It's every skier's dream: Sip a cup of strong coffee at your kitchen table, buckle up your ski boots, zip up your parka and clomp outside to a backyard ski lift. "Anyone who's thinking of doing a ski area for themselves will end up here," says Hugh Knapp, owner of Knapp Associates, Inc., the ski industry's clearing-house for used ski area equipment for the past 24 years. A resort tycoon in the making can purchase a 1972 Poma T-Bar for $4,000, blow a blizzard with a few $350 Snow Giant II guns, then groom the surface into corduroy with a $5,000 25-year-old Bombardier snowcat.
Instant Vail? Hardly. Nearly a dozen people in the past six months have called Knapp for help in setting up their own ski trails. He supplies them with an icy dose of reality. A used T-Bar may be affordable to many, but will cost nearly $20,000 to install. "Don't even talk about snowmaking," Knapp says from his Shelburne, Vt., office. "The hassle factor is immense. People have no idea of the work involved in maintaining a slope."
Knapp tells of a wealthy businessman who wanted to install a 2,800-foot chairlift next to his sprawling mountain home in Park City, Utah. Estimated cost: $250,000. "Then you have to maintain the lift and hire a crew to operate it," Knapps says, so he instead advised the discouraged but avid skier to purchase a used snowcat for $40,000. "The tractor (the cab) becomes the lift and the groomer. You put the kids inside or in the bed on the back and groom on your way up and down the slope."
The now contented gentleman "has a jet down at the Salt Lake airport and a powder cat at his $3 million mansion," Knapp says. "That's the way to go."
Knapp Associates, Inc. can be reached at http://skiindustry.com/knapp.
On Course: The Heart Of The Game
"This is their Olympics," NASTAR Director Bill Madsen says of the several hundred recreational ski racers who will battle for office bragging rights during the annual NASTAR National Championships in Beaver Creek, Colo., April 10-11. Don't tell these racers they lack the elite athleticism of Hermann Maier or the silky smoothness of Picabo Street. "Faces show every nuance of pre-race jitters, with intensity and focus. Just like the high-powered FIS events," says 50-year-old NASTAR racer Rosvita Wolk. To qualify for the Nationals, racers must rank in the top three in their age and gender categories at any one of the 110 NASTAR resorts. Race information can be found at www.nastar.com.
Celebrity seeking skiers can rub elbows with past and present stars of the U.S. Ski Team at the Bill Janss Pro Am Classic in Sun Valley, Idaho, April 1-3. In this benefit for the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation, you can race and party with Christin Cooper, AJ Kitt, Hilary Lindh, Tommy Moe and Terry Palmer. But the cost to sponsor a team, which includes lunches, dinners and parties, ain't cheap: Six-person teams go for $7,000, while an individual racer is $1,200. Call (208) 726-6727 for more information.
"I'd end every season with an accident. I look at skiing as a relationship, and I can't get out of a relationship without an accident."
Actor, writer, monologist, and enthusiastic skier