Top Five Fridays - January 18, 2019 // Ski Industry News
#1: FIS World Cup Ski Racing Recap - Shiffrin Keeps Rolling:
It’s Friday, January 18, 2019, and you know what that means: it’s time to kick off another Top 5 Friday with a recap of World Cup Ski action! This week, Mikaela Shiffrin continued to do Mikaela Shiffrin things, taking first place in a GS race in Kronplatz, Italy. While this might seem like another expected result from skiing’s most dominant racer (male or female), the result is actually notable for two reasons. First, Kronplatz is a course that’s given Mikaela problems in the past, due to it’s high level of technicality. In winning this race, Mikaela earned her first World Cup GS race at an Italian venue. In addition to this accomplishment, it’s also notable that Mikaela didn’t just win, she absolutely smoked the competition, finishing 1.21 seconds ahead of second place, and 1.57 seconds ahead of third. With this finish, Mikaela is now the current leader in the FIS overall, GS, slalom, and Super-G standings. In other words, she’s currently in first place in 4 out of 5 categories, an absolutely mind bottling accomplishment.
In other ski racing news, we’d be remiss not to mention the return of Lindsey Vonn this week. After sitting out for a majority of the season due to a knee injury incurred while training, Vonn took to the slopes in Cortina, Italy earlier today. In a downhill race that was shortened due to weather, Vonn managed to place a respectable 15th. While it may be a ways away from the first place result she surely has her eye on, it’s important to consider the type of physical and mental challenges involved with returning from an injury, particularly when your competition is quite literally in mid-season form. Vonn will look to improve upon her performance when the women take on Italy’s Tofane downhill course on Saturday.
#2: Freeride World Tour Kicks Off in Hakuba, Japan:
In other ski news this week, the Freeride World Tour is set to kick off the 2019 season with its first stop in Hakuba, Japan this weekend! The event, which is always weather dependent, was confirmed just yesterday as the region’s been getting pounded with snow lately, and officials wanted to monitor the situation for as long as possible to ensure the safety of everyone. With the green light turned on, this weekend’s event is shaping up to be one to remember. In addition to the great snow conditions and venue, this year’s tour also features the debut of Tanner Hall as a wildcard entry, as well as Kye Petersen, who was added to the roster as another wildcard just days ago. With the addition of these two incredibly talented big mountain free skiers, there’s a strong chance that this year’s tour will feature an increase in boundary-exploring tricks as competitors are pushed to add bigger and better hits to their lineups.
To be perfectly honest, we considered waiting to share this news until next week, but then we saw that the event will be live streaming and that seems like the kind of thing you might like to know about. With that said, you can follow along with the action on the Freeride World Tour Website, Youtube, and/or Facebook. The event is set to get started at 6:30 PM EST tonight, which happens to be 8:30 AM on 1/19 in Japan. If you’re looking for some Friday night entertainment, be sure to tune in. For the rest of you, we’ll be back next week with a full recap of the action!
#3: Forbes Covers Growing Power of Women in Skiing:
Those with their finger to the pulse of skiing are well aware that the power and influence of women within the sport is rapidly rising. That’s why we were excited when Forbes took notice of the trend as well, covering it in an editorial this week. While the article itself ends on a bit of a cheesy note, the first two thirds do a great job of exposing the number of ways in which women are both forcing their way to the top of the sport, and being celebrated for it. In the realm of competition, Vonn and Shiffrin get credited for their resilience and domination, respectively. While the article does miss out on sharing the point that the women of the FIS World Cup have out earned the men for the past two years, it does an admirable job of highlighting the ability of top female athletes to have the same competitive edge as the men. In addition to the talented female ski racers, the article also points out the rise of women to positions of power within the ski industry, citing Vail as a leader in providing high level positions to women. From our own notes, another great example of women leading the charge in skiing, would be Kelly Pawlak who left her role as the GM of Mount Snow last Spring, to become the President of the National Ski Area Association.
In addition to these key points, there’s also mention in both the Forbes piece, as well as a piece from CBS Denver, of an increase in female skiers exploring the backcountry. In the Forbes piece, Breck Guides’ Jennifer Losch is specifically cited, while CBS Denver highlights the rise in backcountry education programs and events geared specifically towards women. Between these two separate highlights of the movement, as well as the trends we’ve been noting over the last few years, it’s safe to say that women’s influence on the sport of skiing is on the rise, and we couldn’t be more excited about it!
#4: Time Magazine Recollects How the 10th Division Established Skiing in America:
Finally, we’ll round out this week’s news with a really cool story from Time Magazine about the 10th Mountain Division’s role in popularizing skiing in America. As many of you are likely aware, the 10th Mountain Division is a specific rank within the U.S. Army that specializes in mountain combat. The only unit in American history to have been created thanks to civilian petition, the 10th Mountain Division first came about in World War Two as a response to the ski units owned by several European nations. In that war, American soldiers from the 10th Mountain Division proved critical to success as their ability to maneuver on skis and to scale cliffs enabled them to complete missions such as the legendary assaults on Riva Ridge and Mount Belvedere. While the unit still exists today, there’s one aspect of their story that often gets overlooked, and that Time Magazine has done an excellent job of shining a light on.
Upon returning from war, soldiers within the 10th Mountain Division didn’t want to give up skiing. While there were a number of ski resorts in the U.S. after World War Two, thanks largely to FDR’s Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), the sport itself wasn’t particularly popular. As such, returning soldiers took it upon themselves to “teach the nation to ski”. From this single desire, an extraordinary amount of groundwork was laid for what would become the modern American ski economy. Out in Aspen, Friedl Pfeifer created one of the first ski schools. Fritz Benedict designed the original layouts of Vail, Snowmass, and Breckenridge. Another 10th Mountain Division vet, Clif Taylor, designed shorter skis that could be used to teach skiing more quickly, accelerating the excitement factor. And of course, countless other soldiers played their own roles in growing the popularity of skiing across America. All in all, the recap from Time Magazine provides a pretty fascinating look into the importance of the 10th Mountain Division in U.S. ski history, with far more details than we have time to share here. If you’ve got 10 minutes, we highly recommend giving it a read!