Top Five Fridays - September 23, 2016 // Ski Industry News
#1: USA Tops France as World’s Most Popular Ski Destination:
USA! USA! USA! … ahem. Sorry about that, this latest bit of news from thelocal.fr, a French news website, has us feeling mighty patriotic. According to their report, the United States is back on top of France as the world’s top ski destination in the 2015-2016 winter season. Determined using “skier days” statistics, the United States saw 53.9 million skier days this past year while France managed 52 million. Historically, the United States and France have traded the top spot, with France owning the title for 4 of the past 8 winters, with the United States claiming the title or most years prior. Part of this victory is due to weather, while the other part has to be a sheer geographic size advantage. It makes us wonder whether the United States would still reign supreme if these statistics were looked at on a per square mile or per capita scale. Actually, no we don’t. It feels great to be the world champions, and we haven’t felt this good since the Olympics back in August. USA! USA! USA!
#2: 2017 X-Games Event and Musical Lineups Announced:
Earlier this week, the X-Games announced the official list of events and musical acts for this years games. Notable inclusions for skiers is the addition of a Women’s Ski Big Air. Previously, this was the only event that differed between the men’s and women’s competition lineups, presumably out of concerns for safety and viewership. In addition to this new event, there will also be a snow biking race, marking the first ever inclusion for this rising sport. For those unaware, snow biking is basically a cross between snowmobiling, and motocross. Over the last couple of years it’s gained serious traction, especially in the back county where riders are already sending sizable lines. While the sport is still young and the freestyle aspect is in the early stages of development (the first backflip was landed just last winter), it’s cool to see its inclusion and signifies big things for the sport’s future. In addition to these events, the X-Games also announced Bassnectar, The Chainsmokers, G-Eazy, and (our personal favorite) Anderson.Paak as this year’s musical acts. The event is scheduled for the end of January, but feel free to start getting stoked whenever!
#3: Bode Miller Plots a Comeback, Sues HEAD:
News shattered this week in the world of ski racing when it was announced that Bode Miller is planning a comeback this season, while also filing a lawsuit against HEAD skis - his longtime sponsor. Basically the situation is this: Bode Miller retired from ski racing in 2015, and HEAD agreed to help him out by ending his contract a year early so that he could represent Bomber Skis, a company that he’s essentially become the face of. The only condition in this agreement is that if Bode ever did return to ski racing, he would have to do so on HEAD racing equipment. Well, now Bode want’s to get back on course but not with HEAD (presumably, he’d prefer to represent Bomber Skis). The result is that Bode’s taking his former sponsor to court in an effort to shake the agreement, while HEAD is holding strong, stating that they’d love to see Bode get back out there, so long as it’s on their skis. So what’ll happen? Well, we just ran it past our boss who’s quick to give out amateur legal advice, and he thinks HEAD's got this one on lock. We’ll keep you updated.
#4: The World (of Ski Brands) as We Know it is About to End:
I am looking to buy some powder skis for the upcoming season, what's your favorite 115-122 under foot? #winteriscoming— Seth Morrison (@sethmorrison1) September 15, 2016
Ring the bell. Sound the Alarm. Play the rastahorn. A significant number of major brands in the ski industry are at risk of being sold or terminated. Stemming from a cryptic tweet from Seth Morrison last Wednesday (which, we chose not to report on until it became more significant), news began trickling out over the last week that suggests troubled waters ahead for some of skiing’s biggest brands. By simply asking if anybody had powder skis or sale, Morrison subtly signaled to the world that he was no longer on K2 Sports. This is where fact ends and speculation begins, although it is backed by a heavy amount of circumstantial evidence.
As the Denver Post pointed out in an article earlier this week, the parent company of K2 Sports, Jarden, was acquired by Newell Rubbermaid for $15 billion back in April. At the time of the acquisition, the CEO of Newell, Michael Polk, told the Wall Street Journal that his plan was to “attack the 15 percent of the portfolio that is on the bottom of the ladder.” Then, just last week, Polk got more specific and said Newell would be dropping product lines worth between $250 and $300 million per year by January 1st. For a point of reference, Line’s estimated annual worth is $4.4 million.
So what does this all add up to? Well, nothing has been firmly stated so this is entirely speculative, but it’s looking like brands that fall under the K2 umbrella such as K2, Volkl, Line, Full Tilt, Marmot, and Marker should all be expecting big changes by the end of the year. That could mean these companies will be sold to new owners, but if that proves too difficult or time consuming, Polk has no reservations simply closing them. In other words, if no immediate buyer steps forward for each of these companies by the end of the year, it's likely that they'll be shutdown. If that's what happens, then expect to see a real shakeup in the industry as brands rush to fill the void that's left in their wake..