#1: Oregon Live Highlights Special Connection Between Mt. Hood and Olympic Athletes:
Hello, and welcome to Top Five Fridays, July 30, 2021 edition! This week the world of ski news was mostly positive, with the exception of an escalating beef between the oil and outdoor industries. We’ll get into that in our third highlight, but first we’d like to start the week by sharing a cool article from Oregon Live that highlights Mt. Hood’s underappreciated, yet incredibly significant role in developing winter Olympians. While it should be noted that the world of ski racing utilizes Mt. Hood as a training venue in the summer months, this particular article highlights the importance of freestyle summer camps at the mountain as they attract and engage talented athletes from a young age, ultimately playing a crucial role in their lives as they progress from talented pre-teens through olympic hopefuls. Specifically, the story of Colby Stevenson is told in this article, starting with his first camp experience at Mt. Hood which happened after he won a video contest at the age of 14. After that first week at camp, where he was coached up by a pair of his favorite athletes, Stevenson fell in love with the unique resort. In the 9 years since, Stevenson has missed just one summer at Mt. Hood. Also in those 9 years, Stevenson has gone from camper, to coach, to Olympic hopeful, with this Summer’s emphasis being on dialing in new tricks as he prepares to begin qualification efforts in the winter ahead.
Of course, unlike the summertime skiing experience at Mt. Hood, Stevenson’s story isn’t unique. Much like Colby, competitive halfpipe snowboarder Maddie Maestro has also been spending her summers at Mt. Hood for about a decade. Now, after competing in the 2018 games, she’s spent her summer locked into a training mindset at the mountain as she looks to learn new tricks ahead of winter. Ultimately, it’s the volume of olympic caliber athletes, along with young talent and pure recreationalists that make Mt. Hood such a unique community in the summer. Or, in the words of Timberline’s director of marketing and public relations, John Burton, “You can be in the hotel and Shaun White literally walks in and orders a pizza or something like that… I would say most people in the general population that are coming up to ski don’t know that they’re shoulder to shoulder with these world-class athletes.” All in all, while this newspiece isn’t necessarily “new news,” it does strike us as pretty interesting insight to what it’s like up at Mt. Hood over the summer- a place many skiers and snowboarders dream of going, but ultimately a pilgrimage that only the most lucky or committed ever make. To read this article in full, head over to OregonLive.com.
#2: New Zealand’s First Major Ski Resort Expansion in 10 Years Opened This Week:
Next up in ski news this week is a cool update from New Zealand, where Cardrona Resort has officially opened the first new large ski area in the country in ten years. Dubbed “The Willow’s”, a nod to the fact that the cult-classic film “Willow” was filmed there back in the late 1980’s, this new expansion came about as the result of a series of unexpected events. It all started a few years back when Cardrona replaced the quad they had running up McDougalls with a new Chondola. Looking to repurpose that quad, they initially planned to add it to their Pringles area, but ultimately had to cancel that plan when they discovered that it would run through a habitat that’s home to a species of rare lizards. Suddenly, the resort had an extra chairlift and nowhere to put it. That is, until they realized that it was a perfect fit for The Willow’s area, a portion of their mountain that had previously been the Soho private ski area, and was currently being used for guided ski tours. Now, just about five months after concocting a new plan for the lift, The Willow’s ski area has officially opened, ultimately jump starting their development of the former SoHo ski area. While Cardrona plans to further develop this terrain, the opening of the Willow’s area adds an additional 65 hectares of wide open intermediate skiing. Currently there are just two designated routes down the bowls in this zone, but features wide open terrain, enabling intermediate skiers to comfortably take advantage of powder days. It’s big news for a region that’s had a bumpy journey through the era of Covid. To learn more about this new skiable terrain, check out the initial announcement from Cardrona, or this recap from Stuff.co.nz.
