Industry Vs.Lifestyle: A Sociological Study Of Downhill Snow Skiing In North America
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Since the year 2000, the price of downhill snow skiing has risen nearly 200%.Over the last five years, this price escalation has picked up, and the price of downhill snow skiing has risen 75%. This change is being driven by large snow skiing corporations who have led a movement of commercialization and consolidation in the industry. Vail Resorts is the largest of these corporations, owning over 50% of the $3.2 billion industry. As the major giant of the industry, Vail Resorts has experienced tremendous financial success as a result of snow skiing’s recent corporatization. However, this corporatization is leading to the severe marginalization and destruction of snow skiing subculture. Due to downhill snow skiing’s foundational dependence on its rich and distinct subculture, this cultural destruction is causing a deterioration of the sport itself.This thesis engages in a sociological study of the modern downhill snow skiing industry, examining issues of lifestyle sport culture, social power, corporate strategy, and cultural impact. The research exhibited herein consolidates the fragmented bodies of lifestyle sport and snow skiing literature, and draws on primary interviews and observational data. The study finds that downhill snow skiing’s lifestyle sport properties create a heavy dependence on subcultural factors. As snow skiing corporationsand tourists economically and socially cripple local ski town communities, they endanger not only snow skiing subculture, but the sport itself. Thus, while the corporatization and consolidation of the snow skiing industry has been a business success in the short term, it does not appear to be sustainable, and in fact, it is likely to lead to an unfavorable contraction of the snow skiing industry.