Top Five Fridays: May 26, 2023 - Lead Image

Top Five Fridays: May 26, 2023

MAY 26, 2023 | WRITTEN BY Matt McGinnis

Lead Image: This week, the FIS confirmed plans to host the first ever FIS Games in 2028, a quadrennial event in which every FIS event will host a competition for world supremacy. More on that below! Image: FIS Freestyle Skiing on Facebook

#1: WE HAVE A NEW WEBSITE!!!


Top Five Fridays May 26, 2023: SkiEssentials Website Image

Hello, and welcome to Top Five Fridays, the May 26, 2023 edition! If you’re reading this, you’ve likely already realized, either from the site itself or from the headline of this highlight, that there’s a new SkiEssentials.com in town! Many, many months in the making, we’re excited to finally be able to reveal the new home of SkiEssentials.com. In the tech startup world, there’s this term, “technical debt,” which essentially refers to “debt” that stacks up when you’re forced to make decisions based on what the business needs today rather than 5 years from now. In other words, it’s the result of taking shortcuts to solve today’s problems under the notion that there’ll be a time to circle back and implement the right technology at a later date.

When SkiEssentials.com started out back in 2004 as the online arm of Pinnacle Ski and Sports, our brick and mortar shop here in Stowe, VT, there weren’t a lot of great options for inventory management in both physical and online locations. So, we did what we had to do to pair our existing inventory and checkout systems with our online home. Since then, we’ve been focused on the business side of the business - buying the right inventory, making sure we get the best deals on gear that we can then pass on to you, writing high quality ski reviews, etc etc. True, we’ve given the website a facelift a few times, and made some adjustments to our inventory management along the way, but we’d never given our entire backend system the comprehensive overhaul it needed. That is, until now.

As you’ll recall, we acquired Basin Sports last summer, the premier outdoor retailer in the Killington, VT area. While we’d had our sights set on a new website for years now, that acquisition was the impetus we needed to move forward with a complete overhaul of our systems as we now had a second physical location to hold inventory, and one that operated on different point of sale and inventory management systems entirely. Noting that it would be a challenge to accurately maintain inventory across all sales locations, especially using different platforms, we came to the conclusion that it was finally time to get rid of the technical debt we’d accrued and to revamp our website and inventory management systems in order to create a more unified infrastructure that can support our growing business.

Now at this point you’re probably thinking something like, “cool, good for you guys, what a story… but what does this mean for me?” Well, a few things actually. First and foremost, this new setup should go a long way in ensuring that even as our inventory grows, we’re able to stay on top of what’s in stock. If an item sells at a cash register in Killington, it’ll immediately be pulled from the website. Additionally, the entire design of the site has been revamped to give a more modern, user friendly feel, particularly on mobile devices. Along with that will also come the ability to implement a number of more engaging layouts here on Chairlift Chat, although those features will be slowly rolled out in the months to come as we fine tune the shopping experience itself. All in all, the bottom line for you, the customer, is that the new SkiEssentials.com website, as well as our new inventory system, is sure to bring you a better customer experience than ever before as we continue to scale our business, ultimately bringing you the best deals in outdoor sports. We hope you like it, and we’d love to hear your thoughts in the (new) comments section below!

#2: FIS World Cup Ski News - 2023-2024 Calendars Confirmed, the 2028 FIS Games Are a Go:


Top Five Fridays May 26, 2023: FIS Games Image

Introducing the FIS Games: a new, once every four years global competition amongst FIS athletes. Debuting 2028 in a yet to be determined location. Image: Official FIS Games Bidding Guide

While highlight one is a tough act to follow this week, our second highlight contains some pretty interesting news that we think quite a few of you will be excited about. First, let’s start with the broad strokes. As you’ll recall from last week’s report, the FIS hosted their annual congress on Thursday, as well as their 2023 spring meeting. Across those two meetings, a number of important decisions were made. First and foremost, the men’s and women’s race schedules were confirmed, meaning we now know with certainty that Killington and Tremblant will each play hosts to a pair of Women’s World Cup races, while Beaver Creek, Aspen, and Palisades Tahoe will play host to cMen’s World Cup races. Curiously, the only venue on either schedule that has yet to be confirmed is Lake Louise, meaning we can’t give you a final tally on North American venues, but we can confidently say that the U.S. will be hosting four World Cup weekends this winter. That’s excellent news for Team U.S.A., who hopes continued visibility will serve to strengthen its talent pipeline.

