The evolving world of ski-related social networks

Sugar Bowl's SwitchboardSugar Bowl, CA, just launched Switchboard, a full-featured social network platform designed to build business through digital outreach. The idea is spreading, and the quest continues to figure out how to leverage these online tools.

Most resorts would love to tap game-changing-tech like Myspace, Linkedin and Facebook. The audiences are huge, they grow themselves, and they crave escalating interaction.

Early adopters included Monarch, Ski Pennsylvania, and Mountain Sports Club. Bode Miller has a thinly disguised fan site. SkiNet recently launched their own version, but Ski Press seems to have dumped their efforts to involve the site visitor. Europe’s Skifriends is also plodding along, but none of these have come close to reaching critical mass.

This is an interesting evolution to watch. It’s easy to argue that for skiers and riders, the old ways are still the preferred ways.

Some of the most-trafficked sites on the net are as digitally old-school as GTA Vice City:

  • Teton Gravity’s forums get more traffic than most media sites
  • Epicski’s forums have found a loyal community of boomer skiers
  • Newschoolers and Freeskier have great communities, but have not jumped with both feet into current generation networking
  • A few ski areas, like Mammoth, continue to have active boards
  • Regional efforts, like the northeast’s Alpinezone, have maintained traction with traditional boards and local news.

By any estimate there are about 12 million dedicated skiers and riders on the continent. They are web-savvy, affluent, and passionate. The goal, clearly, is to own that whole database. Let the buildouts begin.