Top Five Fridays - December 7, 2018 // Ski Industry News
#1: World Cup Ski Racing Recap:
Welcome to another week of ski news! Being the first week of December, that means we’re in full on winter mode, and start this week with a recap of what went down in World Cup Skiing action! As always, we’ll start with the golden girl herself, Ms. Mikeala Shiffrin. This week, the women’s circuit took athletes to Lake Louise, where Shiffrin had an opportunity to steal the show as Lindsey Vonn was forced to sit on the sidelines of her favorite race (we’ll have more on Vonn a little later). With an opportunity present, Shiffrin did what she does best: she seized it. After finishing in 8th place in Friday’s downhill, and 4th in a second downhill race on Saturday, Shiffrin kept her momentum going and did something she’d never done before: on Sunday December 2, 2018, she won a gold medal in the super-G race. In doing so, she also accomplished a feat that no one had ever done before: winning first place in all six ski racing disciplines (slalom, parallel slalom, combined, giant slalom, super-G, and downhill). That in and of itself is a massive accomplishment for an athlete just entering the prime of her career, and it makes other notes from the weekend (such as the fact that she’s currently leading the World Cup overall standings by 238 points, with a total of 489 points), seem almost superficial. While the season is still young and anything could happen, we have a good feeling about how this one will play out for Ms. Shiffrin. With that, we wish her luck as the women’s circuit converges with the men’s in Geilo, Norway this weekend for a slalom and giant slalom race.
As for the men, well, they fared much better this week after a slow start to the season. Despite not finding their way onto a podium, the U.S. Men’s Alpine team still landed three top 10 finishes last weekend in Beaver Creek, CO. In the Downhill race, Americans Steve Nyman and Bryce Bennett tied for 9th place, each earning 29 world cup points, while two days later in the Men’s Giant Slalom race, Ted Ligety tied for 8th place, earning 32 points. All in all, it was a solid week for the team as a number of athletes made progress in the overall standings. As previously mentioned, the men will meet up with the women next week in Geilo, Norway!
#2: Lindsey Vonn Decides to Delay Retirement:
Now, as promised, let’s check in on Lindsey. If you’ve been following ski racing news this winter, you’re likely aware of three things: Lindsey Vonn has declared this to be her final season of World Cup racing, she’s currently 5 gold medals away from breaking Ingemar Stenmark’s record of 86 World Cup victories, and she recently suffered a minor injury which put her on the sidelines for this week’s races in Lake Louise, where Vonn has won the most races of her career. With those three facts considered, the news that came out of the Vonn camp this week should be more expected than surprising: Lindsey Vonn has announced that she’ll be back next season, if only for the Lake Louise stop. While she’s been careful to avoid linking her plan to return to Lake Louise next year with her dream of becoming the winningest ski racer of all time, it doesn’t require an advanced imagination to make the connection. This of course, has the potential to create a nightmarishly stressful situation for her, should the record come down to her results next year in Lake Louise. Of course, that degree of speculation is still unnecessary as Vonn’s current injury isn’t season ending and she’s sure to be back on the slopes pursuing her dream just as fast as possible. So with that, best of luck to you, Lindsey Vonn, and we can’t wait to see you back out there!
#3: A Mega Resort in Uzbekistan is Set to Open... Sort Of:
Now, let’s switch gears and head in a totally different direction. Depending on how familiar you are with the trends within the ski industry, you may already be familiar with the concept of ski resort expansions and developments being riddled with red tape and delays. Here in America, that’s typically the result of a battle between developers and environmentalist that can be found in nearly every mountain town. This dynamic, paired with the U.S.’s lengthy judicial system, can lead to serious difficulties when it comes to developing new ski terrain (for better or worse, might we add). As it turns out, the process can be just as difficult all over the world.
Enter Amirsoy Mountain Resort, the brand new, €100m ($113.17m USD) ski resort that is scheduled to open December 15, 2018. Well, was scheduled. This week, we came upon an article from the Telegraph UK that not only introduced us to this new resort, but also details the newly discovered difficulties of opening on schedule. In short, the issue is this: there’s a total lack of infrastructure to support the mega resort. For starters, there’s only one road leading to the resort, which local news has reported “turns to slush” when it rains (or snows, presumably). To solve this, the government had planned to build a more suitable road, but it’s approximately only 1/3 completed at present. In addition to this difficult situation, there are also significant questions as to whether the current electrical grid in the area is powerful enough to support the resort which is home to 7 chairlifts. All in all, the situation sounds like a disaster, chock full of logistical oversights, and certainly adds a bit of perspective to the story of ski resort development here in the U.S. For more on this, we refer you to the full article from the Telegraph.
#4: College Students in Berlin Concocting a Plan to Create an In Action Avalanche Assistance Display:
Finally, let’s end this week in one of our favorite ways: with a ski-related story that could have interesting implications for the future of the sport. This week, we came across a story, courtesy of the good folks over at Unofficial Networks, about a group of college students in Berlin who have proposed a new approach in the ongoing fight for avalanche safety. In the video shown above, students at the Technical University of Berlin lay out their idea for an augmented reality, Heads Up Display (HUD) that would help skiers make decisions in regards to avalanches in real time. As the students rightfully point out, there are tools available to mitigate avalanche danger before one happens, and there are tools available to help react to an avalanche once it’s already happened, but there is nothing on the market to help skiers make the best choice while skiing to avoid one, or while in the midst of one. According the video, one possible solution for this problem is to create an HUD system that reacts to data in realtime, offering the skier using the system advice as to where there may be danger lurking. All in all, it’s at the very least a cool idea, and an interesting thought that should be taken into consideration. Of course the “product” seems to be far away from being turned into a sellable reality, but the idea alone is worthy of mention as we continue to creep closer to a future of “smart skiing.”