding of the Back Bowls to the “Taco Bowls.” Vail’s seven bowls - Sun Down, Sun Up, Tea Cup, China, Siberia, Inner Mongolia, and Outer Mongolia – will be renamed, respectively: Taco Bowl, Chalupa Bowl, Mexican Pizza Bowl, Gordita Bowl, Crunchwrap Supreme Bowl, Doritos Locos Taco Bowl, and Think Outside the Bun Bowl.
Skiers will also benefit: once they scan their 2023-24 Epic Pass on Vail Mountain, it will automatically be loaded with 50 “Taco Bucks,” that can be redeemed at any Colorado Taco Bell.
“Vail Mountain is the best ski area in America, and Taco Bell prepares the best food in America, so this is a natural fit,” Vail Mountain Chief Partnerships Officer Rex Abigail told The Storm Skiing Journal on Saturday morning. “Plus, with the prestige of this major corporate sponsorship, we can now charge even more for lift tickets… [muffled] what’s that? No? We can’t actually say that? … [voice loud again on the phone] Hey can you delete that part?”
To promote the new partnership and alleviate stress for commuting skiers, Vail will deploy dozens of “Taco Trucks” to roam the shoulder of Interstate 70 on weekends and holidays. While a full menu is not yet confirmed, a draft copy leaked to The Storm featured a $99 “Experience of a Lifetime Cravings Kit,” which includes one taco. Taco Bucks, a resort representative confirmed, would not be redeemable at mobile Taco Trucks.
10) (tie) Indy Pass Declares War as Ski Cooper Joins Powder Alliance, Supercharging Its Season Pass Coalition (July 4)
This may have been the 10th most-read Storm article of 2023, but it ranks number one for the amount of ruckus it caused. Likely due to the war metaphor, which, for the record, Indy itself did not suggest, endorse, or, frankly, appreciate. More on this down the list.
Ski Cooper officials have been careful not to frame their season pass as a national multi-mountain product. “There are a handful of people, if they're in an area that's concentrated with our partners, that might get our pass,” Ski Cooper GM Dan Torsell told me in 2021. “‘We're just going to buy the Cooper pass. We can ski here and we can go out there.’ But honestly that's not the objective.”
But as Ski Cooper’s network has grown larger than even the Epic or Ikon passes – the ski area now hosts the largest group of reciprocal partners in skiing, with one of the lowest season pass prices in America – the Indy Pass has begun viewing Ski Cooper’s de-facto megapass as a threat both to its business and to its partners.
“We need to start talking about the gorilla in the room,” said Indy Pass owner Erik Mogensen. “The Ski Cooper pass is intentionally gaming reciprocal agreements to the detriment of all independent operators.”
9) Does Park City Want to Be a Ski Town, or Not? (Nov. 20)
Every time I write something like this, knuckleheads start hammering on the fact that I live in New York, and how could I possibly have an opinion on local issues in Utah? As though all astronomers live in space or all sportswriters play in the NBA. What you don’t see is my email inbox, which is filled with locals saying some version of, “thank you for articulating this; a few loud and angrys are ruining it for the rest of us.”
Let’s start with what’s real: Park City, home to four ski areas, including America’s largest, is too crowded, both on the mountains and off. While budget megapasses certainly streamline skier access, Vail and Alterra are not solely responsible for the town’s misery. Like most of America, the place was built to accommodate cars first, and people second. Not the historic core, which rose in the horse-and-buggy era, but the winding curlicued and cul-de-saced sprawl surrounding it. That worked fine for a generation or two, but now it doesn’t. Cars don’t scale – at least, not in the mountains. Park City, as a quaint ideal, cannot coexist with a built environment better scaled to suburban Phoenix than the Wasatch Back.
