Saturday, November 17, 2018

Mikaela Shiffrin Wins First Slalom of the Season in Levi

Mikaela Shiffrin continued her unbeaten streak in slalom with a demonstrative victory on Levi (Finland). The course held up despite warm weather conditions in Levi on Saturday, and Shiffrin dominated both slalom runs to finish ahead of Petra Vlhova and Bernadette Schild, who were respectively 0.58 and 0.79 seconds off the winning pace. It was Shiffrin's 43rd career World Cup victory.
Mikaela Shiffrin won her third reindeer and slalom race at Levi (FIN) to bring her total World Cup slalom victories tally of 33 well within striking distance of all-time leader Marlies Schild (35).
"I was even surprised at how good the course felt with the warm conditions. The snow held up really well, and I was able to really push. I had a little bit of a scary moment on the top of the pitch, but I kept fighting and made it to the finish. That was fun", said Shiffrin following her win. "It’s the first race of the season, so there’s some nerves, there’s some excitement. Nobody knows how fast they are. So it’s always a really nice challenge, and it’s a nice slope".
The 2017 victor Petra Vlhova of Slovakia gave chase in the second run to improve her position from third to second place. But she was still just over half a second shy of Shiffrin in the end. Bernadette Schild of Austria skied the fastest second run to leap a surprising nine positions from 12th place after the first run onto the podium in third place.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

What Is Going On Here? Is Facebook Dead for Marketers?

"Facebook’s algorithms require you to pay for an audience you already own and that’s utter bullshit (...) Make the exodus. Start supporting small social media networks. Start promoting peoples’ websites again. Start subscribing to their blogs. We need to shift the consolidation of power that the major Social Media Networks have back to us again", Kira Leigh in Art+marketing

"Facebook’s algorithm isn’t surfacing one-third of our posts. And it’s getting worse", Kurt Gessler in Medium

"The Facebook anguish continues", Lucia Moses in DIGIDAY

On Friday I watched the last episode of South Park. Watching the adventures of Stan Marsh, Kyle Broflovski, Eric Cartman, and Kenny McCormick gives me the opportunity and ideas to introduce subjects to discuss in my classes in a different way. And I think the 4th episode in the 21st season of South Park is perfect to meditate about what is going on with Facebook.

"You see, what I've done, Adam, is built a completely self-sustaining chaos machine (...) doing nothing more than that Facebook was designed to do. I make money on Facebook for my fake content in order to pay Facebook to promote my fake stories". Butters Stotch as Professor Chaos in Franchise Prequel (Facebook is the ultimate weapon for Professor Chaos, he has found the perfect tool to spread lies and misinformation about Coon and friends).

If we look back, we see that Facebook was born as a social networking service. The founders had initially limited the website's membership to Harvard students; however, later they expanded it to other Universities. Since 2006, Facebook is open to anyone who fulfills the minimum age requirement and has a valid email address.
Traffic to Facebook increased steadily after 2009. Right now they claim they have 2 billion monthly active users (June 2017).
Facebook has affected the social life of the contemporary world forever. Facebook allows people using the internet to continuously stay in touch with friends, relatives, and other acquaintances. It has reunited lost family members and friends. Facebook allows users to trade ideas, stay informed with local or global developments, and unite people with common interests and/or beliefs.
When I joined Facebook it was still a social networking site.
But a few years ago everything changed.
First, Facebook’s preference for video over text posts was a fact. And now is more or less a wall of news.
"There’s a large segment of the population that gets most of its news from Facebook,(...) If there’s been an overall decline in high-quality news that’s circulating on the platform, that is generally concerning from a philosophical standpoint", said Matt Karolian, director of audience engagement at The Boston Globe.

Despite you follow Facebook optimal content mix rule, 50% links, 25% video and 25% photos, you are seeing a huge fall in your post consumption or daily average reach. And there is only one way to compensate that: paying to promote your posts. Facebook algorithms have one objective: to get more money of potential advertisers because Mark Zuckerberg's platform is under the growing pressure of shareholders who want revenue.
The point is, under the current conditions, many marketers think now, and I agree, is time to move away from Facebook.

