#1: FIS World Cup Ski Racing Recap: Shiffrin Secures Second in Zagreb Slalom
First up this week, as always this time of year, is a recap of last week’s World Cup Ski Racing action! This time around, it was a pretty subdued week for both the men’s and women’s circuits as a heavy race schedule the previous weekend resulted in limited racing over the past seven days. Still, that’s not to say nothing happened. In the sole women’s race of the week, Mikaela Shiffrin snagged second place in a Slalom event in Zagreb, Croatia. While second place is a fantastic finish, and one that continues to help Shiffrin’s lead in the overall and slalom standings, it should also be noted that it breaks her streak of being undefeated in Slalom races this season. Still, it’s a noteworthy finish, and one that Shiffrin seems content with as she takes on a triple pack of races this weekend in Altenmarkt-Zauchensee, Austria. On the men’s side, things were unfortunately even quieter as only Luke Winters was able to represent the U.S. Team in the top 30 in either of the two nighttime slalom races held, earning a 28th place finish in Zagreb. Looking ahead, the men’s team will look to get back on track with opportunities in a Giant Slalom and Slalom race being held in Adelboden, Switzerland. To check in on all of the results from this past week and to preview the schedule ahead, you can check in with the FIS official website, right here.
#2: Australian Ski Resorts Threatened, Consumed by Wildfires:
Unfortunately we have to follow up this week’s ski racing update with some devastating news coming out of Australia. As you’re likely already aware, Australia has been facing historically catastrophic wildfires in recent weeks. While there’s obviously a ton to discuss with a story like this, we’ll leave a majority of that to mainstream media and instead focus on the elements related to skiing.
This week, we learned of the growing impact that the wildfires are having on the Australian ski community. The most devastating update on that front is the news that Selwyn Snow Resort has been completely ravaged by the fire. While it’s yet to be determined the extent of the damage to mountain infrastructure such as chairlifts and snowmaking operations, the terrain and buildings have all experienced significant, likely unrepairable damage. At present, the resort seems to be in “assessment mode,” as no announcements have been made discussing the future of the resort.
Meanwhile, other Australian ski resorts are beginning to feel the heat and are preparing to fight the fires as best they can. At Perisher Valley, a Vail Resort, snow guns are being utilized as water cannons in an effort to keep the terrain wet while also preventing embers from landing on the resort. Additionally, low flying planes have been coating the area with fire retardant. In nearby Thredbo, it’s more of the same as the resort is closed to visitors and smoke looms across the region. Now, all that’s left to do is wait and see what happens while hoping for the best. For more on this story, check out this article from Reuters, or visit Thredbo and Selwyn on Facebook.
#3: BIG SNOW American Dream Developers to Open Indoor Ski Area in Miami:
Let’s flip the page from doom and gloom, to something a little more interesting. Readers of Top 5 Fridays, or those who tend to stay up on current ski events, know that the first ever indoor ski and snowboard facility in North America recently opened in a mall in New Jersey. Dubbed BIG SNOW American Dream, the ski area has received a warm welcome from both the ski community and mainstream media outlets alike. Now, potentially fueled by that success, the developers of American Dream have just announced plans to duplicate the effort in Miami, Florida. Working off a similar model of creating a mixed-use megaplex that offers shopping, dining, and a range of entertainment venues, the team at Triple Five intends to create its second North American indoor ski center in Miami-Dade.
This piece of news is obviously intriguing for multiple reasons. First and foremost, there’s something inherently interesting about bringing skiing to Miami. At the moment, it feels like a safe bet to assume that the skiing population is pretty low in that particular city, making it an interesting experiment to see just how far and wide skiing and snowboarding could possibly spread in an era of indoor skiing. Following that logic, the other exceptionally interesting aspect of this, is what it means for the longterm trajectory of the sport. Building off of the twin trends of climate change and ski resort consolidation, the growth of indoor skiing in areas otherwise alien to snow could result in yet another shift in power amongst industry leaders. That of course, will take quite a while to come to fruition if it ever does, but it’s interesting to consider what the long term future of the sport could look like as natural snowfall becomes increasingly less dependable. For more on this, check out the report from the Miami Herald.
#4: Nordica Releases Preview of New 2021 Enforcer Skis, HF Boots, and More:
Finally, let’s end the week on a high note, as Nordica blessed the ski world with a sneak peak of what they’ve got in store for their 2020-2021 product lineup. While the entirety of the ski world is set to meetup and show off what they’ve been working on for next season at the Outdoor Retailer show in Denver, CO from January 29 - 31, Nordica decided to give us a limited preview to whet our appetite. Of the new products recently announced by Nordica, the introduction of a redesigned Enforcer 100, and an all new Enforcer 94 (which will replace the 93) are likely to garner the most immediate interest. Continuing their efforts in building the optimal core, the new Enforcer 100 and 94 adopt Nordica’s True Tip technology and Carbon Chassis from the current Enforcer 104 FR and Enforcer 88. The result is a ski that’s lighter in weight and offers even stronger edge hold. Here at SkiEssentials, we're lucky enough to have gotten our hands on these skis early, and will be sharing more details soon, starting with a full review of the new 2021 Enforcer 100 next week!
In other new Noridca news, we also learned of a new ski boot series debuting, called the HF Line, which stands for “Hands Free.” Borrowing design elements from classic rear-entry ski boots, the new HF line follows an emerging trend of ski boot manufacturers revisiting the classic design in an effort to bring back their ease of entry while updating the overall foot hold and quality to meet modern expectations. Perhaps what’s most notable about these new boots however, is the fact that they’re clearly marketed towards advanced and expert skiers, with relatively high flex indexes (110 for men, 85 for women). What this suggests is that Nordica, as well as other brands reentering this category of ski boot, are looking to carve out a market for ski boots that offer a better balance of comfort and performance. The jury’s still out on this concept as we have yet to try them, but if Nordica is able to achieve what they’re aiming for with this boot, they may be able to change the game yet again. For more on this, check out he write-ups from Ski Mag and Blister Review.