Reports of excellent snow cover in Thredbo, Perisher and Mt Buller have left a flurry of powdery promises on social media.
Thredbo’s Facebook post promised “another absolutely beautiful day!” and Perisher’s Facebook page showed two snowmen looking over snowy hills “ahead of a bluebird day”.
Ten years ago, people looked at the snippets of the weather report to see how many lifts were open.
Now, ski resorts create content for Facebook, Instagram, YouTube channels and smartphone apps.
Some skiers are starting to question the snow industry’s content.
Olympic skier Lavinia Chrystal recounted a “cheeky” snow report at Thredbo earlier this month.
“I left on Friday and it was very windy so the main chair lift was shut. Then I heard a snow report saying we’ve got 100 per cent of the mountains open. It was a bit cheeky of them,” she said.
Sydney University ski club president Subski Quinn Stobbs often distrusts ski resorts’ content and relies on friends for an accurate picture of conditions.
“It’s a marketing thing. They are not going to lie and say everywhere’s good [for skiing] but they might specifically mention places where you can have the best run and everything else might be terrible,” he said.
“Usually it’s a case of knowing someone down there, contact friends who go down for a weekend, have someone to back it up.”
Unofficial social media sources have echoed skiers’ scepticism of the snow media. Thredbo’s rogue Twitter account @ThredboSnow which promised “no lies, no hype, no spin.” would report to its 1200 followers on the actual state of the snow with “lots of rocks”, “60-30mm of rain” and “touch icy”, until it was apparently sold to a mysterious bidder on July 13 last year.
On independent site ski.com.au people discuss the weather in real time.
At the forefront of the snow industry’s marketing are snow reporters, marketing professionals employed by ski resorts to cover the weather, conditions of runs and events.
Large ski resorts such as Thredbo, Mt Buller and Perisher have teams of snow reporters. Emma Ralph had a run as a snow reporter at Thredbo in 2012 before landing the gig as Totally Wild presenter at Channel Ten.
'A healthy scepticism'
The popular snow reporter, who has more than 6000 views on one YouTube clip, said it required rigorous reporting.
“Most of the reporters are journalists and it involves all of the reporting during the winter season,” she said. “It is quite a big deal.”
A typical day involves writing online reports for the Thredbo website and creating content for social media, radio and television.
Mt Buller spokesman David McNamara said the snow reporters used independent information and never played tricks with people.
“There is a natural scepticism when it comes to snow reporting,” he said. “We realise trust with skiers and snowboarders is the most important thing.”
Jacqui McKinnon, a Canberra-based skier with 20 years’ experience, said she was sceptical of the official content produced by ski resorts.
“Last year or two I started following a bit closer, although what other people have put up is a better judge than what the official story is,” she said.
She relies on the Bureau of Meteorology and social media to get an accurate picture of the snow conditions.
“They take the best possible angle and ignore the 100km wind. So everyone’s got a healthy scepticism,” she said. “I take everything with a grain of salt.”