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This post is long over due. Last week, former Vail executive Andy Daly and real estate partners Tom and John Gart of the outdoor retail chain gart Bros. bought Colorado ski area Powderhorn for $1.4 million. Powderhorn, a quaint ski resort in western Colorado has four lifts accessing 1,600 skiable acres with an inn and restaurant sees 75,000 visitors annually. Years of low skier visits and a down economy contributed to its auction at an unbelievable price. In addition to the amenities already mentioned, the purchase included 700 acres of land that may be developed into a golf course.

Despite being from Colorado, Daly, like myslef, have never skied at Powderhorn. It excites me that someone with capital, experience, and a personal passion for skiing has stepped in to help turn the resort around. Daly hopes to imporve every single aspect of the mountain stating “we firmly believe that with a little bit of investment and some focus on the service side — everything from on-mountain grooming and developing the terrain parks to the food quality and guest services — we can have a pretty big impact on the market.” It is inspiring to hear that he not only has a plan, but is ready to focus on competitive elements like the terrain park to help bring the masses to the mountain.

Though it is too late in the summer for any big changes to begin, I am sure that within the next year efforts will be made to restore Powderhorn as a productive resort in the Mesa County community.

Trail map of Powderhorn Ski Area

ESPN online writer Devon O’Neil recently told the world about Tanner Hall’s new app for iphones, ipads, and Macs set to hit the store in time for the X Games. I am super excited to see how ‘Tanner Hall Half Pipe Skiing’ will work for users as Tanner hopes it will offer a much more realistic experience. The first app will be free, and hopefully followed by an urban rail game, a backcountry freeskiing game, and an advanced pipe-skiing game for $0.99.

Following suit with Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater there will be other pro skiers featured in the game, all decked out in actual product. As game developer Dave Howard says “If they’re playing the game and they like the jacket he’s wearing, they can actually go purchase that jacket.” This is an excellent avenue to merge entertainment and sponsorship to help increase visibility and drive sales. On any given day in the terrain park, one can already spot a slew of kids wearing the same outfit as their favorite pro. If this app goes as planned, it can spread to more urban areas with less hype and access to the skiing community. And lets face it, no one knows how to look good in cold weather better than skiers and riders.

If the first game goes well and generates productive feedback, I think we will see the follow up apps kick ass. I look forward to putting angry birds down and picking Tanner Hall Half Pipe Skiing up.

Ten years ago, how many avid powder hunting skiers and riders knew of Las Lenas, Argentina? How many knew of Valle el Arpa, Chile? How many people today know about these places? Hopefully a lot more now that the Freeskiing World Tour is heading back to South America. And this year, Red Bull has put their brand on the opening stop of the tour labeling it the Red Bull Powder Disorder. Keeping inline with the tradition big lines and big cliffs, this stop will include man made jumps for even more action.

Las Lenas employee Sofia Fernandez Madero explains “the natural characteristics of our mountain and the climate favor our position as the off-piste Mecca in this region.” WHY ARE WE NOT THERE NOW?! For the last two weeks I have read nothing but posts about the deep untracked pow being skied down south, and I can’t help but wonder how I did not know about it. I knew racers have been going to Chile for years to rack up some summer speed miles but had no grasp on the magnitude of the pow.

With the freeskiing big mountain scene gaining steam, red bull putting their stamp on it, and endless tales of freshies I expect travelers to consider a trip south next summer for skiing rather than an expensive heli trip to Alaska. It isn’t uncommon for dedicated enthusiasts to head to Europe for a ski trip during the winter, but I expect to see that same demographic heading to South America for summer time skiing in the future.

I love when social media delivers you fun news for the skiing community. Alpine Meadows and Moment Skis are teaming up and calling upon their fans to design a limited edition Alpine Meadows ski. The rules are pretty basic, design a top sheet using Photoshop or Illustrator that feature the Alpine Meadows and Moment logos. The top five designs picked by Moment representatives will then be put to a public vote via Alpine’s Facebook page. The winner of the contest will receive:

1:  A pair of the limited-edition Alpine/Moment collaboration skis with your design in your choice of sizes.

2: 2011-12 Alpine Meadows Unfiltered season pass – good at Alpine Meadows, Homewood Mountain Resort, Kirkwood Mountain Resort, Red Lodge Mountain Resort in Montana, and Durango Mountain Resort in Colorado.

Not a bad deal at all! Alpine Meadows must have had success using Facebook for their 4th of July T-shirt vote and they are at it again, but this the time the prize is much better. Alpine has 10,437 likes on Facebook, and as mentioned in my previous blog Moment skis has 6,625 likes; this collaboration should really help drive traffic to both pages, then actual websites, and hopefully converting clicks into skier visits or customers. Who knows, Moment may even stumble upon a new graphic designer.

