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Ski Industry News - Top Five Fridays

Top Five Fridays: January 31, 2020

#1: FIS World Cup Ski Racing Recap: Shiffrin Reclaims the Podium(s)


Top Five Fridays January 31, 2020: Bryce Bennett Celebration Image

Bryce Bennett practices his celebratory moves after finishing in 8th place at last weekend’s Downhill event, his best result ever at the venue. Source: U.S. Ski and Snowboard Team on Facebook

After a couple of weird weeks for the U.S. Women’s Ski Team, things were a bit more normal this past week as Mikaela Shiffrin found herself back on top of the podium. Last week, we briefly mentioned that Shiffrin had won the first Downhill race of the weekend in Bansko, Bulgaria. Recognizing the fact that Shiffrin has her sights set on improving her performance in speed events this year, that result in and of itself was quite notable. A day later, Shiffrin finished just outside the podium in 4th in another Downhill race, closely followed by teammate Breezy Johnson in 5th. Finally, one more day later, on Sunday, Shiffrin rounded out the weekend with another first place finish, this time in a Super G event. As a result of her efforts, Shiffrin increased her lead in the overall standings and now has 1,225 points, just under 400 more than Federica Brignone who holds second place with 855 points. Looking ahead, the women’s circuit is in Rosa Khutor, Russia this weekend for a Downhill and Super G race. It should be noted however, that Shiffrin has opted to sit out of this leg of the tour in lieu of load maintenance and further training.

On the men’s side, we unfortunately had another week without a podium finish. That said, it wasn’t all bad for the men’s circuit as a number of team members managed to log point-earning finishes. To start last week’s events, the men were in Kitzbuehel, Austria for a Super G, Downhill, and Slalom race. Of those races, the Downhill was most fruitful for the U.S. team as American Bryce Bennett finished in 8th position, followed by Steven Nyman in 13th, Jared Goldberg in 23rd, and Travis Ganong in 30th. In the Super G, Travis Ganong secured 10th, while Ryan Cochran-Siegle earned 26th and Steven Nyman grabbed 30th. In the slalom race, no U.S. Team member finished within the top 26. Three days ago, on the 28th, the men’s circuit also competed in a Slalom race in Schladming, Austria where the U.S. Team again failed to break into the top 26. Looking ahead, the men’s circuit will look to improve their results this weekend in Garmisch Partenkirchen, Germany in a Downhill and Giant Slalom Race.

#2: Coronavirus Concerns Causing Competition Cancellations in China:


Top Five Fridays January 31, 2020: Bryce Bennett Celebration Image

A view of Genting Resort Secret Garden, were the first ever Chinese Winter X Games were set to be hosted later this month, until the Coronavirus became a global health concern. Source: Genting Resort Secret Garden on Facebook

In other competition news, a pair of headlines came across our monitor this week that, when paired, are impossible to ignore. First up is the announcement that the two FIS World Cup Men’s races scheduled to be held in Yanqing, China on February 15th & 16th have officially been cancelled. The news comes as the Coronavirus continues to spread and, while Yanqing is presumably a safe distance from the epicenter, an abundance of caution is being practiced by the FIS as it looks to keep its athletes safe. Adding to the disappointing news is fact that the races were scheduled to be the first ever FIS races held in China, as well as a test event for the upcoming 2022 Winter Olympic Games. Now, in light of this news, the races will be held at Saalbach-Hinterglemm, Austria on the 13th & 14th, while next year’s Women’s Downhill and Super-G races scheduled for March 2021 will become the official test event for the 2022 Winter Olympics. For more on this, check in with the official announcement from the FIS.

In similar news, the first ever China Winter X-Games event has also been cancelled due to concerns regarding the Coronavirus. Initially scheduled to be held at Genting Resort Secret Garden in Zhangjiakou, China from February 21st - 23rd, the event has now been postponed. At present there’s been no details disseminated regarding a new date or location, but the announcement puts another damper on what should’ve been something of a breakout year for the Chinese ski scene. As those tuned into the ski industry know, China, with the help of their government, has made a concerted effort in recent years to establish a vibrant ski and snowboard industry. It’s without a doubt that this year was supposed to give that agenda a massive push forward, but with the cancellation of these two major events, that global exposure will have to wait. For more on this, check out the recap from Forbes.

