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Is summer mountain biking profitable for Australian ski resorts?

Discussion in 'Snow Talk' started by sbm, Apr 27, 2017.

  1. sbm

    sbm One of Us

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    Thought I'd start this again away from the Buller RMB scandal thread, as it was getting interesting.

    I went to Thredbo twice this summer season for mountain biking, and it's certainly far from dead, and bikes are everywhere. The vibe is good.

    But it's not quite a golden goose. It's not that mountain bikers don't have money, in fact the opposite - we're talking high income middle-aged men with $8000 toys here. Actually, that's the problem. The family and casual market isn't there. I may get the in-laws down for a skiing weekend, but that will NOT happen for downhill mtb this century.

    I reckon for every single rider on the signature downhill track, there must be a hundred punters and kids riding the free NPWS valley trail on back-of-the-garage bikes, that are worth less than a single day's downhill bike rental.
     
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  2. Legs Akimbo

    Legs Akimbo Grumblebum Ski Pass: Gold

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    Profitable as a stand alone - probably not.
    A bit of cream using existing infrastructure - you betcha.
     
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  3. Richard

    Richard Maintenance Dept Administrator

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    ^ this

    MTB is a participation sport on the wax so covering the sunk cost of course development is a fair bet, but concur it does not have the same cachet as snow sport does re: family holiday.

    but MTB'ers are better spenders than alpine flower sniffers and other low yield visitors.
     
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  4. Seth

    Seth Pool Room Ski Pass: Gold

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  5. sbm

    sbm One of Us

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    Of course, but I was interested to see what the folks outside of the "My latest bicycle ride or bike question" echo chamber thought about it!

    The Green Valley guys jumped through all sorts of hoops for years to finally get their dedicated MTB resort started up near Wollongong. It seems to be going pretty well so far. Tassie also has several big projects going (including building a gondola/lift for MTB at Maydena!?) but they get crazy schemes going at the sniff of a tourist buck and they're pretty used to failure and unemployment.
     
  6. WaitAwhile

    WaitAwhile One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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    But are they spending money on food and accommodation,just getting extra rooms rented out in summer can help control you costs
    We stayed in Thredbo a few times in summer almost 10 years ago ,and for some lodge owners they would just lock up and leave for the summer season, some would stay open but it was a fine line between the extra cost of staying open and getting enough guests through to make it worthwhile , I get the impression its become a lot more popular over the years which would make it a lot more easier to stay open right through the summer season.
    The infrastructure is already there, you just need to be able to make a little extra, but not go backwards.
    Do the season passes also give you access to the lifts in summer, in which case they might get some loyalty from the MTB crew that also want to ski in winter and visa versa.
    One thing we noticed a few years ago ,before the Freedom passes gained popularity was that many Jindaybyne locals would get the Thredbo season passes as it also gave them access to the facilities in summer.
     
    #6 WaitAwhile, Apr 27, 2017
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2017
  7. telecrag

    telecrag Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    Its been 20 years in the making, and is just starting to actually work. Word is that Thredbo will open another lift (GB) in future, solely for MTB. That would not be happening, and they would not have doubled the rental fleet, if it was not starting to turn a profit. When someone hires everything, its like $250 a day including lift ticket. And if you only do it a few times a year, that is actually way cheaper than buying everything, so guess what, the fleet is almost always hired out on weekends, and during the holidays.

    I can't see it rivalling winter turnover here, as it has in Whistler. they are just not allowed to develop it the same way. However I can see it doubling again, in the next few years.
     
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  8. Seth

    Seth Pool Room Ski Pass: Gold

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    Would those not interested in mountain biking even know what is there?

    Uninformed comment isn't worth a great deal.
     
  9. luvthabumps

    luvthabumps A Local Ski Pass: Gold

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    I heard a conversation last week that during the big MTB festival in Whistler that is held every year, the attendance is so huge a lot of businesses make as much in that week as they do in winter. I can't rationalise those sort of numbers but, nevertheless, it's an indicator of just how huge summer MTB trade is at WB. I also heard that they bulldoze the snowpack off the trails on Whistler during May to get the MTB crew out.
     
  10. jonathanc

    jonathanc One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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    Read the recent Thredbo annual reports - they give some revenue growth figures relating to MTB.
     
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  11. Ralph_Plough

    Ralph_Plough One of Us

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    I saw a lot of kids and father/son combos on the lifted trails. Much more so than old men.

