The AlpineZone Ski Area Challenge was designed to provide a method for our forum members to get official answers to skiing-related questions directly from a ski area representative. Jen Anderson, Director of Sales and Marketing at Ski Ward in Shrewsbury, Massachusetts, took the AlpineZone Ski Area Challenge and provided the following responses on 9/16/2011:
thetrailboss: Welcome to the Challenge. We’re thrilled to have you. I skied Ward in 2005 before you closed for the season and it is a nice place.
We were all interested to see you make an aggressive move with the terrain park and summer tubing. Any chance we will see that expanded to include downhill skiing and riding off of your relatively new triple?
Jen Anderson: Thank you! We’d love to expand it. The material is, however, quite expensive. Right now, you can ski and snowboard through the park onto our new carpet lift. We will be adding another lane of summer tubing next year and most likely increase the size of the terrain park but there are no plans at this time to go all the way to the top of the triple.
thetrailboss: Because you are what most consider to be a “”feeder hill,”” do your passes offer reciprocity with any other mountains?
Jen Anderson: No, not yet, but we are currently working on it and plan to have this in place for next season.
Nick:I’ve never been to Ski Ward but I’m a Massachusetts resident. What makes Ski Ward the place for me to hit locally vs. other MA mountains?
Jen Anderson: Ski Ward always has no lift lines, no ticket lines, an easy load and unload zone right in front of the lodge, convenient parking, a great terrain park, one of very few tubing parks and incredible snow conditions.
Nick: Also, how is the summer program working out for you? I saw you recently added summer skiing, I’ve never tried it – can you tell us some more about it, the technology behind it, how similar it is to skiing on snow, etc.?. I know you had a Groupon this year as well, I’d be interested in hearing how that worked out for you and if it helped to build excitement about your operations.
Jen Anderson: The summer has been great and we’ve seen a substantial increase in interest and visits from last year. We ran a promotion with both Groupon and Buy With Me. The BuyWithMe promotion for summer tubing went very well and definitely help build a foundation for the interest in our summer offerings. As for the summer skiing (as well as snowboarding and tubing), we are using a material produced by the company Neveplast. The material is made to reproduce the exact coefficiency of friction as snow and behave the same as natural, compact snow.
Nick: Finally, any new initiatives coming up in the near future? I’m guessing the variety at Ski Ward is probably the key (e.g. the tubing, summer park, etc.) – would love to hear more about what else you guys have planned. It seems like there is a lot of active reinvestment in feature growth at Ski Ward.
Jen Anderson: There has always been a constant reinvestment over the years to maintain our equipment, snowmaking capabilities, offerings etc but more so these past couple seasons. Our newest direction is into the world of biking. Last year, we were host to a cyclocross race which went very well and this summer added a cyclocross practice course which has had a great following. We are also working on adding a mountain bike pump track and possibly some single-track riding that ideally will be lift-serviced. We have also recently received the approval for a beer and wine license which will be a great amenity for expanding our group and corporate outing offerings, reactivating such activities as an adult night ski racing league and starting a summer volleyball league.
thetrailboss: Do you still run the T-Bar that runs to the top or has it been taken down because of the new triple? That chair is really nice.
Jen Anderson: Yes, the t-bar still runs to the top along with the triple. We also now have a carpet lift to service the beginners terrain.
wa-loaf: It would be great if you had more pass options. ala Wachusett. If you had a cheaper weekday or night only pass I’d probably be all over it (I live in Northborough). Any plans to offer anything like that. Because with only a certain amount of cash to spend I lean to Wachusett for the longer season and better pass options that make it more affordable to me.
Jen Anderson: We are definitely looking into that and will most likely have new offerings for next season. In the meantime,we plan on implementing some 5 or 6-packs which will help save money over multiple visits.
wa-loaf: Any plans to replace the handle tow? I had my daughter in lessons there 2 seasons ago. I felt most of the time was spent teaching the kids to use the lift with little left over for actual skiing. She did learn a few things, but I felt it wasn’t worth the expense.
Jen Anderson: Yes, this summer we just added a 250′ carpet lift which replaced one of the handle tows and will now service both sides of the beginners terrain.
deadheadskier: What kind of programs do you have on tap for local school kids for the upcoming season? What are the costs?
I owe my love to the sport from a Sunday Afternoon ski program at Ward for Westboro school kids in the early 80s. I’d hop on a bus for 6 Sundays a winter from my elementary school in Westboro to ski the mighty Ward. I hope that tradition lives on today to bring up the next generation of skiers and riders.
Jen Anderson: Great to hear the good memories! We offer multi-week lesson programs on weekday afternoons and weekends both to the public and multiple school programs. Programs, which start at $160, are available for ages 4-18 in both skiing and snowboarding, plus we have school vacation week programs, ‘learn-to’ programs for the terrrain park, and a ski and snowboard competition team.
billski: Love to hear a couple customer stats:How many kids/groups participate each winter? How many per day? You guys must rock in the afternoon!
Jen Anderson: Yes, we are quite busy afterschool and on weeknights with our many lesson programs and race practices. We have quite a few 100 children come through per day totalling about 1500-2000 per week.
To view forum comments on this Challenge and the Challenge Results, please visit the following page: