Allison Bolger by liuqingyan


									                                                        Mountain Creek’s Madness 1


                         Mountain Creek’s Madness:

                    Why Change Isn’t Always a Good Thing

                               Allison Bolger

                       AP Language and Composition- 1
                                                                     Mountain Creek’s Madness 2


In the Summer of 2007 Intrawest, owner of ski mountain and snowboard haven Mountain Creek,

announced to the public that it would be removing its terrain park at North Peak and instead be

relocating at South Peak. Additionally, South would be receiving a complete makeover, lodge

and all, to better accommodate its thriving snowboarder population. But there would be a catch:

skiers would be moved to North and the racing league would be left out in the cold.

Immediately, there was uproar in the racing community. And while racers were able to secure a

place in Mountain Creek’s future, “old-school” skiers were not quite as lucky in getting what

they wanted. Yet, bigger problems than traditional skiers stand in Mountain Creek’s way of

making this the “bright future” they foresee. Because the infrastructure doesn’t support it, the

terrain doesn’t support it, and the customers don’t support it, Mountain Creek should not carry

out this misguided plan with its inevitable problems forthcoming.
                                                                      Mountain Creek’s Madness 3

                                   Mountain Creek’s Madness:

                             Why Change Isn’t Always a Good Thing

When Ski Hall of Famer Otto Schniebs designed a network of ski trails on northern New Jersey’s

Hamburg Mountain 50 years ago, he could not have imagined that his New England style

masterpiece would one day be converted to a snowboarder’s haven with a massive terrain park..

And when noted architect Alexander McIlvaine finished his classic lodge plans for the same ski

area, he would not have envisioned an edgy, new wave remodeling of the rustic stone-and-timber

interior (Holste, 2005, p. 76). But when the present-day owners of what is now Mountain Creek

quietly announced a major mountain overhaul, a chain of events was put into motion that would

turn the classic ski area upside down. Prior to the mountain’s “new operation,” every aspect of

winter sports had its own niche, and the people were happy. At “North” or Vernon Mountain,

“new-age” riders with their snowboards and twin tips were free to express themselves not only

on rails and jibs, but also with edgy, profanity-laced behavior. Similarly, old-school skiers and

racers enjoyed the traditional trails, breath-taking scenery and grand, four-fireplace lodge that

South Peak offered. Unfortunately, “all great things must come to an end,” and the beginning of

the end was July 31, 2006, when Mountain Creek opened the crux of future problems and grand

Pooh-Bah of all mountainside hotels. And although the powers that be failed to foresee the

imminent problems linked with this high-end hotel, meant to draw in families, they were most

likely affirmed the very first day. Families came with young children and stayed overnight at the

hotel; but immediately upon entering the lift the next morning, were typically greeted with
                                                                       Mountain Creek’s Madness 4

rowdy, baggy-pant, foul-mouthed snowboarders smoking and throwing snowballs. Unable to fill

the hotel, the owner of Mountain Creek, Intrawest, realized that they built the hotel in the wrong

place. Their solution to this debacle: move the edgy crowd, made up of snowboarders and rail

riders, to South Peak, and encourage the traditional “family skiing” atmosphere at North.

Thousands of traditionalists were immediately displeased (Pennington, 2007). But who would

not be reluctant to give up their ideal, idyllic mountain to another group?

New Jersey may not be known for its deep snows or sizable mountains, yet generations of skiers

have carved out a winter tradition in the hills of Sussex County. So, when the owners of the

Garden State’s largest ski area turned tradition upside down by announcing that Mountain Creek

South would receive a complete makeover and become a massive terrain park, many were

distressed. And even if the idea seems good in theory, the world of practicality would have to

say otherwise. In addition to this transformation stirring the pot, it has created problems larger

than a misplaced hotel. The new plan is incompatible with the infrastructure of the area,

including lifts, lodges and parking. Additionally, the terrain on these mountains does not fit with

the corresponding clientele. But most importantly, the customers that keep this place running all

winter are being inconvenienced and hence, are resistant to this change. Clearly, because the

infrastructure doesn’t support it, the terrain doesn’t support it, and the customers don’t support it,

Mountain Creek should not carry out this misguided plan with its inevitable problems


Mountain Creek refers to it as the big three: the lifts, the lodges and the parking (Benneyan,

2007). These are just three aspects of Mountain Creek’s infrastructure that do not comply with
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their “big scheme,” hence proving how preposterous the entire overhaul is. When it comes to lift

services, North and South could not be more different. North Peak is home to the Cabriolet, an

open-air gondola, which is good for mass transportation and even better for snowboarders.

