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The value of a silly magazine poll

Don Rogers

Serious business or silly stuff?

The backdrop, of course, was Vail’s return to No. 1 in North America, according to SKI magazine, the definitive judge among these polls. Vail has earned this distinction in 11 of the 15 years the survey has existed. The New York Yankees wish they could dominate this completely.

Beaver Creek, favorite of those of us in the newsroom with families, continued its climb of recent years, up to fifth this year, ahead of all resorts named Aspen for the first time. You don’t think the folks who run these mountains aren’t dancing over that news alone?



But other than marketing opportunities and crowing rights until next September, so what? Vail and Whistler attract more skiers than anyone else, owing in large part to their sheer size as the two biggest ski mountains. Of course those 20,000 or so skiers who are surveyed are more likely to have come to Vail or Whistler than anywhere else. It can be argued that enough missed out on the virtues of Beaver Creek, just down the highway a piece, they missed the better of the two resorts.

Perhaps, perhaps not. Deer Valley, No. 2, and Snowmass, No. 4, are not giants.



Being homers, we’ll fasten on the quote from one SKI reader who said, “Vail’s a no-miss ski vacation. It’s the most consistently good mountain I have ever skied.”

Goodness knows we’ve each had a similar conversation more than once with a chairlift partner from out of town.

Sure, on one level, this is subjective, silly stuff, relative as hell, just an opinion, voiced over and over again. What does the public know anyway?



On another level, though, especially when Vail slips from that No. 1 ranking, the seriousness kicks in. Where were we weak? How do we bring that up?

Value, at rock bottom, seems beyond us. But we can always improve on service, right? And so the push the past couple of years on improving service on and off the mountain. Vail’s Premier Impressions program is a direct result of sliding all the way to No. 4 in the SKI magazine survey.

The definitive issue doesn’t come out until Sept. 16, but Vail finished in the top 10 for service this year, along with grooming, terrain, lifts, access, on-mountain food, dining, apres ski, off-hill activities, family programs and terrain parks. Gold medal rankings included the above, along with weather and snow. Remember that Vail was blessed even more than the other Colorado ski resorts in these two arenas during a rather poor year for weather and snow. Well, poor if you are counting those wonderfully blizzardy powder days. Suffice to say value was not among Vail or Beaver Creek’s attributes, again.

The answer to our newsroom debate is this: Perception is reality.

If that is the case, we try harder those years we fall short of No. 1. Taking the annual ranking seriously each year, and working to shore up perceived weaknesses, makes this a most serious proposition indeed.

D.R.


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