Top Five Fridays - September 6, 2019 // Ski Industry News
#1: Ski Racing Legend Marcel Hirscher Announces Retirement:
Well, it was one of those weeks in skiing where the news cycle was on full blast, hitting us with numerous noteworthy updates and announcements. Topping that list is undoubtedly the news that ski racing legend Marcel Hirscher has announced his retirement. For those who have followed his comments carefully over the years, this news is only slightly shocking. For the rest of us who have been more tuned into his medal count as it’s continued to grow on a yearly basis, the announcement is very surprising.
Last year, we spent a significant amount of time talking about Mikaela Shiffrin as her dominance of the Women’s FIS World Cup circuit was unprecedented. While we were busy doing that, Marcel Hirscher was putting up impressive results of his own on the men’s side of the sport, with numerous first place and podium finishes. In fact, much like Shiffrin, Hirscher secured last year’s Overall World Cup with weeks to spare, as well as crystal globes for the Giant Slalom and Slalom events. Putting last year’s accomplishments in perspective with this week’s announcement, it feels safe to say that Marcel Hirscher has just decided to retire at his peak.
For Hirscher, this has always been part of the plan. Over the years he’s made numerous comments regarding his desire to retire while still in his prime, always prioritizing his lasting reputation over medals and records. As such, it seems to be the perfect time to step away from the sport. While the ski scene will certainly miss his presence, we look forward to seeing his name reappear in the news as he pursues his other interests, such as skiing powder. For more on this check out this informative report from NBC Sports.
#2: Significant Progress Made in the Saddleback Mountain Saga:
Next up in ski news, is an exciting announcement for those hoping for the reopening of Saddleback Mountain in Maine. This week, a newspaper out of Maine known as The Irregular reported on the current status of talks between the resort and the Boston based Arctaris Impact Fund. Last we checked in with the story, progress was being made, and a deal seemed imminent, although no official agreement had been reached. Now, we’ve learned that talks have progressed to the point that a closing date of November 4th has been announced and development details have begun to leak out. Put clearly: this is great news. Barring any major, unexpected setbacks, that means Saddleback should be able to open for business this upcoming season, after being closed since the conclusion of the 2014-2015 season.
In addition to this exciting announcement, the article from the Irregular also shared a number of interesting details regarding plans for the resort. For example, much like many other modern ski areas, Saddleback will look to strengthen its year round business operations by adding mountain bike trails, a sugaring operation, fat bike trails, and walking trails. The resort is also looking at its rebirth as an opportunity to focus on reducing the resort’s carbon footprint, with an overall eye towards stability. To help reach this goal, the team behind the project is working with Aspen Snowmass for guidance. For those interested in speculating this last detail is especially intriguing as it creates a path of partnership from Saddleback resort to the Alterra Mountain Company (Ikon Pass), which owns Aspen. While it’s certainly not a detail that’s been discussed, it leads us to wonder if the groundwork for an exit plan is already being laid, thus reducing risk for investors with the Arctaris Impact Fund. Of course, that’s getting ahead of ourselves. For now, let’s just rejoice knowing that Saddleback seems to be finally nearing the end of its multi-year ownership saga.
To read more about the difficulties plaguing Saddleback’s reopening, we’d recommend checking out this Top Five Friday report which does a decent job of summarizing it. For more on this week’s news, check in with the Irregular.
#3: Peak Resorts Shareholder Sues to Halt Sale to Vail:
Speaking of ski resort purchases, acquisitions, and the like, we caught an interesting story this week regarding the recently announced sale of Peak Resorts to Vail. As you’ll recall, back at the end of July, Vail announced that it had entered an agreement to purchase Peak Resorts and its 17 ski areas. This week however, we learned that that’s not necessarily a done deal as one of Peak Resort’s shareholders has filed a lawsuit to stop the sale. With a vote to approve the acquisition scheduled for September 20th, shareholder John Field claims that insufficient and misleading information was provided to shareholders to hide elements of insider trading. While the details of the matter are too complicated to explain in full in this quick recap, the bottom line is that Mr. Field has reason to believe that a singular shareholder controlling 54% of Peak Resort’s voting rights had been given the ability to negotiate terms of the sale. As such, the deal is, or could be, structured to unfairly benefit that singular stock holder. This of course, amounts to a text book definition of insider trading. If detailed discussion of legal business dealings interests you, we recommend checking out the writeup from VTDigger which does an excellent job of connecting the dots. For the rest of you, just know that the Peak Resorts acquisition by Vail is not a done deal just yet.
#4: Woodward Announces Opening Date for New Year Round Action Sports Facility in Park City, UT:
Lastly, a bit of exciting news for action sports athletes in the Park City, UT area: Woodward Park City has announced an official opening plan! The news has been a long time coming as we first announced plans for the year-round action sports center way back in the summer of 2016. At that time, we didn’t know many details regarding plans for the business, but now that they’ve announced that the action sports resort will be open for the 2019-2020 season, with a grand opening celebration scheduled for December 14th, we’ve got plenty of great details to share.
First and foremost, it’s worth noting that Woodward Park City will feature its own, exclusive lift access terrain park, offering world class features for skiers and snowboarders alike. With a focus on progression, the parks are set to offer features of all sizes for all skill levels, allowing athletes to learn new tricks safely, while providing an opportunity to bring them to larger features when they’re ready. In addition to the winter snow park, the venue will also feature year round training opportunities for skiers and snowboarders in the form of an indoor foam pit, trampolines, and other training features. For skateboarders, inline skaters, BMX, and Mountain Bikers, Woodward will also offer year round amenities. For those in the Salt Lake City and Park City areas, this new action sports park is set to be the go location for freestyle athletes, no matter what the season is. For more information and plenty of details, check out the official Woodward Park City website.