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October 25, 2010

Super La Nina Coming

Good news for the Pacific Northwest ski season, bad news for Southwest because this La Nina means business:

A super La Nina is developing.

Historically, these strong La Nina events drop the Earth’s average temperature around one degree Fahrenheit, and the drop comes quickly. As a result, some of the same places that had record heat this summer may suffer through record cold this winter.

La Nina is the lesser-known colder sister of El Nino. La Nina chills the waters of the tropical Pacific Ocean, and in turn cools the entire planet for one to two years or more. This chilling has the potential to bring bone-numbing cold to many parts of the world for this and the following winter. As a result, world energy demand may spike in the next one to two years as much colder weather hits many of the major industrial nations.

This La Nina appears to be special, at least so far. It is well on its way to being the strongest of these events since the super La Nina of 1955-1956. During that powerful La Nina that lasted two years, the global average temperature fell nearly one degree Fahrenheit from 1953 to 1956.

The Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) measures the air pressure difference between Darwin, Australia, and Tahiti. The lower the value of the index, the stronger the El Nino typically is. The higher the SOI index, the stronger the La Nina. The September SOI value of +25.0 was the highest of any September going back to 1917, when it was +29.7. During that super La Nina, the global temperature fell 1.2 degrees Fahrenheit from 1915 to 1917. The +25.0 September SOI reading is also the highest for any month dating back to the +31.6 value in November of 1973.

The most recent La Nina developed in the spring of 2007, and persisted until the early summer of 2008. The global average temperature fell one degree Fahrenheit in that period of time, equal to all of the warming of the last 100 years! If the trend of this rapidly developing, potentially super La Nina continues, an equal or larger temperature drop can be anticipated during the next one to two years. This La Nina is coming on very fast and very strong. Already it is colder than the six coldest La Ninas of the last 60 years when they were at a similar stage of development.

This is not good news for the SW resorts in the US, but we shall wait and see what the weather patterns bring.

Posted by Justin at 11:46 AM | Comments (1)

October 23, 2010

It's On--Season Starts at Loveland

The season is officially starting:

GEORGETOWN, Colo. - Loveland Ski Area plans to open for the season Sunday, the second year in a row it's the first Colorado resort to start its lifts.

In 2009, Loveland opened on Oct. 7. Business operations director Rob Goodell says warm weather delayed the start this year.

A mile-long top-to-bottom run, covering 1,000 vertical feet will be open Sunday, and the resort plans to be open seven days a week.

Bout time.

Cannot wait to get the season started.

Posted by Justin at 08:49 PM

October 04, 2010

Sunrise Reinstates Jr. Pass Promotion

Sunrise's annual Jr. Pass Promotion is back on:

Greer, Arizona - The annual Junior Pass Promotion at Sunrise Park Resort for kids age 12 and under is back on the calendar for Oct 9th and 10th, along with the Winter White Out Sale.

In response to public feedback, Sunrise will offer the Free Junior Pass event which was previously cancelled.

Scenic Lift Rides to enjoy the fall colors will also be offered to the top of Sunrise Mountain from 10am to 4pm both Saturday and Sunday. The resort will have the Eagles Nest Restaurant open offering lunch and a bird's eye view of the White Mountains.

Sometimes I wonder who runs Sunrise. The original decision to only open one mountain and to cut the Jr. Pass Promotion are senseless. How they can not make money at the resort is beyond me. Maybe not a lot of money, but even with down economic times, you should still be able to draw enough folks to make money.

But if you close 2/3rds of the mountain and end up with massive lift lines, it is worthless to drive the extra two hours from PHX to go to Sunrise. You can get that at Flag two hours closer.

Posted by Justin at 11:30 PM

Snowbowl Gets Go-ahead for Some Improvements

Snowbowl gets started on some improvements, others still on hold including snowmaking:

FLAGSTAFF - Changes are coming to the Arizona Snowbowl. The Arizona Daily Sun reports the resort has received permission to add a conveyor-belt that would carry beginning skiers uphill. The ski resort has also gotten the OK to log a new ski trail...

