Top Five Fridays - April 5, 2019 // Ski Industry News
#1: April Fools Hit the Ski Industry Hard in 2019
Well, it’s April 5th, which means we’re in for one of the more equally entertaining and frustrating Top Five Fridays of the year. Why’s that, you ask? Well, as a writer whose job it is to research the latest ski news each week, April 1st provides plenty of jokes, as well as a number of fake news releases to determine the legitimacy of. Fortunately for you though, the ski community is a raucous bunch, meaning there are plenty of amusing Aprils Fools jokes to report! Of the bunch, here are our top 3 favorites, in no particular order.
J Skis: As per usual, local Burlington, VT legend Jason Levinthal took it upon himself to once again make a holiday of April 1st. In past years, Jason’s been known to pull pranks on the ski industry, so when news broke on Monday that J Skis had purchase Hot Topic and made them the official retailer of J Skis, you would’ve been right to express skepticism. Still, whether or not readers were fooled, Jason’s efforts are notably hilarious, and one of the reason’s that his brand ranks high on the “Most Humorous Ski Brands” list.
Flylow: Ever find yourself wishing your snow pants were actually snow shorts? What if they had bibs? No? Well, if not, then that would’ve been your first clue that Flylow was up to something when they announced on April 1st that they’d just release the Baker Stubby. A derivative of their popular Baker Bibbed snow pant, the “Stubby” was marketed as “perfect for early season ski fitness training and Sahara sand skiing.” While the comments on the post indicate that nobody was buying the gag, the idea and accompanying imagery are still worthy of a laugh.
VT SKI + RIDE: Remember when we said that this week can be a frustrating week for covering ski news? Well, not that we got duped per say, but this article from VT SKI + RIDE certainly made us do a double take. As you might know, Jay Peak and Burke Mountain hit the market this Spring after being under the control of a court-appointed receiver for two years, so we’ve been awaiting news of a sale. That’s why when VT SKI + RIDE announced that the two resorts had been purchased by nearby Quebec, it took a second for the alarm to sound. Between a well written article, and a hilarious fake-MLS listing for the resort, this prank was certainly top tier.
While there were plenty of other April Fools jokes across the ski industry, we don’t quite have the time or space to cover them all here. Instead, we ask you to share your favorites in the comments section below!
#2: French Ski Resorts Teaming Up in Protest of Brexit:
Alright, enough with the jokes for now. Let’s shift gears and talk about something a bit more complex. As you might know from reading Top 5 Fridays, we often cover industry wide issues such as climate change or the rise of multi passes by highlighting specific situations as they arise. The interesting aspect of doing this, is that you eventually begin to see the complexity of these issues as one idea that results in a sprawling web of impacts. We mention this because we’re about to cover a topic that we’ve touched on in the past, but is rising in importance for European skiers. We’re talking of course, about Brexit.
This week, we caught wind that a number of notable French ski areas, including Val d’Isère, Tignes, and Les Arcs, are planning to join forces and protest the Brexit decision on April 6th by occupying the Bourg Saint Maurice train station. In the prelude up to this organized demonstration, these ski resorts have already begun voicing their displeasure with the scenario publicly in an effort to generate support. That’s the news from this week, but let’s dive a little deeper into the “why.”
As you should know by now, if the U.K. were to leave Europe, travel agreements between the U.K. and the E.U. would become much more complicated. As a result, there’s a real chance that ski tourism from the U.K. will significantly decline in Europe. At present, it’s estimated that 48% of the skiers who visit Val d’Isère are from the U.K., while Les Arcs estimates their region sees 500,000 British tourists each winter. In other words, these resorts share a very real concern that if the U.K. breaks from the E.U., there could be a significant decrease in visitors and a negative impact on local economies. It’s yet another complex situation in the world of skiing, and one that puts ski resorts on the international, political stage. For more on this, check out this overview from Snow Industry News.
#3: Milan Cortina, Italy Likely Set to Host 2026 Winter Olympics:
Speaking of complex global situations as they relate to skiing, let’s check in on the status of the 2026 Winter Olympics! As you may already be aware, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for the Olympics to secure venues, whether for Winter or Summer games. The problem is simple: host cities are realizing that it costs a ton of money to build the infrastructure required for the games, and while there may be an economic stimulus in the lead up to the event, typically the aftermath of the games results in little more than vacant venues.
Still, the Olympics are an amazing event, and are unparalleled in their ability to unite the world through sport. As such, it was welcome news when Italian President Sergio Mattarella announced that he would offer the “utmost support” for the campaign to host the games in Italy. In doing so, he also suggested that he would approve the financial backing necessary to land the nation’s bid. While this week’s news doesn’t necessarily guarantee that Milan Cortina will play host to the 2026 games, it does make the scenario exceedingly likely. At present, the only other location still interested in hosting the games is Stockholm / Åre, Sweden, which hasn’t been able to offer the same guarantees as Italy. Unless that happens, the competition to host the 2026 Winter Olympics will become a one horse race.
#4: 2019 Audi Nines Event Details Announced:
In other, much more fun news, we learned just after posting last week’s Top 5 Friday that some new details regarding the 2019 Audi Nines event have been released! Fans of freeskiing will likely recognize the name and be able to immediately conjure up an image of what it looks like, but for those uninitiated, the Audi Nines event is an annual competition in which a number of world class freeskiers take on an exceptionally unique and playful park layout. If that description seems vague, it’s only because it’s a bit difficult to describe. Truth be told, there’s really nothing quite like an Audi Nines setup, which is what makes it one of the hallmark events of freeskiing.
With that said, let’s take a look at what we know about this year’s event. First things first, it’s scheduled to take place in Tyrol, Austria from April 22-27th. In addition to the event’s already unique terrain layout, this year’s event will also feature two totally separate venues, one catering to Men and the other to Women. While there’s certainly something to consider here in regards to catering to genders individually, the concept is to optimize each setup to enable the athletes to perform at their highest levels. As far as we know, this is the first time a competition has gone to this level to create different courses for each gender, so it’ll be genuinely interesting to see how this plays out. To read more details and to see a full list of invited competitors, take a look at this writeup from Newschoolers.com!