Will Gas prices & a lame economy affect ski areas?
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Mountain Masher
July 12, 2006
Member since 03/13/2004 🔗
541 posts
Perhaps it's a bit premature for making predictions, but I find myself wondering if high gas prices (combined with other economic factors) will have a negative impact on many mid-Atlantic ski areas during the up-coming season.
BushwackerinPA
July 13, 2006
Member since 12/9/2004 🔗
649 posts
this topic has come up every year, IMO most skier have enough money that price in gas will not affect the majority of skiers. GAS is still cheap for me compared to my cost in gear, travel, and food. but I do get 30 mpg easy in my integra.

http://forums.epicski.com/showthread.php?t=42106 I am saying judging by this poll that most skiers are loaded and gas wont affect the ski industry much at all.
Heather
July 13, 2006
Member since 02/24/2005 🔗
170 posts
I feel that your statement "most skiers are loaded" seems a bit presumptuous. I know of many people who teach skiing as a way to earn money and a season pass otherwise, they would only be able to make turns a couple of times each year. Maybe gas will not be an issue for some, but it definately is a deciding factor when my family is choosing a destination.
Rich
July 13, 2006
Member since 11/30/2000 🔗
194 posts
Re online Polls. Love the accuracy of the polls...on-line I can be 20 years younger, 20 lbs lighter, and make $20k more. LOL

I used to just swipe the card at the pump and forget it. On receiving my recent VISA bills, it dawned on me just how much more it now costs to do Snowshoe so often. Not that I'll not go...but I am more aware of how expensive driving has become then ever before. I don't think it will have any effect - if you can afford the equipment, lodging, lift tickets, and $50k for a big SUV, $3 or $4/gallon doesn't mean anythng.
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BushwackerinPA
July 13, 2006
Member since 12/9/2004 🔗
649 posts
Heather I fall in to the catergory of someone who teaches to afford at to be frank the commute to Hidden Valley for me was killig me. My commute at snowbird is a 20 min drive at the most or 5 min when I hop on the bus. I was saying most skier are loaded and they are, but doesnt mean everyone of this board. that poll is good indication of how much skiers are earning.
Murphy
July 13, 2006
Member since 09/13/2004 🔗
618 posts
Quote:

this topic has come up every year, IMO most skier have enough money that price in gas will not affect the majority of skier. GAS is still cheap for me compared to my cost in gear, travel, and food. but I do get 30 mph easy in my integra.





While your argument that the increase in gas cost is not very significant compared to the amount of money most people spend on skiing, I wouldn't be surprised if it still had an impact on people's decisions to go skiing this winter. I was down at Smith Mt. Lake this past weekend and everyone was talking about how empty the place has been this summer (relatively speaking). It's incredible that people will drop over half a million $ on a second home, buy an $60K boat (and much more in some cases) and then make the decision not to go based on an extra $30 in gas over the coarse of a weekend. With logic like that, it makes you wonder how these people got that rich in the first place.
snowcone
July 13, 2006
Member since 09/27/2002 🔗
589 posts
Actually for us, RT increase in gas for Snowshoe trips will probably be in the $60 range ... not a killer in itself but the increase in oil prices will mean increases across the board in lodging, food, etc., making the delta between WV and CA/UT even larger. We are not getting season passes to SS this year and will only do 2 four day weekend trips instead of our usual 4 trips/year. Southwest is increasing its one way ticket prices by $10 this year which is equal to the gas increase to/from SS for the 3 of us. So it will still be more cost effective to go 'West' rather than West Virginia.
Roger Z
July 13, 2006
Member since 01/16/2004 🔗
2,181 posts
Snowcone, you hit on an important point. Gas prices affect energy prices, which affect... snowmaking, grooming, and night skiing. This means higher lift ticket prices (on an unrelated note, a lot of road projects are being scaled back here in the midwest because asphalt uses oil, oil has gotten more expensive, ergo...).

On the other hand, skier visits could become less frequent but of longer duration, as the spread between the cost of going home versus spending the night at or near a ski area may narrow.

On the third hand, probably the biggest driver of skier visits is weather. A snowy winter will get people on the road faster than free beer can get consumed at a tailgater.

Chart on skier stats since 1978/1979 courtesy of NSAA:

http://www.nsaa.org/nsaa/press/historical-visits.pdf

You can look it over yourself and compare it to things like inflation, gas prices, annual snowfall in each region, etc (if you can find the data) to guess at what drives skier visits. It doesn't appear, from a casual glance, to be very correlated with gas prices (gas high in late 70s and 04/05, extremely low in the late 90s and late 80s).
snowcone
July 13, 2006
Member since 09/27/2002 🔗
589 posts
Just did a quick check at WaPo ... oil is over $76 and still heading up.