South Mountain on the other hand, has old-fashioned, yet high-speed chair lifts, which skiers

love. Yet, everything seemed to be in its place and functioning well until the snowboarders were

transferred to South, throwing off the entire balance. This switch inconveniences both skiers and

terrain park goers alike. While snowboarders used to ride the easy-to-access Cabriolet, they now

have to deal with the more difficult lifts. Snowboarders are “notorious for falling off lifts”;

subsequently, they are notorious for causing the lifts to constantly be stopped. On the other

hand, skiers enjoyed sitting down and relaxing on South’s lifts, but that little delight was taken

away when skiers were sent packing to the North Peak. As one dedicated Creek skier says on

Snow Journal, “they need to realize that the geezers are gonna get tired of stepping out of their

skis and bending down to pick them up to ride that stupid Cabriolet gondola” (Wasson, 2007, p.

1). Evidently, the lift situation at North and South leaves a lot to be desired for their target

audiences. Another infrastructure catch-22 that further proves how this change will be a giant

step backwards are base lodges. After a devastating fire Columbus Day Weekend in 2000 that

destroyed the North Base Lodge, skiers and snowboarders have been using temporary, yet

seemingly permanent bubble shaped lodges (Benneyan, 2007). These so-called lodges, more

affectionately known as “temp-tents,” are constructed of white polyester and aluminum poles,

and are dirty and overcrowded. On the other end of the spectrum, South offers its customers the

classic lodge with wood beams and fireplaces, creating the perfect family atmosphere. But due

to the current changes, Mountain Creek has other things in mind for South’s traditional lodge.

The resort announced that South would, “receive a cultural makeover, with the addition of a
                                                                        Mountain Creek’s Madness 6

video-editing lab with flat-screen televisions, arcadelike kiosks and space for musical and artistic

interests” (Pennington, 2007, p. 1). So now, “old-school” skiers that want a craftsman’s lodge

are stuck in giant bubbles, while Mountain Creek renovates a perfectly good lodge. Once again,

Intrawest has flip-flopped the infrastructure to clash with the customer’s needs. Furthermore,

due to the recent changes parking has become a very heated issue. Snowboarders, who have soft

boots that are suitable for walking long distances, were well situated at North’s distant parking

lots. But instead, they are going to be relocated to South where they will have parking at their

doorstep. On the other hand, skiers have hard, clunky boots, which make walking on pavement

quite the experience. With this reconfiguration, skiers went from being close, to being at North

and having to go across a parking lot, through a village, and over a bridge just to get to the

mountain. Clearly, by turning South Peak into a massive terrain park, the infrastructure has

become ineffective and inappropriate for its implied customers.

A further setback to this plan is that the characteristics of the terrain will no longer correlate with

the snow riders using the hill. North Peak was always very suitable for the average snowboarder

with its wide trails, which are good for terrain parks. North is also home to the unmovable super

pipe, which will always be drawing snowboarders and trick riders back to Vernon Peak. South’s

trails, on the contrary, were designed in the 1960s, and hence have a very traditional, New

England style. Its long flats and narrow steeps are great for leisure skiing, but not so much for

snowboarders and their terrain park. Generally, novice and intermediate snowboarders make

very wide turns, much wider than South’s narrow trails allow. This proves that the trails at each

corresponding peak will not be suitable for the target customers. Additionally, skiers are upset

with their relocation because Mountain Creek is taking away the, “only interesting part of the
                                                                       Mountain Creek’s Madness 7

whole ski area” (Wasson, 2007, p. 1). Many skiers enjoy South’s diverse terrain layout, which

will go unnoticed by the snowboarders, who tend to be more interested in attempting tricks on

man-made features.

