Ski Industry News - Top Five Fridays
Top Five Fridays: February 10, 2023
Lead Image: For Mikaela Shiffrin, it was another week to remember as another medal resulted in another tied record, with the possibility to break even more. We'll tell you all the details in this week's first highlight! Image: U.S. Ski and Snowboard Team on Facebook
#1: FIS Update: Shiffrin’s Record Season Continues as Team America Shows Up Strong at the World Championships:
Hello, and welcome to Top Five Fridays, the February 10, 2023 edition! This week, we’re taking a brief hiatus from primarily covering competitive ski news as we shift our focus to a trio of lifestyle highlights. Don’t worry though, we’ve added in a bonus highlight to let you know about a couple of fantastic competitions that are underway as we speak, and we also have coverage from the ongoing FIS World Championships, in which Team America has been making its presence known. With that in mind, let’s dive right into some coverage of the women’s events.
This week in Courchevel Meribel, France, both the women’s and men’s circuits competed in an alpine combined and super g event. For Mikaela Shiffrin, the week got off to an interesting, though unfavorable start, as she came incredibly close to winning the gold medal in the alpine combined event. As a reminder, the World Championship alpine combined event features a super-g run and a slalom run, with the times from each run being added up for a total cumulative time. Fastest time wins. For Shiffrin, the event started off strongly as her super-g run put her just .96 seconds behind event leader Federica Brignone. In the second race of the event, the slalom, Shiffrin had made up .88 seconds of that difference and was on track to beat Brignone’s time when she just barely straddled the third to last gate, disqualifying her from the event. For mainstream audiences, this moment felt like a flashback to the Olympics, where Shifrrin struggled to finish her races, for the first time in her career. For those of us more in tune with the sport however, it’s easy to see why this might’ve happened. The World Championships, while important from a career perspective, have no impact on the FIS World Cup points system. As such, an athlete like Mikaela might be more inclined to push the limits a bit more, knowing that in the best case scenario, she wins a gold medal, and in the worst case, she DQ’s. Ultimately, a DQ in the World Championships has minimal impact on one’s season. So, while it’s certainly disappointing that Shiffrin didn’t finish the race, it's understandable and not at all the end of the world for her. Before putting a bow on our coverage of the 2023 Women’s World Championship alpine combined race, we also want to give a quick shout out to Isabella Wright, who finished in 13th in that race. To see a full list of results, click here.
Fortunately for Shiffrin, the icky feeling resulting from that race would be short lived as she found herself back on the super-g course just two days later. In that race, Shiffrin cleared her head and kept it together, ultimately finishing in 2nd place, just .11 seconds behind Italy’s Marta Bassino who finished in first. While some mainstream outlets claimed this was “settling,” once again, those of us connected to the sport realize how different the actual story is. In winning this silver medal, Shiffrin built on her career year by tying the record for most individual medals at the World Championships. With this silver medal, Shiffrin now has 12 individual World Championship medals, tying Norwegian Kjetil Andre Aamodt. One spot ahead of them on the all time list for most medals is Sweden’s Anja Paerson, who has 13 total medals, two of which came from team events. What’s most remarkable about Shiffrin’s story though, is that she’s only competed in 15 World Championship races, giving her an astounding 80% medaling rate. For comparison, Aamodt earned his 12 medals over the course of 27 races. Looking ahead, Shiffrin still has ample opportunity to beat Aamodt’s record, as well as Paerson’s. While she’ll sit out for the Downhill race, expectations are that she’ll compete in four more events: the team parallel, parallel, giant slalom, and slalom events. If she can maintain a medaling rate of even 50%, Shiffrin will set yet another record in this incredible season. To preview those races, click here.
While the excitement of the World Cup season continues to be focused on Shiffrin, the American men also had a strong showing at the World Championships this week. Just like the women, the men started the week with an alpine combined event. Noting that the men’s team tends to feature speed event specialists and technical event specialists, you’d be inclined to think that this event wouldn’t provide a great opportunity for American athletes as it combines one race from each category. Surprisingly however, the men did quite well, landing 3 athletes in the top 10. Taking home fourth in that race was River Radamus, followed by Erik Arvidsson in 9th, and Ryan Cochran-Siegle in 10th. Two days later, the solid showing from Team America continued as three Americans finished in the top 20 of the super-g race. In that event, River Radamus took home 16th, Kyle Negomir grabbed 17th, and Ryan Cochran-Siegle rounded things out with an 18th place finish. Looking ahead, the men’s team has another strong chance to earn podium results on Sunday as they compete in a downhill race which should play into the strengths of the team. To preview that race and the rest of the scheduled events, click here.
