Top Five Fridays - August 30, 2019 // Ski Industry News
#1: The Indy Ski Pass is Officially On Sale:
With September just two days away, we’re getting dangerously close to what many skiers fondly refer to as “pre-season”. As the temperatures drop, leaves change, and football highlights appear on our televisions whether we want them to or not, a skier’s naturally tendency is to begin day (and night) dreaming about skiing. From annual ski swaps to ski movie premiers and season pass purchasing, it’s the time of year where skiers are united by their jittery excitement.
As such, it feels appropriate to start this week’s news by announcing that the Indy Ski Pass has officially gone on sale! Regular readers of our Top 5 Friday series might recall hearing about this exciting new pass back in mid-March when it was first announced. For the rest of you, here’s a quick recap: the Indy Ski Pass is a brand new multi-pass being offered for the first time this season by a collection of independently owned ski areas across North America. While many of these resorts are small-mid size, there are also a number of west coast resorts adding significant size and value to the pass, such as Castle Mountain in Alberta, Canada, and Red Lodge Mountain in Montana. With 34 resorts on the pass, offering 2 free days of skiing each at a cost of $199.00, the Indy Pass offers an option for skiers interested in exploring some of the best independent ski areas in North America. To learn more about the Indy Pass and to see which resorts are included, we encourage you to check out their website here.
#2: The Ikon Pass Enters Europe, Adds Zermatt Matterhorn:
Speaking of multi-passes, we learned this week that the Ikon Pass has added Zermatt Matterhorn to its roster of partners, officially bringing the pass’s count to 41 resorts. In adding Zermatt Matterhorn to its roster, the Ikon Pass officially has relevance in Europe, marking a significant step in the pass’s development. As part of the agreement, unrestricted Ikon Pass holders will receive seven days of skiing at the resort, while Base Ikon pass holders will receive five. The news comes just weeks after Arapahoe Basin announced a partnership with the Ikon Pass, and about a month after Epic Pass announced their acquisition of Peak Resorts and their 17 ski areas, reminding us that the competition between Vail and the Alterra Mountain Company (Ikon) is still going strong. Those on team Vail would quickly point to this week’s news as no big deal, as Vail has already partnered with a number of ski areas in France, Italy, and Switzerland. Still, this is the Matterhorn we’re talking about, arguably Europe’s most iconic ski destination. No matter how you look at it, this week’s news is big for the Ikon Pass, and marks what could be the start of more intense battle for international partnerships. While that speculative suggestion is yet to be determined, we’ll be sure to keep you posted on the latest news from both the Ikon and Epic Passes as their stories continue to develop. For now, we’ll refer you to the official announcement from Alterra.
#3: U.S. Alpine Tech Championship Heading to Aspen:
In other news this week, we learned that the 2020 and 2022 edition of the U.S. Alpine Tech Championships will be hosted by Aspen Snowmass. The annual event features the top U.S. athletes competing in men’s and women’s slalom, giant slalom, and parallel slalom. In other words, the event showcases some of the best upcoming U.S. ski racers competing against the best competition available outside of the World Cup. In addition to the inherent excitement associated with such an event, there are two additional reasons for Aspenites to be especially happy for the announcement. First, it’ll mark the first time the event has come to the area in 60 years. Despite regularly hosting the Dew Tour and other significant races, such as a stop on the 2017 FIS World Cup circuit, there’s been a significant amount of time since skiers in the area have been able to watch upcoming ski racers compete at this level. The second reason this announcement is particularly exciting is because it’s scheduled for the weekend following the 2020 NASTAR National Championship. In other words, for an entire week, Aspen is set to be inundated with the best ski racers at all levels, from children all the way up to those on the verge of competing in the World Cup. For young ski racers, this will provide an incredible experience as they’re immersed in an incredibly exciting week of ski racing mania. While the 2022 NASTAR Nationals location has yet to be announced, we find ourselves compelled to applaud the schedule coordination for the 2020 series, and hope to see more alignment between these two great events in the future. For more on this, check out the report from the Aspen Times.
#4: Bloomberg Reports on the Detrimental Impact of Fluorinated Ski Wax:
Finally, we round out this week with an interesting article from Bloomberg that discusses the future of the tricky relationship that exists between cross country skiers and fluorinated ski wax. Put succinctly, the problem is this: fluorinated ski wax is incredibly effective at reducing friction- something that’s crucial for cross country ski racers who enjoy the benefits of increased speeds at a decreased effort. Unfortunately though, the chemical makeup of fluorinated ski wax is also incredibly bad for both the environment and people. As a result the chemical will be banned in Europe starting in July 2020, while the U.S. currently has a ban in place for some fluorinated waxes, according to the Toxic Substances Control Act. That’s the bad news. The good news is that the ski industry has already begun planning for this moment, and is actively creating solutions to move away from fluorinated ski wax. While not specific to cross country skiing, one of our favorite examples of this is DPS’s Phantom 2.0 Permanent Base Glide System, which enables you to treat the bases of your skis with a wax-like solution that’s permanent and doesn’t wear off. In addition to the economic benefits, this system is also dramatically better for the environment.
We found ourselves compelled to share this story, not only because it’s interesting, but also because it shines a light on an ongoing, problematic aspect of our sport. As skiers, we rely heavily on the environment, and are on the first line of awareness when it comes to climate change. We’ve all witnessed it already: later starts and ends to the ski season, melting glaciers, and boom or bust winters in regards to snowfall. Still, our sport requires this unfortunate level of conflict,. Transportation to and from the resort, the power required to operate the resort, and the sheer volume of waste and pollution associated with any mass of people all team up to put skiers in the uncomfortable position of being problematic even as they seek solutions. Ultimately, we don’t have a neatly packaged takeaway for you on this one. All we can say is, keep your environmental impact in mind this year as you hit the slopes. For more on the impacts of fluorinated ski wax, check out the full report from Bloomberg.