On the Hill: Who’s No. 1?
October 21, 2005
What do college football and the ski area industry have in common?Their best-known systems of deciding who’s No. 1 are flawed.Football’s Bowl Championship Series is a farce, a system in which multiple polls, computers and formulas decide who gets to play for the national championship, or at least half of it. It’s been tweaked repeatedly to supposedly fix perceived injustices and mistakes.The ski industry’s rankings – though a less serious business – are decided by the readers of SKI magazine. It’s also a flawed system. How else could Deer Valley rank No. 1?So just for fun, let’s see what would happen if we could tweak it, too.More than 5,000 of SKI’s readers rank North America’s ski resorts based on their opinions of the areas in something like 17 criteria, including snow, family programs, grooming, aprés-ski, service and terrain. Wouldn’t it be neat if a skier could choose which of those criteria mattered to him or her, rank them, and then plug them into one of those BCS computers to find out the ski area that best suits him or her?One could, say, drop such measurements as access, on-mountain food, lodging and off-hill activities – do any of them really decide if you have a good day on the hill, anyway?And then rank North America’s mountains according to, in order, something like: snow, terrain, value, weather, scenery and aprés-ski.Who would be the new No. 1? None of the resorts readers ranked in the top seven scored at the top in any of those categories. On the Hill’s money is on a place like Alta or Snowbird.And maybe we could create our own categories, too. Isn’t there something to be said for ski areas that stay true to their roots? Why do the big points go to glitz and none to soul? On the Hill’s not sure why, but guesses it probably has to do with the BCS computers.