#2: The National Brotherhood of Skiers Hosted an Uphill Event in Vail This Week, and it Was a Huge Hit:
For our second highlight this week, we came across a story that we absolutely love. Longtime readers know that we’re huge fans of the Colorado Sun here, as the publication has a track record of publishing long form, detailed, and interesting stories regarding ski culture. This week, they struck gold again when they covered a recent successful uphill skiing clinic, hosted by the National Brotherhood of Skiers. Right off the bat, this story contains two of our favorite themes to promote: the growth of uphill skiing, and push for more inclusion within skiing. On the topic of inclusion, this past week was the 50th annual National Brotherhood of Skiers summit, hosted at Vail. As part of a week-long celebration built around building community and skills within the black skiing community, one of the many events held was an introductory uphill clinic. This clinic, the second one ever, hosted a total of 220 participants, a steep climb from last year’s count of 60. At the clinic, skiers of varying abilities were shown the ropes in regards to uphill skiing, including how to use the equipment, proper uphill technique, and even some basic avalanche mitigation skills. Those are more or less the cold hard facts of the story.
What’s more interesting to us, however, is the human side of this story. As we’ve mentioned numerous times, uphill skiing provides access to the sport of skiing through an entirely different lens. On the surface it might seem like less fun to some- a lot of extra work for less runs, but for many the value in uphill skiing is in the totality of the experience. It’s not about packing in as many runs as you can in a day, it’s more about the experience of exploring nature, finding solitude, exercising with a small group of friends, and on the best days: untouched fields of powder. Tying in the concept of working towards a more inclusive sport, it’s incredible to see the outreach that’s occurring to educate the black ski community on both the equipment and experience of uphill skiing so that they too can be a part of it. While it may seem easy and obvious, it’s also crucial that opportunities like this aren’t overlooked so that when we talk about diversifying skiing, we’re talking about diversifying all segments of skiing, and not just resort skiing. For proof of this importance, all we have to do is look back at the participation numbers: in one year, interest grew over 350%, from 60 participants to 220. When you see that kind of spike in interest, it means there’s incredible demand, and one that the ski community is obligated to accommodate. Of course there’s far more to this story, as is always the case when the Colorado Sun covers a topic, so we’d highly suggest giving their article a full read.
#3: 21 Years in, Iconic Big Mountain Ski Area Silverton, Announces Plans for a Second Lift:
In other interesting news this week, we caught wind that Silverton Mountain, Colorado, has announced its plans to add a second lift to the resort. Now, to be honest, we’ve started slowing down our coverage of new chairlifts in recent years as they tend to fall under the category of “hyper regional”. As such, we only cover the most significant of chairlift upgrades. The Little Cottonwood Canyon gondola decision. The Base-to-Base gondola at Palisades / Alpine Meadows. And now, the second chairlift at Silverton Mountain. While we suspect most of you are at least familiar with the name Silverton, a quick perspective check never hurts. First established in 2002, Silverton Mountain opened with just one double chair, whisking guests to the top of what’s more or less a big mountain style peak. From there, some guests choose to simply ski down, but many more choose to throw on skins and access any number of steep summits and chutes. Consider this: currently at Silverton Mountain, 100% of the terrain is considered expert level, and the easiest run clocks in at an impressive 35 degree pitch. Finally, in case further perspective is needed, look no further than their ticket sales. In lieu of the traditional season pass / daily ticket model, Silverton offers an array of guided vs. unguided ticket options, as well as single tickets for helicopter rides. In other words, Silverton Mountain is meant to be a raw, rugged ski area, starkly contrasting the “resort” model.