    I also think that, like winter ops, lift tickets are a small part of the revenue puzzle.

    The town was busy, parking was a bitch, restaurants required bookings etc etc.

    Not a golden egg, but a good solid copper one as opposed to mild steel.
     
  12. climberman

    climberman CloudRide1000 Legend Ski Pass: Gold

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    From the Event Annual Report 2016:


    and....



    Thredbo attracts a shit tonne of families - kids on bikes all over the hill, and in the pump track, etc, IMO. Being a head Leasholder and owning a number of the outlets for services and food and bev is what helps Thredbo drive their gains.
     
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  13. climberman

    climberman CloudRide1000 Legend Ski Pass: Gold

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    And, from the 2017 half year result:

     
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  14. climberman

    climberman CloudRide1000 Legend Ski Pass: Gold

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    the 365 Pass is summer and winter lift access (and pool / gym / climbing wall, bobsled, an hour's tennis a day and a round of golf a day). Bloody easy to drive good value from it. I only need about three more days on the hill to have 'paid off' my pass :)
     
  15. chicski

    chicski A Local Ski Pass: Gold

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    Weekends and particularly long weekends in Jindabyne have become almost as busy as winter. And every 2nd car (or more) would have bikes on them. Thredbo seems to have a MTB event 2-3 per month over summer. Thredbo is busy every weekend. And while it might be that some members of the family are on the lifts while the less experienced are on the TVT and Hatchery Bay tracks or roads, they all have to stay somewhere and eat somewhere. Cycling is a growth sport and the whole family is getting involved.
     
  16. Ralph_Plough

    Ralph_Plough One of Us

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    Pretty much described our weekend family trip to Jindy. I am sure we are not alone.

    Here is a pic of family mountain biking in Jindy.......no reason except because I can ;)

     
    #16 Ralph_Plough, Apr 28, 2017
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2017
  17. telecrag

    telecrag Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    I think the stats from Thredbo do show how it is really taking off, 49% growth last year, and it grew again this year from observation (maybe not so drastic). They are making a profit from summer, and see this as driven by mtb.

    But I think that some venues work better than others. But Tathra is another example where free tracks have made a noticeable increase in tourist trade. What makes it work? I think location is a biggy, somewhere you can take the family, where there is other stuff for them to do, while you ride is quite a big contributing factor IMO. The quality of the track is also big. Bright has been a cycling destination for quite a while,, but from what I can understand, the mtb has picked up with the introduction of the Hero trail (probably the most fun trail I have ever ridden). It has rail trails, great road routes, and heaps of mtb trails. A great little town, sightseeing, rivers, all sorts of tourist ops.

    I think we will see more investment, and growth, in this industry. Thredbo certainly have plans way beyond what is in place now.
     
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  18. Beerman

    Beerman One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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    I'm certainly no MTB specialist, and I agree with @telecrag about it not rivalling Whistlers summer turnover. That's the difference between Aussies and Canadians, they get sick of winter real quick, were we can't seem to get enough of it. Probably something to do with our warmer climate.;)
     
  19. Seth

    Seth Pool Room Ski Pass: Gold

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    He wasn't saying that it will get to Whistler levels in numbers though but as a percentage of turnover. think it will continue to get closer every year.

    There are plenty of people in Australia that can't stand winter. Need to take the snowsports enthusiast hat off for a second.
     
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  20. sbm

    sbm One of Us

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    @Ralph_implement that photo is classic, a keeper for the 21st album for sure.

    @climberman with the hard data. 50% growth in 2016, 30% this half year, that is something for sure.

    Sounds like they know what's up. I wonder if it's possible to build a truly green-circle trail from the top of the lift. Maybe go down through the Basin, to avoid the very rocky area that the Flow/All Mountain trail goes though? The (mtb) instructor we had said it was always a delicate judgement whether timid beginners would do better on the steep and sketchy Evil Way road, or the rocky and twisty Flow Trail top section.

    In fact I suppose the difficulty isn't as much as a factor, as having the whole thing signposted as a beginner/slow, so 6-year-olds aren't being dangerously overtaken on the outside of berms by wannabes.
     
  21. zac150

    zac150 One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    Is it profitable?

    Our summer bookings in Thredbo are up over 200% and we are in the process of costing the conversion of the ski locker to allow for expensive bikes.

    Just because families are using free tracks doesn't mean the resort isn't making money. As families and people spend on accommodation and food etc etc over time this will mean higher rents etc to be collected by KT. It's also gets people back to the resort in winter as one pass gets summer and winter and overseas.
     
