Top Five Fridays - July 1, 2016 // Ski Industry News
#1: FIS Announces New Rules for GS Skis:
Some ski racers who’ve been involved in the sport for a few years might roll their eyes at this one: earlier this week it was announced that at this year’s biennial FIS Congress meeting, the length and radius requirements for GS skis would both be reduced. As of the 2017 - 2018 ski season, GS skis will need to be at least 193 cm long, with a minimum turn radius of 30 meter. Currently, the requirements for these skis are 195cm with a 35 meter radius. So why might you laugh? Well, as ski racers might recall, it was just a few years ago back in 2012 when the FIS had increased the measurements to where they are today, from a 183 cm length and 27 meter radius. At the time there was much protest about the rule change from professional racers who thought it would make the sport too difficult and limit new interest. Well, here we are a few years later and it looks like these reasons as well as health concerns resulting from the additional force to drive the larger skis has resulted in a compromise with the new measurements fitting in nicely between the current and former rules. If you expect to be competing in GS in the 2017-2018 season, you may want to start side training on these smaller skis now!
#2: This Avalanche Rover is Ski Patrol’s Dream Come True:
It’s a heck of a time to be alive if your job description includes, “Keep people safe from avalanches.” From Swiss radar detection systems, rescue drones, and now an avalanche rover, the number of automated and human-free ways to prevent avalanches and rescue those involved is accelerating at an all time pace. Sticking with this weeks news, a group of students taking a Colorado State University class on Mechatronics created an avalanche rover which is capable of measuring potential avalanche triggers such as ambient temperature, barometric pressure, relative humidity, angle of the slope, and the snowpack profile. By operating the rover, which looks almost like a miniature groomer with its treads, ski patrollers will be able to test conditions in remote mountain locations without having to risk traveling there themselves. At the moment this rover is strictly a class project, but its our hope (and likely most avalanche patrollers too) that these guys take this to the next level and help keep everyone a little bit safer out there.
#3: VPR’s Wintry Mix Podcast Dissects Current Burke Mountain Situation:
Ever since Burke Mountain and Jay Peak were seized by the SEC and accused of fraud back in April, there have been far more questions than answers regarding the future of the resorts. One of the biggest questions, other than whether the resorts would be closed, was what would happen to the brand new Q.Burke hotel which had just been completed but hadn’t opened when federal employees took over. Well, this past week Vermont Public Radio’s (VPR) Wintry Mix podcast dedicated a half hour episode to answering some of the many questions swirling around the resort. Centered around an event called, “Burke is Back” which highlighted the opening of the new hotel and the removal of the “Q” from the name of the resort, reporter Alex Kaufman interviewed several characters involved in the Burke community. In the podcast he talks to people involved in the day to day operations of the resort, as well as community members who have great interest in seeing the resort thrive for both personal and business reasons. We won’t give away too much, but if you’re interested in learning what’s in store for the future of Burke Mountain, we definitely recommend checking this podcast out. It’s a great listen!
#4: Vail Continues Industry Domination with $25 Million Investment in Summer Fun:
To be totally honest, it’s a toss up whether the real news item here is that Vail has finished and opened their $25 million Summer amenities development on National Forest land, or if it’s the fact that Vail is absolutely dominating the ski industry right now. From constant ski area acquisitions, to its quest to trademark “Park City”, Vail is constantly in the news with some new conquest. This week, let’s focus on their latest headline making move. After official approval from the U.S. Forest Service, Vail was the first resort to undertake a major development project under the 2011 Ski Area Recreational Opportunity Enhancement Act which was passed in an effort to encourage ski areas on federal land to ramp up Summer operations and establish themselves as sustainable four season resorts who were less weather dependent. After two years of development, Vail has opened their Epic Discovery summer attractions: zip lines, hiking trails, biking trails, an adventure park for kids, and of course, the latest ski area status symbol: a mountain coaster. For more information about Vail’s summer upgrades, take a look at this article from the Denver Post.