"In my mind, we’re kind of at the mercy of the algorithm", Aysha Khan said. "But there’s a lot of stories that are getting underwhelming responses that readers can’t even see. It is this constant thing, trying to figure out how to incorporate it into your workflow. At one point they were pushing images, and then they were pushing video, and live video. I don’t think it’ll ever stop"
"To some, the issue points to the need for publishers to diversify their audience sources through search, direct traffic, and newsletters, while others registered resignation",  Lucia Moses in DIGIDAY

This article was originally published on Ski Paradise on October 15, 2017

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

2019 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships in Åre.

From the 5th to the 17th of February 2019, the entire ski world will be looking to Åre (Sweden). For the third time, Åre will host the 45th FIS Alpine World Ski Championships, the world's second largest winter sports event after the Olympics.
The best athletes (around 600) of 70 nations will compete for medals and the title of World Champion in the six disciplines Downhill, Giant Slalom, Super-G, Slalom, Alpine Combined (Downhill + Slalom) and in the Team Event. The Award Ceremonies will take place at the Medals Plaza.
Åre 2019 is estimating 120,000 visitors during the Alpine World Ski Championships.

Race Program:

The 2019 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships in Åre are scheduled from February 5-17.

Monday, February 4th 18:30 pm Opening Ceremony
Tuesday, February 5th 12:30 pm Super G / Ladies
Wednesday, February 6th 12:30 pm Super G / Men
Friday, February 8th Alpine Combined (11:00 am Downhill - 16:15 pm Slalom) / Ladies
Saturday, February 9th 12:30 pm Downhill / Men
Sunday, February 10th 12:30 pm Downhill / Ladies
Monday, February 11th Alpine Combined (11:00 am Downhill - 14:30 pm Slalom) / Men
Tuesday, February 12th 16:00 pm Team Event / Mixed
Thursday, February 14th Giant Slalom (14:15 First Run - 17:45 Second Run) / Ladies
Friday, February 15th Giant Slalom (14:15 First Run - 17:45 Second Run) / Men
Saturday, February 16th Slalom (11:00 First Run - 14:30 Second Run) / Ladies
Sunday, February 17th Slalom (11:00 First Run - 14:30 Second Run) / Men
Sunday, February 17th  Closing Ceremony

The village of Åre and its surroundings have a long alpine tradition and the tourist industry has been an important source of income for the village since the mid-1800s.
Interest in winters in Åre increased in the 1900s and construction of the funicular, Bergbanan, in 1910 was Åre’s start as a winter resort. The Second World War temporarily stopped development, but during the 1950s and 60s Åre, just like much of the rest of Europe, started to recover. Åre’s true golden years began at the end of the 1970s and, thanks to Ingemar Stenmark and the "Åre Project", which facilitated huge investment in Åre, interest boomed in the ski resort.
Nowadays, Åre, a small and rural town located in the Jämtland region, in the midst of the Swedish mountains, and with 1400 inhabitants, welcome around 800 000 visitors yearly.
Around 11,000 of Jämtland’s 126,000 inhabitants live in Åre Municipality. The county is about the same size as Switzerland (which has eight million inhabitants).
Åreskutan, with a summit that is snow-covered from November to May, towers above the village and the neighboring mountains. It rises 1420 meters above sea level and, on a clear day, it can be seen from the county seat of Östersund, 100 km away. "Skutan" is distinctive thanks to its alp-like character and its height; while other mountains and resorts are usually surrounded by mountains of the same height, Åreskutan is the tallest one around.

