The Killington World Cup Foundation in 2019 funded a learn-to-ski program that benefitted participants in the Mountain Alliance programs in Avery and Watauga counties.
By the end of the 2019 season, the Mountain Alliance students were gaining more interest in skiing and curiosity about racing. As a result, the Appalachian Ski Education Foundation has received another grant from the Killington World Cup Foundation to expand the pre-season introductory ski events and build in a career component to learn about the snow sports industry, and then provide App Cup scholarships to participants who want to race and a service opportunity to actually see what it is like to work in this industry. The name of the program will be “App Ski Snow Sports: Play and Work.”
The three pre-season ski events will include rentals (for youth without gear), ski passes, instruction and a featured snow industry professional. Mountain Alliance will continue to transport the students from their respective schools to Appalachian Ski Mtn.
Based on the 2019-20 numbers, the plan is for 20 participants each time with a goal to serve at least 40 unique students. Prior to the ski session, Mountain Alliance participants will learn about the careers available in the snow sports industry in North Carolina. While topics and speakers have not been finalized , the topics and speakers under consideration are listed below:
• Ski Area Management
• Winter Sport Retail
• Accessibility to Winter Sports
• College Programs for Winter Sports
The Snow Sports Industry in North Carolina is a significant contributor to the overall state economy. The last economic impact study was completed in 2015 and found that the industry contributed $200 million to the economy, a $60 million increase in five years. Even more remarkable is that the industry is growing in the South, the opposite of national trends. Our winters are unpredictable and becoming even more so with climate change impact. What is unique in our region is that the ski areas have found niche markets such as terrain park events and connecting academic degree programs with ski areas. Other outdoor economy support including craft breweries, local food and outdoor manufacturing have emerged as sustainable businesses that expand the impact of the snow sports industry. Building the outdoor economy is a statewide and regional goal. Introducing youth to snow sports as a fun, recreational opportunity is important but equally important is their knowing that they can transition recreation into a viable career.
Following the App Ski Snow Sports: Play and Work series, participants will then have two additional opportunities to engage in the snow sport industry at a higher level. First, scholarships will be made available to Mountain Alliance youth who want to participate in the App Cup Race Series. Second, a foundational tennant to Mountain Alliance is service; as such, the students who participate in the pre-season events will be given an opportunity to volunteer for the Special Olympics Southeast Winter Games’ Alpine Skiing and Snowboarding competition that is held each winter at Appalachian Ski Mountain.
This experience diversifies the Mountain Alliance students’ image of snow sport participation and introduces them to the types of duties ski and snowboard area jobs require.