Top Five Fridays - January 11, 2019 // Ski Industry News
#1: FIS World Cup Ski Racing Recap - Shiffrin Keeps Rolling:
We start this week as we do every week this time of year: with World Cup Ski Racing results. More often than not, this ends up being a discussion of Mikaela Shiffrin’s latest round of successes. Keeping with tradition, we’re pleased to report that Shiffrin has done it again, adding a first place Slalom finish this week in Zagreb, Croatia. With that win, Shiffrin notched slalom victory #37, putting her on the path to establishing a much higher number as the world record. Unfortunately though, Shiffrin did miss out on win #38 as she lost a slalom race to competitor Petra Vlhova on Tuesday in Flachau, Austria. Had she won that race, Shiffrin would’ve also added the record for “Most Consecutive Slalom Wins” to her growing pile of accolades. Still, Shiffrin being Shiffrin, showed humility, saying, “Tonight, she got me. I know I can’t win every race— I’m only human.” While that’s technically true, her runaway ranking in the overall World Cup standings suggest otherwise.
In other ski racing news, Lindsey Vonn has unofficially announced her return to competition. In an Instagram post earlier this week, she indicated that she’d be back at it for this weekend’s races in St. Anton, Austria, as previously expected. Unfortunately, that won’t be the case as the area is currently getting hammered with snow, seeing over 10’ of snow already, with more in the forecast. As a result, the races have been cancelled (or possibly rescheduled), meaning Vonn will most likely return next weekend, on the 19th and 20th, in Cortina, Italy. In other interesting Vonn news, she reportedly told the Associated Press this past week that she’s not focusing on breaking the 87 win record, although knowing how competitive Vonn is, that should be taken with a large grain of salt. For more on Vonn’s return to racing, check out this quick writeup from ESPN, and to learn more about her feelings in regards to setting records, check out this article from the Aspen Times.
#2: $200 Million PyeongChang Ski Venue Likely to Be Demolished:
In recent weeks, we’ve found ourselves discussing the Winter Olympics quite a bit, for various reasons. Regardless of the focus of each week’s post, there’s been a consistent theme tying all of the news together and putting a dark cloud over the games: hosting the Olympics is almost always a monumental waste of money. There’s perhaps no better proof of this than the news that came out of PyeongChang this week. There, the Gangwon Provincial Government is being asked to submit plans to demolish a $200m ski venue that was created for the 2018 Winter Olympics. The move, which will cost an estimated $71 million, is the result of an agreement that was forged during the Winter Olympic bidding process that gave the Gangwon Provincial Government permission to use the land for the games, until December 31, 2018. Now, the provincial government has until January 31st to submit its reforestation plan to the Korean Forest Service. There is, of course, push back in this case from locals who see value in having a ski area in their region with which to attract tourism, ideally culminating in playing host to the 2021 Winter Asian Games. While there may be merit to the idea of keeping the venue, it appears unlikely to happen. In response to the pushback from locals, the Korean Forest Service has said it will, “improve its communication efforts to persuade them (the local residents) to agree with the reforestation plan.” Regardless of what happens, and whether or not a $270m ski venue will result in net-zero gain for the region, it’s yet another reminder that the Winter Olympics aren’t always fun and games.
#3: Jay Peak Expected to Hit the Market Shortly:
Here’s some big news for those living in New England: after initially stating that Jay Peak Resort would hit the market last May, Federal Receiver Michael Goldberg announced this week that the sales effort is finally being put into motion. Having both returned the resort to profitability and reached a final settlement with former resort owner Ariel Quiros, Goldberg has announced that he is finally in position to sell the resort in a “free and clear process”. To get the ball rolling, Goldberg is expected to submit a motion to a federal court to allow him to retain the services of Los Angeles based firm Houlihan Lokey to aid in the sale of the resort. Assuming that all goes through without conflict, Goldberg expects Jay Peak to officially be on the market within a few weeks. At that time, his final goal will be to pass the resort off to responsible hands, while also attracting the highest price. With the revenue from the sale, Goldberg will be responsible for distributing the profits with the 400 foreign investors who are owed approximately $500,000 each.
This of course raises the intriguing question of who will ultimately buy the resorts. For many, the clear choice would be Alterra or Vail, but there are certainly plenty of other options out there. As outlined in our original, facetious “The Future of Jay Peak and Burke Mountain” piece, there are plenty of potential suitors out there, from Vail to Alibaba’s Jack Ma! In all seriousness though, the successful sale of the resort will finally put an end to a nearly 3 year saga which has undoubtedly added stress to the region’s economy. For more on this, check out the full writeup from the Burlington Free Press.
#4: CollegeConsesus.com Releases List of 25 Best Colleges for Skiing and Snowboarding:
Finally, we’ll round out this week with a fun article from CollegeConsensus.com, in which they attempt to list the top 25 colleges in the U.S. for skiing and snowboarding. On their list, you’ll find plenty of expected picks, such as the University of Vermont, the University of Utah, and the University of Colorado Boulder, as well as several unexpected choices, such as Virginia Polytechnic Institute, Michigan Technological Institution, and University at Buffalo. To be frank, it’s a bit of an interesting list, particularly when it comes to the order chosen. While Vermont’s Middlebury College can make a strong case for the top spot (it does have it’s own ski hill afterall), other arrangements are totally perplexing, like the University of Utah being listed all the way down at #16. Still, it does include all of our top selections, and at the very least could be a useful guide if you or someone you know is considering colleges and prefers to go somewhere with a strong ski and snowboard culture. To see the full list for yourself, click here!