Top Five Fridays - March 11, 2016 // Ski Industry News
#1: Bum Kneed Skiers Rejoice: The Australians May Have Found Your Cure:
If you’ve been a skier for a while now, or know someone who has been, chances are you have some first hand anecdotes regarding knee pain or knee injuries. One of the most unfortunate parts of our sport is the intense strain it puts on our knees, and the danger we put them in as we speed down the mountain. With the amount of pressure we put on our knees as we ski moguls and make quick adjustments, most of us can expect to experience some knee discomfort at some point in our lives, if we don’t already. That’s why this next bit of news is worth paying attention to.
Doctors at the Melbourne Stem Cell Centre announced this week that they may have found a solution to alleviate knee pain derived from arthritis and general wear and tear. By injecting stem cells into the tissue surrounding the knee, scientists have been able to alleviate knee pain and even rebuild cartilage in the area. Of course this research is still in the early stages, but so far the results are promising and could ultimately be a solution for bum knees plaguing skiers everywhere. So if you were convinced that at the rate your going it’ll be time to hang up the boots sometime in your 50’s, think again. Thanks to our friends in the South Hemisphere, you might just get another 20 years on those two planks.
#2: Wasatch Backcountry Alliance Sponsoring a Free Shuttle in Little Cotton Wood Canyon Tomorrow:
Utah skiers are undoubtedly aware that things can get quite congested outside of Little Cottonwood Canyon when the skiing is good. That’s why the Wasatch Backcountry Alliance is testing the practicality of a free shuttle tomorrow, March 12th. In an effort to alleviate traffic congestion, the Wasatch Backcountry Alliance will be running 12-passenger vans up and down the Canyon from 7 am to 5 pm for registered participants. The only slight catch, is that they’re only looking to drop riders off at backcountry access points, and not at Alta or Snowbird. While the primary goal of this event is to showcase the effectiveness of carpooling, it’s the Wasatch Backcountry Alliance’s ultimate goal to keep the Wasatch backcountry open to public use and to strike down limitations being proposed by ideas like One Wasatch and the Mountain Accord plan. Regardless of your motives, if you’re looking for a free ride up to the Little Cottonwood Backcountry tomorrow, head over to the Wasatch Backcountry Alliance Website for full details and registration information.
#3: Vail Set to Spend $13m Upgrading Wilmot Mountain:
Back at the end of January, we reported on Vail Resorts buying Wilmot mountain, a small community ski area just outside of Chicago. It wasn’t the first time Vail had purchased a small ski resort in the midwest and we were quick to point out that these acquisitions shouldn’t necessarily be viewed as a negative move. Instead, we suggested that the investments that Vail was sure to make in Wilmot Mountain would ultimately make for a more enjoyable ski experience for pass holders. Now, just over a month later, Vail is doing precisely what we expected: dumping money into Wilmot mountain to give the ski area a complete overhaul. How complete? Well, in a press release issued on March 12, 2016, Vail says they plan to build 3 new four person chairlifts, completely renovate the base lodge including new food and beverage options, transform their terrain parks, add ski racing features, and much more. All in all, Vail expects to spend $13 million investing in the ski area. So while some initial reactions may have been to throw stones in Vail’s direction, the honest truth is that it would’ve been close to impossible to find another investor willing to spend that kind of money on a small ski area with limited growth potential. Regardless of your ultimate position on the issue, it’ll be exciting to see what Vail does with Wilmot in the coming years.
#4: NY Times Article Suggests Snowboarding is Dying:
Controversy alert: The New York Times reported this week that Snowboarding is on its way out. In an article posted on March 6, 2016, Matt Higgins argues that a combination of snowless Winters, smaller audiences for televised competitions, and the withdrawal from the market by major companies is leading the sport of snowboarding down a precarious path. As for skiing? Well, Higgins does mention that the sport of Freeskiing grew by about a million participants from 2010-11 to 2014-15, the same period in which snowboarding experienced a consistent downwards trend. Still, there are larger points being made in the article that could be troublesome for skiers as well. Take for instance the fact that the people are more inclined to stream the X-Games than to watch it when it’s broadcast on television. The result of this is that there’s less money to be made in marketing/advertising from the event, and in turn less interest in putting it on each year. To see the implications of this, look no further than the NBC Dew Tour which has been cancelled for the foreseeable future. And then there’s the other factor that our sports have in common: the weather. In his article, Higgins cites low snow years as a cause for a decrease in sales. Ultimately, the picture painted in this article isn’t a good one- even if you’re a sadistic skier who still has an unreasonable hatred towards snowboarders. Of course, the other argument is that this is just a cycle. The love that people have for skiing and snowboarding are so pure that neither sport will ever evaporate completely. Here at SkiEssentials, we prefer the second train of thought. But what do you think? Go give this article a read, then let us know in the comments below!
#5: And Now, the Edit of the Week:
When the Duke basketball team ties their laces before their first game each year, one thing is already certain: they’ll be one of the best teams by the end of the year and headed to the NCAA tournament. In the world of skiing, The Big Picture crew is Duke. Before even buckling up and clicking into their skis for the first run of the year, you can be sure that they’ll produce some of the best content of the year. Case in point: Moves 1, a nearly 12 minute recap of the first half of the 2015/2016 ski season. If one of your favorite things to do is watch freestyle skiing being incorporated into the backcountry, then watch this edit. Actually, scratch that. If you’ve ever skied even once, you need to see this.