Resorts join forces for winter sports fest

Snow-sports enthusiasts can soon embrace the winter chill in the 25th annual National Ski & Snowboard week, currently sponsored by Nissan. The Canadian Ski Council hopes to attract up to 200,000 people to take part in its innovative program, which manages the complex task of drawing competing resorts under one umbrella for a combined hospitality event from Jan. 19 to 27.

Snow-sports enthusiasts can soon embrace the winter chill in the 25th annual National Ski & Snowboard week, currently sponsored by Nissan. The Canadian Ski Council hopes to attract up to 200,000 people to take part in its innovative program, which manages the complex task of drawing competing resorts under one umbrella for a combined hospitality event from Jan. 19 to 27.

Experienced alpine, snowboard and cross-country ski buffs will strut their stuff in dare-devil contests and demonstration days organized by each individual resort, while novices can try out the action with discount-priced ‘Discover Skiing or Snowboarding’ packages.

Nissan Canada has been the title sponsor of the event for the past four years. ‘We chose to sponsor this event because the sport and fitness image fits in so well with our own brand image and the types of vehicles that we sell,’ says Ian Forsyth, director of marketing at Mississauga-based Nissan Canada.

Although Nissan representatives do not attend, Forsyth says Nissan will benefit from signage and promotional material at each of the 150 individual participating resorts across the country during Nissan Ski & Snowboard Week, as well as from the association with a major national event which attracts such a broad demographic.

‘We try to get as much geographical convergence as we can into all our promotions, so this one is particularly good as we are getting recognition at different resorts all over the country,’ Forsyth says. Although Nissan has never measured the success of its involvement, Forsyth says that the relationship with the Canadian Ski Council is a successful one, which is likely to continue.

The Canadian Ski Council will launch this year’s event with a new feature. The Nissan Ultimate Test Slide will be held Jan. 18-19 at Mount St. Louis-Moonstone ski resort in Ontario, to allow consumers to test all the latest ski and snowboard gear. Suppliers and manufacturers will set up a tent village to display the latest merchandise. The demonstration event is a joint production of the Canadian Ski Council and the National Snow Industries Association.

‘This is an expensive event to host but if it works out this year we may hold as many as four of these demonstration days at different resorts in future years,’ says Colin Chedore, president of the ski council, adding that he hopes the demonstration days this month will be attended by up to 4,000 people. Chedore aims to raise $30,000 for Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children and a portion of all lift-ticket revenue during the two-day event will also go to the charity.

Each resort will be organizing and promoting its own winter carnivals during the nine-day promotional week. ‘We try to encourage lots of unusual ideas to create added value for the skiing industry as a whole and to promote the individual resorts,’ says Chedore.

For example, beginners can take to the slopes for as little as $19.99 at Calabogie Peaks resort in Ontario, with a Discover Skiing or Snowboarding package. The resort which is also hosting local jam sessions and demonstration days hopes to see a 25% increase in its normal weekend traffic as a result of the promotions.

‘To be involved in a national promotion of this calibre gives us a huge boost,’ says Diane Murray, ski marketer at the resort. ‘The main objective for us is to create and ultimately keep those new skiers and riders.’ A radio and newspaper print campaign is being used to promote the event in Ottawa and Kingston.

Blue Mountain Resort in Collingwood, Ont. is offering beginners a $29 package including rentals, a lesson and a ticket for the beginner chair lift in its own event sponsored by Coors Light, in conjunction with Nissan.

‘The emphasis for us is on people who haven’t tried winter sports before but want to give it a go,’ says promotions coordinator at Blue Mountain, Jodi Cooke. The resort will be promoting its events with a series of radio spots on local stations starting from Jan. 18.

Chedore says the event is aimed at just about every demographic. ‘We have recreation that people can enjoy from age two to 92,’ he says. ‘It’s great for families as well as for the experienced skiers and snowboarders.’