Ski Industry News - Top Five Fridays
Top Five Fridays: December 16, 2022
Lead Image: Between 2012 and 2019, Red Bull Playstreets took over the streets of Bad Gastien in Salzburg, Austria, for an inner city slopestyle that provided some of the most interesting backdrops in freeskiing. This year, after a 4 year hiatus, the event is back. More on that below. Image: Red Bull on Facebook
#1: FIS Recap: Shiffrin and Moltzan Show Up in Sestriere for Team America:
Hello, and welcome to Top Five Fridays, the December 16, 2022 edition! This week we enjoy a mixed bag of ski news, highlighted by the return to life for two significant endeavors in the world of freeskiing. We’ll get to that later, but first, let’s check in on the latest in World Cup Alpine action.
Last weekend, the women’s circuit was back in Europe for a giant slalom and slalom race in Sestriere, Italy. Across the two days, the Stifel U.S. Women’s Alpine Team kept up their impressively consistent ways with strong results in both races. Between the two, Shiffrin led the way once again, earning a sixth place finish in the giant slalom and second place finish in the slalom race. While we’re all eagerly waiting for Shiffrin to come home with another gold and come even closer to becoming the winningest World Cup skier of all time, we’re compelled to remind ourselves, and you as well, of two things: first, it’s wild that our expectation and hope is for a gold medal from Shiffrin in every race. Second, these are strong results regardless and the points here are massive when it comes to tallying up overall winners. For proof of this, look no further than the fact that Shiffrin is currently the overall World Cup leader, as well as the slalom cup leader. For those of us eager to see Shiffrin win another gold, let’s just be patient.
Meanwhile, also having an incredible weekend for herself was U.S. athlete Paula Moltzan, who had a career weekend. In the giant slalom race on Saturday, Moltzan finished in 8th place, a career best. A day later, she tied another career best with a 5th place finish in the slalom race. With the emergence of Moltzan as a consistent podium contender, this could be a huge year for the U.S. as a one-two punch of Shiffrin and Moltzan would put Team America amongst the elite countries of the world on the World Cup circuit. Before we totally wrap up our coverage of women’s Alpine racing, we have to shout out U.S. rookie athlete Zoe Zimmermann who finished in 27th in the slalom, earning her first ever World Cup points. On that note, congrats to Mikaela, Moltzan, and Zimmermann, all of whom had an excellent weekend in Sestriere. Looking ahead, action is already underway in St. Moritz, Switzerland, where the venue is set to host two downhills and a super g. While we’ll wait to recap all the action next week, we will quickly mention that Shiffrin did compete in her first downhill race of the season earlier today. With that in mind, you can check out this weekend’s schedule of events right here.
On the men’s side of the sport, results were slightly less notable as the giant slalom and slalom race held in Val d'Isere, France didn’t play into the strengths of the Stifel U.S. Men’s Alpine Team. Still, it wasn’t a pointless weekend, as River Radamus took home 16th place in the giant slalom, followed by teammate Brian McLaughlin who finished tied for 19th. While last week feels like a bit of a down week for the men’s team, the good news is that this weekend’s races in Val Gardena / Groeden, Italy should provide ample opportunity for more points as the venue is set to host two downhill races. For a recap of last weekend’s action in Val d’lsere, click here. To preview this weekend’s action in Val Gardena / Groeden, click here.
#2: A Month After Placer County Rescinds All Approvals, Alterra Submits Revised Development Plans:
In other news this week, we have a follow up development to a story we shared just about a month ago in our November 11th Top Five Fridays. In that weekly report, we shared the news that the Placer County Board of Supervisors unanimously voted to rescind all previous development approvals that had been given to Alterra in regards to their plans to develop Olympic Valley, the region at the base area of Palisade Tahoe. Now, that news comes with a pretty heavy asterisk as the county board was more or less court ordered to do so by a higher court. Regardless, the outcome was the same, as Alterra was forced to go back to the drawing board and start the approval process again with a revised Environmental Impact Report (EIR), which consists of their previously submitted “Village Specific Plan,” along with additional environmental information. There was likely little doubt in anyone’s mind that the corporation would do just that, although the speed at which they did might’ve surprised some.
This week, Alterra officially submitted their revised EIR for the development of Olympic Valley. What this move ultimately means is that last month’s update took Alterra back multiple steps in the legal process, but their vision for a developed Olympic Valley remains alive. In the over 450 page document, plans are laid out for a village that, while 50% smaller than their original plans, still includes a massive 90,000 square foot adventure park, the highlight of which is an indoor waterpark. In addition to this and other tourist attractions, the plan also includes housing and lodging development to the tune of 1,493 bedrooms across 850 units. Now that the updated EIR has been submitted, the approval process begins anew, with the new development plan once again needing approval from the Placer County board to move forward. That process begins with a public meeting on January 19th where residents can make their comments known in regards to the new plan. Once again, we expect strong resistance from the local community. For more on this, check out the report from the Sierra Sun.
