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SKI INC. 2020
Chris Diamond's new book Ski Inc. 2020 launches Oct. 29: "The ski world has been turned upside down."
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, Colo.—Chris Diamond's award-winning first book, Ski Inc., had just hit bookshelves in December 2016 when shock waves reverberated through the ski resort landscape—quickly rippling down to impact millions of skiers and riders. In early 2017, the Alterra Mountain Company emerged to challenge Vail Resorts' supremacy, eventually buying 15 resorts, partnering with another 25-plus, and launching the Ikon Pass to compete with the Epic Pass. The story behind Alterra's rise is remarkable, as is the counter-offensive launched by Vail Resorts, which went on its own buying spree, punctuated by the just-closed purchase of Peak Resorts and its 17 areas.
Nothing like this has ever happened—for skiers and riders, for the resort business, or arguably for any industry. So Diamond decided to write a sequel, called Ski Inc. 2020, which goes on sale Oct. 29, just as hundreds of thousands of skiers and riders decide whether to buy Epic or Ikon.
As the former president of Steamboat in Colorado and Vermont's Mount Snow, he enjoyed unprecedented access to all the major players, and this behind-the-scenes account is an eye-opener, a colorful exploration and analysis that has already earned impressive praise from across the spectrum. "If you love winter, love mountains, and love to slide on snow, this book is a must-read," says Michael Berry, who served as president of the National Ski Areas Association for 25 years.
The resort transformation has created a heyday for skiers and riders, who are now able to access dozens of resorts for a dramatically reduced price. An estimated 1.5 million skiers will buy an Epic or Ikon pass for the 2019-20 season, and hundreds of thousands more will buy some type of value-oriented pass.
When Diamond started Ski Inc. 2020, he thought it would be primarily the story of how these "Big Two" resort companies and their pass partners suddenly came to represent more than half of the U.S. ski resort business. But as he dug deeper, he discovered dynamic trajectories among the next three largest ski conglomerates (Boyne Resorts, POWDR and Peak Resorts, which has been acquired by Vail), plus ingenuity and innovation at a host of small- and medium-sized resorts, dozens of which are chronicled in the book.
Besides the widespread success of value season passes, which trade early commitment for dramatically reduced pricing, resorts large and small have polished their operations. The success starts with passionate leadership and extends to every line item. Resorts now avoid risky real-estate projects; vigorously market to and build relationships with digitally savvy customers; sharpen margins across all departments; and improve the product in every way. For an industry that historically suffered through peaks and valleys with the weather and economy, the result today is an impressive bottom-line consistency that has drawn investor interest worldwide.
There are daunting hurdles ahead, with climate change and sluggish participation trends at the top of the disrupter list, but the future is arguably brighter than ever. This book is a deep, colorful dive beneath the headlines, for any skier who wants to understand today's landscape. And it's a must read for anyone who works—or wants to work—in the ski industry.
Advance Praise for Ski Inc. 2020
"Chris Diamond takes the reader to a higher level of understanding on the state of the ski-resort industry than anyone has ever done. "
Former President, National Ski Areas Association
"Ski Inc. 2020 accomplished in a matter of hours what I'd failed to do on my own in a decade: make sense of present-day resort headlines in the context of how we got here in the first place."
Senior Vice President of Strategy, Inntopia
Social media guru @Slopefillers
"Ski Inc. 2020 provides an almost encyclopedic view of the industry today, from the biggest to the smallest players. It could be a textbook for anyone wanting to understand the landscape of the North American ski business, and how it has changed so dramatically in the past few years. "
Former President, Vail Resorts Mountain Division
"Essential reading for anyone watching the resort industry carve into this new 'Golden Age.' Chris Diamond (and his colleague, Andy Bigford) deliver invaluable insights into the insular resort industry and its influence on mountain communities. "
Veteran industry reporter, Colorado Sun
"Chris Diamond does it again. This time he tells the story of how an industry can disrupt itself and reignite growth by creating an exciting consumer proposition. The sequel is a good read for a ski enthusiast or a student of business."
Former Chairman and CEO, PepsiCo
Former Dean, School of Business, Wake Forest University
Title: Ski Inc. 2020
Subtitle: Alterra counters Vail Resorts; mega-passes transform the landscape; the industry responds and flourishes. For skiing? A North American Renaissance.
Author: Chris Diamond with Andy Bigford
Purchasing information: Launching Oct. 29, 2019, as a hardcover or e-book on Amazon.com (plus Barnes & Noble and Indiebound), and at select booksellers.
Publisher: Ski Diamond Publishing, Steamboat Springs, Colorado
Sales/Distribution: West Margin Press, Berkeley, California
Format: Hardcover, 272 pages, 40 photos, Index.
Library of Congress Control Number: 2019909294
About the Author
Chris Diamond is the award-winning author of the first Ski Inc., a resort consultant, and a veteran resort operator. He started his career as an assistant to the president of Killington in 1972, and was the president of Mount Snow, Vermont, from 1977 to 1994. From 1994 to 1996 he served as the vice president for Business Development and president of the Vermont resorts for S-K-I Ltd. He then spent 17 years at the helm of Steamboat Ski Resort before retiring in 2015. He is a past director and chairman of Colorado Ski Country USA and of the National Ski Areas Association, which presented him with its highest honor, the Lifetime Achievement Award, in 2013. Chris, who was inducted into the Colorado Ski Hall of Fame in 2017, lives in Steamboat Springs with his wife, Eileen.
Andy Bigford, who edited and collaborated in the writing of Ski Inc. 2020, has spent nearly 40 years in ski-related publishing, starting his career overseeing newspapers in Breckenridge and Aspen. He was the editor-in-chief and then publisher of SKI, and the general manager of Warren Miller Entertainment.