Eaglecrest manager gears up for upcoming snow season

Ski area to aggressively market cost friendly packages this season

Posted: Sunday, October 23, 2005

The scheduled opening of Eaglecrest Ski Area is still about two months away, but Eaglecrest manager Kirk Duncan is already working hard to build on the successes of his first season as general manager.

Duncan, now in his second year, has mapped out a number of goals that he and his staff hope to fulfill.

"Most of all we want to keep Eaglecrest affordable and enjoyable for our guests," Duncan said.

According to Duncan, 80 percent of Eaglecrest's revenue comes form season ticket sales, opposed to a national average of 33 percent.

"We see this as a very positive sign of user support, but also as an indicator that we need to increase day ticket sales," Duncan said.

One of the ways that Duncan hopes to do this is by aggressively marketing cost friendly packages while partnering with local business to help in the sales and promotion.

Other good news on the hill is the addition of the new winch cat snow groomer, which replaces Eaglecrest's 1994 groomer.

"Most cats have a life of around 6,000 hours, our old cat has over 10,000 (hours)," Duncan said. "This is something that will really help to improve the skiability of more of the mountain."

A winch cat is a large tracked vehicle that has a mechanism attached to it that grooms the snow to make it more accommodating to skiers. Winch cats have become a ski industry standard as area operators work hard to squeeze the most from the terrain.

The addition of the large winch will allow the cat to attach to a suitable stationary object to assist the cat in grooming steeper terrain. Duncan feels that this will open up much more of the mountain to intermediate skiers, which Duncan feels is the key to growth at Eaglecrest.

Additionally, Eaglecrest received an $88,000 Ted Stevens Nordic Trail Improvement grant and a $14,500 SEATRAILS grant that will be used to improve Eaglecrest's lower-loop cross-country trails. Duncan feels these improvements will lend themselves to enhancing summer use of these trails.

A ski area planner will visit Eaglecrest in late October to evaluate and recommend locations for the new mid-mountain lift. The lift will be built with funds from sales tax distribution that was voted for in the recent municipal election.

Duncan plans to raise an additional $100,000 through community support programs.

Season tickets are on sale at early-bird prices through Nov. 6. The early-bird prices are: adults $329, seniors $229, youth $229, children $129 and preschool $49

Eaglecrest's annual meeting and potluck will take place at the Eaglecrest Lodge beginning at 5:30 on Oct. 27.

The 52nd Annual Ski Sale will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Nov. 5 at Centennial Hall. Those interested in signing up as a volunteer to help with the sale can contact Mike Satre at 789-5761.

• Jim Craig can be reached at jim@actionimages-alaska.com.

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