Top Five Fridays - March 22, 2019 // Ski Industry News
#1: World Cup Ski Racing News: The 2018-2019 Season is a Wrap!
We get the ball rolling this week with ski racing news for one last time, as the 2019 FIS World Cup Ski Racing circuit has officially come to an end. In sticking with our recurring theme, Shiffrin once again continued to amaze as she closed out the season by winning the last two races of the year: a slalom and giant slalom race. In doing so, she put the perfect bookend on a record setting, jaw dropping season. In addition to the consistent first place finishes (she won 70% of the races she entered), Shiffrin also set a number of seasonal records, while simultaneously climbing all-time record charts. While we’ve recapped a number of those over the course of the season, this week’s results solidified two more records for Shiffrin. First, she notched a total of 17 wins this season, the most ever for a World Cup athlete. Second, and perhaps most impressively, she also became the first World Cup athlete, male or female, to win the overall standings in four out of five disciplines (Slalom, Giant Slalom, Super G, and Overall).
While the on-course accomplishments and accolades are quite impressive, there are two tangental areas that are equally impressive. In having such a successful season, Shiffrin also set a record for the most prize money ever won on the World Cup Circuit, taking home $885,000. For comparison, Marcel Hirscher who was a dominant force on the men’s circuit this year, took home $564,000. The second impressive, off-the-course feat accomplished by Mikaela Shiffrin? She’s done it all without losing her humble, relatable personality. All in all, it’s been an incredible season for fans of ski racing, particularly those who have enjoyed watching Mikaela Shiffrin create her own incredible story. For more, check out this writeup from the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Team.
#2: The Early Signs of Climate Change's Impact on the Snow Sports Industry are Starting to Show:
As you may recall, we dove in rather deeply into the subject of ski resort consolidation last week, looking at how it’s impacting the industry in both negative and positive ways. The ultimate takeaway from that discussion was that it’s a complex issue, with a lot to consider on both sides. This week, we take a look at another mega-issue affecting the ski industry: climate change.
Earlier this week, CNBC broadcasted a segment highlighting the affects that climate change is already having on the industry, while also looking ahead to some of the ways industry leaders are attempting to hedge their bets against it. Chief amongst the points being made, is that ski seasons have become shorter in recent years, with current Western United States ski seasons being 34 days shorter on average than they were in the 1980’s, a result of a 41% decrease in snowfall. As a result, the real estate and lodging markets are already beginning to feel the affects as second home buyers are less interested in buying a home in mountain towns with unreliable snowfall, and vacationers are too skeptical to book vacations. To some experts, these are the earliest warning signs that the ski industry is in for some tumultuous times if the trend continues. With difficulties acknowledged, the report then turns to solutions, such as Vail’s Epic Promise to fight climate change, as well as an increased focus on summer tourism.
The reason this is all worth mentioning of course, is that it touches back on last week’s discussion in the sense that this is a massive factor that is likely to have a ripple effect, while also highlighting the complex nature of the ski industry . Amongst those complexities is the ongoing battle between the desires of “core” skiers, and the big business of real estate that generates significant financial returns for the industry. As is the case with most of the big topics within skiing, it’s hard to pass judgement one way or another, but at the very least it’s worth being aware of. For more. On this, check out the full article at CNBC.com.
#3: The Saddleback Saga Continues as Boston Investment Firm Makes an Offer:
Next up: some potentially very welcome news for those who call Saddleback Mountain in Maine home. As you may or may not know, the resort has been on a bit of a rollercoaster after shutting down just before the 2015 season. Since then, the resort has gone through a series of near-misses in regards to finding a buyer, most recently with a shady investment group out of Australia known as the Majella Group. To make a long story short, that deal fell through when the group’s CEO was charged with fraud in an unrelated business dealing. Since that occurrence last March, the future of the resort has remained murky at best.
That could all change though, as this week it was announced that Boston based investment firm Arctaris has made an offer to purchase the resort, and has also pledged an additional $25 - $30 million in funding to “restart” the resort. At present, most of the intricate details such as closure date and buying price are unknown, but it would appear that the conversations between resort owners and Arctaris have been developing nicely as this week’s news comes as a result of an Email sent to condo owners at the mountain. In contacting property owners, it can be inferred that the proposal has real potential to go through. While there’s still work to be done to make the sale official, this has to be welcome news for those hoping to see the resort return to glory. For more on this, check out the full report from the Sun Journal!
#4: The Third Annual SkiEssentials.com Ski Test is in the Books!
Finally, we round things out this week with a shameless, self-serving announcement: earlier this week we completed our Third Annual SkiEssentials.com Ski Test! If you’re unfamiliar with our ski test, the concept is this: rather than giving each ski a grade and attempting to determine which ski is the “best”, we take a different approach in an effort to prove that there are no good or bad skis, but rather that there is a perfect ski for everyone’s ability and style. To learn more about how we present our ski test, we encourage you to take a look at last year’s if you haven’t already.
As for this year’s test, let’s just say it was a smashing success. For the first time in three years, we were blessed with three consecutive days of quality weather, including two bluebird days on Tuesday and Wednesday. That in turn made for an even rowdier test than usual, as over 60 testers pushed their limits in an effort to put each ski to the ultimate test. With 18 brands offering over 230 skis at the bottom of Stowe’s iconic Gondolier run, testers were flying down one of Stowe’s steepest runs while follow cammers were tasked with weaving in and out of groups, capturing all the action. We’ll have plenty more to say on the subject in a few months when the test is officially released, but for now just know that this year’s test promises to be more comprehensive than ever. On that note, we’d like to thank all of the testers and vendors who came out to support the test, as well as Stowe for playing host. We truly couldn’t have done it without you!