As an Alpine Meadows season pass holder and a local student at Unversity of Nevada, Reno, I am very excited to see the eventual ski designs. This should be fun news for the Reno/Tahoe ski community and the ski community in general. I showed the contest to my graphic design roommate, so be looking for Marty Harris’ design in the final five.

"The Buttress" after a powder day at Tough Guy Productions Telemark Big Mountain competition at Alpine Meadows 2011.

Have you ever really needed your carpet professionally cleaned, or replaced all together, and kept putting it off? Only when Grandma and Grandpa finally come for graduation or Christmas do you find the motivation to get it done. Events are a key catalyst needed for resorts to justify the value in upgrades. This past March I spent spring break in Rjukan, Norway, for the FIS Telemark World Championships where they had spent the last two years preparing for the event by building a new lodge and two new surface lifts for the race hill. The ski center already offered great terrain and high speed lifts, but the additional T-bars allowed for real estate expansion at a new base and more skiable acres for their stats.

Snowbasin Resort in Ogden, Utah used the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics to build two spectacular gondolas, a high speed quad, and the Mt. Allen tram that accesses the top of the mens downhill start. Along side the great on slope addition in preparation for the Olympics, First Tracks!! Online Ski Magazine thought the base lodge was in need of recognition and recently published an article arguing that Snowbasin may have the best bathrooms in the world, worthy of being voted into the hall of fame by bestroom.com.

The action sports world of the X Games, Grand Prix, and Dew Tour generates a list of events that has promoted snow making and grooming operations. Breckenridge and Aspen both have incredible terrain parks all season long due to the immense early season snow making efforts and the the incredible machines used to sculpt the mountain.

Already claiming stellar reputations, these mountains leveraged the coverage and high status of events as reason to stay ahead of the game. Let me know what you think of my take on the role events can play in resort upgrades, or any mountains that may have done so that I left out.

An Olympic torch runner cut into the trees across from the race hill in Hafjell, NO for the 1994 Lillehammer games.

Today, August 2, 2011, if you go to www.K2skis.com you will be blocked from the page. That is, until you ‘Like’ them on Facebook and then you’ll be treated to a Facebook page filled with videos and information on their new line of skis for the 2011-12 season. This is a wonderful use of social media to excite consumers and make them want to learn about the new product line.

Currently, K2’s website is being renovated leaving Facebook as their only online presence until the new site goes live on August 11. Using Facebook as your interim site is a great way to maintain a presence at an extremely low cost. Additionally, this tactic has two great benefits:

1) K2 is gathering more and more followers on Facebook

2) When the new site launches, everyone will want to check it out

It is brilliant really, creating this hype will help get consumers to your website when it first launches and then provides the ability to continually update them in their Facebook news feed. It is invigorating to see a personal favorite ski company put inbound marketing to use. This campaign has been blowing up on twitter to those in the know, and has continued to spread to everyday users of the product. At this time, K2 is only the third company that I have looked into for next season’s products. And why? Because they told me to!  And it looks to be working for K2, blowing away the competition with an impressive 77 thousand likes on Facebook.

Other companies and their FB followers:

  • Rossignol                                               58 thousand likes
  • Head Ski                                                 56 thousand likes
  • Salomon Freeski                                 56 thousand likes
  • Black Diamond Equipment            54 thousand likes
  • Armada Skis                                         51 thousand likes
  • Line Skis                                                43 thousand likes
  • Atomic Skiing                                    14 thousand likes
  • Volkl                                                     12 thousand likes
  • Dynastar                                             12 thousand likes
  • 4FRNT Skis                                        nearly 8 thousand likes
  • Moment Skis                                    6 thousand likes
  • Fischer Skis*                                   5 thousand likes
  • Nordica USA                                   2 thousand likes
  • Elan                                                    1 thousand likes
*eight different pages come up for Fischer on a Facebook search, I chose the one with the most followers.

Image on K2's home page at http://www.K2skis.com

After discussing how Copper Mountain has been able to become a leader in the ski racing community, it is now time to talk about Copper’s role in the freestyle world. Many of the same features that make Copper great to racers applies to freestylers as well such as the incredible early season man made snow that annually permits the first super pipe in North America. This alone attracts numerous pros like Tanner Hall and TJ Schiller. To me their leverage in acquiring the title of ski epicenter also lies in the numerous events they have hosted throughout the years. They have held the US Freeskiing Open, OLN’s Gravity Games, the opening stop of the Grand Prix, and USASA Nationals which draws over 1,200 competitors and their families.

In more recent news, Woodward at Copper has been a hit. The Barn, complete with a foam pit, trampolines, and a skate bowl is where Woodward’s indoor progression sessions take place. Just a short walk away from the main base, their program has attracted a stream of visiting pros including Colby West, Bobby Brown, Steve Fisher, Louie Vito, Gretchen Bleiler, even Shaun White. The talent out on the slopes of Copper Mountain should quickly become apparent to locals and visitors alike as it stretches from ripping youngsters to Olympic athletes. Copper is lucky to be in such a wonderful location and have the unique ability to watch snow sports advance right before their eyes.