Åre first hosted the Alpine World Ski Championships in 1954. It was the 13th championships ever and world champions in Downhill, Giant Slalom, Slalom, and Alpine Combined were crowned between 1 and 7 March.
In 2007, once again, Åre hosted the Alpine World Ski Championships. The 2007 Championships made a permanent impression on Åre’s ski system and the village, as a new Ladies’ Downhill was built, commercial space doubled and a 130-meter-long tunnel replaced the bridge that once led the world championship slopes across the E14. The 39th Alpine World Ski Championships was a success for both the host and the Swedish team.
Åre also has great experience of organizing Alpine World Cup races. Åre Slalomklubb and Världscupbolaget have organized more than 100 World Cup races over the years, with great success. Thanks to the now legendary Åre son Bibbo Nordenskiöld’s initiative, an Alpine World Cup was first held in Åre in 1969.
The third World Cup was held in Åre on 21 March 1977. It was showtime for Sweden and Ingemar Stenmark; 29,000 people visited Åre to watch him win.

Friday, November 2, 2018

Workforce Housing Project in Vail

Currently, one of the main problems faced by ski resorts is the accommodation of workers. It is increasingly difficult for these to find accommodation in good conditions of habitability at affordable rates. And we all know how important our staff is when it comes to meeting the expectations of our customers. And, to a large extent, the quality of our staff will be determined by the quality of the accommodation, a key element between working conditions and fundamental to keep our workers in the medium and long-term and avoid excessive turnover of them.
Aware of the problem, Vail Resorts announced that it has entered into an agreement to sell a 23-acre parcel north of Interstate 70 located at the East Vail exit to Vail-based Triumph Development.
Just over five acres of the parcel was rezoned in September 2017 to allow for dedicated deed-restricted, workforce housing. The remaining 18 acres were simultaneously rezoned to Natural Area Preservation District, the Town’s most restrictive zone district, to maintain this acreage in its natural state. The parcel was previously zoned as Two Family Residential, one of the Town of Vail’s duplex zone districts.
Subject to an approval process by the Town of Vail which will include community input, the development will include a combination of seasonal workforce and year-round housing. The site has direct access to the Town’s East Vail bus stop, running frequently to and from the Vail Transportation Center.
"We have been actively engaged in many discussions to address workforce housing in Vail and across the resort communities we operate in", said Doug Lovell, vice president and chief operating officer of Vail Mountain. "We’re thrilled to see real progress with the East Vail parcel and are excited to help Triumph Development see the project through to fruition".
Principal and chief operating officer of Triumph Development, Michael O’Connor, said: "As a locally-based company with experience in similar projects including the Chamonix Vail townhomes in West Vail, we understand the critical need for housing in the Town of Vail. We very much look forward to once again collaborating with the Town and community to deliver a meaningful housing project that primarily serves locals. Vail Resorts has created a truly unique opportunity by rezoning this parcel and allowing Triumph to acquire the site and develop this much-needed workforce housing project. Vail Resorts has also committed to a long-term master lease for a portion of the new units that allows the ski company to secure housing units at affordable rates for its first- and second-year employees for many years to come".
Vail Resorts proactively retained qualified consultants to analyze geological concerns such as rockfall mitigation and carried out wildlife studies throughout this past winter. The studies have provided important information that will shape Triumph’s development plans, which will include an environmental impact report and a wildlife mitigation plan.
"It is our belief that this is an ‘and’ opportunity", O’Connor said. "We can create much-needed housing and enhance forage availability on bighorn sheep winter range. This is why Vail Resorts already committed to putting 18 acres into Natural Area Preservation. The data collected will not only be used to inform the community where and how wildlife are using the area, but also to design a project that avoids, minimizes and compensates for negative wildlife effects".
The East Vail project is Vail Resorts’ latest project in its effort to spur more workforce housing development in its resort communities. In 2015, Vail Resorts made a $30 million commitment in the form of contributing dollars, land and/or long-term master lease agreements to prompt private-public partnerships for new workforce housing. Since that time, Vail Resorts has been actively engaged in many discussions with private and public entities to bring more affordable housing to our resort communities, including in Colorado, Park City, Lake Tahoe and Whistler-Blackcomb:

