One of the best skiing seasons that New England has seen in a couple of decades has just ended as I write this. Thinking back on the fifteen very nice days I spent on the slcpes I was reminded of how much skiing has in common with square dancing. It isnít easy to learn to ski. It takes time and commit≠ment. You have to take some lessons (which are only available in the winter) and then do it regularly if you want to do more than slide up and down the learner s slope. Many people take some lessons and never ski again. Some find they really enjoy skiing and they do it several times each season. A few go on to become com≠mitted skiers. They enjoy the steeper trails on the big≠ger mountains. They certainly donít want those trails cluttered up with people who donít belong there.
Skiing doesnít depend on other people to do it with you. You can go by yourself but itís a lot more fun to ski with other people. A variation of an old line comes to mind. Whatís the fun of a great run if no one shares and no one cares? It is fun but I have said many times that I would rather ski the beginners slope with friends than tour the greatest mountains by myself.
A few years ago the skiing population was shrinking. The industry looked itself in the eye and realized that they had put too much emphasis on the expert skier. There were even aome mountains that didnít put much effort into their beginning skier program. They attracted the expert skier and were iamous for the challenge of their trails. Many of these areas have now joined the industry push to make skiing fun far those who donít take it quite so seriously. There are at most no areas left that donít have a large beginner area and well qualified beginner pro≠grams. There are programs for preschool kids at many areas. The business people in the skiing industry real≠ized that there were not enough Ďhot-shotĒ skiers to sup≠port their business. The promotional campaigns have brought a lot of people to the slopes to try skiing. Many of them come once or twice a year while the kids are young. When the kids get hooked on skiing and start us≠ing the expert trails the families often spend two or three weekends a month at the mountain. The kids keep on skiing after they finish their schooling and the cycle begins again when they have kids.
The expert skiers still donít like to have beginners on their trails. But the area operators have realized that the solution to this problem is to provide comfortable places for less dedicated skiers to ski comfortably. After folks have a few lessons they can easily find trails that make them look good. These folks may not ski as often as the dedicated few but they sure help to support the investment the areas have to make to maintain those expert trails. Even though they donít ski as often as I do, there are enough of them to maintain the trails I like on the profits from those less frequent skiers.
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