Top Five Fridays - October 7, 2016 // Ski Industry News
#1: New Non-Profit Looks to Create Hut-to-Hut BC System in VT:
Mountain regions in the Western United States, Canada, and Europe are no strangers to the concept of backcountry hut-to-hut trail systems. Here in Vermont though, it’s a concept that’s oddly missing from ski culture, despite our pride in being a hard-charging backcountry ski destination. With any luck, that’s all about to change as a new group called the Vermont Huts Association has recently formed with a vision of creating an official hut-to-hut system in Vermont. Initially, their focus will be on uniting all of the existing huts and yurts across Vermont that are currently owned and managed by a multitude of people and organizations. Once some cohesion is brought to the current situation, the group will tun look to create new huts and yurts in key locations to help expand and connect the trail network. Another piece of the puzzle that the group will keep in consideration are all of the new backcountry zones that local communities are creating, such as the Rochester Area Sports Trail Alliance (RASTA) which is building backcountry zones in Rochester, VT. It’s still pretty early in the process, but the prospect of having a legitimate hut-to-hut system here in Vermont definitely excites us. To learn more, check out this interview with the guys behind the project over on backcountrymagazine.com.
#2: Lindsey Vonn, Typically Associated with Frozen Water, Finds Herself in Hot Water Over Snowboard Comments:
Uh-oh guys. One of our favorite skiers of all time is finding herself in a bit of hot water this week as she recently made comments about skiers and snowboarders having different mountains while on The Dan Patrick Show. Here are the facts: on the show, one of the co-hosts asks the somewhat ridiculous question of, “do you think that skiers and snowboarders should have different mountains?” Lindsey’s response starts with an, “Uhhhh…. I mean, maybe?” before she finds herself going down the dark path of explaining why it might not be a bad idea. Meanwhile, the devilish co-host laughs, knowing he’s pulled off the setup of the century. Now here’s our take: Lindsey probably doesn’t care either way. You can tell from her initial response that it’s not something she cares much about, and may have never even thought of. Her real mistake here, is when she starts attempting to explain her rationale for a “maybe” response. Instead of just leaving it at that, she goes on to mention things like limited peripheral vision and camping out in the middle of trails. Ultimately it's these comments that have set off a hail storm of hate in comment sections all across the world wide web. The whole situation reminds us times when we’ve been on the wrong side of an argument, but we think we started from a pure place and despite all of the justifications we can offer, we find ourselves just digging a deep hole of despair. Anyways, we don’t fault you Lindsey, it’s just that, well, try not to let cheesy co-hosts play you like that again. You’re better than that!
Also, please marry me.
#3: Stoneham Ski Area Names Trail After JP Auclair:
It’s been just over two years since the world of skiing lost a true legend in JP Auclair. As one of the pioneers behind the “New Canadian Airforce”, JP was one of just a handful of skiers able to claim partial responsibility for the Salomon 1080, skiings first commercially successful twin tip. That ski was released way back in 1998. In 2011, Auclair’s street segment was released in Sherpa Cinema’s All.I.Can video, and had an enormous impact on the way people thought about street skiing. By creating full runs through suburban neighborhoods, JP reminded us that skiing isn’t always about the biggest, burliest tricks, but also creativity and style.
This week, to celebrate the second anniversary of JP’s passing, Stoneham Mountain, where JP grew up skiing in Quebec, has announced that they’ll be renaming his favorite trail after him. Formally known as “The Kamikaze,” the newly named, “The JP Auclair” trail is arguably the most advanced trail on the mountain. Entirely made up of steep glades, this trail was JP’s stomping grounds as a kid. Amongst the trees and boulders, there’s one cliff in particular which stands out, thanks to a giant yellow bird that was painted upon it by JP in tribute to his wife. Now, there’s an additional message alongside the bird. “We Love You JP.”
#4: It’s Official: Several Major Ski Brands for Sale:
Finally, we’ve got an update now from the biggest news items from our Top Five Fridays post two weeks ago. Just fourteen days back, we knew that several of skiing’s biggest brands might be at risk of being sold or closed by Newell Brands as part of their restructuring plan after purchasing Jarden (the previous parent company of K2 sports). Now, we have confirmation of this news as Newell Brands published a press release that specifies their plans moving forward. While not explicitly naming K2, Volkl, Marmot, or other ski/snowboard brands, the press release does state that, “The businesses held for sale… include the vast majority of the… Winter Sports businesses within the Outdoor Solutions Segment.” A quick check of the Winter Sports brands found in their Outdoor Solutions Segment shows Marmot, K2 Sports, and Volkl. In other words, these three brands as well as the businesses owned by them are now for sale and/or at risk for closing up shop. The press release goes on to say that, “The sale processes are underway and the company hopes to complete the divestiture of the assets held for sale within the first half of 2017.” What this all boils down to, is that not only do K2, Marmot, and Volkl need to find a buyer ASAP, but all of the sub-brands owned by these businesses (such as Line Skis, Full Tilt boots, Marker bindings, Ride Snowboards, etc.) will also need to fit into the new owner’s plans or else risk being closed. These are uncertain times for sure, but all we can do as ski enthusiasts is watch it all unfold. We’ll keep you updated.