number one 

Facts show Whistler number one, but magazine rankings more subjective Whistler-Blackcomb welcomed its two millionth skier of the season last week, making the resort far and away the number one skier destination in North America this year. But with the magazine that has ranked Whistler number one for seven straight seasons having now suspended publication, will Whistler be number one next fall when the influential American ski magazines publish their annual ratings next fall? "I think we can make a case for why we’re number one and do it ourselves, instead of waiting for the magazines to do it," said David Perry, vice president of marketing and sales for Whistler-Blackcomb. Snow Country magazine, which the Miller Publishing Group bought in 1997 from the New York Times Co. and then renamed Mountain Sports and Living, has ranked Whistler-Blackcomb the number one resort in North America for seven straight seasons. Whistler-Blackcomb and the Whistler Resort Association have used that accolade on promotional material, in advertising and as a way of distinguishing the resort. But last month Miller Publishing announced it was suspending publication of Mountain Sports and Living, which means there might not be a number one ranking for Whistler-Blackcomb next fall. "Obviously we’d like to see the magazine continue, they’ve been good supporters and (the number one ranking) is an important status," said Perry. "There are other magazine rankings. We’ve been number one in the Japanese Blue Guide for many years. "But it will probably make us pay more attention to Ski and Skiing magazines’ surveys," Perry added. Whistler was number one in Ski magazine’s rankings in 1995 and 1996 and number one in Skiing magazine in 1996 and 1998 — and is the only resort to be number one in Ski, Skiing and Snow Country in the same year (1996) — but Vail has consistently topped Ski’s polls since then. Ski magazine’s rankings are based on reader responses, and Whistler’s rating has fluctuated from year to year. Skiing magazine’s ratings are also subjective, but based on editors’ and writers’ input. Snow Country/Mountain Sports and Living has used a combination of reader responses and statistical facts — such as number of lifts, amount of terrain and vertical drop — to determine its rankings. Perry suggested those facts made the Snow Country ratings more credible, and Whistler should promote those facts. "We are in a position to draw attention to some unassailable facts that make us number one," said Perry. "We’re number one with customers — more than two million; Breckenridge will probably be number two this year with about 1.4 million. "We’re number one in terrain, in vertical, lift systems and snowfall. We put these physical facts along with our customer numbers and we’ve solidified our position. No one can dispute our position. We’ve dramatically surpassed Vail." Perry said Whistler-Blackcomb’s marketing efforts next fall will make the case for defining what "number one" is. He said he would be speaking to the Whistler Resort Association about taking a similar approach.

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