“Despite what the official announcement says- those of us who have been racing at Great Gorge/

Mountain Creek South for years are NOT happy about his decision” (Holste, 2007, p. 1). This is

only one of the hundreds of accounts that prove skiers, especially racers, are less than impressed

with all of the changes going on at Mountain Creek. And while Mountain Creek claims they

have a “great solution” now, many are still waiting to hear it. South has not only served as an

abode to racers from the United States Ski Team and collegiate leagues, but also to dozens of

high schools from all over Northern New Jersey. The forty-seven consecutive days of racing last

year only goes to show how dedicated this division of snow sports is (Pennington, 2007).

Furthermore, the different race programs at Mountain Creek bring in a lot of money for the

mountain. So how did they repay and thank racers for their constant dedication? At first,

Mountain Creek eliminated racing altogether. But, when they realized the number of pass sales

and race fees that would be lost, Mountain Creek decided to toss the racers a bone in the form of

lesser trails and terrible facilities at North. Racers now have to adjust from having all of Bear

Peak, a subset of South Peak, with a variety of terrain, to having one trail- Zero G. In addition,

racers are not going to have all of the facilities they are leaving behind at South, including a

racing room, locker rooms and an actual lodge. “We’ve been sent to the [north] base area before,

and the facilities there are terrible; it was a nightmare,” says Geoffrey Stubbs, who has two

children in the race program, “But I’m a little concerned because I’m not sure if they were going

to do anything for us until we squealed” (Pennington, 2007, p. 2). And while Mountain Creek
                                                                        Mountain Creek’s Madness 8

tries to stifle the flame by giving racers a trail, they are further angering the average skier. After

being booted out of South and then losing a trail to the racers, it only leaves them a mere three

trails. Clearly, by trying to increase sales with this massive terrain park at South, they are

alienating the current customers. And in the end, if the clients are not happy and will not return,

Mountain Creek is accomplishing the exact opposite of what it was trying to do. As a member of

Snow Journal nicely puts it, “The base constituency is being neglected. Poor politics. Will bite

them in the end” (Tuthill, 2007, p.2).

Clearly, Mountain Creek should not carry out its awful plan due to the inevitable problems

forthcoming. The infrastructure doesn’t support it, the terrain doesn’t support it and the

customers do not support it, so why are they insistent upon making these changes? It seems the

only people that really want it is the Mountain Creek management. As Mountain Creek released

in a message to the public, “Conflict drives change and the world demands change, or one stands

to perish” (Benneyan, 2007, p. 3). But as the old saying goes, “don’t fix what isn’t broken.”

And prior to the mountain’s “bright new future” solution, everyone and every group of winter

sports was happy in their own niche. There was nothing dramatically wrong with Mountain

Creek, and the tricksters were comfortable at South with their gondola, super pipe and edgy

atmosphere. Likewise, old-school skiers and racers loved the traditional trails and classic wood

beam lodge that South offered. Rather than “change” the way Mountain Creek suggests, they

must amend this “bright new future” or else Mountain Creek will likely perish along with all of

its unhappy customers.
                                                                  Mountain Creek’s Madness 9


Benneyan, Bill. (2007). Mountain Creek Officially Announces South/Bear Parkification.

       Retrieved November 21, 2007, from Alpine Zone Web site:


Holste, Elizabeth. (2005). Skiing in New Jersey. New York: Elizabeth Holste.

---. (2007). Racers lose slopes at Mountain Creek South Retrieved November 21,

       2007, from Snow Journal Web site:


Pennington, Bill. (2007). Snowboarders Get New Slope, but Racers Are Dislodged. Retrieved

       November 20, 2007, from New York Times Web site:


Tuthill, Rich. (2007). Racers lose slopes at Mountain Creek South Retrieved November 21,

       2007, from Snow Journal Web site:


Wasson, Mike. (2007). Racers lose slopes at Mountain Creek South Retrieved November 21,

       2007, from Snow Journal Web site:


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