With all of that in mind, Silverton has finally decided to add a second lift to the resort. Now, your gut reaction to this news might be inline with “that’s too bad, Silverton sounds great exactly how it is,” but there’s a few facts to keep in mind with this announcement. First and foremost, the original permits for the resort allowed for the creation of three lifts, a base lodge, and 10 overnight cabins. With that perspective, it’s actually pretty impressive that the mountain waited 21 years before adding their second lift. Another thing to keep in mind is that the second lift will provide access to the opposing wall of the bowl that forms Silverton. In other words, this lift provides access to an entirely new area, and while we don’t know the exact numbers, it’s conceivable that this lift could effectively double the size of Silverton Mountain. Finally, the third thing to keep in mind here, is that the second lift has received incredible local support- this isn’t one of those “don’t overdevelop our land” scenarios. All in all, this is pretty exciting news for the mountain, and to be totally honest, it really makes us want to take a trip out to Silverton next winter. Anyone have a house we can crash at?
#4: Work From Home? How About Working From the Lodge? With Remote Work Trending Up, More and More Skiers Are Working From Resorts Like Eldora:
Up next this week is an article that strikes a chord for me personally, as it highlights a movement that I’ve found myself unknowingly participating in: working from the ski lodge. In our second consecutive story from Ski Mag this week, we learned about a program being run by Eldora Ski resort in Colorado, called “Work From Eldora”. The concept is incredibly simple: on Thursdays and the first Friday of each month, Eldora transforms a portion of its West Wing lodge into a community working space. Complete with partitioned wi-fi to ensure strong internet connections, free coffee, a community of coworkers, secure gear storage, and even free swag to promote the concept, remote workers are being encouraged to spend the day working from Eldora, squeezing in runs between meetings.
Now, to be crystal clear, it’s not as if this idea is brand new or Eldora is the first to do it. We’ve actually previously reported on Mammoth’s coworking space, The Fort, when it opened way back in 2018. Eldora itself initiated “Work from Eldora” back in 2017. What’s interesting though, is that the concept seems to be gaining traction in a post-pandemic world, now that traditional work environments have been disrupted and working from home has become more popular. Further feeding into the potential for this concept is that it’s mutually beneficial to workers and resorts alike. In the words of Eldora’s Marketing Director, Sam Bass, “We’re always trying to find ways to increase visitation during the week when it’s typically quiet. One of the ways we could do that is by being very welcoming to remote workers.” In other words, it’s a match made in heaven: resorts are always trying to welcome more midweek guests, and work from homers are trying to post up at the lodge in order to squeeze more laps into their days and days into their season. By building a community around coworking the lodge, Eldora is meeting both their needs and their guests’.
As someone who’s pulled the “work from the lodge” move several times this year (fun fact: more than a few Top Five Fridays have been written and posted from the lodge at Mad River Glen), I love what Eldora is doing. In my experience, working from the lodge is great, but there have been times where myself or others who are doing the same have needed to take calls, and while we’ve seemingly pulled it off without losing our jobs, it would certainly be helpful if there was a space dedicated for those of us squeezing in mandatory work between mandatory runs. So on that note, I call out to everyone who has the ability to work from home to flood their local lodges with laptops. Let’s make this thing a movement so resorts everywhere introduce coworking spaces and we can all enjoy quiet meetings and free coffee! If you’re on the fence about it, give this article from Ski Mag a read. Sounds pretty great, right?
#4.5: We’ve Got Two Super Fun Event Recaps Coming Next Week:
Finally, before sending you off this week, we want to very briefly mention two exciting contests that are more or less currently underway. First on this mini list is the annual Kings and Queens of Corbet’s event, hosted by Jackson Hole. In a nutshell, the premise of this competition is simply, “there’s Corbet’s couloir, go wild, ski it as best you can, and in a week your fellow competitors will decide if you did it the best.” Technically, this event has already happened, with riders having taken to the course on Tuesday. With the unique weeklong judging format though, we’ll neither know who won nor have access to the full replay until tomorrow. As such, expect our full recap in next week’s Top 5. Until then, one thing we do know is that Veronica Paulson sent an absolutely massive double backflip into the couloir, becoming the first female to ever attempt a double backflip into it. Enjoy the clip.
The other quick preview we want to mention is that Red Bull Playstreets is also underway, starting roughly right now, at the time of this posting. We bring this up because one, we highlighted it back in December when its return was announced, and because two, if you’re lucky, you can catch the livestream in the accompanying embed. Much like our full coverage of Kings and Queens of Corbet’s, we’ll be back next week with a full recap!
One thought on “Top Five Fridays: February 10, 2023”
All the links in the 3rd story actually point towards the 4th story... 🙂