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This season is obviously shaping up to be a weird one because of Covid.  But at the same time it's been kind of marginal in terms of conditions.  I've been thinking about subjective and objective ways that we judge how good a season is.  I'm a data guy. So I keep notes on every day that I ski.  This includes subjective notes like how much fun it was, who was there, and if the weather was enjoyable. It also includes objective notes like total days, number of runs, amount of vert, etc.  So when I go to rate a season overall I take all of that into consideration.  Since this is obviously a weird year, started looking to see trends in my overall thoughts about any given season...


- Days per season: Obviously there are non-skiing related factors that influence this metric.  Like are you busy at work, or have an injury, or Covid, or whatever.  But if you take those things into account it's still a good objective measure for me.  If conditions are bad I go less, if they are good I go more. For example 2015/16 and 2011/12 were notoriously horrible seasons, and sure enough those were the seasons that I had the least days.  This season I'm about exactly average in terms of days at this point in the season. 

- Average runs & vertical per day:  I think these are an even better metric than the one above.  These only count the days that you actually went so it takes out many of the external factors.  More runs and vertical per day suggests that that days were good so you kept going instead of bailing. It can also suggest what the crowds were like.  Again 15/16 and 11/12 I had super low runs and vert per day.  This year my runs and vert per day are low which suggests it's not a great season.  However, it's a little early to judge because the longer/warmer days of March and April to boost these stats.

- Season length:  This tends to get revealed in the 'days per season'.  But it can also be a stand-alone stat.  It is amazing when you can go from October to June!  Last season was a great example of how a season that crashes early (for any reason) is really demoralizing.  We had a relatively late start this season and we don't yet know how it will end. 

- Skiing vs snowboarding:  This is kind of a personal one since not everyone does both.  But for me, I almost always chose snowboarding and I only pick up the skis when it's horrible hardpack. There are other factors that influence this, so it's not perfect.  This season so far I'm middle of the pack (80%) in terms of snowboarding %  so that argues for it being a middle of the pack season. 


- Big Powder days:  A couple of epic, never-forget powder days count for more than can be objectively measured.  So far we really haven't had any that boost this season.

- "Really great days":  similar to powder days (but not).  Days that you just can't get enough of. Whether it's sidecountry excursions, or slush bump laps, or sunny days when everyone's in a good mood.   We haven't had any of these yet  but they often come more in the spring so there is still plenty of potential. 

- Crowds:  This is hard to judge.  It can impact any of the objective and subjective factors above.  So far I feel like this season has been crowded.  That will likely end up being a negative in the final analysis. 

- 'Your season' vs 'The season':  This is always a tough one.  Was it a great season, but you missed all the good days?  Was it a mediocre season but you always managed to hit it perfectly?  Was is great where you were but crappy in the rest of New England?  I usually try to balance this a little when I think about the season overall but it's really hard. 

How else does everyone think about their seasons?  Got any solid metrics that really get at the heart of the question?


Edited by Cannonballer
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  • Cannonballer changed the title to How do you rank a season?

Vertical could indicate bad conditions. I can rack of a lot of vertical quickly on icy groomers. Woods, and mogul runs tend to reduce vertical due to lower speeds and higher physical exertion.

Being able to work from home, and not having great alternatives has made it possible for me to get out a lot. I am on 38 days. My all time record is 60, the one year I was on a high school ski team. Other than that 45 is my record. Conditions are not so bad. Bad start but the WRODs were a little less of death due to lower uphill capacity. Can we make that permanent in some way for early season skiing? I do miss riding the lifts with different people. It has made ridding solo much more lonely. Also Slide Brook, might be impossible this years with bus capacity down to 18 people from around 60.

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Skiing is a break from data for me so I go totally qualitative. A great season to me is one that:

1. Goes deep into April (or later!) with quality ungroomed and tree runs at Wildcat 

2. Ungroomed and trees are skiing well early in the season (mid January is the goal)

3: Low to no weekends ruined because of rain

4. Minimal waiting for beer in pub after skiing

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2 hours ago, StraightSkis said:

Skiing is a break from data for me so I go totally qualitative. A great season to me is one that:

What do you do for a living?

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Where I come from in the mid-Atlantic you'd quickly get depressed if the only way you ranked seasons was by snow conditions.  So many of our seasons are weak that just getting areas to open the majority of their trails with consistent groomer skiing on hardpack from late Dec to early March is a big success.  I use more personal benchmarks like how many days did I get, how many powder days, if any, and whether I took a vacation to New England or US West and what conditions did I get on that trip?  How often did I get together with friends or family for especially fun ski days regardless of conditions?

In my job I did a lot of reading and writing and I guess my assessment of a season is more impressionistic or right-brained 😸

Edited by JimK
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For me it is days and smiles. I live by a philosophy of "smiles per hour, not miles per hour" I would rather have a day with 3 or 4 marginal runs in the woods with great company than have a day with 55 runs on the trails. So I judge my seasons by how many days I can get into the woods. And it's probably more than most people would care to realize. My standards are not snow depth, but adventure. For instance, I have already taken 3 trips to the gunsite this year. Yea, it was questionable conditions all 3, but I was laughing my ass off and having a blast. So far, this has been a great season. And we aren't even halfway there yet.

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