Following is the first in a series of interviews with Adirondack ski area personnel. In this post, I talk with Gore Mountain's marketing manager, Emily Stanton. I've intentionally omitted the parts that have already appeared in my Season Preview article on AdirondackAlmanack.com.
Jeff: The snowmaking improvements this year are really impressive. Can you give an update on the status of the 30 additional guns that are slated for Showcase and Wild Air?
Emily: They have not been ordered, however they have been prioritized. There is still time, and we are hoping that order gets approved.
Jeff: What details can you give on the new terrain at the Ski Bowl?
Emily: There will be two new black diamond glades located north of the Hudson Chair. The northernmost glade will be named Ski Bowl Glade. The glade closer to the lift line will be named Hudson Glade. It will follow some of the historic Ski Bowl terrain, and will also provide a by-pass to 46er. They’re both going to be really nice, clean glades.
Jeff: Speaking of 46er, will that trail get snowmaking for this winter? You have the pipe on hand, right?
Jeff: Where does the Ski Bowl fall in terms of snowmaking priority?
Emily: With the new high-efficiency guns, not only will we be able to make more snow, but we’ll be able to reallocate some of our existing inventory of guns to other parts of the mountain. So while the new guns don’t have a direct impact on the Ski Bowl, it means we’ll be able to get to other areas like the Ski Bowl sooner. Keep in mind the gondola will always be our first lift to open and the first trails to receive snowmaking. From the gondola we expand as quickly as we can to other areas of the mountain. Typically Topridge is next – or even simultaneous with the gondola - and then we move to the summit. From there we expand out to Burnt Ridge and the Ski Bowl.
Jeff: Are you pleased with the interconnectedness of the new terrain?
Jeff: Speaking anecdotally as well as from my own experience, it seems families and snowboarders have the most difficulty with the traverses, while for advanced skiers it’s basically no big deal.
Emily: We are a mountain who wants to be family friendly and snowboard friendly. We recognize that people want to get around the mountain efficiently, and we want people to know that we’re aware of those difficulties and working to improve the experience.
Emily: We want to create a variety for skiers. For example, we may trade off running the North Quad with the High Peaks chair. The mid-week ticket price is less for a reason. We don’t charge as much partly because there’s not as much terrain available. The mid-week pass and the full-season pass are two separate products. That said, we offer the most terrain in the state of New York and we want to make it available regularly to all of our guests. So we will continue to rotate around, but we won’t have every lift running every day. From a demand, cost, and even environmental perspective it isn’t justified.
Jeff: The controversy over paid parking seems to have quieted down. Are you pleased with the way paid parking has worked over the past two seasons?
Emily: Yes. First, it’s optional. Second, we’ve developed more parking areas, more shuttles, and we’ve improved the traffic flow through the drop-off area to make the parking experience better. People should recognize that improvements on the mountain are supported in part by the ancillary revenue sources like paid parking. Those funds are being directed right back into the mountain.
Jeff: What kind of role do you see for Gore during the summer months and off -season?
Emily: Gore certainly wants to be, and is, a leader in community development, including offering a variety of activities for guests year-round. However, the winter season is our bread and butter, and with all of the improvements that have been made over the past several years, that’s where our focus needs to be right now. But with many of these improvements now under our belt, we may be able to give more attention to off-season activities. If the town continues to see this as a priority, we’d be happy to underwrite a plan with them. Many of the areas that we’ve been compared to, when criticized, have invested millions of dollars in water parks, zip lines, golf courses. And they have lodging right at the base to sustain those attractions. Furthermore, our gondola is not really a good destination for a summer scenic lift because it’s enclosed. So Gore is different in those regards.
Jeff: From what I’ve read, the Saratoga North Creek Railroad has gotten off to a successful start.
Jeff: A couple more quick questions. Will the Tannery Pub keep the red gondolas?
Emily: Yes, but it will be completely renovated. The lodge renovations are really great: the deck, the patio and the Tannery restaurant.
Jeff: How about a web-cam at the lodge or at the top of the gondola?
Emily: Probably not this year.
Jeff: Thanks very much, I really appreciate your time.
Emily: You’ve got me really psyched for ski season now!