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The Valley Reporter
P.O. Box 119
Waitsfield, VT 05673

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‘Get to work’

To The Editor:

Re: Mad River looks at manmade snow to extend season

As Mad River Glen explores solutions to dwindling visits, it's worth remarking that we just had glorious late winter and spring conditions. The skiing was quintessential Mad River Glen goodness, but few were there to enjoy it! Day in and day out I saw the same handful of smiling faces and a mostly empty Single Chair. It's easy to attribute down years to weather. It's tougher to reflect upon and easier to solve ineffectual marketing plans.

Since 10th Mountain Division veterans pioneered the mountain in the late 1940s, Mad River Glen has been defined by hard-charging, youthful vitality. "Ski It If You Can" was a maxim evoking swagger and unmatched cultural fervor. Today the bumper stickers are becoming anachronisms. Mad River Glen's skier population is aging (gracefully) and dwindling without being replenished. Our legendary mountain is off the radar for most young skiers.

Modern resort, ski and action sports marketing is sophisticated, gorgeous and ambitious. Mad River Glen's marketing is none of those things. The Mad River Glen Cooperative hasn't protected or articulated its brand very well and is struggling with the modern means of storytelling that could bring passionate skiers to the mountain in droves.

This is a golden age for skiing, driven by freeride, freeskiing, side-country and big mountain disciplines. Mad River Glen is perfectly positioned to be the proving ground for every up-and-coming freeride skier on the East Coast. It should be on the bucket list of every skier in North America looking to push their limits. It has the uniqueness, terrain and iconic potential to be mentioned alongside the mountains that define the sport globally.

There is a generation or two of skiers of all abilities waiting to fall in love with Mad River Glen. Capturing their imaginations and their loyalty is going to take investment, energy and improved execution. Get stoked and get to work. It's easier than finding a place to dig a snowmaking pond up there.

Neil Madsen Ryan




# busy weekendsBoston skiier 2014-05-06 15:34
I skied MRG a bunch of times this winter, always on the weekend, and I didn't see too many empty single chairs. Plenty of Saturdays we had to wait 45 minutes or more on the single chair line. I'm sure the crowds were thinner during the week, but this has always been the case at MRG (I'm 42 and have been skiing in the Valley since I was 6 or so).

I find a couple problems with the author's assertion that MRG needs to do more to attract young skiers. I don't know how young is young in the mind of our author, but little kids and high school students are not chosing their ski destination. They are going wherever their parents are nice enough to take them.

It would also be interesting to know how you think MRG should go about attracting younger skiiers. Allowing snowboards? Lowering prices? Updating the bumpersticker? Adding resort ammenities and night clubs?

I suspect/fear that its not young people ski mountains need to attract - its the super rich. Consider how much is costs a couple of college kids to come up to the Valley for the weekend, stay in a shared room at a hostel, and pay for lift tickets. Its pretty hard to have that weekend for less than $300, assuming you already have the equipment. Market to 20 somethings all you want - they can't afford it. If MRG is seeing a decline in skiers compared to other mountains (are they?) it is probably because MRG doesn't offer the luxury resort experience the super rich expect. Have you noticed the demographic changes on the ski hill at places like Sugarbush? Brand new thousand dollar skis, replaced each year. Every 8 year old kid has a $300 camera mounted on thier head.

MRG is trying to provide a place for regular middle class ski families. Unfortunately, that demographic is shrinking. They just can't afford it. I know plenty of people here in Boston who would like to "get back into skiing" now that they have kids, but they can't afford to do it more than once or twice a year.
# RE: ‘Get to work’alleta 2014-05-06 16:05
I discovered Mad River Glen accidentally this winter, and can`t wait for next winter to go back. I live up here in Quebec`s ski country, and had never heard tell of MRG before I stumbled on their website, accidentally, looking for information on a closed Quebec ski hill, Mont Glen. We`re bombarded with Jay Peak ads up here, I`ve seen giant Whiteface billboards on our highways, I`ve seen ads for Sunday River, Sugarbush, Attitash, Gore, Burke, and Loon. There`s a huge market of travelling skiiers up here, they just have never heard a anything about you guys...
# MRG skierBill 2014-05-16 09:09
Mad River Glen creates a ski experience not available at most ski area.
With three kids under 17 the ski pass deals are some of the best I have seen anywhere. The Mad River Ski Club provides an exceptional and well rounded race program that develops life long lovers of the sport and the mountains.The other ski school programs do the same and offer a varied approach to all that skiing has to offer. Sustainability and growth are tough issues and cost is brutal. But, when I think of what has happened to the Stowe experience, I would take Mad River any day. I think marketing and events have shined a favorable light on the mountain. I agree that more needs to be done and am eager to see more constructive replies herein.

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