Mt. Abram will partner with Mountain Rider's Alliance
Mt. Abram Ski Resort is joining with an international organization in a pilot project designed to give the resort’s skiing community more say in what happens at the resort, and give Mt. Abram greater clout in marketing itself, according to General Manager Kevin Rosenberg.
According to a press release from the partner organization, Mountain Rider’s Alliance of Jackson, Wyo., “MRA is a group of like-minded people dedicated to making a positive change in the ski area industry. The mission of MRA is to develop values-based, environmentally friendly, rider-centric ‘Mountain Playgrounds’ that encourage alternative energy creation while reducing their carbon footprint.
“MRA is dedicated to creating and supporting a sustainable ski industry model, which focuses on keeping environmental, community, and rider concerns ahead of short-sighted decision making.
"Mt. Abram will remain open to the public without significant changes to its operating plan.
"As part of this partnership, membership shares will be available via MRA, which will offer a variety of benefits and privileges, reciprocation at other Mountain Playgrounds, as well as allow for elections to represent membership in dialogue with ski area management.”
“Mt. Abram’s greatness doesn’t have to be restricted to Maine,” said Mt. Abram owner Matt Hancock in the release. “There are a number of other independent ski areas that would fit well into this model. Mt. Abram’s collaboration with MRA is about skiing, plain and simple: a thriving business model away from the commercialized, overpriced, factory outdoor experience at the mega-resorts. Mt. Abram’s niche –soulfulness, great terrain, skier-centricity, and enjoying the outdoors with family and friends – is what attracts people to the sport. MRA was founded to instill and promote these same characteristics in an industry that is moving away from what we love about skiing.”
“We started this movement in 2009,” said MRA co-founder Jamie Schectman Schectman. “Since then, we’ve seen thousands of passionate folks around the world support the preservation of our sport. With Mt. Abram’s dedication to the community and environment, we couldn’t ask for a better partner. Supporting this mission is just the beginning. We’re building a replicative model to save what we love about skiing, and offer a new direction for ski areas around the world.”
Mt. Abram has been working in recent years toward the use of sustainable energy at the resort, adding a wood pellet heating system last year and obtaining a permit to build a solar panel.
This year the mountain won the 2012 Golden Eagle Award for Environmental Excellence, given by the National Ski Areas Association.
“[MRA] found us a few years back,” Rosenberg said Tuesday. “They share a lot of common interests with us. They think we do a good job. A lot of our ideas align.”
He said the partnership will evolve in coming months.
“It’s not that tangible yet,” said Rosenberg.
But, he said, one goal is to “empower the community in things that the community wants to have happen. If they want a lift, or snowmaking, they will have a stake in that.”
As the partnership develops, he said, “Number one is it isn’t going to change the feel of Mt. Abram – the community-based mountain that focuses on families and friends.”
The ski resort could also participate in joint marketing with other small ski areas that will partner with MRA.
“We can pool our resources and it will allow us to expand our reach, and have a consistent message across the industry,” he said.
Rosenberg said Mt. Abram will also begin looking beyond its winter season.
“We’re definitely doing summer events next year,’ he said. “We have quite a few things planned already. There’ll be some music, and some group gatherings, like an archery club. We will look to use the property year round.”
As for the coming winter, Rosenberg said Mt. Abram will continue to use the temporary lodge that it set up last season, following a fire last summer that destroyed its original lodge.
“The temporary structure worked well. It will undergo a few improvements to improve capacity,” he said.
If the number of skiers outgrows the lodge, “that will dictate when and what we have for a permanent structure,” he said.