Top Five Fridays - November 16, 2018 // Ski Industry News
#1: U.S. Ski Team Announces Mogul and Aerial Rosters:
With the Audi FIS World Cup schedule on break for one more week before things get underway in Killington, we figured we’d check in on other happenings within the U.S. Ski Team. As luck would have it, they announced their freestyle ski team this week, meaning we now now have official rosters for the U.S. Aerials team, as well as Moguls team. For the full list of men’s and women’s athletes, we’ll direct you straight to the U.S. Ski Team’s website, but before you go, there is something we’d like to point out: on the list of athletes, there’s a shocking number of unexpected hometowns. Take for instance the four men’s aerialists from Bristol Mountain, NY, or Ashley Caldwell and Morgan Northrup, two women’s aerial team members who are from Virginia, of all places. This of course, is a great reminder of both the power and importance that feeder hills have in terms of developing and encouraging competitive skiers. We won’t harp on that aspect too much, but it’s certainly worth noting!
Now, circling back to Killington’s World Cup Race next week, we also want to quickly make mention of this footnote: FIS officials approved Killington’s snow conditions on Thursday, paving the way for next week’s now Women’s World Cup races! This essentially just means that race officials verified the current amount and quality of snow at Killington, but if you’d like all the details, you can check out the writeup from Killington’s Mountain Times newspaper.
#2: Uphill Skiing is Now Popular Enough to Cause Preseason Problems:
For just about as long as we can remember, there’s been something of an unspoken understanding at ski areas that if there’s snow, die hard skiers and snowboarders will ride it. For the most part, resorts tend to allow the practice, even if posted signs suggest otherwise. In recent years, thanks to the growth of the alpine touring industry (and product quality in particular), some mountains have begun implementing official uphill ski policies. Typically, these policies will allow uphill travel before and after the resort’s daily hours, with a handful of ski areas allowing 24 hour uphill travel on designated trails.
We bring all of this up, because this week we read an article from the Aspen Times that discusses a very specific, but growing issue within the uphill ski community: preseason skinning while ski resorts are preparing for winter. The gist of the article is this: at Aspen, approximately 200 skiers and snowboarders are skinning up the resort per day, while at the same time the mountain crew is working to make snow and groom trails in preparation for the season ahead. As a result, uphill enthusiasts are putting themselves in danger when they find themselves in the vicinity of snowmaking equipment and groomers. Conversely, mountain employees are also having to remain vigilante about watching for skiers and often disrupting their work to allow them to pass safely. With such an increase in uphill traffic (a trend that promises to only continue in the years ahead), Aspen Skiing Co. was forced to call a meeting to address the situation. The message from the mountain seemed fair and simple: Aspen will continue to embrace the uphill community, until a situation occurs that will force them to shut it down. As a result, Aspen officials are urging those choosing to go uphill to use common sense, avoid on hill operations, and do a bit of self policing to make sure everyone stays safe. All in all, it’s a reasonable message from one of the largest mountains in the industry. For more on this, take a look at the writeup from the Aspen Times.
#3: DPS Skis Partners with Aspen’s Four Mountain Sports to Offer Phantom Waxless Glide System:
Speaking of Aspen, we’ve got another piece of exciting news from the resort: just this week, our friends at DPS Skis have announced that they’ve entered a partnership with Four Mountain Sports ski shop at the base of the mountain to provide its patented Phantom Waxless Base Treatment on all of their demo skis, as well as as an add on to retail skis purchased at the store. For those hoping for further explanation, the DPS Phantom system is a revolutionary new base treatment that chemically alters the base of your skis to act similarly to wax, but is permanent due to the fact that it’s not a simple topical application that can got worn down. It’s a pretty amazing, and potentially even revolutionary, piece of technology, and one that we covered on Chairlift Chat just a couple of weeks back when we started offering it ourselves. Now, skiers at Aspen demoing skis from Four Mountain Sports will experience Phantom by default, while new skis will have the treatment available as an optional add on. As the resident speculator at a ski retailer, it makes this writer wonder if perhaps one day all skis will come pre-equipped with a permanent base treatment such as Phantom. For now though, Phantom is available at select retailers only, and we’re fortunate enough to be the only E-commerce store offering the service (at the time of this writing). For more on the new agreement between DPS and Aspen, you can read the full blog post here. To learn more about Phantom, we recommend checking out our recent Chairlift Chat post, and if you’re interested in adding Phantom to your order, give us a call or check out their self application kit, here!
#4: Denver Post Highlights the Looming Impact of Tariffs on the Outdoor Industry:
Finally, we’ll round things out this week with an interesting topic that’s on the horizon for the ski industry: tariffs. Before we dive in, we’ll issue a quick disclaimer: we know this is a politically charged topic, and we don’t intend to take one side or the other in the debate. Rather, we look to simply lay out the situation as it pertains to skiers. With that said, we caught an interesting writeup from the Denver Post this week about how new tariff policies could affect the prices of ski equipment in a couple of years. Put simply, the situation is this: President Trump recently rolled out a third list of items imported from China that are subjected to tariffs, and this time the list includes items such as leather ski gloves and backpacks that could cause prices to increase for some brands. Products on the list became subjected to a 10% tariff on September 24th, with that percentage increasing to 25% at the end of the year. Fortunately for consumers, the tariffs arrived too late to affect this year’s pricing, and most manufacturers have already locked in their prices for 2019 trade shows as well. As such, we don’t expect to see the impact of these tariffs actually hit consumers until the season after next. So what’s our, the retailer’s, message to you, the consumer? Well, in short it’s this: if you’re in the market for ski equipment, it’s probably wiser to buy within the next year as prices could rise across the board after next season!