Top Five Fridays - February 1, 2019 // Ski Industry News
#1: FIS World Cup Ski Racing Recap - Shiffrin & Vonn Out, Sofia Goggia Takes Advantage:
This week, things looked a bit different in the world of World Cup Ski Racing, as Mikaela Shiffrin took the week off to rest and train, while Lindsey Vonn remains on the sidelines as she continues to rehab her knee. As such, the door was left wide open for the women’s circuit as they took to the slopes of Garmisch, Germany for a Super G and Downhill race. Between the two events, Italy’s Sofia Goggia proved most consistent, taking home silver in both races. In the Downhill race, she was bested by Austria’s Stephanie Venier, and in the Super G she was outpaced by Austria’s Nicole Schmidhofer. While last weekend’s results have little impact on any of the World Cup Standings, it was still quite meaningful for Goggia who’s struggled to achieve her desired results this season after suffering an ankle injury back in the Fall. Looking ahead, the women’s circuit finds itself in Maribor, Slovenia for a Slalom and Giant Slalom race this weekend, where Shiffrin is expected to return to competition. After that, the tour take a brief hiatus as the athletes compete in the World Championships. On that note, we’ll also briefly mention that Lindsey Vonn’s name appeared on the U.S. Ski Team’s roster for that event, suggesting that she could be back in action as soon as February 4th. We should have a better idea regarding her status by this time next week, so be sure to check back in!
#2: The 2019 ESPN X Games Recap:
Keeping with the competition theme, let’s jump right into a recap of last weekend’s X-Games. We’ll try to keep it as brief as possible, but there’s a lot to cover here. After last Friday’s post, Men’s and Women’s Ski Slopestyle and Ski Big air all remained on the agenda, while both men’s and women’s Superpipe had already been determined. On that note, let’s jump right in and see how each event shook out!
First on the list, was the Women’s Ski Slopestyle competition, which went down shortly after last week’s post. There, Kelly Sildaru stole the show, earning a 99.00 on her final run, despite already having first place pretty well locked up. Finishing directly behind Sildaru was Sarah Hoefflin in second, and Maggie Voisin in third. Later that day, the women would return to the hill for that night’s Big Air contest. There, Mathilde Gremaud nabbed the gold medal, followed by Johanne Killi in second and Kelly Sildaru in third. That finish meant that Sildaru had found her way to the podium in each event she entered, an incredibly impressive feat.
After the women wrapped up their events for the weekend, it was the men’s turn to take to the slopes, starting with a Big Air event on Saturday night. There, after a dizzying number of spins and flips in all directions, it was young gun Birk Rudd who took home first, followed by Alex Beaulieu-Marchand in second, and James Woods in third. The silent star of the night, according to our notes, was Henrik Harlaut who, despite finishing in 6th, had some of the most impressive and bewildering spin/grab combinations of any athlete. His fatal flaw, and one that would foreshadow the next day’s event, was cleanliness.
After presumably getting a full night’s rest, the men retook the slopes on Sunday morning for the final ski-related event of the games: the Men’s Ski Slopestyle. In a scenario that was much like the night before, Henrik Harluat put down an impressive first run, only to be under-scored by the judges who mistakenly decided that his first hit was a fall, damning him to a fourth place finish. For other athletes, the judging was less problematic. When all was said and done, Alex Hall finished in first, followed by Alex Beaulieu-Marchand who won his second silver in as many days, and finally Ferdinand Dahl in third. All in all, it was another successful X Games weekend, packed full of excitement. To recap all the action and see all the winning runs, we’ll steer you over to the official X Games website!
#3: Alterra Announces Partnerships with Smartwool and The North Face:
With last week’s competition news out of the way, let’s switch topics to something a bit different. Earlier this week, on January 29th, Smartwool and Alterra announced a four year partnership that will make Smartwool the official sock of all 14 Alterra resorts. A day later, on the 30th, Alterra and The North Face signed a similar agreement, for 5 years. In forging these agreements, Smartwool and The North Face now have premier visibility at all Alterra resorts, as well as access to collaborations with Alterra athletes. From a business perspective, this is a great way to ramp up sales as the two brands will now be available at all of Alterra’s resorts.
The announcement is an interesting development in the “arms race” between Alterra and Vail, not for the details, but for the implication of what it could become. As you’re well aware, Alterra and Vail have been in the middle of an intense competition to acquire and forge multi-pass partnerships with as many ski areas as possible. While this week’s news isn’t quite the same in the sense that we’re not talking about ski resort partnerships, the idea of partnering with a brand rather than a resort signifies a shift in focus. While brand partners are certainly nothing new, and plenty of resorts currently have them, the value of such a partnership increases dramatically when one agreement can unlock access to dozens of ski areas. As such, it’s worth wondering whether or not this will become a trend to watch, with brands in all product categories rapidly forming alliances, or if this is a one off occurrence. In other words, will we be seeing announcements such as, “Volkl, the official ski of Vail,” in the coming years? Or are these partnerships between Smartwool, The North Face, and Alterra simply blips on the radar? Of course, as with all things, only time will tell. For more on this, check out the press releases from Alterra regarding The North Face here, and Smartwool here.
#4: Tanner Hall Signs with Ruroc, Joining LJ Strenio and Andy Parry:
Finally, let’s wrap things up with one that slipped under our radar last week: Tanner Hall is officially on team Ruroc as of January 22nd. The announcement comes in the midst of two significant events in Tanner’s life. First, he was dropped by long time sponsor Oakley, whose goggles and gear he wore for the first 22 years of his illustrious career. Secondly, just a couple of weeks ago, Tanner proved the Freeride World Tour event coordinators right when he finished in second place in his first ever Freeride World Tour event, using a newly introduced wildcard slot. As luck would have it, that event also marked the first public showing of Tanner in Ruroc gear, with a coinciding announcement making it official.
For those aware of both Tanner Hall and Ruroc, it’s an interesting and even puzzling fit. For Tanner’s part, he deserves a large portion of credit for bringing the hip-hop style to skiing, with his choice in attire being a main factor in his influence. On the other hand, Ruroc is attempting to carve out a lane for itself as the go-to brand for full face ski helmets, something that Tanner’s likely never used. Interestingly enough, the Ruroc helmet that Tanner was seen using was not a full face style, and is not available on their website. Regardless of whether their styles mesh seamlessly, or if Ruroc is planning to expand its product offering, it’s still an admirable move as the upcoming brand attempts to accelerate its growth by teaming with an industry veteran. We’ll have to wait and see how this one plays out, but for now we’re just happy to see Tanner properly outfitted once again!