The other big news, and arguably the most exciting news, is that the FIS approved the introduction of a quadrennial FIS Games. Similar in concept to the Olympics, the FIS Games will be hosted once every 4 years, with the first iteration set to debut in 2028. Strategically scheduled to fill a void, the FIS Games will happen in the sole year in which there is not an FIS Alpine World Championship (2027, 2029), or Winter Olympics / Paralympics (2026, 2030). By bridging the gap that occurs once every four years (2028, 2032), the FIS Games hope to capture a global audience, turning the spotlight entirely on FIS sports for the duration of the event. As for the games themselves, think of it as more or less every FIS event there is, plus a few that are yet to come. Yes, there will be alpine racing, moguls, aerials, halfpipe, and slopestyle. But there will also be a slew of snowboarding events, speedskating, telemark events, and even freeride skiing (thanks to the recent acquisition of the Freeride World Tour). All told, when factoring in para snowsports, there will be 70+ events held at the games. In other words, it’s kind of like the Olympics, but organized by the FIS and focused entirely on the FIS’s world of sports. Currently, we know that the plan has been approved and the 2028 FIS Games will be happening, but host nations are yet to be determined. In fact, much unlike the Olympics, the FIS is leaving the door open to the possibility that multiple regions could host the games in order to accommodate the vast range of terrain and facilities required. The verdict is still out on how hosting duties will shake out, but we should start to know more by this time next year. Until then, you can learn more about the FIS Games by clicking here.

#3: Town of Vail Approves Housing Unique Development for Locals, Area Businesses Buy In:


Top Five Fridays May 26, 2023: Timber Ridge Redevelopment Image

Renderings showing the proposed scale and location of the redevelopment of Timber Ridge. Image: Triumph Development

In other, non FIS news this week, we caught an interesting story coming out of Vail, where housing shortages are amongst the worst in any ski town in America. Last summer, we found ourselves sharing the story of how a proposed development which would provide employee housing in East Vail was being delayed due to considerations regarding its impact on the local bighorn sheep population. That story is wrought with finger pointing, with those in favor of the development accusing the wealthy population in opposition of it as using the bighorn sheep as a scapegoat, while the proponents argued that the opposition simply didn’t want employee housing developed near their luxury homes.

This week, we caught a much more positive story coming out of Vail that addresses a similar topic as the Town of Vail has finalized an agreement with Triumph Development to move forward with plans to redevelop the Timber Ridge Village apartments in West Vail. In being given approval for this project, Triumph will nearly triple the amount of housing available on this plot of land, taking it from 96 homes with approximately 196 bedrooms, to 288 homes with 569 bedrooms. Additionally, all of these homes will be deed-restricted, meaning they can only be purchased by people who work 30+ hours a week and earn a minimum of 75% of their income from a local business. In other words, while these homes aren’t strictly employee housing for Vail Resorts, they are being reserved for the town’s workforce, and can’t be sold or used as a second home or an income property.

