Is Downhill Skiing Dying?

I ask because it seems (to me) that you are seeing fewer and fewer young kids on the slopes. also, the young kids are more into snowboarding. What this adds up to: a big problem for the downhill ski industry, 20-30 years down the road.
My guess is, skiing has gotten so expensive, that most families can’t do it. and, I think once you lose a generation, it is hard to recover them. Add the high cost of gasoline, and you have a didaster. I see a lot of ski shops closing, and the smaller ski areas disappearing. Is this the end?:frowning:

Moderator’s Note: Moving from Great Debates to The Game Room.

Do you ski or snowboard Ralph? Being a New Englander I ski fairly often. Usually VT, or NH, sometimes Maine or New York. Every year since I was 15 the lines have been getting longer and longer. The resorts in Vermont alone are choked with more volvos and saab wagon’s than you can shake a stick at.

Sure more kids are snowboarding, but then very few mountains forbid it now. Mad River Glen in Vermont comes to mind. I doubt any of the big ski country regions see a decline either. I could be wrong, and yes my evidence is empirical from what I have seen only at the places I have been.

I just don’t see a decline really. And BTW, I have not switched to the dark side yet I still only ski, no snowboarding. I tele-ski every once in a while, but that kills my knees.

My brother teaches skiing and snowboarding at a resort in California. It is 10-1 snowboarders these days. Not sure if this is due to the demographics in California or not.

http://www.snowsports.org/media_center/sia_snow_sports_fact_sheet

Here are some numbers for the past 7 years. It looks like the numbers are trending down a bit for both skiing and snowboarding.

I don’t see why more snowboarders means trouble for the industry. Maybe for the ski manufacturers, but why anyone else? Why would the resorts care what’s under your feet so long as you’re on the mountain?

I read somewhere, and I don’t know if it’s true, that boarding is easier to learn and considerably safer. That there are a lot of serious injuries because the skis cross/tangle resulting in more series leg injuries, particularly bone breaks. Anyway, that sounds like a potential boon to the industry, if true.

Though I guess cross-coutry skiing could be screwed. Is that something the OP is concerned about?

I live closer than I ever have to good skiing and yet I haven’t been in 6 or 7 years. I love the part where you’re going down the hill but the experience as a whole is just a pain in the ass and overly expensive. Unless you live really close you’ve either got a bitch of a drive or a night in a hotel. And with all the gear, winter clothes (unnecessary where I live, so I’d have to buy them just to ski), ski rental, lift ticket, resort prices for lunch . . . it’s just not worth it. I can have just as much fun on my mountain bike without spending a dime, and the trails are practically in my back yard.

Oh god no, not at all for me, at least. I took to skis like a fish to water. They feel more like natural extensions of your feet. The first time I snowboarded I literally tumbled down nearly the entire run. I fell getting off the lift, got up, went maybe 5 feet, fell and tumbled down hill a ways, repeat until the bottom of the trail. Snowboarding felt very unnatural to me because you can’t move your feet independently. It’s like having your shoelaces tied together.

My kids went “skiing” for the first time a few times last year. Just a little local hill. My then nine year old son boards - and given that he skateboards, it was pretty easy for him to pick up. My then eight year old daughter chose skis. She is less coordinated than he, but did do a little better the first few times (he’s catching up - which I understand to be normal).

The ski school had more people interested in learning to ski than learning to board.

From the hill’s perspective, its the same lift ticket and rental. It isn’t a cheap hobby though - and I suspect if times get tough, resorts will feel a pinch. But times have gotten tough before.

That actually shows a precipitous decline in the number of participants. OTOH, it shows that the fewer number of participants are going more often. That makes sense to me in Colorado, where you can buy a season pass covering a number of resorts for less than an out of state skiier would pay for a week-long pass. A lot of young people/college students will pack four or five in a car, pack their own lunch and go up for a day. This is still a cheap days entertainment.

On the other side, the resort business is increasingly becoming a luxury vacation with spas and high end dining the norm. A week in Vail could easily cost a family of four $8,000 with lift tickets, lodging, airfare, lessons and food. These prices have escalated greatly in the last ten years. I know several baby boomers who bought property in ski areas 20 years ago and are now looking for more sedate recreation who are having trouble selling their properties. Small condos or cabins do not appeal to the kind of people who are looking to buy a place in the mountains today.

Golf is seeing similar declines in participation, so it’s possible that people just don’t want to devote an entire day to a single activity, especially to a sport that requires a single minded devotion to get really good at. I’m not sure what the answer is, although I do know that for family entertainment, it is too expensive for the middle class unless you live within an easy drive of the mountains.