Top Five Fridays - June 28, 2019 // Ski Industry News
#1: Milano Cortina Officially Selected as Site for 2026 Winter Olympics:
Remember back in April when we shared the news that it seemed almost inevitable that the 2026 Winter Olympics would end up anywhere besides Milano Cortina? Well, this week we caught word that the decision is official: Italy will be the host country of the 2026 Winter Olympics. The news comes after Italian President Sergio Mattarella pledged his “utmost support” for the games, while the committee failed to received a comparable guarantee from the Swedish government who had also been competing for the bid. In the official announcement, it’s made clear that the goal of the Milano Cortina venue will be to establish a winter sports hub in the country that will be capable of hosting large events well after the 2026 Winter Olympics have come and gone. There’s little doubt that this aspect was a deciding factor for the selection of the venue, as Cortina is currently a key host on the FIS World Cup Ski Racing circuit, while other Olympic venues have historically rotted away in the wake of the events. All in all, this announcement is very welcome news, and if all goes to plan, could provide a roadmap towards making the Olympic Games a more sustainable economic undertaking. For more, check out the official announcement from Olympic.org.
#2: Does Skiing Have a Diversity Problem? Vail CEO Rob Katz Thinks so:
In other ski news, we feel compelled to share an article from Vail Daily that caught our attention this week as it highlights both the relevance and importance of the ski industry in politics. On Monday, Vail CEO Rob Katz, Utah Governor Gary Herbert (R), and Colorado Governor Jared Polis (D) all found themselves on the same panel at a Q&A event. In the course of their discussion, the topic of climate change inevitably arose, with Governor Herbert asking Katz if he had concerns about his ability to grow his ski resort business within the currently available public lands. In other words, Herbert wanted to know if Katz is worried about eventually running out of land to develop for skiing. As a quick reminder, Governor Herbert was a key factor in the Outdoor Retailer tradeshow’s decision to relocate from Salt Lake City to Denver, CO in 2017. That’s worth noting as it provides some context to Herbert’s line of questions for Katz, which were clearly meant to entice Katz’s acknowledgement of the need to allow for the privatization of public lands. Katz however, had the perfect response.
Rather than taking the bait and agreeing, Katz instead pointed to what he saw as the #1 threat facing his business: climate change. As such, Katz made it clear that he’s not interested in growing his business by increasing the footprint of his resorts. Instead, he pointed to two other opportunities for growth: a wider offering of entertainment and recreation, as well as a diversification of his customer base, which is currently overwhelmingly Caucasian.
At the moment, that’s more or less where the conversation got tabled: with the acknowledgement of skiing’s need to diversify. While that’s not necessarily new news to anyone, what’s encouraging to us is the fact that Rob Katz, a man with significant influence in the ski industry, is beginning to think about the issue. For what it’s worth, the last time Katz raised a big-picture point like this, was years ago when he began discussing Vail’s geo-diversification goals, which have ultimately fueled the multi-pass era of skiing. For more on this, check out the writeup from Vail Daily, as well as a recap from MountainTownNews.net.
#3: Ski Racing Offers Opportunity for Late Bloomers:
Next up on our list this week is a great summertime read from Senior Editor at SkiRacing.com, Sean Higgins. In a piece called, "Ski Racing and the Case for the Late Bloomer,” Higgins takes on a hypothesis that suggests the great underdog stories of ski racing aren’t really underdog stories at all. Instead, they’re signs of a competitive advantage that ski racers gain as they get older. In an article that reads much like the work of Malcolm Gladwell, Higgins astutely pulls back the curtain to reveal the underlying truths regarding what dictates success on the ski slope.
In doing so, what he ultimately concludes is that there’s a certain point in which the importance of sheer athleticism tops off and becomes a less significant differentiator between athletes. In its place, traits like technical skill, mental fortitude, and resilience build upon athletic foundations and ultimately become the difference makers amongst the upper echelon of athletes. Based upon what we recently learned about Mikaela Shiffrin’s lifestyle regiment, it’s pretty hard to argue against Higgin’s points. Speaking of which, we highly recommend giving it a full read. We’ve covered the basics on a high level here, but the article itself dives in much deeper and raises some very interesting points. You can check it out right here!
#4: Aspen Skiing Co. Does its Part to Recognize the Commitment of Ski Bums:
Finally, we end this week on a note that’s likely to make all diehard skiers feel good, even if they do have a gripe with ski resort consolidators. This week, the Aspen Skiing Company announced that it was honoring 98 local skiers with 1,000 Day Pins, celebrating the fact that they’ve put in over 100 days on the mountain per year for the last 10 years. As it turns out, the move is actually the culmination of a program that Aspen has been running for the last 10 years, in which all skiers who logged over 100 days in a season were rewarded with a 100 day pin. For its 10th anniversary, Aspen decided to up the ante and also award the skiers who have taken home a 100 day pin in each of the 10 years it’s been offered. Interestingly enough, about 70 of the 1,000 day skiers are Aspen Ski Co. employees, while the other roughly 28 members are diehard customers of the mountain. While you may be quick to downplay the achievements of the 70 employees, it should be noted that working for a ski resort is a play straight out of the ski-bum handbook. With that clarification made, we’d like to extend our congratulations to all 98 1,000 day skiers for their impressive feat! To learn more, check out the recap from the Aspen Times.