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‘Old school’ B.C. ski resort sets crowdfunding record in quest to fend off Vail

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Financial Post | By Natalie Obiko Pearson | Nov 1, 2017

fp1101 gs red mountain - 'Old school' B.C. ski resort sets crowdfunding record in quest to fend off Vail

Red Mountain is famous among lovers of powder snow and long runs so it's no wonder its web-based campaign has struck a chord with skiers worried about a wave of consolidation in the resort business

A tiny Canadian ski resort forged by Scandinavian miners chasing a 1890s gold rush has become the unlikely recipient of a record equity crowdfunding raise, tapping into powder hounds’ quest to fend off a wave of consolidation led by Vail Resorts Inc.

Investors are lining up to buy a piece of Red Mountain Resort in Rossland, B.C., drawn by its rebellious pitch of “Fight the Man, Own the Mountain.” The web-based campaign, the first by a ski resort, appears to have struck a chord with skiers anxious about a flurry of acquisitions that has put 39 resorts in the hands of just three corporations.

“Consolidation sometimes has the potential of stripping the soul and heritage out of these old-school resorts,” says Howard Katkov, chief executive officer of Red Mountain Ventures, who’s publicly taken jibes at the purpose-built villages and ubiquitous clock towers found at resorts like Vail and Whistler Blackcomb. “It’s about preserving what we consider an endangered species.” Vail didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

On the first day of its Canadian fundraising in August, Red drew pledges for $508,500, the largest single-day amount for an equity crowdfunding campaign in the nation, according to Sean Burke, chief operating officer of FrontFundr, the online investment platform in Canada. As of Tuesday, it had raised $455,050 with an additional $530,800 in process.


RED Mountain Goes LIVE With Crowdfunding in Canada; Urges Fans to “Fight The Man. Own The Mountain.”

RED Mountain Hits Their $10 Million Goal on Crowdfunding

Heavy Powder

Ahead of its U.S. launch, it had received more than 3,500 reservations for as much as $13.3 million — 12 times the annual maximum permitted under U.S. regulations. The campaign is set to close on Dec. 1 and has set a minimum target of $1.5 million for the offering to close.

Red has more to offer than hype.

Western Canada’s oldest ski resort is legendary among powderhounds for steep, long runs that have groomed national team racers and Olympic champions, including Nancy Greene and Kerrin Lee-Gartner. Located in eastern British Columbia’s Kootenay Rockies, just miles from the Washington and Montana borders, it boasts 300 inches of snow a year that’s dry and light.

Red’s fabled roots stretch back to Norwegian miner Olaus Jeldness, who arrived in the area in 1896 following the discovery of a massive vein of ore on Red Mountain named Le Roi. Jeldness, who’d set a world record by ski jumping 92 feet at the age of 15 in his homeland, enthralled local townspeople hurtling down the hill on 10-foot long wooden skis with only a single leather strap to hold them in place. Within a year, he organized Canada’s first ski race — a 2.5-kilometre free-for-all from the summit, beating his lone rival by five minutes.

‘The Beauty’

“The beauty of Red is that we have Rossland, a real, historic, gold rush-era town at the bottom of the hill,” says Katkov. That town at its peak teemed with 7,000 people, 42 saloons, and the likes of “Popcorn Kate” and “Scrap Iron Nelly,” according to historical records at the local museum. Rossland’s one main street has preserved the architecture of that era but now sports a sushi restaurant, a trendy cafe, and a gourmet supermarket.

“It’s this little gem of a place that no one really knows about,” says Jason Davies, a 45-year-old British snowboarder who invested in Red and has visited slopes all over North America and Europe.


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