Snow Industry Newsletter

April 4, 2017      Volume 39, No. 13
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It’s official! The FIS World Cup will return to Killington Resort over Thanksgiving weekend 2017, Nov. 24-26. Mike Solimano, resort president, announced on Monday, April 3, that Killington has signed a two-year contract to host the event.
Solimano made the announcement at a summer kick-off event at the Killington Grand Hotel on Monday evening. The news, which had been rumored in the previous weeks, picked up credibility after the Aspen Daily News announced that Aspen would not host the race due to needed infrastructure improvements at the resort.
Confirmation of the news that the World Cup will indeed return to Killington elicited very positive reactions from the community members in the audience, with hoots and hollers and a long-lasting round of applause, according to The Mountain Times.
When the resort hosted the World Cup over Thanksgiving weekend last year, the event attracted 30,000 spectators – many times more than other early season races held worldwide. It marked a return of World Cup ski racing to New England after a 25-year hiatus and a return to Vermont after 38 years.
As Solimano told town officials, the cost to the resort for last year’s event was more than $2.5 million. That figure was offset by $1.3 million in revenue, most of which came from sponsors. The net cost to the resort, he added, was $1.2 million.
On Town Meeting Day, Killington approved a town budget that included $100,000 to help the resort cover expenses associated with holding a World Cup event at the resort.
Killington’s World Cup races will be followed by races in Beaver Creek, CO, not long after. Those two events are the only ones to take place in the U.S. next race season.
The historic Banff Springs Hotel in the Canadian Rockies was the setting for this year’s recently concluded Mountain Travel Symposium. Hundreds of people from companies representing travel and tourism – ski resorts, hotels, chambers of commerce, visitors’ bureaus, booking companies – from as far-flung destinations as New Zealand, Australia, Japan, Chile and points in between, were there to do business, talk trends and new developments, and take in the breathtaking natural beauty around them.
Canadian Olympian Kelly Vanderbeek set an inspirational tone with her keynote, but there was no topping Amy Purdy’s talk the following day. The Paralympic snowboarding bronze medalist’s story of losing both lower legs and her kidney function to a rare condition at 19 and overcoming seemingly impossible odds had many in the audience – including some stoic grown men – in tears.
The importance of women was a theme that ran through the conference, and Camber Outdoors (formerly Outdoor Industries Women’s Coalition) Executive Director Deanne Buck also had a powerful story to tell. Vanderbeek was the MC for the general sessions, and her grace, beauty and humor lit up the stage. Women, change and the future were featured prominently, and the topic of climate change is finally coming out of the closet.
While the latest in high-tech booking, marketing and selling was certainly a big part of the mix – think chatbots, virtual reality, augmented reality and machine based learning – there was also some thoughtful discussion of how to get away from tech.
Getting on snow was also on the minds of many, and with Lake Louise (45 minutes), Sunshine Village (15 minutes) and Mt. Norquay (10 minutes) from the hotel, most took advantage of the opportunity. Some, reportedly, even got in some pre-event heli-skiing.
TSIL will have more follow-up stories in the coming weeks.
A newly released study forecasts that revitalization of the Balsams Resort in the northern New Hampshire town of Dixville will generate 600 construction jobs and at least another 400 when the facility opens, according to published reports.
The study, written by PolEcon Research of Dover, is the third and final report required by the NH Business Finance Authority before it begins considering a $28 million loan guarantee to Balsams developer Les Otten. It was funded through a $3 million loan recently given to Otten by Forward NH, an economic development program established by Northern Pass. The loan will be used to assist the Balsams through its design, permitting and financing phases.
According to the report, besides the 1,000 or so jobs forecast for the construction and operational phases, there is a potential that the project could create more than 1,500 jobs once buildout is complete, along with indirect jobs in the communities around Dixville.
The study also finds that there is sufficient available labor in the region to meet the staffing needs of the redeveloped resort and that the resort will actually increase the size of Coös County’s labor force and raise the below-average labor force participation rate, especially among younger, working-age residents.
In addition, the study predicts that wages of the newly generated jobs will average more than $17. Besides the $3 million in Forward NH funding, Otten has reportedly received another $2 million in loans from Northern Pass.
In a press release, the Balsams said that ground is expected to be broken on the $160 million first phase of the project later this year. The first phase includes renovation of the historic Dix and Hampshire Houses, and construction of a new hotel, conference center, Nordic Baths and Spa and expanded ski area.
Vermont Natural Resources Board officials are giving Mount Snow an extra year to finish a snow-making upgrade fueled by $30 million in EB-5 foreign investment, according to VTDigger.