Right now, Park City is the worst version of itself. People like Moschetta want to keep it that way, by continuing to emphasize personal vehicles and the insane amount of land they require for parking. For Park City to have a future as a ski town, it needs to figure out how to significantly reduce the number of vehicles in the community, not how to accommodate more of them. This means running a train up from the airport, expanding the urban core, cracking open the ski borders between Deer Valley and Park City and between Park City and Brighton, and building a network of aerial lifts to move people around town. More mountain escape than dysfunctional urban-suburban hybrid. More Zermatt than Atlanta.
8) Kemmerer Family Sells Jackson Hole to Small Group of Locals (Aug. 3)
This was both one of my favorite and least-favorite stories of the year. Favorite because Jackson Hole, as a brand and as an idea, must remain independent as a BigCo counterweight in a rapidly evolving ski world. Least favorite because the news dropped in the midst of my family summer vacation, and I wrote this in 20 minutes on my iPhone from a Tokyo hotel room. Mostly, the article draws (with attribution), from the resort’s press release, which is a form of journalism that I take great pride in not doing. But it resonated, probably because the news dropped on a summer evening in the U.S., when everyone was out enjoying themselves (the email hit before breakfast in Japan), meaning The Storm was, by luck and happenstance, among the first to push out the news.
It’s done. Jackson Hole, one of America’s last major independent ski resorts, will stay independent.
The Kemmerer family, who have owned the resort for 31 years, announced today that they intend to sell to Teton County residents, close Kemmerer family friends and JHMR Board Members Eric Macy, Mike Corbat, their families and a small, select group of co-investors.
“The time has come to transition ownership of Jackson Hole Mountain Resort,” said Jay Kemmerer.
7) Taos Leaves Ikon Base for Base Plus for 2023-24; Prices Tick Upward to $1,159 Full Ikon, $829 Base Pass (March 9)
This is your standard “hey here’s what’s new on the Ikon Pass for 2023” post, along with my take on what it means. These analyses always resonate, and, from a brand-building point of view, are among the most important posts I write each year.
Unfortunately, I have some bad news as well. No, it’s not that the Ikon Session Pass continues to exist (though we can agree that thing is a travesty). It’s that Taos, one of America’s most spectacular ski areas, will be the seventh Ikon Pass “destination” to leap off the Ikon Base Pass in favor of the Ikon Base Plus Pass. Taos joins Jackson Hole, Aspen-Snowmass, Alta, Deer Valley, Snowbasin, and Sun Valley as Ikon Base exiteers.
To sort of make up for it, Taos will no longer require Ikon Pass reservations. Which is great. I’m always in favor of reducing the administrative burden of my ski day. But while remote Taos leveling up to Base Plus-only is not a big deal in isolation, the move further dilutes the value of the Ikon Base Pass, which keeps getting more expensive while offering less value. It also ramps up the appeal of the Mountain Collective, which offers six of the seven Base Plus destinations (the exception is Alterra-owned Deer Valley), for less money than the Ikon Base Pass and zero blackouts.
6) Peak 1-Day Lift Tickets to Hit $299 at Vail, Beaver Creek, Park City. Not Even Vail Wants You to Buy Them. (Sept. 21)
Here’s another annual post that inspires You Do Know Bro to @ me on social. As in “You do know that no serious skiers actually pay that rate, right?” Yes, YDK Bro, I do know that, just like I know that everyone hates you. But this post is important for several reasons. One, it’s real. Two, it may help non-serious skiers who would like to be serious skiers not become non-skiers permanently when presented with a $1,200 bill to take their family skiing for four hours. Three, headlines like this from niche publications like The Storm ripple outward into the non-ski media, compounding scrutiny on a questionable practice. And, four, it permits contrasts to the many great American ski areas that do not charge more for a day of skiing than Home Depot does for a riding lawnmower.
A U.S. American traveling abroad will encounter a strange phenomenon: basic food and drink items, when offered in a bar or restaurant or beachside snack stand, are rarely marked up 700 percent from their sale price at the grocery store, as American businesses are wont to do. There is some markup, of course, but not of the extortionate sort that, in my frothier days, emboldened me to wander Manhattan bars with a six-pack of Miller cans stashed in my coat pockets so I could avoid shoveling over nine dollars per 12-ounce drink. Such practices – $6 boxes of Junior Mints at the movie theater, $17 chicken fingers at Yankee Stadium, $23.50 bowls of baselodge chili – invite hacks, workarounds, and subtle protests. Candy tucked into purses, brown bag lunch in the baselodge basement. Everyone hates feeling taken advantage of.
