In a move that's decidedly anti-Vail, five independent community ski areas have joined forces by banding together as the Mountain Playground Group. The association has been formed by the Mountain Rider's Alliance to create long-term success for small ski areas by (according to a press release) promoting "the authenticity and uniqueness of soulful ski areas." It comes at a time when small ski areas are seriously threatened by declining profits, warm weather, and acquisitions by larger companies like Vail Resorts, Powdr Corp., and others. Participating ski areas include The Clearwater Ski Club in Idaho, Beartooth Basin in Wyoming, Elk Ridge in Arizona, Hurricane Ridge in Washington, and Mt Abram in Maine. Together, the ski areas will share best practices, receiving a tuning study, be evaluated for summer events, and examine cost saving opportunities. They are also offering a Mountain Playground Card for $29 that will allow skiers and snowboarders discounts to all participating ski areas as well as benefits on items such as ski and snowboard equipment, retail goods, vacation rentals, tours and more.