The business of running and operating ski resorts has changed significantly since the early days of being primarily independently owned. Today, the “mom and pop” resorts are being bought out by larger conglomerates like Vail Resorts and Alterra. It is hard for any business to survive, and it does not matter how big or small the mountain is. Ski resorts are also facing the challenges of climate change, which adds to the cost of snowmaking while also being at the mercy of Mother Nature. It is not hard to imagine a day when independently owned ski resorts will be a thing of the past.
Ski Land is an independently owned ski resort in Fairbanks, Alaska, which is fighting for its survival to make it through the summer. Jack Wilbur, the new President of the Fairbanks Ski Coalition Board of Directors who operates Ski Land, posted on the resort’s Facebook page:
“Ski Land is in dire need of cash to get us through this year’s off-season period. The revenue Ski Land earns through the sale of season passes, day ticket sales, kitchen sales, and ski and snowboard rentals cover the day-to-day expenses incurred during the ski season but does not cover all off-season operating expenses and ever-present, on-going equipment and facility upgrades and maintenance required to keep it operating safely and reliably. Net income from the 2022/2023 ski season and donations by Fairbanks Ski Coalition board members have allowed us to pay the bills through the end of July. We need your financial help to get us through the rest of this year’s off-season.”
According to Wilbur’s Facebook post, Ski Land only had enough money to pay its bills until the end of July and was asking for donations to get through the summer. Ski Land’s revenue that it earns throughout the ski season covers only the day-to-day expenses but does not cover all off-season operating expenses, said Wilbur. Those expenses are upgrades to equipment, facility, and maintenance, which keeps things safe and reliable.
Ski Land first opened in 1962, boasting the most northern chairlift in North America and offering 46 runs with a vertical drop of 1,027 feet. There is only one chairlift and one magic carpet ride at the resort, with amazing views of the Brooks Range, White Mountains, and the Alaska Range. Its season typically runs from December until mid-April, and it is open Friday through Monday during the week.
The Fairbanks Ski Coalition is a non-profit corporation that purchased Ski Land in 2021 and has operated it ever since. It has had financial difficulties and has received donations in the past to keep it running. “I am asking that you join me and my wife Carol and the other Board members and make a donation to Ski Land to keep the chair lift operating next year,” Wilbur wrote in his Facebook post. There are two ways that you can help Ski Land and make donations; you can go to its website and click the Donate Button, or you can send a check to Fairbanks Ski Coalition, PO Box 82030, Fairbanks, AK, 99708.