WILL SKIING SURVIVE?


In an October 1997 Skiing Trade News article Jerry Groswold, a ski area consultant and former president of Winter Park Park Resort, talked about the message in a presentation by former Dallas Cowboy quarterback Roger Staubach. Staubach’s presentation was to a non-ski audience. But Groswold saw how it applied to the situation emerging in the ski industry. 

Staubach spoke about gatherers and sharers. He characterized gatherers as those who take for themselves and sharers as those who work for the common good. Staubach expressed concerns about those gatherers whom he referred to as “destructive achievers”; those who, for whatever reason, feel compelled to acquire at all cost. Groswold expressed the fear that the impact of “destructive achievers” was starting to be seen in the ski industry.

More than 20 years ago Groswold saw the ski industry standing at a crossroad. He cautioned that too many people had worked too long and hard to build the sport to allow it to fall prey to Staubachs’ “destructive achievers”. Groswold warned that only by remembering its roots – that skiing is a sport first, a passion second and a business third – will skiing succeed. 

A new Youtube video (1.), Why ski resorts are dying – Cheddar explains, paints a picture that suggests Groswolds fears are coming to pass.

Skiing is the quintessential winter pastime. But recently, the multi-billion dollar industry is in decline. The number of skiers is falling fast and the industry is scrambling to make up the difference. Is this going to be the end of the ski resort?

When I started skiing in 1970 the sport was entering a period of vigorous growth. The introduction of the safety release binding followed by the rigid plastic ski boot that promised to give every skier the edge, had begun to attract gatherers who saw an opportunity to profit from the next big thing. The ability to mass market the Perfect Fit that the rigid ski boot made possible was the Perfect Marketing Story. With ski boots that were individually Perfectly Fit to every skier any problems with ski technique could be claimed to be a skier problem requiring lessons.  There is no reason for a gatherer to question, let alone critically examine, the Perfect Fit story. There is even less reason for a gatherer to invest in research to find ways to make skiing easier. That the Perfect Fit story sells product and services appears to be the only thing that matters.

Those who have been able to apply some of the concepts described in my blog have found that skiing can be as easy and intuitive as walking. 

The Birdcage research vehicle that resulted out of more ten years of effort on my part whose principles were validated with on-snow studies done in 1992 had the potential to make skiing as easy and intuitive as walking. Today, the refinement of the Perfect Fit has made ski boots all but impossible to sufficiently modify to accommodate end user function.

Whether skiing survives depends on whether skiers will retake their sport from the gatherers.


  1. https://youtu.be/AVSjsYHX6eM

For his immense contributions to the sport,Groswold was enshrined in the U.S. Ski & Snowboard Hall of Fame in 1986, the Colorado Ski & Snowboard Hall of Fame in 1987, the Colorado Ski Business Hall of Fame in 2005 and received countless other awards.