Work on the 150-foot-long conveyor belt is set to begin this fall. The conveyor belt is intended to save beginning skiers a walk uphill during lessons.

Plans call for regrading a 1.5-acre area due north of its lower lodge with bulldozers to create a flatter teaching area.

Good news for Snowbowl, but a snowmaking decision is still needed so they can make all the improvements planned.

Posted by Justin at 11:27 PM | Comments (1)

More on Ski Pass Defender

Check out the news from Breck and Vail Resorts over their new RFID enabled ski passes:

Breckenridge inventor Jon Lawson, who recently started marketing and selling the Ski Pass Defender, was told by Vail Resorts that he would have to give up his association with the product if wanted to return to his Breckenridge ski teaching job for an eighteenth season this winter.

Lawson’s invention is a simple sleeve that lets ski pass holders decide when they want to allow the electronic chip to be scanned. For example, a skier could choose to use the pass only for access to a lift. Or, he could allow all-day tracking, which at some resorts then translates into getting access on vertical footage and other mountain stats that can be shared with friends via social networks like Facebook at Twitter.

That’s the idea of Vail Resorts EpicMix app, publicized several weeks ago as a new product for this season and generally greeted with favorable reviews from the ski press and from skiers eager to share their exploits in the online equivalent of an aprés-ski lounge...

“Last week I got an e-mail from Pat’s secretary inviting me to come in and talk about it,” Lawson said, referring to Breckenridge VP and chief operating officer Pat Campbell.

Lawson said when he went to the ski resort office to discuss the issue, there was someone from the human resources offices holding his personnel file — which perceived as an attempt at intimidation.

In a second meeting with resort officials, Lawson got the ultimatum — either opt out of his business or opt out of his employment with Vail Resorts.

He chose to quit the resort to pursue his new business, saying it was an easy decision after the second conversation with resort officials.

“I went in again this week and Pat said the product is in conflict with their initiative. She gave me a choice of either divesting my ownership interest in the business or not working for Breckenridge,” he said.

Lawson described a few details of the conservation, saying that Campbell questioned him about the nature of his feelings about corporations, asking him whether he had something against The Man, or against corporate America.

Based on Lawson’s own post on the Ski Pass Defender website, he doesn’t.

“I don’t have anything against Ski Corporations using these technologies, and their “initiatives” to grow revenues and decrease expenses. But I think there are enough people who prefer NOT to be watched and cataloged by a big brother to warrant $16 of protection,” he wrote Sept. 21. “It is simply a way to give the skier or rider the freedom to choose to be tracked or untracked from day to day or run to run. And we now know where Vail Resorts stands on that point. ’You can have any color you want, as long as it’s black.’ “

Lawson thinks the ski company will use to information for targeted marketing at some point down the road, and also believes the RFID technology could be used to enforce on-mountain speed limits. He also says he has some expertise in the area of identity theft risk management, and claims the RFID data from ski passes could easily be skimmed in the ski area environment.

Big brother.

Now, to make matters worse, they also have the ability to combine stored values card transactions with this information. Basically they can catalog your entire day electronically.

Imagine that you ski 30,000 vertical feet and pop in to the on mountain bar for a beer after a long day skiing. You have one beer, then drive back to Denver, but you are exhausted from skiing and you have a car accident. Suddenly, they can recreate every run you took down to the type of terrain you skied and where you went.

For our pothead friends, imagine you pop off the lift into the trees with a couple buddies to smoke up real quick. They can actually track you and pinpoint your location. Ski patrol can come find you.

Ski pass defender simply let's you opt out of this.

I don't smoke pot and I have never drank while skiing. I poach an occasional closed run or two, but I like my privacy.

Not sure I really like Vail collecting this data. They invested upwards of $10M into RFID technology. What is their ROI model? It might be targeted advertising or it might be selling your information. I don't want ski spam and I don't want non-ski spam from their partners based on my skiing preferences.

Posted by Justin at 11:37 AM | Comments (1)