#3: Developmental Ski Racing Facing Growing Financial Crisis:


Top Five Fridays January 31, 2020: Junior Ski Racer Image

Think you or your kid has a chance to make it in the world of ski racing? Maybe you do, but it could cost you nearly $500,000 to prove it. Source: U.S. Ski and Snowboard Development Team on Facebook

Next up in doom & gloom news, is a report from Ski Racing Magazine that highlights the growing financial and time requirements necessary for youth skiers to compete at a high level. The first article in what’s set to be a series of write-ups highlighting issues plaguing the development of young skiers, this week’s article focuses on the ever-increasing costs of raising a competitive ski racer. From the cost of equipment and tuning, to the amount of traveling both on season and off season, the author’s conclusion is that the current environment of competitive youth ski racing is simply unsustainable. Amidst a myriad of complaints, author Steve Porino cites a specific jaw-dropping number from a study conducted by the U.S. Ski and Snowboard team: $500,000. That’s the amount that the organization suggests a ski racer will have to spend to support their career from day one, through the high school level. Another eyebrow raising statistic that Porino cites is the volume of races. In another U.S. Ski and Snowboard Team study, it’s estimated that the average male competes in 53 races per year, while women compete in 45. To put that in perspective, Mikaela Shiffrin, who is particularly focused on workload maintenance, has never competed in more than 30 races in a year, and competed in just 27 last year. What this suggests is that the value of race experience is a bell curve, where after a certain number of races, competition actually becomes detrimental at worst, or useless at best. All told, it’s an interesting article to read, and one that calls out plenty of rising issues in the world of youth ski racing. To read it in full, we highly recommend heading over to Skiracing.com

#4: Bluebird Backcountry Set to Open First 100% Human Powered Ski Area:


Top Five Fridays January 31, 2020: Bluebird Backcountry Resort Map

A look at the available terrain at Bluebird Backcountry. In the center skiers will be able to ski a their own discretion, while the gray tinted areas to lookers left and right will be available only to those buying guided day tickets. Image viaBluebird Backcountry Kickstarter Campaign

Finally, let’s round the week out with a story that’s a bit more fun than the last two were. As you might recall, back in mid April, we shared news of a backcountry ski area concept being tested in Colorado. At that time, the team behind Bluebird Backcountry was hosting groups of about 100 skiers and riders on backcountry adventures at Colorado’s Mosquito Pass. Their goal during these events was to prove their concept while learning about the infrastructure requirements necessary to open an exclusively backcountry ski area. In other words, their dream is to open a 100% human powered ski resort with basic infrastructure, but no chairlifts.

This week, we caught word that Bluebird Backcountry has announced that they’ll officially be opening their first ever “ski resort” on February 15th, on Colorado’s Whiteley Peak, nearly 100 miles North of where they’d tested the concept. Well, sort of. While the resort will be open for 15 days between February 15th and March 15th, the business is still very much in the testing phase. During that time, the team hopes to build upon what they learned in last year’s day-long events by establishing a more solidified home base, even if just for a month. At the conclusion of that month, the team will presumably decide to either put down roots at Whiteley Peak, or move on to another location if it seems necessary. Keeping that in mind, it’ll be interesting to see how this second, longer trial period goes, and if it could be just the start of a trend that continues to grow. We’ll keep you updated as we learn more, but for now, we’ll turn you over to the Colorado Sun or their Kickstarter Campaign for more details.

#4.5: Bonus Highlight: January is Volkl Month in SkiEssentials.com's 2020 Ski Happy Contest!


Top Five Fridays January 31, 2020: Ski Happy Image

#5: And Now, Your Edits of the Week: Big Sky Resort Profiles Extreme Skiing Pioneer, Dan Egan:


Armada Skis Presents: Suede:


Want to See What Next Year’s Skis Look Like? Check Out Our OR Day 1 Recap:


Finally, Our OR Snow Show Day 2 Recap - Softgoods:



Written by Matt McGinnis on 01/31/19

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