Monday, March 7, 2011

NSBS backstory: A Blind Date at Jay Peak

Bloggers ready for first run at Jay. Photo by Matt.
When I told Blue Toes that I was going skiing with a bunch of guys I met on the Internet, she gave me a funny look. Not that this kind of Internet dating is a new thing. Since the early days of the Web, newsgroups, and then ski forums, have allowed like-minded individuals to find rides, ski partners, crash pads, ticket deals, mad parties, gear deals and much more. If you combine that with the standard travel industry model of the FAM tour (as in FAMiliarization), you get the Northeast Ski Blogger Summit, or NSBS. Or, as Steve Wright (Jay Peak Sales and Marketing VP) called it, the Anti-FAM. The guy does have a way with words.

A rare view of Timbuktu - untracked. Photo by Harvey.
Now that the first NSBS is over,  I can look back and say that those guys and I had an amazing experience at Jay Peak, on many different levels. What made it so? Well, for one thing, the mountain delivered the goods. Day One at Jay Peak was an unexpected powder day and days Two and Three were bluebird sunny days with enough leftover powder and finely tuned groomers to keep anybody happy. What more could you ask for? Well, maybe the storm that dumped 30 plus inches today - but I am not complaining. I don't know if my legs could have handled it. Beyond that, we had some very interesting insights into the future world of Jay Peak, the developments happening now and those scheduled for the years to come. Tough questions were asked and frank answers were given. These stories will come out in due time.

Secondly, you have the people: two Canadians, four Americans, with representation from one big province (Ontario) and three of the "New" states (NH, NJ and NY). Ages ranged from 30 to 53. Skiing ability was high. Stoke level was off the scale. Two kinds of glisse were performed, with both the locked and free heel getting along famously and, in some cases, switching it up. Three of the group members had considerable Jay experience, one a little bit and two were JP never-evers. The blogs (see below) represent six very different views on skiing.

Thirdly, you have the common threads: obsession with skiing; the Eastern skiers' constant quest for powder days among the icy days; a predilection to write about the ski experience, take pictures and, finally, an inclination to share that commentary online with whoever chooses to read it.

Nice condos and first tracks to Racoon Run!
Ultimately, this event could not have happened without the support of Jay Peak and, in particular, Steve Wright. When I first dreamed up the idea that it would be cool to bring together a group of ski bloggers at the same mountain, at the same time, and see what came out, I had no idea that I would be staying in a ski-in/ski-out condo with three days of complimentary skiing for six people. As the idea gained momentum, with the input of Harvey44 and others, I started to think that the do-it-yourself original plan was maybe not enough. I drummed up my courage, wrote out a proposal and set up a meeting with Steve back in October. The meeting went very well, IMHO. The stage was set, the incentive was offered and all that remained was for Ullr to smile upon us, which he did. Selling out to the man? Not at all. Taking advantage of a generous offer made by a creative marketing guy taking a big chance on my pitch? Absolutely.

Your humble author finds some fresh tracks on one of his favourite runs at Jay Peak, the Green Beret. Photo by Matt.
The blogs involved in the 2011 NSBS

The Real Jay Peak Snow Report:
The Snowway:
Ski = MC Squared:
Ski Mad World:
Harvey Road - The New York State Ski Blog:
The Magazine - The Mountains Less Traveled:


  1. IMO the strength of the internet is SEARCH. The search engines, like Google, do an amazing job of returning relevant results, if you know how to use them. So people with very narrow (and fanatical!) interests can find each other. Not too surprising that 6 guys with an "obsession with skiing" can have fun at Jay Peak, with fresh snow.

    No doubt that Steve Wright understands social media. He gets that marketing communication has changed. As far as eastern ski hills go, Steve is leading the way.

  2. Now that everyone has gotten a taste of ski-in/ski-out accommodations, I wonder how many of us will go that route again on our next destination trip?

  3. James: my dirtbag heart says no but the aging body says yes. Hmmm. For me, a ski trip beyond Jay would be part of a larger travel experience, so with that mind, I would like to savour the local culture, not just ski hill culture. And at the places I dream of going, I don't think there are slopeside condos. Hakuba or Gulmarg anyone? Having said that, if I was going to a mainstream North American resort, I would take a good look at the slopeside option.

    How's that for a vague answer?

  4. I'm in for Hakuba or Gulmarg. :)

  5. Glad you guys made it up and great posts. I dislike the notion that Fam trips, whatever size/stripe they come in, need to generate gushing prose; it sort of flies in the face of what social media is built upon which is transparency. Like we talked a bit about, I think the best that can come of this is bridging virtual and real worlds-it's where relationships are strengthened; whether that's between a guest and a brand, or just friends hanging out and enjoying themselves. Weather and conditions go a long way but I suspect, had it pissed rain, you guys still would have found a way to enjoy the experience. It's the perspective you guys hold that's meaningful I think. Anyway, it was nice meeting the crew-it was one of this season's highlights for me. Seriously.

  6. Oh, that was me Steve W.

  7. There were definitely some good relationships formed between guests and Jay Peak last week. More posts to come, stay tuned. MadPat is blogging it old-school and had to wait for his film to get processed.

    You are right about the weather factor, Steve, but I am really glad that it didn't piss rain.