I expect gas to be around the $4 mark before the end of the summer, if not higher, what with the MidEast going up in all sorts of flames. Judging from the downturn in the Euro today, it seems we are all in this together, so I won't start getting really spooked until the dollar starts diving vis a vis the Euro and Yen.

I am in the process of moving further out from the Beltway ... looking at realestate near the PA border [closer to snow?] and it came to mind this morning [if things start going way south] that having a yard large enough for a veggie garden et. al. might not be a bad idea ...[now where did I leave my tin-foil hat!]
Mountain Masher
July 13, 2006
Member since 03/13/2004 🔗
541 posts
Murphy, when you mentioned how empty Smith Mountain Lake has been this Summer, I think that you were on to something. I have noticed the same thing at Raystown Lake, PA and the lower Potomac. People have decided to cut their power-boating way back, which didn't happen during previous Summers. So, why wouldn't people follow the same pattern during the Winter and cut back on driving that pertains to recreation? After all, a huge percentage of skiers drive mid-sized and BIG gass guzzling SUVs. When I go skiing at 7-Springs, I always park at the upper lot, which requires me to drive past the mid-level lots; and, I'm always amazed at the high percentage of mid-sized and BIG SUVs (of the type that average LESS than 18 mpg).

There's a trend underway to conduct recreational activities near where you live. Plus, for much of the middle class, the economy hasn't been so hot over the past few years. And, to offset income stagnation, they've often incurred massive debt, which is starting to reduce discretionary spending.

Things ARE different these days!!!!! I DO think that there will be a noticable decrease in buisness at many ski areas. Also, I think that this trend will be a factor (along with Global Warming) in the (possible) development of new ski areas within the mid-Atlantic. Despite all the talk, I doubt that any additional major ski areas will ever be developed within the mid-Atlantic.
Roger Z
July 13, 2006
Member since 01/16/2004 🔗
2,181 posts
The key is the crack spread between oil and gas, which was widest immediately after Katrina last fall (which is why despite oil being at 76 a barrel we're only just now returning to the same gas prices). If the spread between oil and refined products was zero, the price at the pump would probably be in the 2.05-2.25 range right now. Of course, no one would be refining, either...

The Mideast is throwing a decided kink in matters, but btw the Dollar has traded down against the Euro and Yen for several years at this point. As a matter of fact, the weak dollar is probably adding a solid 10-15 a barrel onto our price. More even if you compare it against the strong dollar of the late 90s.

Motor boat use was pared back significantly last summer, at least along the Bay. Gas demand barely moved up last year. Driving was thus curtailed last year. And yet folks still made it to the slopes. Finally, we don't know what gas prices will be this winter. They typically drop off in September. The Mideast is problematic though.

The catch is we have ample supply right now, so if (when) global risk perception drops off, and if (when) the dollar strengthens, there is a chance that oil could crater. That won't happen in the next 6 months, but it's a decided possibility in the next few years.
Mountain Masher
July 13, 2006
Member since 03/13/2004 🔗
541 posts
Although things might have been different on the Bay with larger boats that use more fuel, I didn't see hardly any drop-off in power-boat usage until this Summer. And, as far as gas prices go, I agree that they usually fall a bit after the Summer driving season is over. However, should the current MESS in Middle East fail to stabilize within the next few months, we could see HIGH gas prices last through the Winter. Also, I worry about the dollar, which might fall even further. And, the day could come when the World goes off the dollar standard and barrels of OIL are priced in a currency other than the US dollar. One thing's for sure, we will see $100 (or a foreign currency amount that equates to $100 USD) a barrel oil within the next few years.
snowsmith - DCSki Supporter
July 13, 2006
Member since 03/15/2004 🔗
1,363 posts
Thanks to Israels invasion of Lebanon, oil has jump to $75.88 a barrel, a new record. We can thank our wacko presidents' mid-east policy for most of the high cost of gasoline. Things are getting very scary over there. If Bush stays in office we could have world war three. Now that could seriously affect the cost of skiing.
Mountain Masher
July 13, 2006
Member since 03/13/2004 🔗
541 posts
Snowsmith, I couldn't agree with you more! Bush's Middle East policies have been horrible for both the US and Israel! When Bush decided to disengage from the Israel/Palestinian peace process and focus on attacking other nations, it set the stage for the current MESS between Israel and it's neighbors. When Palestinian (terrorist) leader Arafat died, there was a golden opportunity for peace (or at least far more stability), but Bush had "other ambitions" and "hung" both the Israelis and Palestinians "out to dry" while he focused on Iraq. Now, we have a tragic international situation that could affect our ability to pursue the sport we love here at home! Of course, you won't hear anything like this on right-wing radio or Faux-News, to them Bush is simply wonderful! Sure, and planet earth is really cooling these days! (Rush actually said that the earth is cooling on his radio show a week or two ago!)
jimmy
July 13, 2006
Member since 03/5/2004 🔗
2,650 posts
Quote:

I feel that your statement "most skiers are loaded" seems a bit presumptuous.