  • The Wintergreen Workforce Housing Community near Keystone, which is expected to provide just over 380 beds and representing a commitment by the Company to the long-term lease of units. The developer broke ground in August of 2018.
  • Epic Mountain Express received approval in 2017 to convert a portion of a commercial property that the Company owns in Silverthorne to workforce housing. Construction of 10 new beds was completed in July of 2018.
  • In Whistler, Vail Resorts recently announced a plan to build a 200-bed development on Glacier Lane, an existing Whistler-Blackcomb staff housing complex. 
Despite challenges such as a lack of land, complex governmental approvals, neighborhood opposition, and costly infrastructure requirements, Vail Resorts continues to seek out projects and partnerships to find new and creative solutions to the workforce housing crisis facing so many mountain communities.

Vail Resorts is the leading global mountain resort operator. Vail Resorts’ subsidiaries operate 11 world-class mountain resorts and three urban ski areas, including Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge and Keystone in Colorado; Park City in Utah; Heavenly, Northstar and Kirkwood in the Lake Tahoe area of California and Nevada; Whistler Blackcomb in British Columbia, Canada; Perisher in Australia; Stowe in Vermont; Wilmot Mountain in Wisconsin; Afton Alps in Minnesota and Mt. Brighton in Michigan.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Saalbach-Hinterglemm replaces the canceled GS in Sölden

Last Sunday, the Men’s GS in Sölden was canceled due to the weather conditions. A thick layer of snow covered the race course (approximately 50 centimeters at the top and 40 in the finish).
In addition to this, the weather forecast wasn’t announcing any decrease in the snowfall or the wind strength.
Despite the hard work did by snowcats and quads to remove the snow, it became clear that in those conditions, the safety of the race could not be ensured. This is why the jury, together with the local organizing committee and the national ski association, took the decision to cancel the race.
But, after last years’ cancellation, the rule has been adapted to make possible to replace the opening race in case of a cancellation.
On Monday, FIS' Announced the canceled men's Audi FIS Ski World Cup Giant Slalom from Sölden (AUT) will be rescheduled in Saalbach-Hinterglemm (AUT) on 20th December 2018, with the following programme:

Thursday, 20.12.2018 (10:00 / 13:00 CET)

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Tessa Worley Wins World Cup Opening GS in Sölden

Tessa Worley kicked off the 2018-2019 FIS Audi Alpine World Cup tour with a Giant Slalom victory
on the Rettenbach Glacier in Sölden, Austria in front of 10,000 excited fans.
Today's victory is the 13h World Cup Win and 25th podium (all in GS) after 192 starts. Despite 11 prior starts at the venue, it was her career-first victory in Sölden.
Worley, third after the first run skied a superb second run to finish ahead of Italy's Federica Brignone by 0.35 seconds. Mikaela Shiffrin rounded out the podium 0.94 off the pace.
It was a stunning performance from the 29-year-old, who is a serving sergeant in the French Army, but also a two-time world champion in the Giant Slalom discipline. Tessa Worley mastered tricky conditions on a snowy and fog-hit Rettenbach Glacier. "The slope was very bumpy and very difficult, I just wanted to charge and have no regrets at the end", said Worley.
Federica Brignone of Italy missed 45 days of summer skiing when she sustained a strained knee ligament and bone bruise in a crash during super-G training in Zermatt. Despite her shortened preparation period, she skied the fastest first run in Sölden and followed up with an impressive performance on the second run as well in rugged conditions to claim second place.
The 2018 Overall World Cup winner Mikaela Shiffrin of the U.S. moved from the fourth position onto the podium with a crowd-pleasing second run that kept fans on the edge of their seats. When she crossed the finish line with a near one-second advantage over the previous leader, she was in solid contention for the podium but still had to await the skiing of three more challengers.

The Norwegian women had a magnificent performance this morning on the Sölden glacier, holding 4 of the top 10 positions. Ragnhild Mowinckel was their top finisher in a tie for 5th with Stephanie Brunner of Austria.