An internet super-charged version of this has taken hold at U.S. ski areas: walk-up peak-day rates will range between $225 and $299 at the nation’s 10 largest ski resorts for the 2023-24 ski season. But in this case, the ski areas themselves have provided us with the hack: you simply have to purchase your ski passes between seven and 16 months before you intend to use them. If you’re clever, motivated, and somewhat organized, you can ski an Epic or Ikon Pass down to $30 per day without resorting to amazing feats of logistics. Just go skiing once or twice a week from November to April.
This formula has existed for years. But as 2023-24 lift tickets come online, large resort operators – and Vail Resorts in particular – have tweaked their websites to nudge skiers into buying anything other than a single-day, date-specific lift ticket. Many skiers – maybe most – don’t need the horsepower of an Epic or Epic Local pass. Four or five days of big-mountain access will probably do it. And Vail wants to sell you that access, as badly as it wants to warn you away from its worst product.
5) 11 Ski Areas Flee Ski Cooper Pass as Indy Delivers Ultimatum: Drop Cooper or We Drop You (July 29)
The fallout from story 10b is story 5. Indy Pass, sensing an existential threat from Ski Cooper’s budget ski pass, makes its partners choose between them. Most side with Indy, since each skier redemption generates a paycheck. No one at Indy or Ski Cooper was really happy with how this story turned out, which usually means that I did my job.
In a flurry of calls, texts, emails, and video conferences over the past several weeks, Indy Pass representatives have delivered an ultimatum to 14 of their ski area partners: drop out of Ski Cooper’s reciprocal pass coalition, or we will remove you from Indy Pass.
Eleven chose Indy. One chose Cooper. Two effectively dodged the issue by joining Freedom Pass (of which Cooper is a member). Five more, which Indy has yet to meet with formally, remain in limbo. …
At issue is Ski Cooper’s $379 season pass, which offered three lift tickets each at 73 ski areas when it went on sale July 1. Reciprocal agreements among ski areas are common. The majority of Indy’s partners have established at least a handful as a benefit to their season pass holders. But Indy Pass officials say that the scale of Ski Cooper’s coalition has created a shadow multi-mountain national pass masquerading as a small-mountain pass.
“Indy Pass does not have a problem with reciprocals,” said Indy Pass founder and President Doug Fish. “We have a problem with Ski Cooper manipulating the reciprocal system that was originally created to help small resorts compete. Their brand represents not a small resort, but rather a national, multi-mountain pass that is a direct competitor to Indy Pass.”
Each time an Indy Pass holder redeems one of their two days at participating ski areas, Indy sends that mountain a paycheck. But Cooper’s business model, Fish says, allows the mountain to enjoy the benefits of providing access to a national network of ski areas, without the inconvenience and hassle of sharing revenue among partners.
“Ski Cooper keeps 100 percent of the money, pays no taxes, and enjoys millions in revenue while dozens of other small resorts deliver their hard-earned valuable product for free,” Fish said. “We don’t think this is right and we are not going to support it.”
4) Vail Resorts Launches 2023-24 Epic Passes, Confirms Shift to Mobile Pass (March 7)
Another standard here’s-what’s-new post. Nothing special about it, but the Epic Pass is still the king, and when the king speaks, people listen.
Vail’s funny. Every time I get one of their press releases, I feel as though I just stumbled into a winter-themed version of Smurf Village. “We’d better Smurf over to the Smurf shop and Smurf some Smurfers with our Smurf bucks.” Only it’s “What an Eptacular day to Epic Introduce our new Epic Outhouse App, where you can get real-time Epic Relief Station Queue updates at our 41 Epic Mountain Resorts. You can even Epic Apply your 20 Percent Epic Mountain Rewards discount to our Paid Epic WC Stalls at Andermatt-Sedrun.”
