Explore and Discover: The CWSAA Conference

These past three days I have been at the Canada West Ski Areas Association Conference, where I have been attending, learning about different aspect of the industry and heavily networking with ski industry professionals. The major theme for this conference that I noticed was creating and retaining more skiers and boarders in the industry. There is no question that skiing and boarding are slowly losing people to other activities. I, as a future industry professional believe this to be a major problem as well and I want the industry to succeed and thrive, which  is why I went to most of the related sessions.


Jumping right into the mix, the keynote speaker, Joe of SNOW Operating talked about creating new skiers and boarders through terrain based learning. Terrain based learning means using your terrain to your advantage as well as setting up certain features such as a mini halfpipe, banked turns, rollers, etc. for learning. As a former ski instructor this all made perfect sense to me and put everything in perspective.

That night was the Brewster BBQ and casino night. There I sat down with Joe and a few others from Prinoth (Snowcat company) as well as Winsport (Canada Olympic Park). I learned so much more over a dinner about the industry than I honestly thought I would have.


Wednesday was an exciting day, with interesting seminars and the trade show happening. To start the day off I went to the Quebec experience, which the President of the ASSQ, Yves Juneau talked about mobile learning where they brought the ski hill to the schools and creating retention within the ski industry. I had previously heard of this but had never had it fully explained, so to hear and learn about it was quite interesting for me.

Not even leaving the room for the next session, I jumped right in to a whole bunch of interesting statistics and marketing strategies with the Destination BC and Travel Alberta presentation on promoting our destinations on the global stage. For instance, 2016 set a record for international visits, at 5.5 Million in British Columbia. Seeing where and how they did their marketing was quite interesting because I had always thought about that.

The trade show flew by, I talked with various supplier companies, made some connections and got some free stuff (come on who doesn’t love free stuff).

After that, I found my way to the Go Ski Alberta seminar on learning more about it and reviewing the previous seasons results. What Go Ski Alberta is, is a compiler of information of participating resorts across Alberta, and essentially a marketing firm for those resorts to attract other Albertans to their resorts.

The final thing I had done that day was go to the Trade Show Reception. I met even more industry professionals here, including Jim Bar, the CEO of SnowSeekers. SnowSeekers is about helping people find their next adventure on the slopes through social media content creation from ordinary people, such as myself. Arguably, this post could help people find their next adventure by helping them decide if they want to go to the CWSAA conference next year.


The final day of the conference was the most interesting one for me, as a lot of it had to do with marketing and social media related things.

First thing in the morning (after breakfast of course) I headed off to a seminar titled ‘Good to great: rebuilding the ski industry on skier at a time’. The seminar was filled with interesting statistics and about all the programs that were designed by the Canadian Ski Council and put on by all the different resorts. These programs include the Never Ever Days and the Grade 4/5 Snowpass. Once this seminar was over, I walked on down to another section of the hotel for a session on Crisis Management.

Now the crisis management seminar was really interesting. It was quite the eye opener for many people in the room, not just myself. This is because there was so much that could go wrong, and so many specific ways to deal with it; such as how do you deal with your employees basically live tweeting a tragic accident if it were to ever happen.

Later on in the afternoon, there was a session named ‘Raising the Bar’. I really had no idea what it was about but I decided to go because Powder Matt was the host. Matt was pretty much the inspration for much of my blog over the Winter when I had trouble thinking of things to write about. His blog is linked in the link above for those interested. His session revolved around a story of a student of his and various things that had happened in his life. Even though much of the presentation was a story, I still took tons away from it, including about reaching the hearts of your audience by being authentic and raw instead of sugar coating things. This post is more informative so I could  not with it, but for most of my future posts, that is how I will attempt to writer them.

Finally, the last session I went to for the entire conference was about how to do more with digital marketing. During this seminar, I felt myself nodding along with all the information given out. It was honestly one of the only seminars where I felt myself not so much learning, but instead improving on what I had already known.


For those of you who have read this lengthy post, I want to say thanks, as this was a total of 2 days of writing. I chose to take so long after the conference so I could let the information I had learned settle in and I could recall it all. I honestly did not get any pictures from the conference, so here are some from friends of mine that had taken some while there:

Photo Credits to Jason Ellis

What do you learn in SROAM?

In the Ski Resort Operations and Management program, we learn about an enormous amount of things. One aspect of what we learn about are the mechanical aspects of running a ski resort. These are Lifts, Grooming, and Snowmaking.


Have you ever heard of Funtinel? All it is, is essentially a gondola being held up by two haulropes instead of one. And there’s plenty more bizarre  lifts just like it. Also, everything on lift maintenance is extremely important; if there is a loose bolt it’s an easy fix but if there’s something wrong with the drive bullwheel… you’ve got a big problem. If you rode up a lift with me from now on, chances are I could name most important parts of a lift, like a sheave assembly of which there are 3 types.
There are many companies that design and build carrier systems in the world, but two of the most important to the ski industry are:
Doppelmayr and Leitner-Poma.

I have always loved groomers for some reason; they always fascinated me growing up skiing. As a class we learned about them, certain implements, and the inner mechanics of them this year . One of the most cool things about them is how they drive, instead of a complete mechanical system, they have a hydrostatic drive built in so turning is so much easier. There are so many different kinds out there and they are pretty much only designed and built by two different companies; PistenBully and Prinoth/Bombardier.


We learned how to make snow… It may sound unbelievably easy but there is so much that goes into the science and mechanics behind it. You need to know the wet bulb temperature (air temp. + moisture content) because if the moisture content is too high it will not be good snow. If you are off by even a bit it could turn everything to ice or slush. The amount of things that go in to creating snow is quite a long process through pipes, compressors, hoses, and much more. I used to think air+water makes snow (yes that is true) but now I know it is air+water+Snowmax (helps create snow)+mechanical things= snow. Unlike grooming and lifts, snowmaking has a various amount of manufacturers. Just to name a few of these manufacturers, there is HDK and SMI.

This year has been a blast with these classes, so much incredibly useful information has been learned and it will be utilized in the future, regardless of the job.