Say it isn’t so. As a passionate skier, with a houseful of passionate skiers, it’s nearly incomprehensible to me why someone would try skiing once and never go back.
I mean, what’s not to love, right?
A recent study by Boulder-based consulting firm RRC Associates trains a strong light on what new skiers really think: why they try the sport and why they quit.
It’s fascinating and today, I’d like to share the results, as well as try to refute some of the reasons beginners don’t return to the slopes.
Why People Try Skiing
Let’s start with the good stuff: what gets people interested in snowsports.
According to the Beginner Conversion Study by RRC Associates, the majority of people try snowsports to spend time with family and friends or because it’s something that has appealed to them that they’ve always wanted to try.
At the bottom of the list, not surprisingly are discounts and deals. If you’re not really interested in something, it doesn’t matter how good the deal is, you’re probably not going to try it.
The other factor, I believe is worth noting is the appeal of skiing and snowboarding culture. This can be a double-edged sword. While some people are comfortable diving into a new culture, others are intimidated, especially when confronted with strange terminology and equipment.
Why People Stop Skiing
Looking at this chart, it’s clear that convenience, cost and weather are the big three (I’m wrapping travel distance/time, time commitment and work responsibilities into convenience) turning people away from skiing and snowboarding.
Interestingly, being injured is the lowest barrier to a return visit, bearing out data that shows serious injuries are less common than often perceived, especially if you are wearing a snowsports helmet.
Are Snowsports Convenient?
As with many questions, the answer could be yes and it could be no.
If you think that the only places to ski are large western resorts that require long distance travel, then you might think skiing is quite inconvenient.
But did you know that there are currently 463 downhill ski areas in the United States, according to the National Ski Areas Association (NSAA)? This means that there is probably a ski area within striking distance of where you live.
New York has the most ski areas, with 51, while Alabama, Rhode Island, Tennessee and Maryland have the fewest, with just one each.
For comparison, Colorado has 30 ski areas, California has 29 and Utah has 14.
I think the regional data is even more interesting.
Not surprisingly, New England, the cradle of the U.S. ski industry, has a lot of ski areas with 86.
But shockingly, to me at least, the region with the most resorts is not the West, it’s the Midwest.
Sure enough, there are a total of 114 ski areas in the Midwestern states (led by 44 in Michigan and 31 in Wisconsin).
Where won’t you find skiing? In Delaware, Kansas, South Carolina, Nebraska, Louisiana, Mississippi, Georgia, Arkansas, Oklahoma and Texas.
And lest you think palm trees and skis don’t mix, there is natural snow and skiing on the upper slopes of the Hawaiian Big Island’s big volcanoes and Florida will soon have skiing on an artificial surface.
It’s important to note that not all resorts open each year depending upon snow conditions, so their status can change from year-to-year. Still, chances are, if you want to ski, you can find somewhere to ski relatively near your home.
And when you can ski close to home, you reduce the time commitment, the impact on work responsibilities and the overall cost of pursuing snowsports.
So yes, I argue that snowsports can be convenient.
But What About the Cost?
The cost of snowsports is a real concern. But there are ways to save money. For while discounts don’t necessarily entice people to try skiing, saving money can be a big factor in keeping them skiing.
First, start off skiing smaller ski areas. Lift tickets cost less, lessons cost less, food costs less. Plus, as you might expect, these small ski areas are generally super-friendly and welcoming.
Next, seek out discounts. Start googling and find savings.
Multi-mountain discount cards like the Mountain Collective card, Rocky Mountain SuperPass or Mountain Playground Card offer significant savings at groups of diverse mountains.
Find the ski area closest to you and ask them if they have a discount product good for skiing and riding at their mountain and at their sister ski areas.
In some regions you can get 2-for-1 certificates when filling up with gas and you can almost always find savings on advance purchase tickets at sites like Liftopia.com.
Saving money is especially important for families, for whom daily expenses are multiplied. Many states offer discounts to school age kids, as does Vail Resorts with their EPIC SchoolKids pass (free skiing for kids in Colorado and Utah at participating resorts).
Take advantage of lessons, ticket and rental packages offered for first-timers and never-evers.
Check out listings on the Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month website, as well as talking to the closest ski school. Call them up and ask them what they can do for you.
Finally, don’t feel you have to purchase all of your equipment. You can beg, borrow and rent much of what you need. Network with your friends and check with local ski shops for goods on consignment. Also, don’t forget annual fall ski swaps.
It’s a Weather Thing
I get it. I love cold, nasty weather and skiing when it’s absolutely dumping. But not everyone does, especially beginners. I also know that if you or your kids are wearing the wrong clothes can ruin a ski day.
Again, beg, borrow or rent from your friends, local ski shops or online outfitters like GetOutfitted.com. Dress in layers, no cotton. Wear just one pair of socks and make sure your boots fit properly whether they are rental boots or you own them. Stay hydrated and eat snacks when you’re hungry. Go in when you’re cold and if it’s a really stormy or frigid day, give it a pass.
A day spent by a cozy fire, as opposed to shivering mightily in a blizzard, just might be the ticket to keep you and your family interested in skiing and snowboarding. If you don’t want to go out, don’t go out. There is no shame, and a lot of wisdom, in waiting for a bluebird day.
I have a lot more information on how to save money, how to stay warm and how to get started with snowsports. Links to many of these posts are included below. I’m also always happy to answer questions. While I can’t answer everything, I will try. Please send your questions via this link.
Make Skiing and Snowboarding Easier, More Fun and Less Costly:
- Start Right: Eight Learn to Ski Tips for Your Child (and You!), January 8, 2014.
- Teach Your Kids to Ski, January 13, 2016.
- Ski Mom “Secrets” for New Ski Moms and Dads, November 4, 2015.
© 2016 – 2017, braveskimom. All rights reserved. Any use or publication of content, including photos, requires express permission.