Signature terrain = the best kind of brand

Revelation Bowl, Telluride, COThere are a few things that seperate the truly memorable ski areas from the rest. Nightlife, terrain, consistent snow, and signature events all play their part. The World Ski & Snowboard Festival is Whistler. US Extremes = Crested Butte. Birds of Prey. Sundance Film Festival. X-Games. The Air Force.

Of late, many resorts have built defining, powerful sub-brands off the hard work it takes to open new terrain. It becomes synonymous with the resort itself and, over decades, does far more for a bottom line than any three-day bozo-fest.

Copper Bowl is its own entity, people travel to see what all the talk is about. China Bowl was a phenomenon, then Blue Sky Basin's launch cost more in money and man hours than Vail spent in its first 15 years of marketing combined, and now they pay off every day the lifts turn.

This season, Telluride's Revelation Bowl is already becoming household chatter. The phrase itself gained critical mass, and even without the ads in the major magazines and stories across the media, the brand will forever be linked with the area.

The town's film festival might be a cool draw and people might be persuaded to attend, but you don't need to explain the value of the Revelation Bowl experience to anyone who knows the sport. Two words say it all. The "epic terrain" desire runs deeper than any other core need in the skier and rider. It is universal.

It's taking laps on The Pali. It's first tracks on KT. It's zipper lines on Gunbarrel. It's The Headwall, The North Face, Lone Peak, Palmyra, The Cirque. While the rest of these mountains' daily events come and go, those simple phrases mean more to their bottom line than any amount of advertising could buy. They are the words skiers speak, the reasons they travel, the t-shirts (and lift tickets) they choose to buy.