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  22. chicski

    chicski A Local Ski Pass: Gold

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    I was told that the rocky AM traverse was a requirement from NPWS, something to do with erosion. Even past there, there's some steepish bits on the AM trail itself. I think for beginners and kids, the TVT is enough of a gravity ride and too much for some. If they do open Gunbarrel for MTB, that would cut out the truely gnarly bit of the AM trail and make it more accessible for intermediates.
     
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  23. climberman

    climberman CloudRide1000 Legend Ski Pass: Gold

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    Zac do you have a unit? We keep thinking.....
     
  24. telecrag

    telecrag Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    Maybe if we got a few together, 4 couples at $200K each might get something nice!

    One day I might buy in Berridale.....or Cooma.....ah hell, Im close enough.
     
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  25. telecrag

    telecrag Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    The opening was delayed, as Parks made them chopper moar rock in for it.

    The plans to open GB also involve the further expansion of the trail network, possibly including a really real techy DH course. These are just rumours atm......once TVT connects to Jindy trails....starting off the longest lifted gravity trail....
     
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  26. telecrag

    telecrag Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    Most of the people I rode with this season either do not ski, or have not skied much recently, I think I have talked a few into buying the 365 next season though (see if I can rekindle their enthusiasm for skiing). They all bought summer passes, with a few less regular buying days. The any day pass worked well for a few over Easter, as they knew they wouldnt have 4 days in the legs.
     
  27. climberman

    climberman CloudRide1000 Legend Ski Pass: Gold

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    I caught a lift earlier in the year with a kid who's folks own a place at Crackenback.... and none of them ski!!
     
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  28. chicski

    chicski A Local Ski Pass: Gold

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    Plenty of people that have grown up here don't ski.Also plenty of locals that no longer ski locally, o/s trips only. I get that!
     
  29. Zimboo

    Zimboo A Local

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    My perspective why mountain bike riding will never be a big money spinner for Thredbo etc.,..................families drive 5-6 hours to the snowy mountains in winter from Sydney because the snow is a exciting holiday experience (new experience for many) which can only be found in that region.
    Do Sydney siders need to travel 5-6 hours for a mountain bike ride? Maybe they decide to ride a trail closer to home in the Blue Mountains etc., or just hit the beach.
    In Whistlers's case they are located 1.5 hours from Vancouver, therefore they have the population base close at hand to turn mountain biking into something much bigger.
     
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  30. telecrag

    telecrag Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    They do, there is nothing like it any closer for them.
    It is more holiday oriented for them generally though I think.
     
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  31. crackson

    crackson A Local Ski Pass: Gold

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    Whistler's trail budget for the next three years is half a billion dollars.

    They aim to double the number of trails.

    The future of mtb'ing is looking strong.
     
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  32. climberman

    climberman CloudRide1000 Legend Ski Pass: Gold

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    But it's a holiday house!
     
  33. Zimboo

    Zimboo A Local

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    For sure, I'm sure people go to Thredbo from Sydney to mountain bike and get the lift up, ride down experience. But for many casual riders from Sydney (and the hords of newbies that may wish to try mountain biking), they don't need to drive 5-6 hours for a mountain bike experience as they do for a snow experience. Blue Mountains are close and would offer up a easier weekend away alternative for newbies to mountain biking I would think?
     
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  34. climberman

    climberman CloudRide1000 Legend Ski Pass: Gold

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    Where's the lift assisted gravity riding, supplemented by kid friendly pump and beginner facilities, linked to a 20km+ full singletrack ride along a wild river, full of tourist accomodation and supported by two to three other singletrack locations within a 20 minute drive, in Sydney?

    The blue mountains is XC fire trails, or small areas of singletrack. It has **** all legal singletrack and very little of it I'd class as destination quality.
     
  35. climberman

    climberman CloudRide1000 Legend Ski Pass: Gold

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    No one 'needs' to do anything.
    The proof of the pudding is in the eating, and right now it tastes wonderful. People ARE going there, are having group and family holidays, and it's great for the region.
     
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  36. telecrag

    telecrag Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    Yep, I reckon that is right @Zimboo, you cant begin to ski without going.
     
  37. telecrag

    telecrag Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    People travel from all over the world to ride at Whistler, and even Rotorua, Australia has not yet entered that market, and is still someway off, but heading toward it. Derby in Tassie is getting close, you have to have amazing trails, and spectacular scenery for that one. Its at least a decade off at the current pace IMO.
     
