Last ski season ended with a bang in the Western United States, as numerous ski resorts broke their all-time snowfall records. While people were focusing on water sports, golf, mountain biking, and pickleball, the ski industry news cycle didn’t exactly slow down. New lifts were built, terrain expansions were sculpted, and many unexpected happenings occurred.
Here are the biggest news stories from this past summer:
Jackson Hole Sold To Locals: After 31 years of ownership, the Kemmerer family announced in August that they are selling Jackson Hole Mountain Resort (JHMR). The new owners will be Board Members Eric Macy and Mike Corbat, their families, and a small group of co-investors. The sale is expected to be completed by the end of this year.
Smugglers’ Notch & Stowe Trying To Add Interconnect Gondola: Back in early June, the Northeast ski industry was shocked to hear that Stowe, which is owned by Vail Resorts, and Smugglers’ Notch, which is independently owned, have been working for years on an interconnect gondola. Smuggs’ is leading these efforts, stating that their survival as an independent ski resort depends on this project. These efforts are facing resistance from locals and have an uphill battle with the State of Vermont.
Deer Valley Announces Huge Expansion: Over the past couple of years, construction has gone swiftly at a new Utah ski resort that’s located next to Deer Valley. People wondered who would operate this ski resort, with a consistent headline over the past couple of years being that Deer Valley would run the ski resort. In August, it was confirmed that Alterra, which owns Deer Valley Resort, will run the ski operations. This expansion will make Deer Valley one of the biggest ski resorts in North America.
Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) Chooses Gondola For Little Cottonwood Canyon: It’s no secret that Little Cottonwood Canyon struggles with traffic issues, especially on powder days. For the past couple of years, UDOT has had a public engagement process to determine how they can fix this issue. Despite immense public opposition, UDOT’s pick was a gondola that would connect to Alta & Snowbird. Next up in the process is the approval of needed funds by the Utah State Legislature.
Backcountry Ski Resort In Colorado Closes For Good: Opening back in 2020, Bluebird Backcountry was an experiment to see if skiers would pay to explore a controlled skin-to environment. While people did visit, the owners weren’t able to make it financially sustainable. They announced in July that they were closing for good. Most of the gear at Bluebird was sold at an auction in September, likely sealing its fate.
Netflix’s Reed Hastings Becomes Majority Owner of Powder Mountain: For years, a few guys from Silicon Valley tried to build a utopia atop Powder Mountain in Utah. It didn’t quite work out. Reed Hastings, who’s the co-founder of that relatively successful streaming service, bought a home at Powder a couple of years ago and fell in love with it. He joined this ownership group in the Spring, with intentions to invest. With Reed officially becoming the majority owner in September, he’s putting a lot of dough into the place. This upcoming winter will see new beginner lifts, the addition of snowmaking, a new expert cat-skiing area, and the creation of cross-country/moon biking trails. With Reed investing $100 million at the resort, more improvements are coming.
Southern Hemisphere Season Recap: Australia had a horrible winter, with a late start, and an early finish. The last mountain that was open, Perisher, closed on Monday. It was one of Australia’s warmest winters ever, in what could be an eerie sign of things to come.
New Zealand had a slow start, then had some snowier days later in the season. The big winner was Mt. Ruapehu, which saw some significant snowstorms. Unfortunately, this great season came after they entered voluntary administration, and it will be sold in the near future.
Over in South America, they’ve had a fantastic second half of ski season. After a slow start, the Argentinian and Chilean ski resorts have had an all-time past month, with significant snowfall. Portillo even hailed this winter as its best in years.
What do you think the biggest ski industry story of the summer was? What’s your bold prediction for the rest of the year? Let us know in the comments sections of our socials.