Are older skiers and boarders invisible to the people making business decisions about skiing?

Unless, you’re a marketer selling reverse mortgages, extended care facilities, pharmaceuticals, or walk-in bathtubs, most companies ignore our market segment.

In the world of skiing corporate ski area consolidators are eliminating senior discounts, and ski makers haven’t bothered to present a product designed and presented for our unique needs. There are exceptions, but the norm is to focus on youth.

When’s the last time you opened one of the dwindling number of ski magazines and saw an ad showing anyone from our set?

This isn’t a complaint. It’s an observation. We represent 20% of all skiers/boarders. We ski more frequently, spend more money, and have more influence on introducing people to the sport.

Maybe if we simply started to speak about the issue with each other, we’ll start a process that will help older skiers gain greater visibility. With visibility comes recognition. With recognition comes value. And with value, comes respect.

If you have a point of view on this matter, please share it with other readers in Comments.

Weight Training Reduces Strokes, Heart Attacks

A study published in October in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise provides evidence for the first time that even a little weight training might reduce the risk of heart attack or stroke. It is based on healthcare data of thousands of men and women getting annual checkups at the Cooper Clinic in Dallas. Risk of  experiencing heart attack, stroke or death was about 50% lower among those who lifted weights occasionally compared to those who never did.

Seeking Financial Support for Military With Disabilities

Disabled Sports Eastern Sierra (DSES), the non-profit adaptive sports program based in Mammoth Lakes, CA, is seeking contributions for its 13th annual week-long sports camp for active duty and veterans with disabilities. More at www.WoundedWarriorsMammoth.org/Donate .

Skiing Through a Straw

This 90 second video is amazing. It shows Cody Townsend skiing what appears to be an almost vertical narrow slot canyon somewhere at the top of the world. AMAZING!

 

21 Comments

  1. Avatar Aaron Shapiro says:

    I have been e-mailing Shawnee Peak/Pleasant Mountain in Bridgton, Maine (my local mountain) for weeks about their absence of a mid-week senior discount. No response yet. I attached your small article to this morning’s e-mail – maybe it will catch their attention. When you can ski at a mega mountain like Sunday River for $4.00 more, and Canmore, Bretton Woods and Attitash/Wildcat for less than a modest local area like Shawnee Peak/Pleasant Mountain – something’s amiss.

    • Avatar Eileen Fishkin says:

      You can add Bromley in Vermont to your list of ski resorts that care nothing for senior skiers. As a skier who is well past 80, I have introduced children and grandchildren to the sport, but Bromley charges the same price for a midweek season pass for me and for my middle aged son. I would rather ski KILLINGTON: Free!

  2. Avatar Keith Rosenfeld says:

    The ski industry is changing all over. For 15 years, my ski group has skied Alta & Snowbird in Jan & March. But, the SLC scene is becoming much more expensive – even Alta has opened a $600/day spa hotel. It’s clear the industry is writing us off and heading to blingville.

    So, we’ve moved to Grand Targhee, Fernie, and other great ski areas that are still good values. And when we bring grandkids and kids to join us, these become their new ‘home mountains.’

    At some point, we may just move our trips to Belize for diving. It’s less expensive and we feel more appreciated down there.

    • Avatar Michael Maginn says:

      Keith: You’ve clearly articulated the overriding mission of SeniorsSkiing.com: To demonstrate the value of seniors who love winter sports. There are resorts—perhaps small to medium sized, perhaps in sedate mountain country, perhaps family-focused— who do offer amenities, discounts, and camaraderie to seniors as an intentional strategy to keep them happy and bringing their families back. Reward them with your business. Think Wachusett Mtn, in MA, Dodge Ridge, CA, Bretton Woods, NH. They are out there.

