Top Five Fridays - August 23, 2019 // Ski Industry News
#1: Killington World Cup Event Tickets Officially On Sale:
It's been getting chilly at night here in Vermont, and Arapahoe Basin just saw their first dusting of white stuff, which means we're starting to hear the early calls of ski season across North America. As such, it feels appropriate to kick things off this week with some ski racing news that also ties into one of the sport's most exciting early season events. We're talking of course, about the World Cup races held at Killington, in November. This week, tickets went on sale for anyone looking to watch the event live, with preferred seating. For those looking to witness the races as affordably as possible, grandstand tickets are available for $45 for Saturday, $40 for Sunday, or $75 for both days. If you're more interested in turning the weekend into an unforgettable experience, a number of other ticket options are available, right up to a full 2-day VIP ticket for $1,000. Of course these ticket prices are only for those wishing to have seats for the live event. For those who just want to be a part of the action, it's free to wander the base area where you can join the crowd of standing spectators to see what you can see live, or watch the action on a Jumbotron. In addition to two days of ski races, the event also offers free live music, fireworks, and a handful of other festivities. In other words, even if you're not interested in ski racing in the slightest, you're still guaranteed a great time. For more information and to check the availability of tickets (they sell out fast), check out the official press release from Killington.
#2: Ski Racing Media Seeking New Ownership:
In other ski racing news, we have an update this week that's substantially less exciting than the one you just finished reading. That's because we learned that the team behind Ski Racing (media) has just announced that they're looking for a new owner to take the reins. For those unaware of the significance of this, Ski Racing has been the go-to publication for ski racing news for over 30 years. In fact, we've recently shared a number of stories of theirs that have given us unique perspectives on what involvement with the sport is actually like, and have valued their contributions to sharing human interest stories that take you behind the scenes of the sport.
Originally founded 31 years ago by Gary Black, Jr., Ski Racing has been a family affair with Gary's wife and three daughters all contributing to the company at one time or another. Unfortunately, in 2016, Gary passed away. Since then, the organization has been in the hands of his wife, Heather Black, along with Claire Brown. While it's inevitable to feel a little anxious regarding this announcement, the good news is that it appears the decision isn't being made due to financial circumstances. Instead, the optics suggest that after three years of running the operation on her own (and after many more years of involvement prior to 2016), Heather Black is simply ready to turn it over to someone else. With any luck, an astute investor will take on the opportunity and the publication will continue to thrive. As fans of the magazine, we'll be following the situation closely and will keep you updated as we learn more. For now, you can review the official announcement here.
#3: Aspen Skiing Co. CEO Address Increasing Crowd Issue:
Alright, that's enough ski racing news for now, let's switch things up a bit. In other news this week, we caught an article from the Aspen Times that's likely to raise exactly one eyebrow per reader. In the article, Aspen Skiing Co. (owner's of the Ikon Pass) CEO Mike Kaplan's comments to the Aspen City Council regarding overcrowding at resorts are shared, and the results are pretty interesting. First and foremost, the fact that Kaplan is publicly acknowledging the fact that overcrowding was an issue at Aspen-Snowmass last year is a pretty significant step. For skiers who call multi-pass resorts home, increased crowd sizes are no secret. From Utah and Colorado to our home resort of Stowe, VT, multi passes have caused traffic issues both on and off the slopes. So, to hear the CEO of one of the two largest players in the game acknowledge that there's a problem is welcomed news for a lot of people.
The second half of the article unfortunately leaves a lot to be desired. After acknowledging the issue, Kaplan proceeds to rattle off a handful of small solutions while packaging them as significant adjustments. On his list of problem solving actions are: hanging more chairs on certain chairlifts, adding road signs to alert drivers of heavy traffic, and using social media to provide traffic updates. In addition to these solutions, Kaplan posed the idea of running more buses, which seems to be the most impactful suggestion made. Still, it's worth giving Kaplan the benefit of the doubt on this one. Overcrowding was likely an unintended consequence of the multi pass business model, and it may be a problem that takes a few years to iron out. If that can be done, it would be hard to argue that making the sport more affordable to a wider audience is a bad thing. For more on this, check out the writeup from the Aspen Times.
#4: U.S. Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame 2019 Class Announced:
Finally, let's end things on a celebratory note this week, as the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame has just announced the Class of 2019 inductees. Located in Ishpeming, MI, the Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame does what all reasonable hall of fames do: they pay tribute to the most important people within a sport. This year, the Hall of Fame added 8 names to their list of inductees, spanning from Nordic skiers to industry pioneers and freestyle skiing legends. The full list includes: Scotty Brooksbank, Kit DesLauriers, Johnny Spillane, Benjamin Finley, Arthur Clay, James Niehues, Greg Stump, and Sherman Poppen. While all of these people are certainly deserving of recognition, two names from that list stuck out to us as exceptionally exciting: Greg Stump and James Niehues.
For freeskiers familiar with the history of the sport, Greg Stump is an absolute legend. Before Matchstick Productions, TGR, Level 1, or really any other modern ski film company, there was Greg Stump. Experiencing the peak of his success in the mid 1980's through the 1990's, Stump's ski videos took a more extreme approach than many of his predecessors, with names like Dr. Strange Glove, License to Thrill, and Gonzo'd to Extremes. In presenting skiing in a more "radical" nature, Stump both bolstered his peers while simultaneously laying the groundwork for what freestyle skiing would eventually become.
The other name on that list that caught our attention is legendary ski trail map maker James Niehues. Whether you realize it or not, chances are you've seen Niehues's work many, as the man has created over 430 trail maps for over 200 ski areas, ranging from small ski areas like New Hampshire's Bretton Woods, to some of the biggest names in the game, like Whistler Blackcomb. While Niehues spent a majority of his 30 year career as a silent force, it seems as though he's begun collecting the recognition he deserves in recent years as news organizations such as the Denver Post, Boston.com, and Powder Magazine have all recently shared his story. If this is the first time you've heard his name, we encourage you to take a look at his personal website.
And with that, this week's news cycle is a wrap! Congratulations to all Hall of Fame inductees, and we'll catch all of our readers next week!
#4.5: The SkiEssentials.com 2020 Ski Test is Now Live!:
#5: And Now, Your Edits of the Week: TGR Presents the Trailer for "Roadless":
Warren Miller Films Presents the Trailer for Their 70th Film, "Timeless":
In Honor of Greg Stump, "The Blizzard of Aahhh's," in Full:
Finally, Ski Biking, Because Why Not?