First, I am auditioning to be a regular contributor to SkiSoutheast. Thanks to Mike for allowing me to be a part of what has to be the best internet website around. If allowed, I’d like to periodically send in some features that will hopefully be of some interest. A couple of weeks ago I asked Mike why they didn’t include more poll questions and then mentioned that while I had seen the polls, I never have read anything mentioning the results after than ran out. I am guessing they run out, because I can’t vote on anything but the latest.
That got me to looking at the questions and results and I then emailed Mike if the questions were prompted by anything in particular and he answered me, "Mark, we really have so many things going on at one time that what usually prompts a poll question is numerous emails alluding to one ‘hot topic’ issue."
That is kind of what I figured. When I asked him why there were not more poll questions, he wrote, "We added a poll feature to the websites a few years back and admittedly we really haven’t used them a ton. After all it is kind of hard to poll the same questions year in and year out. However, we HAVE posted some decent poll questions from time to time and readers’ answers are always pretty telling."
I used that last comment as my "lead" and researched some of the poll questions and answers and came up with some good information.
For example, when Sugar and Cataloochee opened this season in early November, Doble said that they got a few emails from some people who seemed to say that you think that ski areas should make a bunch of snow and only open AFTER being able to offer more than just a trail or two.
Doble said that some resorts have actually made comments privately saying, "We USED to play that game, but we find it better to provide a good product to our skiing public."
So they posted the question to readers and of 1034 votes cast, only 264 (26%) said that ski areas should not open until more terrain was open. Effectively 74% said either to "open as soon as possible" or "that they didn’t care, they just wanted something to ride on".
Cataloochee and Sugar take note…your fans LOVE that you open as soon as you can, regardless of the terrain.
Prior to that poll they asked readers, "Which of these Resorts Does the Best Job of Grooming?"
I was also interested in that poll question and wondered what prompted that. Doble was hesitant to answer and I could tell that it was a touchy subject. But he answered while carefully choosing his words, "Mark, that poll question received more votes than usual and it came just after we had posted a story alluding to how grooming at some resorts was simply better than at others." He added, "Grooming and snow maintenance is a touchy subject but it’s a no-brainer that somebody has to be the best at it, and that also means that some resort is the worst at it. So we posted the question to see what our readers thought and to see if our personal take on it was on par with our readers."
The results of that poll clearly showed that readers agreed with the story as readers praised Snowshoe Mountain in West Virginia and Appalachian Ski Mountain in North Carolina as their top two with Snowshoe getting 33% of the vote and 985 votes. Appalachian was a close second with 25% of the vote and 724 votes cast for them.
Sugar Mountain was third in the voting with 541 votes and 18% of the vote. The other "big resort" in the state of North Carolina, Ski Beech, only pulled in 179 votes and 6% of the 2956 total votes cast.
It should be noted that other notable resorts such as Wintergreen Resort in Virginia, and Winterplace in West Virginia only pulled 2-3% of the votes cast. I asked SkiSoutheast’s creator about that. He replied, "The truth is that SkiNC.com has been around since 1996 and focuses only on seven resorts, with four of those resorts pulling the bulk of skier visits. Those resorts tend to have more of a fan base and therefore since that poll showed on both SkiNC and SkiSoutheast, it kind of played more to the NC resorts, although it is still impressive that Snowshoe came in first in votes cast."
I asked him about Ski Beech only getting 6% of the votes compared to Sugar’s 18%, Appalachian’s 25% and Snowshoe’s 33%. He answered, "Beech is one of the more popular resorts in North Carolina, and you could read something into the lack of votes, but you could argue the lack of votes for Cataloochee, Hawksnest and others too. So I think the way the question was posed asking readers who they thought did the BEST job made it come out the way it did. If we had asked readers which resorts did the WORST job of grooming, we might have seen some more telling results."
I suggested that they do that poll and he quickly fired back, "No, I don’t think we’ll do that one." He didn’t elaborate, but I gathered that his reasoning was that the site is designed to promote more than to accentuate the negatives of some resorts.
WHO HAS THE BEST TERRAIN PARK?
This was another poll question posed last season after what Doble says was a heated debate that started on the messageboard. Doble reported, "We live in an ‘American Idol’ world where everyone thinks that they are the best of singers and we noticed that many of the messageboard members were posting this or that resort as having the best terrain park and frankly even though I am not a terrain park guy I have been around several and had my own ideas as to which resorts had the best. So we posted the question and it got a lot of votes for sure."
1479 votes to be exact and Snowshoe Mountain (again) received top honors with 30% of the 1479 total votes (439 votes cast). Appalachian was (again) a very close second with 419 votes and 29% of the vote. I am a snowboarder and therefore spend a fair amount of time in the TPs and I have my own personal favorite but admittedly have only ridden at Appalachian, Hawksnest and Snowshoe. I asked Doble his take on this particular poll result.
He answered, "I can tell you that Snowshoe and App have the best looking parks, but Wisp Resort in Maryland as well as Winterplace Resort both have great terrain parks so I think that again since we asked who has the best, it ended up being a favorites kind of a question." He added that Wolf Laurel had taken their game up in a huge way last season and was an up and comer, and that Ski Beech was making noise about getting into the terrain park scene this season.
For those interested, Hawksnest, which gets a lot of mention on the messageboard only pulled 127 votes and 9% of the votes cast. While the nest may promote their TP as the largest, it obviously has a way to go to make it as popular as some of the others, although to their credit they are at least making the effort and have one of the top parks in the region.
Hopefully, this story provided some interesting information for you. While I have always noticed the poll questions, I have never read about the results from any of them. If any of you guys are riding at Hawksnest this season, look me up. I’m usually there a day or so a week and will be wearing my new, gray SkiNC hoodie.
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Editor’s Note: Go easy on this young man as he’s an ASU student and new to writing. I think he did a pretty sweet job, despite including comments from yours truly a bit too much 🙂 We’re hoping to incorporate Mark’s input within the terrain park scene as much as possible this season. Thanks to Mark providing his story.
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