That question’s been on my mind quite a bit over the summer "off season" for the region’s sixteen ski areas. It shouldn’t have been because we’ve been busier than normal creating and debuting some new travel sites having to do with golf in North and South Carolina. (Be sure to check out www.GolfNorthCarolina.com and www.GolfSC.com) However a few months back one of the region’s top marketing people contacted me about the prospects of handling the snow reporting and web production for one of the area’s ski associations. Their contact was to inform me that the group was in need of revamping how and who was handling their snow reporting and getting the word out to all of the regional media. I am withholding this person’s name and the association because it isn’t important who made the contact or which association it was. The point is that the contact was made and a summarization of the conversation was, "We’ve been talking that we need to take our internet marketing up in a huge way and we all think basically along the lines of ‘why should we spend countless dollars in an attempt to create a website that you’re already doing better than we could possibly do’."
Cutting to the crux of the story, this respected organization met and they have decided to spend a lot of money to have someone create a website to attempt to do what we and other independent reporting services like DCSKI can simply do better.
THEY MADE THE RIGHT DECISION, but there’s a lesson to be learned.
First let me share that the ski area marketing director who called me and many of the ski area marketing and management staffers are big fans of this website…and vice versa. In the midst of and after those meetings we received several emails and within them were some of the following comments:
— "Frankly I thought it was a no-brainer (that SkiSoutheast handled snow reporting) because you guys are the best and are already doing what we need done. I personally think its silly for us to spend money in an attempt to create a site that won’t come up to your site’s standards."
— "While I think you’d do a better job than anyone we could hire, I’m glad that you guys are not handling things because to be honest I like that you’re free to write and say what you really feel about conditions for the region. If you were under contract you’d lose that freedom to tell it like it is and I think that is what makes your site the best out there."
— "I was questioning why you’d even consider handling the site for us because I think what makes your site what it is IS the independent status that allows you to tell it like it is."
There were more comments like those, but it is very telling that the theme was that most feel strongly that there IS a difference in what some ski areas report and what we report – and that they want us to keep doing what we’re doing.
You mean we can’t trust what the ski areas tell us?
The worst part of maintaining our website over the years has been having to deal with "the balance" needed to report fairly about what’s happening across the region. For example, numerous times in the past we’ve seen natural snowfalls that we’ve personally measured at 5" of snowfall – reported as 7" of snow by a resort. We’ve tried to give the benefit of the doubt and reported the snowfall as 5-7". However, if there were ten episodes like that over a full season then what in reality might have been 50-55" of snow on the season would be reported as 70" of snow by the resort in question. You might ask, "what difference does that make?"
We argue – it makes a lot of difference. When most ski areas report precise figures, it’s unfair when one or two over-report. We ALSO receive hundreds of emails from weather gurus out there who inform us things like, "XYZ Resort is reporting 70" of snow on the season and I can tell you that there’s no way that’s the case. We monitor official snow reporting and we’ve recorded 52" of snow on the season." – and then they trash us claiming things like, "You guys need to quit cowering to the ski areas."
We can’t win…unless we do what we’ve done to date and simply report what we know to be the case across the board.
You didn’t answer my question, you mean we can’t trust what the ski areas tell us?
Let me try to answer that question with a question, "Who would YOU trust to tell you how great a movie is? The producers of the movie or people exiting the theatre who just watched the movie?"
The defense rests, your honor.
To illustrate our take on how good the ski areas do in self-reporting snow conditions, let’s elaborate on the movie producer analogy:
<Insert the deep-voiced, movie trailer announcer>
In a world where snow flies 150 days a year; where powder is king and skiers and snowboarders find perfectly fallen powder where they want it and groomed corduroy for those that desire it – comes Booger Mountain with its 226-500" base on 1012 slopes and trails. With lift lines non existent and lift ops who live to serve you. Coming September 1st.
We interviewed several Booger Mountain goers exiting the slopes and here’s what they had to say:
"We’re glad we came back now that it’s December, because we were here September 1st and we didn’t see any snow although they said there was 226" everywhere! It was GREAT out there today although it seems that they might be a little off on the 500" of snow."
"We had a GREAT, GREAT time, but where do they come up with 1012 slopes? We basically see four trails coming down the mountain. This IS a great place though; we love Booger Mountain."
You hopefully see our point. We and nearly every visitor to every ski area have a blast when we’re doing what we all love to do and that is ski and ride at our favorite ski hills of the Southeast and Mid Atlantic – REGARDLESS of the over reporting and misguided hype that some mountains lay on us.
SO ARE YOU SAYING THAT WE CAN’T TRUST THE SNOW REPORTING FROM THE SKI AREAS? ANSWER THE QUESTION!!!
Your honor, he’s badgering the witness! I plead the fifth your honor. Hey, I’ve got it! Why don’t you ask Jim Cantore!
For the record – here at SkiSoutheast.com-land – WE get OUR reports FROM THE SKI AREAS. We don’t make up ski reports and we don’t go out and bore holes at various locations at the top and bottom of every ski resort in the region to obtain our reports. So, like you guys, WE have to trust the information that the ski areas are reporting just like you should — with a twist that does make us THE MOST trustworthy source of snow reporting. When we see that a ski area has not dropped their base depths after two weeks of rain and thaw, we report it. When thin coverage and bare spots begin to dot various slopes, we’re the first and most accurate to report about it. We receive hundreds of photos daily from volunteer skiers and snowboarders who were on the mountain the day before. We SEE the images showing bare spots or thin coverage…and we report them. We COULD run photos of the day at some ski areas showing nothing but muddy hills, but we don’t do that either, because that would give an incorrect status of what you’d find on MOST of the mountain. A resort or two would argue that we go out of our way to talk negatively about them. We’d challenge ANYONE to search our archives as every single post we’ve ever posted on this site can be read – and find ONE inaccurate report. You just won’t find one.
You simply won’t find that on any ski area, regional association website or national reporting service since all of those resources simply post precisely what individual ski areas share with them. You can count on us to continue doing what we do and hopefully we’ll get even better with it.
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