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Maximizing MTB Opportunities at Ski Areas

Opportunities and considerations gleaned from the evolution of snow-sport resorts into summer mountain biking playgrounds.

Presenters included:

  • Troy Hawks, National Ski Area Association (Colorado, USA)
  • Charlie Sturgis, Executive Director, Mountain Trails Foundation (Utah, USA)
  • Hogan Koesis, Bike Park Manager, Angel Fire (New Mexico, USA)
  • Christian Robertson, Evolution Bike Park Manager, Crested Butte (Colorado, USA)

Troy Hawks, National Ski Area Association (NSAA)

The NSAA and IMBA formed a partnership in October of 2011, aimed at increasing visitation and improving mountain bike experiences during the summer season at ski areas. Troy presented numbers on ski areas with MTB use and opportunities, as well as details of the partnership.

  • 326 member ski areas
  • 162 ski areas have mountain bike trail networks; 87 offer ski lift service
  • Bike parks are growing
  • NSAA and IMBA share aim to increase summer activities and advocacy. Prior to the partnership, policies were inconsistent or didn't exist.
  • Connect with your local ski area and increase mountain biking.
  • More information at www.nsaa.org

Christian Robertson, Crested Butte Bike Park

  • A good bike park is a comprehensive facility that promotes the sport of mountain biking and offers things such as lift access, rentals, food and beverages and bike friendly lodging.
  • There is a return on investment. Trails = tickets and passes sold.
  • Things to do: grow the sport, increase community involvement, offer a diverse network of style and difficulty, work closely and cooperatively with land agencies and build good relationships.
  • Use events to reach out to the community. Examples: Run a free event or race series with funding from sponsorships; host a concert; offer a variety of events for all riding styles: enduro, cross country, gravity, etc.
  • Crested Butte gets 20% of its revenue in the summer; the goal is 25%.
  • Ammenities are key to drawing in riders and their families and enticing new ridrs: bike-friendly lodging, rental/retail options, good food and beverage offerings and other offerings like zip lines and minature golf.
  • Events help to bring new people to bike park, garner media coverage and provide support for other resort amenities.
  • From 2009-2012, pass/ticket scans increased by 35,000. Beer sales also increased with greater bike traffic.

Hogan Koesis, Angel Fire Bike Park

  • In 1988, Angel Fire started with cross-country trail and lift access.
  • In 2005, Angel Fire hosted a downhill World Cup event.
  • In 2010, Angel Fire added bike park flow trails and added a specific risk management system for the bike trails.
  • Angel Fire's summer mountain bike revenues outdid the local golf course and brand new zip line.
  • The bike park profited in its first year after accounting for the costs of trail expansion
  • 400% growth in one year!
  • 7000 users of the bike park in 2012

Things that lead to a successful bike park: Lift access, rentals, lessons, retail and repair shops, varying terrain, easy trail, trails that are attractive to all disciplines of mountain biking, a well-trained bike patrol, a detailed risk management plan and close cooperation with local mountain bike groups.

Challenges:

  • Keeping the trailbuilders and other staff motivated.
  • Training the trailbuilders to construct true green and blue trails, since they are almost always expert riders. Make sure the professional trailbuilders are riders, as they will know how a feature should look and feel.
  • Having a good budget and buy-in from top management to maintain the trails just like maintaining ski hills.

Charlie Sturgis, Mountain Trails of Park City, UT

Park City’s IMBA Epic trail connects all three ski areas, crossing mostly private land. Mountain Trails has built almost 400 miles of singletrack and maintains a consulting role with the Park City ski areas. The groups regularly share knowledge and train together. Their close relationship ensures that permits, marketing, events, maintenance and trail closures alike are all communicated properly to one another and the public.


The IMBA World Summit received generous title sponsorship from the Federal Highway Administration & the Bikes Belong Coalition.

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