Top Five Fridays - October 6, 2017 // Ski Industry News
#1: Vail CEO Rob Katz Creates a Charitable Fund Worth $58 Million:
Another week, another headline from Vail-land! For what it’s worth, we promise we don’t intentionally find news related to Vail every week, but between their widespread business holdings and savvy management team the brand finds themselves making headlines nearly every week. It’s impressive.
This week, the news is more linked to CEO Rob Katz than the resort itself as it was announced that he has created a charitable fund worth $58 million using appreciating shares that he owns in Vail that are about to expire. In other words, when Katz took on the job as CEO, he was given the opportunity to acquire extra shares in relation to the increase in value of the Vail brand. The more Vail’s value increased under his watch, the more shares he would receive. Capped by an expiration date, Katz now finds himself at a time when he must either “use or lose” said shares, which is exactly how and why this charitable fund came to be.
Through this new charitable fund, Katz and his wife Elana Amsterdam will be able to make donations and grants to individuals and organizations of their choice. It should also be noted that this isn’t the first time Katz has put his business earnings to good use. Back in April, shortly after Vail acquired Stowe, we reported on a $100,000 donation that Katz made to the local land trust while noting that such donations were commonplace whenever Vail comes to town. All in all, it’s a good story. For all of those lamenting Vail’s reign, the amount of charitable contributions from Katz should surely be noted.
#2: New World Record: Fastest Speed on Skis While Being Towed by a Vehicle:
Well here’s a random one. Earlier this week, Olympic skier Graham Bell released a video in partnership with Jaguar in which he broke the speed record to become the fastest person to be towed on skis by a vehicle. It’s a concept known as skijoring, and is simply the action of being pulled on skis by just about anything, be it dog, horse, or motorized vehicle. It’s a niche sport to be sure, but when you watch the video above an take in the facts, it’s still a pretty impressive and terrifying feat.
In the video, which was overseen by Guinness World Records, it’s explained that Graham would have to go at least 112.65 KMH to beat the record. In English units, that’s roughly 70 MPH, and a number that Graham beat with ease. As you’ll see, by working with Jaguar he was able to reach speeds of 117.48 MPH. Imagine what that must feel like: arms outstretched, hands holding tight to a rope attached to a speeding car, and the feeling of traveling well over 100 MPH on hardpack; it’s a lot to take in. All said, it’s an amazing, albeit slightly random, accomplishment and congratulations are certainly in order for both Graham Bell as well as Jaguar!
#3: Steamboat Springs Feeder Hill Legitmately Considering $1 Lift Tickets:
Quick question: how much are lift tickets at your local ski hill? If you answered anything more than $1, then this next story might leave you feeling a little bit jealous. Out in Steamboat Springs, CO, there’s a public town ski hill called Howelsen Hill. At the moment, the ski area is in need of some serious repairs. Last spring, a landslide shifted a lift tower, raising concern that it would soon need to be replaced. In addition to that, the city also plans to spend $.75 million on snowmaking upgrades for the ski area. As you might’ve guessed, these expenses raised concerns in the area, resulting in town meeting in which City Council President Walter Magill suggested the idea of offering $1 lift tickets. Despite being a response to funding concerns, the idea behind the $1 lift ticket isn’t intended to bring in huge amounts of money. Instead, Magill says, “I just want more skiers out there, more people using the park.” In a weird sort of way, it makes sense. Rather than try to turn the ski area into a financial success, he’d prefer to see the city take on some of its operating costs in favor of increased winter sports participation from the town residents. It’s the kind of idea that can be hard to argue for, but could also have significant impacts in the city’s positioning as a premier Colorado ski town. To find out more about this effort, check out the article from Steamboat Today.
#4: Vonn’s Request to Race Men Receives a 7 Month Mulling:
Lastly, let’s get into some Vonn news. It’s no secret that she’s a natural competitor. With a long list of accomplishments, such as being the winningest female ski racer of all time, and almost the winningest ski racer of all time regardless of gender, Vonn has already solidified her place in ski racing history. Still, for her that won’t be enough until she accomplishes one of her final goals: to compete against the men in an official FIS race. It’s been a goal of hers for some time, and one that we’ve covered in the past. This week though, Vonn may have made progress towards accomplishing this goal. Two weeks back, Vonn submitted her proposal for the race to the FIS Alpine Executive Board. This past week, the board reviewed the proposal and ultimately said the equivalent of, “let us think about it.” In their official decision, the board said that they would table the proposal until their next meeting in May, giving them the winter to mull it over. While this may initially seem discouraging, it actually marks progress in Vonn’s crusade as her request have previously been flat out denied. In this case though, she was told, “maybe.” So, just like the FIS Executive Board, we’ll also table this news piece until May when hopefully we’ll be returning to it with great news!