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How Important Are Shred Mag Resort Guides For Mountains?

TransWorld SNOWboarding just dropped its annual Resort Guide and embedded within the pages of the November issue is a four-part list of the best resorts voted by riders, for riders. The crew went deep, polling riders about mountain towns throughout North America, and got the goods on pretty much every slope imaginable. “Every year we ask our readers to rank the best three resorts they rode at in the last year, judging everything from jumps, to grooming, to rail variety,” says TWSnow Editor-in-Chief Annie Fast.

With over 4,700 surveys, studying 140 resorts throughout the continent, we can all be rest assured that the best are really just that, the best. The guide reviewed 22 vital elements like snowfall, park, pipe, ticket prices, and vertical feet, but TWSnow also examined the often underestimated, but equally important, “vibe” environment.

This got us thinking. How do resorts value this information, and what are elements of innovation that come out of an influencing piece such as TWSnow’s Resort Guide? Overall experience has been a highlighted item for resorts like Squaw Valley, recently investing over $50 million in park, and pipe innovation, and renovations throughout the village.

We caught up with Sierra-at-Tahoe–consistently ranked Top 10 in Resort, Park, and Vibe–and asked how the guide influences their progression. Sierra joined resorts Breckenridge, Mammoth, Whistler/Blackcomb, June Mountain, and more for “Best Overall Resort.”

Take a look into TransWorld Snowboarding’s 2011 Resort Guide in its entirety:

VIEW: THUMBS ENLARGE
(image 5 of 7)

Sierra’s General Manager, John Rice, commented “Sierra is honored that TransWorld’s readers would consider us one of the top resorts in the country. Our commitment to quality parks starts with our staff and, in return, benefits our world-class athletes, and faithful riders who call Sierra home. To be recognized as one of the best makes it all worthwhile.”

Sierra-at-Tahoe has six terrain parks varying in experience levels, starting with the first ever Burton Riglet Park designed by Snowpark Technologies (SPT) for young shredders.  Snowpark Technologies designs most of the most innovative parks in North America, and has arguably set the precedent for all park, and pipe designs. “Progression, and innovation are at the first level of everything we do,” says Sierra’s Communication Manager, Steve Hemphill.  “It’s important for us to leverage our relationship with SPT. They have given us such unique features, and our entire [park] staff is SPT trained. We would not be where we are without them.” Hemphill, also Sierra’s team manager, mentions his athletes take a large role in perfecting all six of their parks. “Jamie [Anderson] will hit a jump SPT designed, and tell us straight up what she thinks of it. Hannah [Teter] will do the same with our 18-foot pipe. It’s great feedback, and we know our hill riders are getting the absolute best park features we can deliver.”

Hemphill speaks for Sierra-at-Tahoe, and assuming all resorts in the TW Snowboarding Resort Guide when saying, “We constantly look to improve upon innovation. Giving riders a place to push the sport on their own turf. It’s about what our riders want, not what our competition is doing. We look to interact with our core guests, and the TWSnow readership is exactly who we’re looking to hear from.”

This year, TWSnow ranked six respective categories: Top 10 Resorts (period), Top 10 Parks, Top 10 Pipes, Top 5 East Coast Parks, Top 5 East Coast Pipes, and Top 3 Midwest Parks. Noteworthy elements of the guide are the top East and Midwest parks. Although these areas of the country have not been considered ‘resort destinations’ in past years, these hills are no longer all landfills and ice. Some impressive talent has come out of this area of the country in recent years, and resorts have taken notice in an overwhelming way.

Check out TransWorld Snowboarding online for more on how they wired this latest issue.