PlanetSki has an interesting article on exaggerated snow resort statistics. You know, some of the key stats we see when comparing snow resorts are: total acreage, total number of runs, vertical, and length of the runs. Fact is, many tourists are looking for the biggest mountain out there and being the king of the mountains can pay off for resorts, and the money involved tempts the resorts to exaggerate their raw statistics. Also in play are legitimate differences of opinion on how to measure such statistics. The article features the work of a German who applied a consistent methodology to a large number of resorts.
Christophe Schrahe has been measuring the length of ski runs across Europe and the USA.
He has not gone out with his tape measure but has used the latest digital satellite technology. He has measured a line down the centre of a piste and factored in the gradient of the slope.
He says that what he has measured, and what the resorts claim, shows on average that resorts exaggerate the length of their slopes by 34%.
The problem of course is ski resorts are free to measure and report such numbers according to their own methodology which might be adjusted for reasons fair and foul. Funny enough, a number of Austrian resorts match closely to Mr. Schrahe’s results, perhaps his methodology matches the resort’s methodology?
Some of the justifications offered to PlanetSki are flimsy covers for foul intent. For example, some resorts claim most skiers do not ski straight down the fall line (true enough) so the reason they can add in distance to compensate for that fact. I would call that foul. Given equivalent snow conditions and grade a skier will most likely traverse at the same rate regardless of the resort and skiers know.
However, mountain statistics drive (have you heard of a resort bragging about how little vertical they have?) much marketing and that in turn drives exaggeration and yes cheating. The industry needs to get together and come up with a standard yardstick. After all, there is more to ski trips than simply skiing. Speaking for myself, I do not pay too much attention to the statistics but if a given resort is exaggerating their raw statistics that is going to cause me to wonder: what else are they trying to apply a snow job to?