#3: Oil Exec Takes Shots at North Face, Credits Themself With Creating the Outdoor Industry:
Third up in our recap this week as an interesting debate happening between North Face and the CEO of Liberty Oilfield Services. Now, we say debate, because looked at objectively, that’s really what this is. But as you’ll see from the attached video, “debate” is likely a much friendlier term than either North Face or Liberty Oilfield would use. In layman’s terms, these two entities are officially beefing.
The drama all started when the North Face refused to make a co-branded jacket for Innovex, an oil and gas company that’s partnered with Liberty Oilfield Services. As you likely know, it’s typically no issue for a business to buy North Face apparel and have their own brand embroidered or printed on them as well. Corporate sales is likely a massive part of North Face’s business. In the case of Innovex though, North Face declined their business, citing their desire to only align their brand with other businesses that they believe in. It should come as no surprise that corporations within the oil and gas industry aren’t seen as strong strategic partners for the outdoor brand. While it’s likely not the first time that The North Face has declined producing co-branded products with an oil or gas corporation, it is the first time that the CEO of one of these companies took it personally enough to start a PR feud. Utilizing both traditional methods such as billboards, as well as modern methods like YouTube, Liberty Oilfield CEO Chris Wright has very publicly attacked The North Face’s stance on the gas and oil industry, pointing out the hypocrisy of the brand that relies heavily on gas and oil to both manufacture its products, as well as to enable its market to take advantage of the outdoors to use its products. Now, we’re not going to get into a detailed analysis of the argument here, mostly because Outside Online has already done a great job of detailing both sides. Instead, we’ll simply point out that interesting arguments can be made by both parties, and we’d love to hear your own thoughts on the matter. If you have an opinion on this one way or another, let us know in the comments below!
#4: How 22 Year Old Rick Schmitz Bought a Ski Resort and Turned His Dreams into Reality:
Finally, we end this week with a great story about a guy named Rick who decided to buy a ski resort with little money and absolutely no experience. In an article from Acquiring Minds, we get to know more about Rick and how his story of resort ownership came to be. As it turns out, it was all pretty straightforward: as a graduating senior in college, Rick Schmitz was coming to terms with the fact that a future in finance might not be for him, despite working towards it for almost four years. At about that time, two things happened to Schmitz: a guest speaker in one of his classes told the room not to wait to start a business, and that they should do it now while they’re young, before the expectations and responsibilities of adulthood really set in. Second, his brother sent him a link to a website called BizBuySell which allowed business owners to list their businesses for sale. There, Rick came across a listing for Nordic Mountain, a small ski area in Wisconsin that was listed at $1 million. Despite being in no position to hand over $1 million, Schmitz decided to go for it. Eventually, after being denied by several banks, he was able to get the asking price down to $625k and cobble together enough funding to buy the resort.
On May 23, 2005, just 8 days after graduating college, Schmitz’s purchase offer was accepted and he became the owner of Nordic Mountain. Armed with plenty of passion, just enough funding to get the ball rolling, and a three pronged plan of attack which focused on marketing, upgrades, and reinvestment, Schmitz immediately got to work. While the process of transforming the mountain from a little known ski area into a profitable business took both time and money, eventually he made it happen. Now, after 16 years, he estimates that the resort could resell for $2.5m - $3m, a strong return on his initial investment. That said, Schmitz currently has no plans to exit the ski resort industry despite the many challenges it presents. In fact, he’s shown quite the opposite in recent years, having purchased Little Switzerland ski area in 2011, and The Rock Snowpark in 2017, both of which are just outside of Milwaukee. While the article doesn’t share Schmitz’s next plans, it does make it obvious that after 16 years in the industry, Rick is still full of energy and having the time of his life as the owner of multiple resorts. While we’re not here to pretend to be financial planners or to give life advice that should be taken seriously, we will say the story of Rick Schmitz will at the very least cause us to linger just a little bit longer on any ski resort listing we come across in the future, and maybe you should too. To read the entire story, head over to AcquiringMinds.co.