Perhaps the most interesting part of this story though is the funding. In total, the project is expected to cost about $165 million, with about $49.5 million being contributed by the town who is working to procure adjacent land to make the development happen. The remaining $114.5 million is being footed by Triumph, who will look to recoup their expenses by selling the units to local residents and businesses. That second part, the local businesses, is what makes this story interesting. In order to prove the concept that local businesses truly do want to play a role in solving the housing issues in Vail, Triumph opened up a deposit system in which businesses could lay claim to a unit by putting down $5,000. In about a week’s time, 165 of the units were claimed by local businesses. While we don’t know how many units of each size were deposited upon, and so we can’t calculate how many more units Triumph will have to sell before breaking even, the message here is clear: Vail businesses really do want to be a part of the solution, and they’re willing to invest their funds to become a part of it. Extrapolating this idea out, it could prove to be a business model that’s effective in other ski towns where housing shortages have become a real issue. By developing deed restricted homes, and having businesses put deposits down on units from the developers, it more or less guarantees that developers will be able to recoup their investment while housing is guaranteed for the local workforce. For the businesses, this makes sense as they’ll earn rental income from the units, while also ensuring that their is adequate housing for their workforce. Mix in a bit of passive income and portfolio diversification, and you’ve got a sound financial decision for local business people as well. All told, it’s a cool story, and one that we hope will prove to be a success that’s replicable across a number of mountain towns. To learn more about it, check in with the Vail Daily.

#4: The Homewood Mountain Resort Saga Continues as Approvals Put on Pause:


Top Five Fridays May 26, 2023: Homewood Mountain Resort Image

Another look at the ultra picturesque Homewood Mountain Resort. Image: Homewood Mountain Resort on Facebook

Finally, on a closing note, we have the pleasure of revisiting a story that we shared just last week as there’s been a significant update. As you might recall, last week’s Top Five included coverage of the story evolving at Tahoe’s Homewood Mountain Resort, a small ski area which has come across tough times in recent years as daily lift tickets and activity at the resort have steeply declined in recent years. In an effort to solve the problem, Homewood’s management team introduced the idea last summer of becoming semi-private, only selling season passes to those who lived in select local housing communities. This move, in tandem with their desire to develop the property under approvals given over a decade ago and under the pretext of a community-centric business model, resulted in significant backlash from the local community. The culmination of that backlash was the formation of a group called “Keep Homewood Public.” As you can likely guess, the goal of that group was to force the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency (TRPA) to withdraw previously granted development approvals for Homewood. As of last week, that was the latest on the story.

Then, just two days ago, Keep Homewood Public received the news they’d been hoping for: the TRPA had put all previous approvals on pause, and is forcing the development team behind Homewood Mountain Resort to resubmit a master plan that’s inline with their current goals. Until that announcement, the team at Homewood had been adamant that their plans had been taken out of context and that they had no intention of becoming a private resort. Now, with this news, the team has seemingly recognized the writing on the wall and is at the very least suggesting that their new plan will ensure a more community-centric focus. In a statement sent from the Homewood development team to Unofficial Networks, Homewood is quoted as saying, “Additionally, the plan will not privatize the mountain nor include ‘members-only’ access. It will also deliver significant environmental benefits to the Tahoe Basin and continues the resort’s two decades of environmental stewardship.

In the coming months, we will further engage with the community, sharing a plan in greater alignment with the original Master Plan and vision.”

That last paragraph is ultimately the big W for the Keep Homewood Public group. By successfully having approvals put on pause, the development team at Homewood is being forced back to the table where they’ll need to reopen discussions with the local community about both their needs and vision moving forward. Ultimately, this feels like a great thing. Homewood Mountain Resort has been facing some very real economic challenges in recent years, and it’s clear that neither side wants to see the resort go out of business. As a result, these discussions will give both parties a chance to discuss their needs and wants, hopefully allowing them to come to an amicable resolution when all is said and done. To learn more about this, check out the report from Unofficial Networks, or check out recent posts from the Keep Homewood Public Instagram account.

#5: And Now, Your Edits of the Week: “Saved By Snowboarding,” From Salomon TV, is Sure to Give You Chills:


Take an Entertaining Peak Behind the Scenes of a TGR Shoot With the MAGMA Crew:


Finally, Prolific Mountain Bike Content Creator Rémy Métailler Follows Professional Reece Wallace Around His Home Trails and the Results are Amazing:


Written by Matt McGinnis on 05/26/23

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