  3. I am a ski instructor at Breckenridge, the highest traffic resort in North America. It may or may not be true that we seniors represent 20% of that traffic. However, we represent very little of the total money spent. Seniors often live here or have a second home nearby. Seniors typically don’t rent cars and either take the free bus or are savvy to cheap or free parking. Seniors take advantage of cheap or free parking. Seniors tend to ski on their old, battered equipment rather than patronize the rental shops. Seniors tend to have low-cost ski lift passes. Seniors tend to carry their lunch instead of buying over-priced burgers on the mountain. Seniors tend to not take ski lessons and instead participate in free or low-cost group ski clubs. Seniors tend to not go out to restaurants or other apres ski activities in the evening. Et cetera. Ski resorts are businesses. Is it any wonder that, representing a tiny fraction of their income stream, we get hardly any of their attention?

    • Avatar Jon Weisberg says:

      Rich, No doubt that the group you describe exists. I see them wherever I go. But they are a few pixels in a much larger picture and not representative of the whole. Our reader surveys indicate that on day trips, seniors spend about $100 per person per day and $250 per person per day when they are on vacation. Last year we asked how much they spent per person on skiing and skiing-related activities for the season. 56% reported they spent between $1000 and $5000 per person for the season. More than 10% spent $5000 or more. Note that their ages averaged around 67. It may be that the people you see are in their 80s. If that’s the case, I’d ask you to consider that even the most hard-hearted corporations should keep a soft spot for the loyal customers who for decades have supported their operations. Considering that most older skiers are at the mountain mid-week, when operations are at full capacity and usage is not, letting older, dedicated skiers hang out over a cup is not a hardship for anyone. Jon

  4. Avatar Charles Flaum says:

    As I’ve written previously to the editor here – this little organization needs to start a little movement.

    The first thing I would suggest is a permanent link to a list of all areas offering discounts to seniors in every email alert. This can then be forwarded by subscribers to the marketing departments of their local ski areas that are not offering discounts.

  5. Skiing has always been young adult oriented. The pics you see in ads are almost always the young and the beautiful. That is fitting, even with this group our ‘inner eyes’ still see ourselves as this. When skiing we don’t think of ourselves as Seniors.

    On a side note at Sun Valley last weekend. There was certainly a LOT of gray hair there. Yes, it is expensive too.

    • Avatar Jon Weisberg says:

      Bob, You are spot-on. One of our reader surveys asked for actual age and how old you felt after a good day on the hill. The average actual age was 67; the perceived age was 47. That’s consistent with age perception surveys in non-skiing sectors. For most people, behavior (e.g. spending and lifestyle decisions) is influenced by perception, and when we perceive ourselves as younger, we behave that way. Keep that 20 year subtraction in your age arithmetic. Jon

  6. Avatar Catherine Meyer says:

    I think they are too focused on younger patrons who will be with them a longer time!
    PSIA now offers Senior Specialist credentials to instructors interested in working with older skiers. Many of these instructors are organizing special programs at their home resorts to cater to older skiers and riders.

    • Avatar Jon Weisberg says:

      Would love to publish a list of areas with specialized instruction for seniors. Anyone with that info? Please send it in.

  7. I am surprised to hear that seniors only represent 20% of skiers. Everywhere we go, all over the continent, when you are in the lodges and people take there helmets off it is striking to see a majority of grey heads and beards. We do avoid school vacations, college breaks as much as possible, so maybe it’s the timing. Senior skiers are the healthiest seniors I know, it would be awesome to see us depicted in some ski ad!! But I also bet lots of the youth and families out there are being bank rolled for these pricey endeavors by gramma and grandpa. Find that statistic!

  8. Avatar Peter McCarville says:

    True, skiing has always been geared towards the young adult and rightly so, as they (if hooked) will be lifelong skiers and contribute quite a bit more than the seniors I work with.

    However, the seniors I work with do not spend money like the kids I know. They look for discounts as any smart shopper should. As a ski guide, I am not able to make a living as guides do in Europe. Mtns in the US have free guided skiing (at many) and use this to lure everyone to their mountains. Yes, I find senior skiers cheap in many respects but they are on the hills during week days and spend some money in the smaller resorts. The role of a senior in the industry is important. And yes, the mfg of gear do not cater to seniors which I wish they did.