3) What Windham’s Controversial, Cloudy Future Tells Us About the Current State of Lift-Served Skiing (Oct. 7)
Oh Windham. Man, this one hurt to write. I really like the folks at Windham, but the company’s rebrand to a semi-private club was about as smooth as a porcupine. And this little mountain, an Ikon Pass member just over two hours north of New York City, caught outsized attention for this October announcement.
On Monday, Windham announced a name change to “Windham Mountain Club,” renovations to its on-mountain restaurants, upgrades to its golf course and other facilities, and the addition of year-round activities so niche that they make skiing look like the National Football League (shooting, horseback riding, fly-fishing). The mountain reiterated previously announced upgrades to East Side Express (a new haul rope), and snowmaking enhancements on several trails. Existing homeowners could apply for “community memberships” starting in November.
Windham may have been better off saying nothing at all. Monday’s announcement, communicated via a spare and opaque press release and backed by a website that could have been designed by a time-traveler from 1996, achieved the PR double-fail of maximum confusion and minimal clarity. An Instagram post mascotted by a low-rent Paddington Bear rip-off urges us to “Say Goodbye to Windham Mountain.”
2) With 130 Vertical Feet & 4 Carpets, Hoedown Hill, Colorado Is Set to Be America’s Newest Ski Area (Aug. 26)
Every year, there’s at least one post where I’m like, “wait, people actually care about this?” In 2023, it was this missive about a surface-lift bump sprouting on Fort Collins’ suburban fringe. In a state with a half dozen ski areas larger than Neptune, I didn’t think anyone would care. But the demand for affordable skiing without the endurance angle of an I-70 commute must be strong, because this was the second-most read Storm article of 2023. This was also, I believe, the first major story on Hoedown, contributing somewhat to its viral trajectory.
I don’t know how many people want to spend $500 to try something that’s cold and hard and uncomfortable, but it’s not very many. Skiing needs a farm system. In the Midwest and the Northeast, it has one: a series of community bumps running surface lifts, parking lots stuffed with yellow buses, kids all over, figuring out the turn one 150-vertical-foot run at a time.
There’s less of this in the West. Colorado has a few: 250-vertical-foot Lake City, two-acre Lee’s, 305-vertical-foot Cranor Hill. But those are wedged in the state’s southwest, over the mountains, far from the Front Range’s 5 million residents. What if you dropped a practice hill in the midst of all those people? Someplace simple, unintimidating, built for beginners, affordable?
We’re about to find out. This summer, a 130-vertical-foot, 12-acre, partially manmade ski hill is rising in Windsor, Colorado. It will have green, blue, and black runs; four carpets; Terrain Based Learning; a “badass” terrain park; night-skiing; wicket tickets. It sits in the middle of the Fort Collins-Loveland metropolitan area, which is home to more than 362,000 people.
1) Black Mountain, NH to Remain Open as Indy Pass, Entabeni Help to Seek New Owner (Oct. 18)
The Storm’s top story of 2023 was also, perhaps, its most important. Black Mountain, a beloved but rustic bump in continuous operation since 1935, abruptly announced in October that it would close, perhaps forever. Indy Pass owner Erik Mogensen, traumatized by the closure of his local Buffalo-area bump when he was a teenager, wouldn’t let that happen. This was a Storm exclusive, written in confidence as the New England ski community was mourning the loss of this Jackson, New Hampshire institution.
Black Mountain, New Hampshire will remain open for the 2023-24 ski season, ski area owner John Fichera has confirmed to The Storm Skiing Journal, reversing a decision announced last week on the mountain’s Facebook page.
Driving the reversal is a commitment, from a group led by Indy Pass and Entabeni Systems owner Erik Mogensen, to help Fichera find a new owner for Black Mountain and gather resources for a bridge season.
