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Mount Shasta woos Rogue Valley skiers

Billboards promote forgiving slopes

Tim Larive wants Rogue Valley skiers to think about traveling beyond Mount Ashland when they want to play in the snow.

Larive, the marketing director for the Mt. Shasta Ski Park, has launched an advertising campaign to lure Rogue Valley skiers south in the winter. Billboards have sprouted around Medford touting the ski area's user-friendly atmosphere, and advertising promotions are planned for local radio stations and cable channels.

Larive said the campaign is designed mostly to attract Rogue Valley skiers planning overnight trips to destinations such as Mount Bachelor, along with some day skiers bound for Mount Ashland.

When people are planning their ski trips a little farther from home, he said, we want them to think about going south.

Larive said the ski area decided to court Southern Oregon skiers more heavily because 10-year surveys showed Rogue Valley skiers make up just 8 percent of total skier visits on Mount Shasta. We thought some of the skiers and snowboarders in Southern Oregon weren't aware of the product we have.

He said skiers from Chico and Redding, Calif., were the biggest single users, accounting for 45 percent of the skier visits during the past 10 years. Smaller local communities such as Burney and Fall River provided 22 percent of the skier visits, and skiers from the coast made up the third largest market sector, at 12 percent.

Larive said the user-friendly language in the billboards refers to the mountain's friendly staff as well as its gentle terrain. Seventy-five percent of Mount Shasta's 25 ski trails are classified as beginner and intermediate.

comparison, 50 percent of Ski Ashland's 23 runs are beginner or intermediate, and 50 percent are black diamond runs for advanced skiers.

We have gentler, more rolling terrain, and lots more intermediate trails, said Larive.

Nothing is going to scare you to death at the Mt. Shasta Ski Park.

The ski park's easier-to-ski intermediate-level trails make Mount Shasta more attractive to families, he said, because the variety of runs provides something for skiers and snowboarders at every ability level.

The ski park also has built a terrain park for snowboarders who want to do tricks and get airborne on jumps. The park also offers 25 kilometers of groomed trails for cross-country skiers.

Larive said the ski park's expansion last year encouraged managers to expand their marketing program beyond its traditional markets in Redding and Chico. The ski park expanded its lodge and added a new chairlift, along with four intermediate ski trails.

Ski Ashland's marketing campaign focuses mostly on Rogue Valley skiers, said marketing assistant Diann Ferreira. She said the publicly owned ski area has chosen not to spend a lot of money marketing outside the region, but a promotion through Ray's Food

Place stores will give the ski area visibility as far south as Clear Lake, Calif. The promotion includes drawings for free lodging at Ashland Hills Inn and free skiing at Mount Ashland.

Most of our promotions are attached to events we stage, Ferreira said.

Larive said his goal is to increase Rogue Valley skiers' share of visits to Mount Shasta to 12 percent. He said it's too early to tell how successful the campaign has been, but people who work in Rogue Valley ski shops say they hear more people talking about skiing the Mount Shasta slopes.

The new Coyote lift has opened new territory, said Jamie Webber, a ski technician at Medford's Rogue Ski Shop. You see more people going down to Mount Shasta -- especially beginners.

Ample early-season snow and good skiing weather during the long Christmas holiday gave the ski park a solid early season, Larive said. Total attendance since the Nov. 22 opening has exceeded 50,000, nearly double what it was a year ago, when warm rains washed away much of the snowpack during the Christmas break.

Larive said early-season success could help the ski park reach 120,000 to 130,000 visits this season. That would be nearly a 50 percent increase over the 1996-97 season's 90,000 visits.

Mount Shasta Ski Park hopes to fill its chairs with Rogue Valley skiers. - Photo by Bob Pennell