Heather, I'm a skier and it's safe to presume if I'm not loaded at the moment, I will be in about four or five hours .

Quote:

On the other hand, skier visits could become less frequent but of longer duration, as the spread between the cost of going home versus spending the night at or near a ski area may narrow.






I figure I use twice as much gas going roundtrip to CV as to 7Springs for the day. The moons lined up for me last year with an inexpensive place to stay and a season pass; was able to get four days there for what i'd spend on gas making two day trips to 7 Springs. I don't think my habits will change this year due to the cost of gas.

Interesting point Roger about *energy* costs in general, those could have a big impact on resort operating costs even if the price of gas doesn't affect demand.
snowcone
July 13, 2006
Member since 09/27/2002 🔗
589 posts
IMHO ...

Please do not underestimate the value of wind power. First of all, no business is going to situated the huge expensive turbines in an area where there isn't sufficient wind to drive those babies efficiently. The point is to access a renewable energy source to make money by providing power; 'free' isn't part of the equation, here in the US. Same for photovoltaic batteries; the sun does the work and, after the initial equipment investment, the company makes the money.

Wind and solar power are the major providers of alternative energy in Greece. Most homes, even in the major cities like Athens, have solar water heaters on their roofs. In the island villages, energy is supplied by various combinations of thermal, solar and wind power. In many cases smaller islands are energy independent with the exception of small amounts of gas and diesel needed to run cars and trucks. I know, I lived in Greece for 26 years. For example, the island where my ex's family had their summer homes is one of those places. All electricity needs for 5,000 people in the winter and 12,000 in the summer is provided by a wind farm and photovoltaic batteries on the main mountain ridge. The northern part of the island is supplied with boiling hot water from thermal springs. The water is then piped to the rest of the villages on a rotational basis, so each house maintains a cistern that gets filled once a week or so. The system is thousands of years old but still works. Additionally, energy is conserved, not abused the way we do here. In the winter, and its gets friggin cold there, people wear sweaters and warm clothing at home and at work to reduce the heating bills. All appliances are energy and in the case of washers, water efficient. Most homes do not have air conditioning but are relatively cool in the summer due to marble flooring, ventilation, and walls built using air pockets as insulation. In the winter the floors are covered with heavy rugs, the ventilation is closed and the air-insulated walls keep the warmth in.

The point I am trying to make, I guess, is that the available wind power that Roger Z talks about could be quite adequate if we would just be a lot more conservative of the energy we use.

One final comment; when I left Greece 6 years ago, 82 octane gas was approx. $4.50 a US gallon. I drove a souped-up 25 year old Innocenti Mini that got me 28 mpg in the city and 32 mpg on the highway. It seemed to me I paid a lot for gas back then, but I wish I still had that car with each fillup of my Xterra clocking in at more than $50 these days.
Roger Z
July 13, 2006
Member since 01/16/2004 🔗
2,181 posts
Snowcone-

Wrong forum, but... no I don't want to underestimate wind. I just want to convey the concerns I've heard from people who work with it on a daily basis. Wind comes and goes, and the regulators force situations beyond market control at times.

Incidentally, 63% of all energy consumption in Greece is oil (can't imagine that that is very clean). 74% of electricity production is oil, gas, or coal. See http://www.eia.doe.gov/emeu/cabs/greece.html

and specifically this quote:

"ELECTRICITY
In 2003, Greece generated 54.6 billion kilowatthours (Bkwh) of electricity, of which approximately 74 percent was thermal, 23 percent was hydroelectric and 3 percent was solar. Although most of the thermal energy is lignite-fired, some is oil-fired. The majority of new plants will be gas-fired. Electricity demand has grown nearly 50 percent over the last decade, which, according to the Energy Regulatory Authority, RAE, will require some 6,000 megawatts (MW) of additional capacity to guarantee adequate supply through 2015. Athens and parts of southern Greece experienced blackouts in July 2004."

Also note here that Greece's energy consumption per capita and per GDP are both increasing:

http://earthtrends.wri.org/text/energy-resources/country-profile-73.html

While in the United Staets energy consumption per GDP is falling and the per capita consumption is increasing at less than half the rate of Greece:

http://earthtrends.wri.org/text/energy-resources/country-profile-190.html

The charts on the righthand side of the page also demonstrate that we got a lot larger share of our energy from non-thermal sources, chiefly because of nuclear.

