I was very proud to hear from Canadian Ski Council’s Paul Pinchbeck that the Grade 4 & 5 SnowPass programme has just been recognised by FIS as the world’s largest snow programme for kids, and “sets a global benchmark for improving access for children to snow sports.” This is a testament to the Canadian ski industry and nicely complements the achievements posted on January 6th across North America with Never Ever Days and the World’s Biggest Lesson initiative.
Aside from being pleased with strong western ski area participation, these new skier and rider initiatives gave me pause to reflect on my recent opportunity to again teach some first timer lessons over the holiday period.
I observed and was reminded that the halleluiah moment for my students was when the angst of slipping, akin to an icy shopping mall parking lot, was transformed into the exhilaration of sliding and turning with control and rhythm. Doctors may define this feeling by a chemical process, but as far as my students were concerned, embracing gliding literally translated into a giddy vocal tone best described as ‘Weeee.’
Skiing and riding does take an initial commitment compared to many indoor pursuits. Douglas Elasser, in his book Magic Boards, The History of Skiing in Saskatchewan, humorously lists a paragraph of sport challenges from cold toes to winter driving. He says there must be a driving force to want to ski and ride, and concludes the rewards are obviously there because enthusiasts will declare “we had a great day.“
My students also concluded the rewards are there. The thrill of gliding is genuine and innate. The feeling penetrates the human soul. It is this sense of Weeee that dwarfs other factors.
The objective for the ski industry therefore is to create opportunities for our guests to feel Weeee. If our first time skiers and riders feel the simple and yet powerful ecstasy of gliding, we have introduced them to the magic of skiing and snowboarding.
From a CWSAA perspective , the Weeee factor transcends all ski areas. Whether we are located on river banks or mountain top glaciers, the Weeee factor is the same. All elements of our business must work together to create and capture the Weeee factor in our guests first experience. We must also articulate Weeee in our communications to inspire interest in gliding on snow for the first time. Once people feel it, they will crave it, and our industry will be better for it.