Has skiing become an affordable sport in Britain?
Skiing – known as a luxurious hobby to many, but has this so-called rich man’s sport now evolved to target the masses?
For many, skiing tends to go hand in hand with a heavy price-tag and wealthy family get-togethers. This has undoubtedly been the case in the past, but in recent years British culture has seen a revolution of ‘cheap deals’, and with it, the evolution of the stereotype for this winter sport.
It’s hard to ignore the emergence of budget flights and affordable holiday-rentals through websites such as Airbnb within the British market. You could argue that this culture of seeking the cheapest deal has primarily sprung from our increasing use of the internet, where shopping around for the best value product on price comparison sites has become the norm.
It doesn’t really come as a surprise that this trend in tourism has slowly infiltrated the ski holiday industry with its budget all-inclusive chalet prices, rock-bottom flights out to resort and even reasonably-priced ski gear through retailers such as Aldi taking advantage of the increase in demand for this product.
Notoriously an expensive type of outdoor clothing, skiwear can amount to hundreds of pounds meaning that the newly released Aldi skiwear range, which can kit you out from head-to-toe for the small cost of £125, is a real deal-breaker.
What’s more, ski companies such as Wasteland Ski, who specifically target student ski and snowboard enthusiasts, have become popular for their very reasonable student package deals. These trips are bringing a record number of students out to the mountains, all readily willing to pay for these seriously cheap inclusive ski holidays.
Another global discount shopping trend which has had an impact on the ski industry is Black Friday. Last year, this event saw companies such as Mountain Haven, Crystal Ski, and Powder Beds all jumping on the bandwagon to offer discounts to consumers.
Mountain Haven even went so far as to opt for ‘White Friday’ in celebration of all the snow and were offering big discounts on holidays. Crystal was offering £100 off holidays booked in December using the code BLACK and Powder Beds were offering 40% off selected holidays.
But this is certainly not the only factor contributing to the sudden rise in interest for this type of holiday. The growth of snowboarding could also certainly be classed as a key contributor, as it has attracted people from a different – often urban – demographic to come out to the mountains to try the winter sport.
The new generation of skiers and snowboarders could also be as a result of up-and-coming British athletes known as the ‘fridge kids’. This buzzword caught on around the hype of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, where the term derives from the athletes having learnt to ski on artificial snow in an indoor ski centre.
The frontman of this new snow-sportsman era is James ‘Woodsy’ Woods – a freestyle skier with a hairstyle to match – he is but one of the inspiring young athletes emerging onto the winter sport’s scene. In 2014, we also saw the introduction of the ski slopestyle, ski halfpipe and snowboard slopestyle disciplines to the Olympics, further encouraging youths who were not from a typically wealthy background to get involved in the sport.
This has also been assisted by the progressive improvement in the quality and design of snow sport equipment, meaning that skiing and snowboarding have become easier to learn, drawing in those who have never skied before but are tempted to give it a go.
Finally, for British holidaymakers heading out to the slopes, the strong pound means that we are currently benefiting from a good exchange rate. As such, splashing out in resort restaurants, bars and shops has become much more reasonable – a key factor of a ski trip.
But the question remains – are these changes in cultural trends responsible for the complete retargeting of the ski holiday market? It would seem that in recent years, the ski industry consumers haven’t changed that much but rather, the reach has widened.
With this in mind, it doesn’t come as a shock to discover that this former lavish hobby has, indeed, been opened up to a wider public.
Written by Hannah Goddard – Ski Club Blog Contributor