“We're not going to open so that John and Jane Fichera can be here for five more years,” Fichera told The Storm. “We're opening as a transitional year to find a new buyer, a new operator, a new steward for the ski area. And if it's possible, we'll have the season to work on it and then finalize the deal sometime next year in the offseason. If it's not possible, then the writing's on the wall.”
Leading the search for a new owner will be Andy Shepard, a New England ski luminary who has orchestrated the survival or resurrection of the Saddleback, Big Rock, Quoggy Joe, and Black Mountain of Maine ski areas.
“I've always respected and admired the ski community in Jackson,” Shepard told The Storm. “It's as authentic as you get. It’s a skiing heritage that deserves to be protected, to be cherished and honored. Having been asked to be a part of this project is an enormous honor to me, and I'm very excited about diving in.”
Shepard will work under contract with Indy Pass, which has partnered with Black Mountain since the pass’ inaugural season in 2019-20. Mogensen, who purchased the pass from founder Doug Fish earlier this year, views Indy Pass and Entabeni Systems – which provides software exclusively to small ski areas – as vehicles to help independent mountains compete against the larger ski companies, whose affordable multimountain passes and sophisticated data-analysis machines have rapidly redefined the consumer skiing experience.
“People don't understand that skiing at a place like Black Mountain is exceptionally fragile until it's broken,” Mogensen told The Storm. “I have a responsibility as the custodian of the Indy Pass, as a custodian of a large amount of data, to help keep skiing independent.”
While none of this week’s developments guarantee that Black Mountain will operate beyond 2024, the joint efforts of Indy Pass officials, Fichera, and Shepard at least temporarily halt a ski area closure that had blindsided and traumatized New England skiers. They provide a reset and re-evaluation of direction and priorities for the ninth-oldest operating ski area in America, which has spun its lifts for 88 consecutive winters. And they suggest a rough blueprint for how the nation’s hundreds of family-owned ski areas, assisted by Entabeni and Indy, can modernize their business practices to better compete against – and offer a compelling alternative to – the mass-market Epic and Ikon passes.
THE TOP 10 STORM SKIING PODCASTS OF 2023
The podcasts that hit the biggest do not always reflect the size or fame of the subject’s mountain. Among the big-time interviews that did not land in the top 10 this year were Breckenridge, Palisades Tahoe, Heavenly, Snowbird, and Park City. These were all excellent conversations that did well and resonated widely, but they missed the top 10, for reasons that are not entirely clear (whether or not the mountain shares the podcast on social media is one factor that impacts downloads). Some of those big names hit later in the year, but so did several episodes that made this list (over time, the later entrants tend to catch up - last year’s top 10 has changed dramatically since I published my 2022 wrap-up). Anyway, here are the top 10 podcasts, by number of downloads, for episodes published in 2023:
10) Mount Snow GM Brian Suhadolc (published Aug. 14)
OK I hear you, New England. When The Storm launched in 2019, it was all Northeast, all the time. In 2021, I kicked open the western wall. In my Manifest Destiny, I somewhat neglected my original core, leaning instead on the catalogue of big-mountain conversations I’d amassed in the early days. Well, those are feeling stale, and it was time to start resetting them. This conversation with Mount Snow GM Brian Suhadolc – my first of the year with a major New England mountain leader – hit big, sending me a clear message: more of this, please.
9) Deer Valley President & COO Todd Bennett (April 20)
I recorded this episode before Deer Valley announced its massive expansion plans in August. Nonetheless, Bennett grants us deep insight on the machinations of Alterra’s premier property.
8) Whitecap Mountains Owner & GM David Dziuban (April 3)
With a run time of more than two hours, this is one of the longest podcasts I’ve ever released. It also may be the best. Dziuban, who’s attempting to steer a struggling and remote ski area back to solvency as he deals with personal trauma, is as honest an operator as I’ve ever met. While few skiers outside of Wisconsin have ever heard of Whitecap, this episode resonated widely, for reasons that are obvious about 30 seconds in.
