Report: Afton Alps, Vail Resorts Looking at Younger Generation of Skiers

Updated: 01/24/2014 6:16 PM By: Megan Stewart

A family hits the slopes for a day at Afton Alps.
A family hits the slopes for a day at Afton Alps.
Photo: Photo: Afton Alps/Facebook

Afton Alps' new tagline, "Where Epic Begins," has more than one meaning.

Afton Alps wants to hook more skiers at a young age to make them lifelong patrons, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal.

The reasoning behind the logic is classic consumerism. The number of skiers ages 24 and younger fell more than 22 percent in the 2012-13 ski season, according to a survey by the National Ski Areas Association (NSAA).

“These acquisitions are part of a new strategy for Vail Resorts to drive season pass sales and build broader guest loyalty by looking at premier smaller ski areas located near major urban markets,” said Rob Katz, chairman and chief executive officer of Vail Resorts.

The pull of the Midwest market is especially great, as it has the nation's largest following of young skiers and snowboarders, with 35 percent of skiers and snowboarders 17 and younger residing in the Midwest, the NSAA said.

Vail Resorts added Afton Alps to its Epic family of ski areas in 2012, along with a similar ski hill in Detroit. Since then, Afton Alps has undergone nearly $10 million in changes.

"We plan to bring state-of-the-art racing, terrain parks, coaching and technology to the guest experience," Katz said when Vail Resorts initially announced it would purchase Afton Alps. "We also will connect these urban ski areas to our world-class resorts in Colorado, California and Nevada with new season pass offerings, providing the chance to experience the best skiing and riding locally and in the West,”

Afton Alps has roots already established in Minnesota. The resort recently celebrated its 50th birthday.

“Afton Alps’ great terrain and strong heritage built by the Augustine family make it an ideal ski area for our entry into the Minneapolis-St. Paul market," Katz said.