The state has extended the deadline for completion of the West Lake Water Project at Mount Snow to October 2018. The change is further fallout from Mount Snow’s long wait for federal approval of its EB-5 money.
Resort administrators still hope to finish the project, which will give Mount Snow six times its current snow-making capacity, before next winter. But that schedule apparently is not a sure thing due to setbacks associated with last year’s EB-5 delay.
The resort received permission to access its escrowed EB-5 money in December 2016. But that was a full 18 months later than Mount Snow had been expecting, according to the resort’s recent West Lake-related filing with the state Natural Resources Board.
That document – filed on March 22 by Laurie Newton, Mount Snow development vice president, and Dick Deutsch, Mount Snow Ltd. president – offers further details about the resort’s EB-5 wait and the financial impacts.
A link to the full story is on our Facebook page.
Stowe, VT, is the 2017 site of Snowsport History Week featuring the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame induction ceremony. The week of April 5-9, 2017 will be chock full of skiing and riding, snow history presentations, parties, award ceremonies, a film festival and fast tracks with Hall Alumni and incoming class members.
All events are open to the public. Culminating the week will be the induction ceremony honoring the Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame’s class of 2016. This sold out event will be held on The Stowe Mountain Resort Campus in the Great Room of The Spruce Lodge on Saturday, April 8.
The U.S. Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame announced on Nov. 11, 2016 the names of 10 people elected to the Hall of Fame, Class of 2016. Among the inductees are President of the National Ski Areas Association Michael Berry; Dan and John Egan, the brothers who have starred in countless Warren Miller films; ski jumping Olympian and coach Jeff Hastings; Copper Mountain conceiver Chuck Lewis; and professional snowboarder Shaun Palmer. Joining the class are also athlete and author Ellen Post Foster; freestyle icon and ambassador Marion Post Caldwell; National Ski Patrol visionary Gretchen Rous Besser; and ski marketing and trade-show impresario Bernie Weichsel, a global ambassador for skiing.
For more information, contact Stacey Wooley: 719.362.6038 or [email protected].
Valemount Glacier Destinations – a major ski resort proposed in B.C. – recently received the final green light it needed from the provincial government to begin construction, according to published reports.
Situated just outside the town of Valemount near the BC-Alberta border in the Premier Range of the Caribou Mountains, the resort will feature the largest vertical drop of any resort in North America upon completion.
The first phase of the resort plan is expected to be completed by December 2018 just in time for the winter ski season.
The $100-million project includes lifts that will extend to the summits of Mount Pierre Elliot Trudeau, Twilight Glacier, and the McLennan Glacier. Within 15-20 years Valemount Glacier Destination will boast unprecedented public access to glaciers of over 3,000 meters in elevation — serving as a milestone for the entire continent.
Jay Peak, VT, owner Ariel Quiros has fired his lawyers, who have racked up more than $2 million in bills defending him against a federal fraud lawsuit involving $350 million in foreign investors’ funds.
Meanwhile, some of those unpaid attorneys have placed a “charging lien” on any money Quiros may recover from a separate lawsuit he filed against his insurance company seeking coverage for his legal defense.
The filing says Quiros has replaced his legal team with Miami-based Melissa D. Visconti of Damian & Valori LLP. The case is pending in Miami, where Quiros lives and many of his businesses are located.
The lawyers seeking to withdraw include those with the firm of Leon Cosgrove LLC in Coral Gables, FL, and several attorneys from Mitchell Sliberberg & Knupp LLP, which has offices in New York City, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C. Lawyers with the latter firm include David Gordon, who has appeared in court on Quiros’ behalf.
The filing does not state a reason for the termination. However, there is another filing this week by the Cosgrove firm in a separate lawsuit brought by Quiros. In that motion, attorneys who had been representing the Miami businessman are again asking a judge to allow them to withdraw from the case.
That motion was filed in a lawsuit brought by Quiros against his insurance carrier seeking coverage for his defense. At the time it was filed in December, his legal bills were pegged at more than $2 million.
The Cosgrove firm in that case has also submitted notice of a “charging lien” against “any recovery or proceeds obtained” by Quiros.
Quiros, along with Bill Stenger, Jay Peak’s former president, are accused of misusing $200 million of the $350 million they raised in an eight-year span from immigrant investors under the federal EB-5 visa program. The money was meant to pay for improvements at the northern Vermont ski area and other projects in Newport and Burke.
Quiros is also accused of looting $50 million of that money to pay for personal expenses, including a condo in New York City worth more than $2 million and to pay his personal taxes.