 

Back in the early 2000’s when I first joined Team Summit, I had no idea how forward thinking then head alpine director Rob Worrell was or how much support we had from Copper Mountain. With help from former mountain manager Jim Spenst, Team Summit had permission to drive their vans to the top of the mountain in June and hike a decent amount of snow for a slalom camp. Fast forward to the next June and Copper actually ran the lifts for our training that rivaled Mt. Hood’s Timberline glacier. The very next October marked the first time (to my knowledge) that Copper allowed Team Summit and other teams willing to make the trek to Colorado early season training weeks before opening day. An instant success drawing teams from around Colorado, Utah, California, Minnesota, and Michigan, Copper was able to give great rates on food and lodging in what would have otherwise been a ghost town at that time of year. Before long, Copper’s early season cold temps and hard man made snow drew attendance from the US Ski Team and other national teams looking to capitalize on some North American training before world cups in Aspen, Beaver Creek, and Lake Louise, Canada.

Then came the proposal from the US Ski Team to invest in snow making and have Copper as their official early season training location. Sadly, that year Copper turned them down and neighboring Keystone was able to gain that title and all the publicity that came with it. Keystone took advantage of their new title and the massive amount of racers training in the county  and hosted some NorAms that year, but thats it. By the next year, all the best training had shifted back to Copper.

This year, in a brilliant business move surly aided by Powdr. Corp CEO  and Vice Chair for the US Ski and Snowboard Association (USSA) John Cumming, Copper has finally been named the official Speed Center for the US Ski Team. Revamping snowmaking and moving a steeper side of the mountain, Copper can confidently boast the BEST early season speed training in the world. The ski racing community is tight knit one, and Copper is at the heart of the early season scene with teams from across the country coming to train. As an epicenter of ski racing, Copper Mountain is fostering a culture of progressive skiing and increased community.

Check back tomorrow and hear about how Copper has addressed the freestyle side of it all. As always, please leave a comment and let us know what you think.

The competition is fierce in the ski industry. There are numerous mountains to choose from and even more brands  that help make the skiing/riding experience all the better. Just in the last few weeks, several ski companies have made changes in their marketing teams in hopes of edging out the competition and making effective use of social business. Here is a list of some big new hires:

Yakima named Bobbie Parisi as its new Global Marketing Director on July 26th. Boasting a resume that includes footwear goliath Nike, and outdoor footwear company Keen, her new position will involve “digital marketing, retailer communications, branding integration, public relations, grass root events and strategic partnerships” as stated by SkiingBusiness.com.

Hestra Gloves is outsourcing their communications and public relations efforts to 8150 Consulting out of Vail, CO lead by Beth Jahnigen Pappas and Jamie Wilson Gunion. Hestra also hired Nick Moscia from Denver, CO as an independent consultant to oversee their online marketing.

Scarpa, my only choice for telemark boots, has hired Colleen Nipkow as their new marketing manager. Coming from Black Diamond, Nipkow has a solid understanding of the outdoor industry; coupled with Verde PR, Scarpa is sure to remain in spotlight for delivering high quality products.

Finally, Vail Resorts has hired Kirsten Lynch as their new chief marketing officer. This massive position will include brand marketing, advertising, customer relations management, market research, pricing, e-commerce, online marketing and strategic alliances. Formerly of PepsiCO and Kraft Foods, her vision can only propel Vail Resorts farther as a both a brand and resort operator.

Already equipped with sterling reputations in the world of outdoor retail and resort operations, I am excited to see how these additions will effect our beloved skiing community. Please leave a comment and let me know your hopes and fears.

One of the most common ways of driving business to ski resorts is by hosting events. These events may range from competitions, conferences, to concerts. The goal is to bring in new people who may have otherwise given their business to another resort or skipped out on the experience all together. Events help deliver value not only to the guests in attendance through creating memories, but to the resort as well in the form of positive word-of-mouth advertising. When real value is delivered to the consumer that is where repeat business will be generated.
Hopefully when people head to an event they turn it into a vacation when they spend the night and their money on food and drinks. Aside from just spending their money on the necessities of food and shelter, those in the retail industry hope that the guests take a stroll through the shops and purchase new trendy items. In the case of a resort hosting competitions, it brings the  best athletes all to one place and gives an opportunity for the tourists to see how those invested in the ski industry are spending their money allowing them to make informed decisions. Even better, competitors are the easiest demographic to convert into life long skiers and riders for returned business to the resort and the outdoor retail industry in general. Copper Mountain is in the midst of a ten year contract with United States of America Snowboard Association (USASA) Nationals that brings in around 1,200 competitors every year. There is no question in my mind that of all those athletes, 90% of them will be life long snow sport enthusiasts. 

Drew Hauser


Raised in the Colorado Rockies, I use my passion as a skier to expand on knowledge of the industry seeking a career in outdoor retail or resort operations.


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