    To emphasize seniors I suggest Senior skiing put the focus on the senior by posting vids of seniors skiing. And, I suggest you not post videos such as the one in Short Swings this week (and previous weeks). Featuring young people doing extreme sports (flips, jumps, steep and narrow lines, etc) does not win me over. I do not relish the days when I did crazy, impulsive things in my youth. I am physically paying for many of them right now. I do not envy or wish for the old days. In fact, I find that these kids mostly do not ski, they are just full of tricks that happen to be on skis. Talented yes, skiing models for seniors, no. I am most angry with Red Bull and the rest of the middle agers (I am one) who profiteer off of kids. But then that too, has always been the way of the sports industry.

  9. Avatar Bob Margulis says:

    I think that we need an organization to advocate for us. I have served on the board of such organizations (e.g. Access Fund–representing climbers nationally). If Seniors Skiing wants to start/be that it would be great (create initial funding and then step back to be in a sponsor role). They would (1) fund themselves thru membership and sponsorship (2) hire a staff who would gather statistics, do market research (3) advocate on our behalf to ski manufacturers, resorts and area owners (4) partner with other groups to magnify our influence i.e. AARP (5) arrange for group discounts on Outdoor Prolink and Experticity.
    I’m about to start my almost 4 y.o granddaughter skiing, Her mother does not ski and her father skis maybe once a year. In contrast I have 3 season passes and will ski in at least 6 areas in 3 states this year. Plus the new seniors (70+) are the boomers and we are not exactly a small segment. As a group we have significant economic power and lots of leisure time. I know my loyalty is to those areas who will provide me with perks and I am going to go well out of my way to Whitefish MT this year (from Seattle) thanks to a free season pass and will be bringing a full fare friend. Whitefish Mtn and the town will benefit greatly from our visit and without the free pass I doubt I’d ever go that far out of my way.

  10. I agree.. After beng s subscriber to Ski Magazine for over 40 years have not renewed my subscription.I cannot afford. I personally are responsible for introducing my two kids, their spouses and four grand kids to the sport yet we are ignored by the industry..
    Ken Roth

    • Avatar Michael Maginn says:

      Hi Kenneth. Note you can get a free one year subscription to SKI by heading over to COMMUNITY menu in the blue menu bar. Click on Subscriber-Only Content. Scroll down to the offer and you’re done. You may have to re-enter your name and email address.

  11. Being just 3 years of the mean age of the skiing seniors I look back to when I started skiing. There were no breaks, as children 12 and older paid adult rates. Once in college in early 70’s, no breaks either, paying the full shot; unlike now-a-day. Today’s 20s even get a big break too. So, I have concluded that we are the generation of being the “Cash cow.” I don’t expect anything will change, other than watching our ski industry circle the drain. (ie: a 100 dollar lift ticket.) This action of eliminating senior perks is just another nail in the ski industry’s coffin. When my generation dies, so will the ski resorts. I believe the easy money many of our younger skiers are painting the town with comes from financial support of our generation. Most young people own a cell phone and are only looking for a bed to sleep in. Once the ski industry cash cows are gone, of course, without forming our cash into trusts, the younger generation, with only their own real dollars will back away from what this has become, this unGodly expensive sport.

    • Avatar Beth Johnson says:

      I understand your feelings here! I, too, worry about the kids that will someday really have to not only truly work for every dime, but also have to choose between meals for their kids and luxury items like skiing. I gave up skiing for many years while raising kids… now I can enjoy my true God given passion once again. But only in semi retirement. even then, its’ in part, to being a ski instructor at my age. A culture we may have an impact on… at least I’ll do what I can. 🙂

  12. Avatar Beth Johnson says:

    I’m on the cusp of being a senior skier, and never really thought about it. I’m glad you posted this idea! Maybe we feel younger when celebrated as a young and enthusiastic athlete with the “norm”…. I don’t know. But I had not really thought of this concept. I will have to study this 🙂

    Thanks again. I’m a new member, and its fun to find a place…. just for me. ~ Beth

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