The stats are a little out-of-date, unfortunately, but as I posted a week ago, our consumption per GDP has continued going downward this decade. www.eia.goe.gov is a good source of info on power and prices of power and consumption and so forth. But feel free to check out the World Resources Institute if you want to cross-check the data with an independent organization (http://earthtrends.wri.org/text/index.php).

Anyway, back to the original point... gas prices will affect my skiing by priority. I'm less likely to take a local trip to a hill I'm not as fond of skiing because of gas prices, for the purpose of saving my money up so that I can take the longer trips out to CO or UT. If gas prices stay high.

How else is everyone going to parcel out their vacation plans?
snowcone
July 13, 2006
Member since 09/27/2002 🔗
589 posts
Roger Z: I do not know the oil-for-energy usage percentages in Greece but I do know that there is a concerted effort to use alternative sources to the extent that substantial tax breaks are in place for substitution of renewable sources for oil. I must admit that natural gas usage has increased substantially in the last 15 years, with the gas source being Russia and talk of extending a pipeline into the lower Balkans and Greece. Since I don't live there any more I don't follow the energy prices/sources.

As far as skiing locally vs gas prices, we decided this coming winter to spend more time out west and less time locally except for short day trips to the Ski Time resorts. It proved to be much more cost effective last year even with the addition of airfare and rental wheels .. to say nothing of some lucky timing ... CA: superb 6-8" -every- day for 10 days in March, UT: a great dump on our first day and another biggie three days at the end [hated to go home] ... unfortunately the percentages locally are rarely that good [wish they were]. I guess the only option is to move to UT like Crush.
Mountain Masher
July 14, 2006
Member since 03/13/2004 🔗
541 posts
For every day the MESS in the Middle East continues, the greater the chance that the economy will WEAKEN and gas prices go through the roof and stay high through the Winter!!!! At this point, I think that it's safe to say that business at most ski areas within the Mid-Atlantic will be down during the coming season, it's just a matter of how much. Also, there's always the weather, should we have another mild Winter (on top of negative economic developments) we'd have a "perfect storm" against the ski areas.
tgd
July 14, 2006
Member since 07/15/2004 🔗
585 posts
Gas, the poor economy, war in the mid-east, global warming, mild-winters, the eminent threat of intrawest taking over the mid-atlantic will not effect how much time and money I spend skiing next year. In fact, I'll probably ski and spend more because I'm going to save time by not reading threads like this anymore.
johnfmh - DCSki Columnist
July 14, 2006
Member since 07/18/2001 🔗
1,926 posts
The easiest way to save money is not by driving to a closer resort, but by brown bagging your lunch. Buying anything at the lodge can easily kill your ski budget. With that being said, T-line still sells 16 ounce Killian drafts for $3. That's not a bad deal by DC standards..

PS We've never compared beer prices at resorts across the region. That would make an interesting chart.
BushwackerinPA
July 14, 2006
Member since 12/9/2004 🔗
649 posts
Quote:

I guess the only option is to move to UT like Crush.




yep
LMV
July 14, 2006
Member since 06/1/2005 🔗
60 posts
A 16 oz. Guniess draft was $2.75 at the wildcat lounge at laurel, I really miss that bar. When the springs took it over they didn't have Guniess, and a beer was around $3.00.
JohnL
July 14, 2006
Member since 01/6/2000 🔗
3,518 posts
A 16 oz. Guiness draft for $2.75?

Brilliant!
SCWVA
July 14, 2006
Member since 07/13/2004 🔗
1,051 posts
Quote:

A 16 oz. Guiness draft for $2.75?

Brilliant!




That works out to be $22/Gal.

If you go to any professional sporting event or a concert, the beers are $6 for a 16oz. Bud. That works out to be $48/gal.

Gas is cheap vice!
tgd
July 14, 2006
Member since 07/15/2004 🔗
585 posts
How will the higher price of gas effect beer prices?
If beer prices went up how would it effect your skiing?
What does the lame economy have to do with it?
And if the economy is so lame, how is it that a stadium full of drunk fans can afford $48/gallon beer?
Oops, I know I said I would stop reading lame threads likes this... but it started to get interesting...

ummm beeeeer....
jimmy
July 14, 2006
Member since 03/5/2004 🔗
2,650 posts
Tom I honestly didn't realize this was a thread about beer. I was still trying to figure out this LAME economy oh you know why would anyone base an economy on something like an mp3 encoder is just beyond me, higher beer prices affecting, or is it effecting? my skiing, very deep i must ponder this tonight. i due know that a cold cut trio with green peppers and mustard, 12" on wheat yesterday bought me much gas; good beer, mmmmmmmmm, buys you many things!
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