Distinguished Student Work

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Julie Dowling; Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy


Ski resorts are very popular among both avid skiers and families who are looking to have fun. In fact, winter resorts account for over 3 billion dollars in revenue, with an annual growth of 2.6% [IBI]. In addition to their use as recreational areas, ski resorts are also used for various winter competitions, most famously the Olympics. Our job was to design and create a suitable ski resort for both the Olympics and for recreational use in the Wasatch Peaks Range property. In addition, we were advised to create over 160km of trails and maintain a 20%- 40%-40% balance between beginner, intermediate, and expert trails. With these conditions and the information on the Wasatch Peaks Range, we created our model.

Ski resorts, like all large-scale building projects, are subject to a variety of factors that have to be considered. Not only do top-quality ski resorts have to cater to casual families and skiers, they must also be able to satiate the needs of the more advanced and skilled who would quickly grow bored of beginner slopes. In addition, this latter consideration correlates greatly with the ability for a resort to host high-level competitions, including national and international competitions, especially the Olympics.

Our model attempted to encompass all of these factors, in order to create the best possible ski resort. Firstly, we extrapolated the outline of the property from the map found online. Combining this with a few landmark coordinates, we were able to determine the coordinates that each pixel in the outline picture corresponded to. Then, using the Google Maps API, we requested the various elevations of these pixels and stored them. From this data, our model determined the possible paths of each difficulty and using a ranking algorithm, we were able to determine high-quality ski trails to use. We then used sophisticated statistical analysis to compare our proposed design to other ski resorts over a variety of factors.


The team received a Finalist rating at the HiMCM International Mathematics Modeling Contest.

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Mathematics Commons



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