Throwdown: Contest generates organic buzz and good will

West Bowl on a powder day. To thank Juneau folks who voted in Ski Town Throwdown, season pass prices have been reduced through Sunday, Dec. 15. Photo by Rosemarie Alexander.

Eaglecrest Ski Area in Juneau is in the finals of a Powder Magazine poll of favorite North American ski areas.

Called the Ski Town Throwdown, the contest is run on Powder Magazine’s Facebook page, where people from all over Canada and the U.S. have been casting votes.

The contest ends  at 4 p.m. on Friday.

So what does it mean to win the Throwdown?

“I think so much of it is just kind of this inherent, organic buzz,” says managing editor John Davies.

Last year Powder Magazine editors were looking for a way to rank North American ski areas.  Davis says a brain storming session turned hot,  “so we thought we kind of stumbled upon something because people are so passionate about the ski areas they love.”

They came up with a March Madness basketball-style championship with six rounds, where people could vote for their favorite mountain on social media.

Sixty-four towns in four geographic regions were included this year.  While Davis says selection was based on snow fall, skiable acres and the number of people that ski there, “we wanted the places that have the most powder. Like the best chance of skiing powder.”

In Alaska, Girdwood’s Mount Alyeska and Eaglecrest made it into the contest in the Great White North region.

Alyeska didn’t survive the first round. Eaglecrest, with four lifts, 640 skiable acres, and a summit elevation of 2,600 feet, knocked out Whistler Blackcomb in British Columbia, the largest ski resort in North America.

The Throwdown is a measure of passion, and Davies says the passion displayed for Eaglecrest epitomizes the contest.

“It’s a way for communities to really rally behind their ski areas and their towns and show their support, and it’s been a lot of fun to watch.”

It’s “the little mountain that could,” Davies wrote in Powder Magazine online.

Eaglecrest easily got more votes than three other well-known Canadian resorts, beat the favorite of the Far East region, and is now against Crested Butte, Colorado.

“Just being recognized as a Ski Town Throwdown finalist by Powder Magazine readers is quite the honor,” Davies says, “and so with that will come lots of recognition through Powder as well as other media channels.

Eaglecrest general manager Matt Lillard says it will be tough to convert that recognition into actual buying trips to a  small city-owned ski area on an island in Southeast Alaska.

“We certainly don’t have a marketing budget that allows us to get out there like the big resorts do and promote in far away places, but it’s always a good start,” he says.

He plans to use the momentum to work with local businesses to create ski packages for anyone who might want to come to Juneau to ski.

“Maybe one day to come up and check it out will be on their bucket list of things to do.”

That would be Powder Magazine’s John Davies.  Since the Throwdown started in October, he’s received a lot of invitations to ski Eaglecrest, and says he expects he will someday, but so far, he hasn’t committed to a date.

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