In response to lagging business thought to be the result of two consecutive low-snow winters, American snowcat-skiing operators have banded together to create a novel, industry-wide promotion: bring your cat (yes, the furry, four-legged kind), and ski for free. The promotion, known as “Pheline Phridaze,” begins this week.
“Backcountry skiers often take their dogs skiing,” says Jamie Wolter, secretary for Catski U.S., the umbrella organization for the American cat-skiing industry. “But there’s no reason they should have all the fun. We know there’s a committed group of cat owners who also ski, and we’d like to attract their business.”
The move aligns with a growing trend among American skiers—that of bringing cats to the slopes. Gear and apparel makers are also jumping on board, most notably Arc’Teryx, which will offer a line of technical cat apparel, feline saddlebags, and backcountry ski packs with integrated cat carriers.
It’s an innovative step by the country’s cat-ski operators, and one of the world’s biggest resort developers seems to be taking notes.
“We’re impressed by Catski U.S.’s embrace of this market segment,” says Jen Brown, communications director at Colorado’s Beaver Creek, a Vail Resorts property. “In fact, it has inspired us to begin strategizing ways to make our lodging, slopes, and dining more cat-friendly.”
“Ten years ago,” continues Brown, “you literally never saw a single cat on the slopes. Now it seems like the little buggers are everywhere. Heck, I almost sat on a Persian on Northwoods Chair last week!”
And while Catski U.S.’s Wolter, who also runs the Winter Park, Colorado-based catski-op Powder Addiction, recognizes that Pheline Phridaze is fraught with potential logistical difficulties, he’s optimistic.
“We have yet to see how 13 people and 13 cats will actually handle a day of snowcat skiing, but I’m certain we’ll be providing skiers the opportunity to bond more closely with their cats as well as drive business to our member operations.”
Editor’s note: Skiing Magazine makes no claim as to the veracity, or lack thereof, of this article.