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For the week of December 13 through 19, 2000

Roll out welcome mat

No one needs a demographic study to recognize the graying of Sun Valley. All anyone has to do is observe the line at a base lift any warm spring day when the hats and the goggles are off.

Baby Boomers, who swelled ski industry revenues and settled in ski towns all over the country in the 1970s, are becoming the new over-the-hill bunch—though still on the hill. Their progeny—the Xers and the Echo-Boomers--are the customers ski resorts need to cultivate now. They also have another name: Snow boarders.

On Baldy, Sun Valley Co. accommodated boarders while listening to complaints of older skiers who were frightened by the noise and the sometimes uneven control of the downhill devices. Unlike some other resorts, Sun Valley wisely did not refuse to sell lift tickets to boarders. It tried to make peace between skiers and boarders by designating a couple of runs for skiers only..

However, the company’s welcome mat is still rolled out only halfway. It still offers no terrain park for adventurous little skiers and daredevil boarders.

Terrain parks have become the sign that all are welcome at major ski areas. Families are drawn to terrain parks the same way they are drawn to burger joints with great toys. Why? The kids are really in charge of the decision.

Terrain parks aren’t cheap, but nothing in skiing is cheap. They are, however, the sign that a ski area welcomes the future. Sun Valley should embrace the future. It’s just smart business.


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