Kids decide mountains’ fate |

Kids decide mountains’ fate

Jane Stebbins

BRECKENRIDGE -It’s all about the snow, the terrain and the vibe.

That’s what young skiers and riders – ages 14 to 24 – indicated in a Colorado Ski Country USA (CSCUSA) survey conducted this winter. The survey, detailed at the Breckenridge Resort Chamber’s quarterly breakfast Thursday, was conducted to determine what younger skiers look for when they select a ski resort to visit. The average survey respondent was a 21-year-old student.

“We know Colorado’s at the top of the heap with the older, Baby Boom demographics,” said Dave Perry, president and CEO of CSCUSA. “We know what they like. Restaurants are way more important to them. The ease of getting around is way more important to them.”

But the vast majority of youth – 95 percent – said snow conditions are the most important factor when choosing a ski resort. That was followed by the mountain and terrain, the culture and “vibe” of the resort, the people, nightlife, halfpipes, events and music.

There were a few surprises, however.

Breckenridge Ski Resort attracted almost 1.5 million skiers and snowboarders last season, yet those surveyed said, overall, they like Whistler/Blackcomb in British Columbia best. That was followed by Mammoth in California, Vail, Snowbird in Utah and Mount Bachelor in Oregon. When evaluated by state or province, survey respondents said they like California resorts best overall, followed by Colorado, Utah – which garnered just one less point than Colorado – British Columbia and Oregon.

Ski area officials are going to have to focus their marketing efforts on this demographic if they are to maintain a competitive edge, Perry said.

“Ten years from now, we’re going to have to be the best region for this demographic,” he said. “How we plan to attract them will affect how well our business does.”

To entice young snowsports enthusiasts to Colorado, CSCUSA officials visited 47 colleges last season. They also hosted a photo contest, inviting the best ski and sports photographers to Colorado mountains and setting them loose with film. The images remained in the possession of the photographers, enabling them to sell them to magazines and newspapers – and get photos of Colorado in the eyes of readers.

“A couple years ago, we looked through SKI, Skiing and Powder magazines, and there were almost no images from Colorado,” Perry said. “Photographers were going elsewhere: Alaska, British Columbia. These photos are powerful images to propel the dreams and aspirations of skiers.”

This year, CSCUSA plans to include special sections in the mainstream skiing and boarding magazines, but expand that to include Skateboard, Surf, BM and Moto, which appeal to the same age group.

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