7) Indy Pass President & Founder Doug Fish (April 22)
The Storm has no better friend than Indy Pass founder Doug Fish, who made his fourth appearance on the podcast this past spring (don’t confuse gratitude with lack of objectivity; Fish and I disagree on plenty. See above.). Doug is always telling me I need to go shorter, but this pod runs an hour and 38 minutes. That’s partly because it ended up being a two-parter, with an addendum recorded to address some breaking news, but it’s mostly because Fish is a thoughtful guy and a great interview, and listeners never seem to get enough of the Indy Pass story.
6) Timberline, West Virginia GM Tom Price (July 15)
Here is the story of the most remarkable comeback in American skiing over the past five years. When the Perfect Family, longtime owners of Perfect North, Indiana, purchased this thousand-footer just before the pandemic, it was an abandoned wreck. Today, it is essentially a brand-new ski area, with a summit six-pack and a tower fan gun standing seemingly every five feet along the trails. The popularity of this episode, focused on a remote mountain with no pass affiliations, underscores the vitality of Southeast skiing, our most overlooked ski region.
5) Pacific Group Resorts VP and CMO Christian Knapp (March 5)
I don’t typically dip below the CEO/President/GM levels on the podcast. Not because these folks don’t have good stories to tell, but because that’s not the brand. The whole point of this enterprise is to get as far away from people with bosses as possible, so we can hear the non-checkpoint version of the truth. But Knapp is no ordinary CMO. He’s a bit of an industry baller, Park City based by way of Aspen, who played a founding role in the Mountain Collective. His perspective is immense, and he’s empowered to speak for this somewhat opaque company, which got everyone’s attention last year when it purchased Jay Peak, New England’s snowiest (and perhaps best), ski resort.
4) Keystone VP & GM Chris Sorensen (Sept. 19)
What happens when you make a mistake? Do you fling hand grenades in every direction, or grab a mirror and point to it? Sorensen, graciously, did the latter after Keystone muffed the high-altitude installation of the Bergman Bowl six-pack last summer, stalling the resort’s much-anticipated expansion by a year. Rather than hiding from the mistake, Sorensen took ownership of it and fixed it, with what the U.S. Forest Service called “the best mitigation plan” it had ever seen to repair the fragile high-altitude soil that workers had wrecked. That’s what leadership is, and Sorensen displays plenty of it in this conversation.
3) Killington & Pico President & GM Mike Solimano (Sept. 7)
The remarkable thing about Killington landing at the number three spot for 2023 is that it was the 29th podcast I published this year, landing on Sept. 7. But, again, that’s the power of New England, and the power of the region’s biggest, baddest, busiest mountain.
2) Holiday Valley President & GM Dennis Eshbaugh (Feb. 18)
Surprised? If you live in Western New York or Pennsylvania, or eastern Ohio, I doubt it. But the rest of the country is less familiar with this snowy, sprawling kingdom parked in the Lake Erie snowbelt. For the uninitiated, this is one of the most well-run ski areas in America, a former backwater turned regional powerhouse through multi-generational operational competence. A large part of that success can be claimed by Eshbaugh, who’s spent his long career building this special place.
1) Alterra Mountain Company CEO Jared Smith (July 27)
No surprise here: three of the top-10 most-downloaded Storm Skiing Podcasts of all time are with the CEO of Alterra Mountain Company. The difference this year was that the company had a new leader in that role: the young, product-oriented Jared Smith, who showed up brilliantly in his first Storm appearance. He had the audacity to admit that skiing’s current pricing structure was insane and unsustainable, and needed to evolve. How he’ll lead that change remains to be seen. I was sad to see the great Rusty Gregory step down after five years at the head of Alterra (and three Storm episodes), but Smith appears to be a worthy successor, with a thoughtful approach to skiing’s cloudy future.
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The Storm publishes year-round, and guarantees 100 articles per year. This is article 115/100 in 2023, and number 500 since launching on Oct. 13, 2019.