#1: Breaking News: K2 Ski Boots to Absorb Full Tilt Starting Next Season:
Hello and welcome to Top Five Fridays, the October 8, 2021 edition! This week, we’ve got one major headline, one highlight from the world of ski racing, and a pair of purely interesting articles to round things out. We’ll start this week as we always do this time of year: with the headline that grabbed our attention the most.
At the end of last week, we began hearing rumors that this could be the last year for Full Tilt ski boots. Currently operated by the team at Line Skis, and thereby owned by K2 Sports, last week’s rumor mill suggested that K2 would be sunsetting the Full Tilt brand after this season and bringing their three piece shell design into the K2 Ski Boots lineup. This week, we got confirmation of those details as Full Tilt shared a press release containing the same information. In that release, Full Tilt expressed a bittersweet take on the situation, saying that while it’s sad to see the brand itself come to an end at the conclusion of this season, the team at K2 is well equipped to bring the boots under their own umbrella, keeping the legacy of the three piece boot alive.
Now, we can already hear some of our reader’s saying, “but I’m a diehard SkiEssentials loyalist, I never shop anywhere else, and you don’t carry Full Tilt. Why should I care?” Great question. Here’s the thing: while we don’t carry Full Tilt ski boots, we do carry K2 Ski Boots, so depending on how this all plays out, and just how much of Full Tilt’s line K2 brings into the fold, there’s a chance that this news will mean that in the next year, we could begin selling this legendary three piece design. While it’s far too early to know for sure, as the news is so fresh that we haven’t even had a chance to discuss what this means with our K2 boots rep, there’s a chance this is excellent news for our customers. If you’re someone who would like to see us carrying Full Tilt style ski boots, be sure to let us know in the comments below!
#2: Mikaela Shiffrin Announces a Renewed Focus on Speed Races:
Next up this week is news from the world of ski racing. For those of you who’ve been with us for a while now, you’re likely well aware that during the season, we typically start our weekly ski news recap by sharing the latest FIS ski racing results or news. If you’re someone who looks forward to the weekly competitive recaps, then you’ll love this small piece of news: FIS World Cup Ski Racing kicks off in just over two weeks, with a Giant Slalom event on the glacier in Sölden, Austria scheduled for October 23, 2021. That means that our first FIS recap of the year is scheduled for three weeks from now, on October 29, 2021. With the season coming up quick, the weeks ahead are likely to bring us consistent headlines and previews from the world of ski racing. This week falls right in line with that assessment as we caught news coming out of the Micheala Shiffrin camp as she’s shared some of her goals for the season ahead.
Now chances are if you’re even a casual fan of ski racing, you’re well aware of the back to back difficult seasons for Shiffrin. Just in case you’re not though, here’s a lightning quick recap: Shiffrin’s 2019-2020 season came to a screeching halt after the unexpected loss of her father. After taking the season to mentally recover, Shiffrin eased herself back into action last year, opting to focus on her strongest disciplines: slalom and giant slalom. While her season started slow in terms of the results we’d come to expect from her, she ended the season with a return to form, highlighted by an incredibly strong showing at the World Championships. Now, with her passion for competition seemingly back, Shiffrin announced this week that she’s ready and excited to return to her pursuit of conquering speed events. Prior to her tumultuous season and a half, Shiffrin had begun making strong progress in the world of speed events, earning her first gold medal in a speed race at a Downhill event in Lake Louise in 2017, followed by a gold medal in Super G the year after. In a media event put on by Atomic, Shiffrin said, “For my whole career my focus will always be tech, but I love speed, and I love Lake Louise especially, so that is in the plan right now.” In other words, whether knowingly or not, it sounds like Shiffrin is ready to get back to her old ways as she pursues dominance in all disciplines of ski racing. For fans of Shiffrin, this is extremely welcome news as this type of energy has been understandably missing for a couple of years now. While we’ll have to wait and see how this all plays out, it’s exciting to know that Shiffrin is back on top of our list of athletes to watch in the season ahead. For more on this, check out the recap from Aspen Times.
#3: James Niehues Officially Retires from Painting Ski Maps, Announces Auction Featuring Original Pieces:
In other news this week, legendary ski map painter James Niehues has officially announced his retirement from the world of ski resort trail map making. Now, if you don’t know who James Niehues is, do yourself a huge favor and familiarize yourself with the man and his work. Chances are, you’ve looked at a ski map he’s painted at some point during your skiing experience. Unfortunately though, the Niehues era of ski maps has officially come to a close. While this news isn’t entirely unexpected, as Niehues has formerly announced a long term project in which he hopes to paint all of the United State’s National Parks, this week’s announcement makes his retirement official. But, it’s not all bad news. Using this announcement as an opportunity to hold some media attention, Niehues also announced that he’ll be selling a number of pieces via an auction kicking off on October 19th. Even more impressive, Niehues plans to donate 100% of the proceeds from the auction to the Colorado Snowsports Museum and Hall of Fame. Of the pieces being auctioned off, two are exceptionally rare: an original painting of Snowmass, and one of Telluride- both created over 25 years ago during his time working for Snow Country Magazine. To learn more about the upcoming auction as well as Niehues’s history and future as a painter, check out this writeup from Outside Business Journal.
#4: Archaeologists in Norway Unearth 1,300 Year Old Ski, the Missing Companion to a 2014 Discovery:
Finally, for our last highlight this week, we’ve got an article that’s just downright fascinating if you’re any kind of history buff at all. That’s because this week, archaeologists in Norway discovered and recovered the second ski in a pair of 1,300 year old skis that was originally discovered in 2014. At that time, archaeologists discovered a single ski emerging from the ice on Norway’s Digervarden Mountain. Now, as the ice has continued to recede, the second ski from the set has been unearthed approximately 15 feet away. While this isn’t the oldest set of skis, that title is claimed by a ski dating back to 6000 B.C.E that was discovered in Russia, with possible evidence of skis in China dating back to 8000 B.C.E., this week’s discovery is still extremely exciting as it tells us more about both the history of the area in which it was discovered, as well as the history of skis themselves. If we accept the theories that the original skis date back to 8000 B.C.E. in China, that means skis were an integral part of the hunter gatherer lifestyle for thousands of years, even across cultures that likely never had contact with each other. Considering how rudimentary the skis that were discovered in Norway are, it also suggests that skiing technology experienced very little advancement across thousands of years, except for the use of furs to act as an early form of skins. Keeping this in mind, it’s pretty incredible that we find ourselves not only in an era in which wooden skis were replaced by more advanced materials only within the last century, but also at a time in which ski technology has progressed at an incredible rate within just the last 20-40 years as we’ve moved from straight skis to parabolic skis with rocker, utilizing all types of different core materials. Furthermore, and perhaps most importantly, this article puts further weight behind a suspicion that we’ve had held since 2014 when we first asked, “If Aliens Exist, Do They Ski?” Afterall, if various humans have independently discovered skis as a means of transportation across thousands of years, wouldn’t that mean ice-planet bound aliens must’ve done the same? While this concept is little more than a theory, we strongly believe that future generations will confirm this belief and credit SkiEssentials with being the first to reach this landmark conclusion. To learn more about this week’s discovery, check out the report from Smithsonian Mag. To hear more about our totally baseless hypothesis regarding skiing aliens, check out our cutting edge report from 2014, for which we somehow still haven’t won any awards.