Top Five Fridays - January 1, 2016 // Ski Industry News
#1: North Pole Temperature Rises Above Freezing for Second Time:
Here’s some troubling news: for just the second time in recorded history the temperature at the North Pole rose above freezing temperatures. This is exceptionally abnormal as it’s currently Winter at the North Pole, meaning it’s been kept it total darkness and presumably at its coldest temperatures of the year. However, not this time. In part due to the warming patterns caused by El Nino, warm air has made its way North causing the unusual rise in temperature. And while it’s not expected that the warm temperatures will last, it is notable that we’ve also been experiencing the overall hottest year on record. With that bit of knowledge tied into the overall picture of low snow years in the Eastern (currently) and Western (past few seasons), North America, its hard not to wonder about global climate change and its impacts on the ski industry.
#2: Ski Utah and Protect Our Winters Present: POW DAY:
Speaking of climate change and its impact on the ski industry, it was announced earlier this week that Ski Utah and Protect Our Winters (POW) have teamed up to present “POW Day” on January 13th. The idea behind the day is to bring attention to the issue of global warming by encouraging skiers to carpool or use public transportation to get to the mountain on what’s historically been Utah’s snowiest day of the year. Skiers who participate in carpooling will b eligible to register at the resort for a chance to win one of many raffle prizes. Plus, if you signup at the POW Tent to become a POW member, you can ski with a POW athlete. While this might seem trivial to skeptics who would be quick to point out that one day of carpooling will hardly make a difference in the grand scheme of things, it could also be argued that the goal of the day is to raise awareness and get people talking or thinking more seriously about climate change.
#3: 3 Top Snowboarders Heading to North Korea’s Newest Ski Resort:
While not actually skiing news, this little bit of information was just too much to pass up. As you might already know, North Korea opened a new ski resort back in the Spring of 2014 with the intention of attracting tourists and boosting its economy. It might seem like a crazy idea for a country that’s notorious for its self imposed isolation, but it appears as though they’re ready to make good on their plan to attract tourists. Earlier this week, it was announced that three professional snowboarders, Terje Haakonsen, Dan Liedahl, and Mike Ravelson will visit Masikryong ski resort in January. The historic trip is being coordinated by a U.S. based tour company called Uri Tours which specializes in “facilitating travel to North Korea.” In addition to bringing these three snowboarders into North Korea, the travel group is also offering an accompanying tour lasting seven days and eight nights for just $2,900. So, if you’ve ever had a dream about shredding fresh North Korean powder with three of your favorite professional snowboarders, it might be time to get that credit card out and make your dreams a reality!
#4: Close Call Results in Drone Ban at FIS Races:
This past weekend at an FIS race in Italy, Austrian skier Marcel Hirscher was almost crushed by a drone falling out of the sky. Just one day after the event Markus Waldner, moved to prohibit drones at all FIS events saying, “as long as I am responsible… because they are a bad thing for safety.” As we’ve reported before, the rise of drone culture has called to attention several questions for ski resorts. Previously, we’ve reported on the National Ski Areas Association’s (NSAA) complete ban on drones at all U.S. ski areas. We’ve also reported on special instances when drones might be allowed at ski areas, such as when they’re used for avalanche control. Still, with video evidence that drones aren’t foolproof yet, it will be interesting to see how much they will ever become a part of skiing culture. For more information regarding the drone crash at this weekend’s FIS event, flip over to the full story from the Boston Globe.
Footnote: An Update from Saddleback Mountain:
After much uncertainty, Saddleback mountain announced that it expects the sale of the resort to be finalized by the end of January, allowing it to open for business for the remainder of the season! In addition to this announcement, the resort offered multiple ways to thank and repay the season pass holders who have stuck with them through this process. To learn more about the sale of the resort or refunds being given to pass holders, head over the the Portland Press Herald’s full news story.