#3: Another Chance at Life? Powder Magazine Purchased by The Arena Group, Owners of Sports Illustrated:
Next up this week, we have some potentially good news for those of us who mourned the loss of iconic Powder Magazine back in 2020: a new owner has stepped in to acquire the magazine’s digital assets. Now, before we dive into the who’s who and what’s what of this one, let’s backtrack way back to the late 2010’s so that we can understand what this news may or may not mean. Over the course of a few years, the company that owned Powder Magazine (as well as other niche publications like Newschoolers.com, Surfer, Snowboarder, and more) changed hands multiple times in what business types might describe as a series of parallel moves. Then, in February of 2019, what was known as “TEN: Publishing’s Adventure Sports Network” was acquired by American Media Inc. That move was the first domino in Powder’s downfall as the publication found itself under the same ownership as popular magazines like the Soap Opera Digest, National Enquirer, US Weekly, Men’s Journal, and, well, you get the point. Despite the writing being on the wall, Powder hung on for another year and a half before American Media Inc. merged with Accelerate360, resulting in portfolio cleanse that would ultimately see Powder’s operations being suspended indefinitely, alongside a number of other great publications. At that time, Powder was more or less declared dead, although A360 Media continued to hold the company’s assets, resulting in ourselves and other observers holding out hope that someday a more independent group could purchase Powder’s assets and bring the magazine back to life.
This week, something along those lines finally happened, as The Arena Group, owner of Sports Illustrated as well as over 240 other brands, has just bought the digital assets for a selection of A360 Media’s publications. On that short list are Men’s Fitness, Men’s Journal, Surfer, SKATEboarding, Bike, Snowboarder, and our two favorites: NewSchoolers and Powder. While you likely care about some of the names on this list more than others, the important thing to realize here is that the list is short. This isn’t a wholesale purchase where The Arena Group bought whatever A360 Media was willing to sell for cheap, these publications were hand selected for a very specific reason. That reason, as it turns out, is that The Arena Group is looking to create a fourth vertical for its publication empire. This new venture, dubbed the “Men’s Journal Lifestyle Media Group,” will consist of brands that support active and adventurous lifestyles. While this may feel like another move in which Powder Magazine has come under yet another massive corporate ownership, it’s worth noting two things. First, The Arena Group’s sports division, known as Sports Illustrated Media Group, is thriving, with a 90% increase in digital revenue over the first three quarters of the year. This proves an ability to successfully operate a publication in the digital era. Second, The Arena Group spent $28.5 million to buy the digital assets of these publications, so it’s exceedingly likely that they’ll look to not only revive Powder Magazine, but do so in a big way. Now, what that means from a content and quality standpoint is yet to be seen, but for now, let’s just celebrate the fact that Powder is presumably back. To learn more about this, check out the writeup from Business Wire.
#4: After 3 Year Hiatus, Red Bull Playstreets Returns to Takeover the Streets of Bad Gastein, Salzburg, Austria:
Finally, we wrap up the week with some news that should excite fans of freeskiing, particularly those who remember the Red Bull Playstreets event that ran throughout the 2010’s. Taking place in the unique city streets of Bad Gastein, in Salzburg, Austria, Red Bull Playstreets is a slopestyle event in which the course runs through the center of the city. We’re not talking small features either- Playstreets courses have historically featured pretty large jumps, hips, and rails along a relatively narrow, winding course. If you’re imagining the course as looking like something out of Jonny Moseley Mad Trix, then you’re not that far off, although the video accompanying this highlight is the best way to wrap your head around it.
Keeping all of that in mind, it’s with great excitement that we share the news that after a four year hiatus, Red Bull Playstreets is back! Scheduled to take place once again in the streets of Bad Gastein, freeskiers of the highest caliber will be invited back on February 10th, 2023 to participate in the 9th iteration of the event. Along with its revival, this year’s edition of Playstreets is being put together by a new event director as well as marketing agency who hope to take this year’s event to another level. Leading the charge is Bernd Krainbucher, who previously worked on the event in various capacities, including as a scaffolder, shaper, and presenter. Now that he’s at the helm, Krainbucher has plans to put together a totally redesigned course that he promises will include larger and more interesting features than ever before. While we don’t know the roster of invited athletes quite yet, we hope to see a who’s who of competitive freeski athletes as the weekend of February 10th is free of FIS freeskiing events. Of added interest in this regard, is the fact that Nick Goepper is the current reigning champion of the event. There’s no doubt that he’s still capable of skiing at a high level, so we hope to see him back to return his gold medal after the four year hiatus. All in all, this is some exciting news for freeskiers who love to see a good out of the box style competition. To learn more about this event, check out the report from DownDays.eu.