An Interview with Stuart Winchester, The Storm Skiing Journal & Podcast
October 30, 2021
Stuart Winchester, the man behind The Storm Skiing Journal & Podcast, is not who you’d expect. First, he lives in Brooklyn, New York. Last time we checked, not a ski town. Second, he did not grow up skiing. But don’t be fooled, Stuart Winchester truly embodies the heart and soul of skiing in America.
The Storm Skiing Journal & Podcast is the back to basics on skiing – the focus, as Stuart puts it is on “lift-served skiing universe where 99 percent of skiers spend 99 percent of their time”. Started just over two years ago, the goal Stuart set out was clear from the start – have it be consistent, relevant, entertaining and valuable. We may be biased, but we think he’s accomplishing that much and more – he is bringing it back to basics, no rad skier bros, no backflips, no backcountry, no cliff drops, just the good old resort skiing we all know and love.
First, let’s talk about Stuart himself and what brought him to creating The Storm Skiing Journal & Podcast. Stuart grew up in central Michigan and did not attempt skiing until the age of 14 – he attended a school-led trip to Mott Mountain (RIP) and was absolutely beat-up following a day of faceplants. It wasn’t until a few years later when a friend convinced him to head to Snow Snake mountain (200 vertical feet, one chairlift, one rope-tow) – thankfully this time it stuck. Stuart went on to ask for ski equipment for Christmas 1994 and has never looked back. While a guy that lives in Brooklyn may not strike you as a die-hard skier, he is just that. He gets skiing as much as he possibly can with a fulltime job and two young children. While many of these trips are to Mountain Creek, Mount Peter or resorts in the Catskills or Southern Vermont, these are not to be discredited. Last season Stuart hit 40 different resorts!
It was in the early years of skiing that Stuart got hooked on the media element behind the sport. The magazines painted a picture surrounding the adventure of lift-served skiing across the country, the history, microcultures, all offering similar, but very different experiences. As ski media transitioned to digital, the coverage deliberately shifted away from resort and into extreme skiing and freeskiing. While this is exciting to read about in doses, the average skier is still skiing at the resorts and information on them beyond their own sites is not regularly available. Stuart saw an opportunity to engage with the world of lift-served skiing, sharing good information and talking to the people that actually own, operate and live and breathe resort skiing. He felt that while there is a plethora of ski content out there, no one was covering the basics of resorts, how they are managed, how they make decisions on where to put a new ski lift, or invest in better mid mountain lodges, etc. Thus, The Storm Skiing Journal & Podcast seeks to do just that.
Stuart considers himself to be a writer first and a podcaster second. While he’s had the opportunity to interview the best in the business, his real joy comes from the written portion of the newsletter, analyzing the latest news from the industry, specifically passes, resort infrastructure updates and who Vail is buying now. In his view, the podcast is the gateway to journal subscribers and not the other way around. We, of course, asked him about his favorite interviews to date… in Stuart’s words, “the best interviews are with people that don’t have bosses, they speak freely and show their individualism, spirit of thinking differently”.
But to answer my question, here are some of Stuart’s favorites. Four of the six are independently run mid-size ski areas with fiercely loyal skiers, but Stuart made it clear that the podcast loves both indie mountains and the big names in the game equally. Give them a listen!
- Berkshire East and Catamount Owner and GM Jon Schaefer
- Aspen Skiing Company CEO Mike Kaplan
- Plattekill Mountain Owners Danielle and Laszlo Vajtay
- Magic Mountain President Geoff Hatheway
- Taos Ski Valley CEO David Norden
- Montage Mountain Managing Owner Charles Jefferson (fun fact, Charles had never skied before he purchased Montage!)
Industry trends seem to be heading in a somewhat sour direction (Powdr’s Fast Tracks being the most recent example), but it’s not all bad. Stuart believes that there is a deliberate shift to management of the overall skier experience – controlling crowding by putting in more robust uphill capacity while reducing the number of passes sold. Colorado’s Arapahoe Basin is an early adopter to this mentality; they left the Epic pass and are replacing their mid-mountain Lenawee triple chair with a six pack. When I hear this I immediately think, more expensive! But Stuart points out that while pass prices will continue to creep up, they cannot get too high and be above the price of the Epic and Ikon pass for the sake of not losing those skiers to the competition. Smaller resorts across the country will continue to market themselves as such and tell a story that skiers want to be a part of.
Ultimately, The Storm Skiing Journal & Podcast won us over for being on top of the latest from the industry, interviewing the individuals behind the resorts and for its honesty. Do yourself a favor and subscribe to receive The Storm Skiing Journal & Podcast content right to your inbox.
Thank you to Harley Hall for the photographs of Stuart from last season at Plattekill Mountain