Finland’s Amer Sports, which makes Wilson tennis rackets and Salomon skis, will buy U.S. ski maker Armada for $4.1 million, the company said on Wednesday.
Armada, which has annual sales of approximately $10 million, will be combined with Amer’s winter sports business.
Amer Sports, whose other brands include Arc’teryx outdoor clothing and Atomic ski gear, said the acquisition had no financial impact on company results this year.
Northstar Travel Group announced Tuesday (4-4) it has acquired the TEAMS Conference + Expo and Meetings Quest conferences, including SportsTravel and Association News, from Schneider Publishing.
Timothy Schneider, president and CEO of Schneider Publishing, joins Northstar Travel Group as founder and chairman of the company’s new Sports Division. The division will be an integral part of Northstar’s Meetings Group, which includes Meetings & Conventions, Successful Meetings, Meeting News, and Incentive, and the Group’s integrated data, digital, and in-person event platforms.
Northstar produces more than 50 face-to-face events in 13 countries in retail travel, corporate travel, travel technology, and the meetings industry, including Mountain Travel Symposium. In addition, Northstar owns Phocuswright, the leading research, business intelligence, and event producer serving the fastest growing segment of the travel industry, online travel distribution. Northstar is also the majority shareholder in Inntopia, the leading SaaS e-commerce software provider serving the mountain destination, activities, and specialty destination travel markets.


A 35-year-old skier died Friday morning, March 24, at Loveland Ski Area, the resort confirmed last week. The man died just after 10:30 a.m. following an incident near the bottom of the Clear Creek County resort’s Lift 8. Loveland officials stated in a news release that the man was pronounced dead at the scene.
Snowboarder Mary Radke was one of the first to come upon the body of Cole Barker. He had collided with a tree, which appeared to have broken his neck, she said. Radke also said ski patrol arrived about 10 minutes later, which contradicts the account of a speedy response offered in a Loveland news release. By then, it was too late for any life-saving measures for Barker, who according to his father, was a part-time snowcat operator at Loveland.
At 10:38 a.m., ski patrol called the sheriff’s office. At 10:54 a.m., a ski patroller pronounced Barker dead. Then – before investigators had arrived on the scene and without even closing down the run – ski patrollers shuttled Barker’s body down the hill and began cleaning up the scene.
Colorado law prohibits moving a dead body from the scene of the accident without the authority of the coroner. But when the deputy arrived, the area had been cleared of evidence that significantly contributes to a death investigation, according to Clear Creek County Coroner Chris Hegmann.
Elsewhere, police are investigating a ski accident that resulted in the death of a New Hampshire man on Thursday at Mount Sunapee Resort. Vice President and General Manager Jay Gamble said in an email that the man had “died suddenly at Mount Sunapee on Thursday at 3:40 p.m.” The accident is under investigation and the victim’s name is not being released at this time.
Industry veteran Charles Blier has been named Prinoth’s vice president of sales, snow grooming North America. He will start in this new role April 3. Blier has held several leadership roles in the ski industry. Most recently, he was the general manager and executive vice president of Camelback, PA. …The newest members of the Snowsports Industries America Board of Directors are: Chris Licata (Tecnica Group USA); Alex Draper (K2 Sports); Johan Malkoski (C3); Brooke MacKenzie (Kjus); Eric Tung (Fera); Elysa Walk (Burton); and Chico Bukovansky (DaKine). Additionally, Mike Noonan (Marker Volkl USA) was named Chairman. They join Mike Adams (Amer Sports); Ron Steele (Group Rossignol); Wendy Carey (Seirus Innovation); Mike West (Westlife Distribution); Rhonda Swenson (Krimson Klover); Kim Miller (Scarpa NA); and Mark Muedeking (legal). …SMI announced that long time industry veteran Peter Geise is retiring after more than 40 years’ service to resorts. First introduced to the snow sports industry at Paulsen Wire Rope in Sunbury PA, Peter made the switch to snowmaking in 1989 representing both Lenko and Areco. Peter has been with SMI since 2007 and is proudly finishing his career representing SMI products and services. Wes Cashwell will be taking over the Southeast, while John Parker will be taking over Pennsylvania.
For subscription information, contact TSIL’s business office at The Snow Industry Letter, 802-496-7757 or 802-770-9383(mobile), or e-mail [email protected]. Produced by The Snow Industry Letter LLC. Any reproduction – by photocopy, fax, any other form or electronically – violates federal law and is prohibited without the consent of TSIL. April 4 2017.