Friday, April 27, 2012

How to get skibiking approved at your local ski resort

 Skibiking is slowly making inroads and access at ski resorts.  New ski resorts are being added every season in Colorado, the USA, and the world.

Getting bikes approved for use a ski resort is not simple.  Just demanding access and annoying the resort management will only dig a hole that one will have to dig oneself out of.

If one is truly serious about getting approval at a local ski resort, it is going to take time and continuous committed effort on your part.  Persuasion and persistence are key.

Become part of the ski industry  - nothing gets respect quicker than a fellow ski industry member.   While grassroots organizations are a start, they get little respect from the ski industry.  Get a part-time job within the industry and start asking questions.

Make or join an organized group -  If a organization only has a few members, why should a ski resort or the industry respect it?  Even the enthusiasts aren't taking it seriously.  Ski resorts respect groups that bring business to the table.

Ride a manufactured skibike - Show that you support the industry by supporting the builders.  Many ski resorts are now open in Colorado due to the direct efforts of manufacturers.  Conversion are great for the backyard but they are not specially designed for loading on chairlifts or the impacts that they can encounter.

Know the ski resorts business model  - Every ski resort is different in subtle ways.  If they weren't, they wouldn't still be in business.  Know the niche the resort fills.   Analyze the resorts business model and see if it is a viable money earning asset to the resort.  Don't say it will - show it will.

Bottom line - it's all about the money - Realize that ski resorts don't want to take the added risks and headaches associated with a new sport unless it contributes to the resorts revenue.  The ski industry has high overhead, high labor costs, and high risks.  They want people there who spend money - i.e. buy those $15 hamburgers, buy window rate lift tickets, book lodging, bring groups or families.   If it's a sport that doesn't bring money - forget it.

Write thank you letters to ski resort CEO's that do allow them - let management know you bought slope-side food, stayed in resort-owned lodging, spend money in local shops.  If a big group came as a result, mention that in the letter.

Get educated about all types and be inclusive - Know the types out there.  The ski resort may not know all of them but they've probably heard about a 'dangerous' type.  Know the advantages and challenges of skibobs and pegs.  Be able to plug the benefits of both types.

Get your certification (license) and learn how peggers and skibobs work  - Many ski resorts require certification before riders can load chairlifts.  At a minimum the rider knows the proper way to board a lift with their equipment.   Getting a license shows you have some commitment to the sport and have some training on its use.  Skibobs are easy to learn.  Peg are just as safe but qualified instruction makes them even safer.

Know where one can buy or rent one - People can't buy or rent if they don't how to obtain one.  Know your local sources.  Network with manufacturers directly.  A variety of affordable bikes can be obtained from in the USA.

Be a good rider and be able to demonstrate that -  The last thing ski resorts want to see are more people out of control on their slopes.  If you still need to put down a foot to stop your pegger, you're not qualified.  Be able to demo skidded traverses, skidded turns, and stopping in control without putting any feet down on a peg bike.

Know the ski industry risk management concerns -  Do not downplay this or try to cover up the risks.  That doesn't work.   Educate yourself about chairlift and leash concerns.  Know and be about to explain how various skibikes load onto the lift and when leashes are appropriate.

Approach the ski resort CEO and ask for a meeting - Get a Powerpoint presentation together, your facts organized, and be able to organize a demo day for all the management influencers at the ski resort.  Get the head of Lift Ops, Ski Patrol, Ski School, Marketing, and the CEO all on the skibikes.  Be prepared to teach a proper lesson for safe useage.

Find out how snowboarders got approval - Those 30 years old and younger may not remember what snowboarders had to go through to get approval to ride at ski resorts.

Know local ski industry influencers and events - networking works in other industries and the ski industry is no different.  Go to events where ski industry people gather and talk business.  Bring business cards and a networking 2 minute speech.

Know what ski resorts permit them in your area - Before a resort will permit skibikes, they are going to want to know who else allows them.  They probably will then call that resorts management.  Know the more well-known resorts that permit them and their rules and regulations.  That will help the new resort determine risks and what skibike rules to implement.

Know the rules and regulations that govern your ski industry - There's more to it than the Responsibility Code that all skiers and riders must follow.   Know what applies in your area.   Know the tramway board regulations.  Tramway boards are responsible for regulating ski chairlifts.

Know the government permitting system in your area -  If the ski area isn't on private land, it's probably on public land.  The U.S. Forest Service is responsible for ski area permitting in the Western USA.  Find out who the Forest Service Ranger contact is for your area.   Ask for help or advice and then listen.

Remember Taos Ski Valley - It wasn't too many years ago that Taos still banned snowboarders.  It was simple economics that got the ban removed.  Families wouldn't vacation there because many members snowboarded.  The resort revitalized after the ban was lifted.

Getting skibiking permitted at ski resorts is not simple.  It takes time, effort, persistence, and dedication.  If you love the sport, make the commitment.

© 2012 G. Kunkel and A Colorado Skibiker Goes Skibiking. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to G. Kunkel and A Colorado Skibiker Goes Skibiking with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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