  38. zac150

    zac150 One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    Climberman, yes in Alpine Apartments, it is owned by a family group (kind of like TC said) but we are the only ones who use it. As an out and out investment, i'm sure there are better but as a lifestyle choice I can't fault it.
     
  39. climberman

    climberman CloudRide1000 Legend Ski Pass: Gold

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    Cheers, lifestyle has to play in that location :)
     
  40. Dippo

    Dippo Addicted

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    I tend to agree with what @Zimboo is saying.

    Being a skier for 30 years the 5-6 hour drive down from Sydney is the worse part and by the end of the season I’m well and truly over it.

    As an mtber living in Sydney I have a multitude of tracks I ride in any direction within a 2 hour drive such as Wingello/Nowra in the south to Awaba northwards and all over the Blue Mountains in the west and all the others in between. At a stretch Canberra is 2.5 hours.

    Granted none of these tracks are lifted or have the downhill/enduro or even XC style like Thredbo does. But they have enough to keep me happy in a day trip or a morning ride.

    I’ve never ridden at Thredbo but would like to try it out to see what it’s like, even if I like it I’m sure the drive would put me off to do multiple trips. They would also have to be a lads trip as well because my family don't mtb and there interest in the snowy region is not a the top of there list outside of ski season.
     
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  41. Zimboo

    Zimboo A Local

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    I'm not saying that it's not great for Thredbo etc to have mountain biking, summer holidays etc. I think its fantastic for the region.
    I was trying to convey that IMO mountain biking in the snowy mountains will not be the big money spinner as seen in Whistler due to location to population. I hope I'm wrong. Perisher /Thredbo clean up $$$$$$ in winter by attracting newbies from Sydney every year to try snow sports. Those same crowds of newbies (that are yet to understand what one location has over another in regard to lift acces, terrain, trail widths and lengths etc) don't have to travel the same distance to give mountain biking a try. I reckon there would be plenty of newbie mountain bike punters from Sydney that would opt for a weekend in the blue mountains and a trail bike ride.
     
    #41 Zimboo, Apr 28, 2017
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2017
  42. climberman

    climberman CloudRide1000 Legend Ski Pass: Gold

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    Ok
    Thredbo's annual report, proposed investments, and the general vibe of the area, all seem to point to making a profit over the summer season, but whatever.
     
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  43. Seth

    Seth Pool Room Ski Pass: Gold

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    Destination mountain biking is very much a thing. It's only going to keep getting bigger.

    The financial results show it. Vibe that it won't is stinky.
     
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  44. telecrag

    telecrag Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    I agree, I think that as it grows more though, it will attract people more, from further afield. If it gets even close to offering what OS destinations do, well there is that crowd for a start. But I really cant see it equalling winter for all those, and more, reasons. It is already turning a profit, and I would expect that profit to grow quite a lot, certainly in the millions.
     
  45. Seth

    Seth Pool Room Ski Pass: Gold

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    We just have to wait 20-30 years and the green season will dominate. ;)

    White season will just be a trail closing annoyance.
     
  46. Legs Akimbo

    Legs Akimbo Grumblebum Ski Pass: Gold

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    Mountain biking is another attraction to whatever other attractions that Thredbo may offer. And, depending on your proclivities, there are several. One more string to the bow.
     
  47. dawooduck

    dawooduck relaxed and comfortable Ski Pass: Gold

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    IMHO observation, MTB in Thredbo is very much a family deal.

    Lake Crackenback is lapping up the MTB family scene.
     
  48. chicski

    chicski A Local Ski Pass: Gold

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    I reckon the area has more to offer in summer than in winter. I'm sure you'll agree it's a beautiful place to visit when the hills are green.
     
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  49. chicski

    chicski A Local Ski Pass: Gold

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    LCR has some awesome MTB tracks as well, and more family friendly riding than Thredbo. And lots more to offer as well. It's always busy.
     
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  50. sbm

    sbm One of Us

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    The thing is, until the culture changes significantly more, mountain biking and cycling in major Australian cities is viewed on the spectrum from "tolerated with a stink-eye" to "who gives a $%@" to "active hatred". There are literally more permitted downhill trails in Thredbo (3) than in the entire Sydney basin (1, at least two unsanctioned ones have been bulldozed).

    When you go somewhere like Jindabyne or Bright that embraces bicycles, the vibe really is that much more awesome.
     
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