Ski Smaller

We all know the cliché go big or go home but when it comes to skiing it is not always possible or even desirable to go big. The choice many of us have is ski small or stay home and in my mind the former wins easily! This is the first article I am putting out on Gregg Blanchard’s (aka @Slopefillers) effort to promote skiing at the small local resorts that dot ski country nationwide. He is starting up a campaign entitled: Ski Smaller to promote and recognize the small ski resorts that far outnumber the big destination class resorts.

Ski Smaller — The Math

There is all sorts of math that support the notion of skiing smaller. The first is the obvious idea that small ski resorts typically charge less than the large destination class resorts. This means we can ski more often or use that money to stay at better lodging or eat at better restaurants.

Also, the small ski resort is more numerous than the large destination class ski resort so they are likely closer to you than the destination resort. This is especially true for those of us in outside of the mountain states (They Rocky and Adirondack Mountains). Closer means less time to get too and from the resort and of course that typically translates into less consumption of precious money and vacation.

Ski Smaller — The Little Hill That Can!

Lindsey Vonn
Lyndsey Vonn got her start at a Ski Smaller resort!
Just because a ski resort is small does not really mean all that much in its potential to grow world class skiers. The woman with the most FIS alpine victories got her start at a 45 acre 309′ vertical ski resort. I am talking about Lyndsey Vonn and Buck Hill Minnesota.

Yes, her and her family did much ski traveling and she and her mother moved to Vail so she could learn to ski and race, but the fact remains she got her first tastes of skiing at the local ski resort.

In fact, there are many people involved with the ski industry who got their start at the small ski resorts many of which are now closed.

The resort I spend most of my time and ski money at is also home to a real live Olympian (albeit a snowboard-cross athlete) and that would be Nick Baumgartner and Ski Brule (vertical 500 feet and 150 acres). It isn’t the size of the resort that matters but the size of athlete’s heart!

Ski Smaller — The Struggle

Small ski resorts struggle for survival. Unfortunately, it is getting harder as skiing can be a hard sell (at first). People are cozy indoors and why risk injury when you can get near the same thrills on a video game or at the local arcade with its ski simulator? It’s cold out there!

Ski Smaller — Sometimes the Mountain is Incidental!

ski smaller means taking joy in simple things
We do not live on skiing alone!
Are you really going to sit in your house on a nice March day just because you can’t get to big-mountain skiing? Is skiing or snowboarding the whole of your mountain experience? While the skiing and snowboarding is very important there is more to it. What do you remember the most from your trips last year? How about that epic trip you took ten years ago? I know my one big-mountain trip the biggest memory I have is the après-ski hot-tub time I shared with my wife, brother, and father. I distinctly remember the (literally) snow-white flakes of snow in the raven black of my wife’s hair. I remember having to steel myself to get in and out of the hot-tub and the care I had to take to make sure while rushing to uncover and recover the hot-tub my barefeet did not slip on the ice.

ski smaller means enjoying friends and family first
The skiing was great but not as much as skiing with this guy!
From last year I recall the spring trip to Ski Brule. Not only was the weather and snow near perfect I was finally able to get out with my best ski buddy. It wasn’t just showing off my new-found ski skillz but being with Brian on the slopes, a treat that had been withheld from me all season long.

Ski Smaller — The 2015-2016 Ski Season Pledge

Repeat after me please:

I <state your name> do solemnly pledge that I will not turn my nose up when invited to <ski or snowboard as applies to you> at a small snow resort. I do hereby acknowledge the joy of <skiing or snowboarding as applies to you> is only partly found in <skiing or snowboarding as applies to you> and consists also of being with my friends, family, and others who share the joy of being outdoors together and that can be found at a small resort as it can be at a large resort. I do hereby solemnly declare I will <ski or snowboard as applies to you> at all resorts regardless of the vertical or acreage.

Ski Smaller — Obligatory Call to Action!


Good Stuff!


  1. The list of olympic snowboarders that hail from tiny hills is probably pretty impressive, Danny Davis from Alpine Valley MI and Louie Vito from Ohio (BMBW or Mad River, I can’t remember which) just to name a few!

  2. In the case of Louie Vito, he came from Mad River.

    In theory, we could see some skiers come from small areas, too, given that skiing as a freestyle side, too, and you don’t need a large vertical drop to have freestyle terrain.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


one − 1 =

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.