How to Ski: A Beginner’s Guide

Professional Ski Instructors of America (PSIA) and the American Association of Snowboard Instructors (AASI) has collaborated with SNOW Operating (providers of the Terrain Based Learning program) to produce a new three-video series: "How to Ski: A Beginner’s Guide". The videos are the first installment in a series of new educational materials aimed at novice skiers and riders.
Each of the first three videos is no more than four minutes long. The video series is broken out into skiing and snowboarding, so guests can focus on their chosen sport. There are three videos for each discipline featuring content provided by a PSIA-AASI Team member; Eric Lipton for alpine, and Chris Rogers for snowboard. Lipton and Rogers cover skills such as how to put on socks and boots, carry skis and snowboards, turn and stop, get up after a fall, and ride a chairlift.
PSIA-AASI members are encouraged to share these videos in their outreach to their current and potential guests. PSIA-AASI CEO Nicholas Herrin said that "as a result, your guests will feel more confident and comfortable getting started, so they can focus on the most important part of skiing and riding when they hit the slopes -- having fun!".
"We’re excited to roll out these videos as a resource for ski schools, retail shops, and resorts", said Herrin. "These videos will meet your guests’ needs by providing them with simple getting started tips in a way that’s convenient to access from home and easy to understand. The video series is created for the beginner, to help get more people started, which will hopefully help grow overall participation in winter sports".
Herrin said that the videos are simple and easy to understand for any viewer with little to no skill or experience in winter sports. The course does not take the place of an on-snow lesson, but it does cover the basics so that guests are ready to work with an instructor to build their skills when they arrive at a resort.
"Clear and simple YouTube instructional videos is something we all felt like the industry desperately needed. If you look at how today’s market learns to do anything, from working on their cars to learning how to play guitar, YouTube is the place where they start", said Hugh Reynolds, SNOW Operating vice president of marketing and sales.
"Up to this point nearly all the online content related to learning to ski or snowboard has been focused on the intermediate to advanced participant, people who have already committed to the sports", said Reynolds. "There was nothing for the never-ever or would-be first-time participant and we wanted to fill that gap. Our partnership with PSIA-AASI is something that we’re very proud of and this is just one example of how we’re working together to grow our sports".

Beginner’s Guide to Skiing 

How to Learn to Ski
It’s fun and easy to learn how to ski. In this Beginner’s Guide to Skiing video series, get simple tips from ski instructor Eric Lipton as he explains what to expect before you, your children, or friends ski for the first time.

Video 1: Learn About Ski Gear

Video 2: Basic Movements on Snow

Video 3: Getting Around on Skis

PSIA-AASI has also newly released the Teaching Snowsports Manual, a multi-discipline resource for instructors and snowsports schools that focuses on the PSIA-AASI Learning Connection. The Learning Connection is a teaching model that separates an instructor’s skills into three components: people skills, teaching skills, and technical skills.
The manual is designed to develop communication and intrapersonal skills and explore teaching and learning styles. It is available in both print and digital and can be accessed on a computer or on a smartphone or tablet via the free Snow Pro Library app. Lead author Ellen Post Foster is a former PSIA Team member and a U.S. Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame inductee; co-lead author Rob Sogard is also a former PSIA Team member and coach (1996-2016).

Thursday, October 25, 2018

SkiStar Reports 2017-2018 as Best Year Ever

Fantastic Winter Season brings increased revenue and record results for SkiStar.
"I am proud that we can present yet another record year for SkiStar! We show growth in most of our branches of activity. Valle’s Winter Weeks in January, holiday periods, SkiStar Business conference activities and SkiStarshop all made a strong contribution to the improved results. Our offering is strong!", said CEO Mats Årjes.
SkiStar destinations had fantastic seasons, with cold weather and snow from mid- December until mid-April. This enabled the company to offer good skiing from start to finish, which is reflected in the number of guests at the ski areas. The number of skier days (one day’s ski­ing with a SkiPass) was 5.8 million, an increase of about 404,000 days from the previous year. The number of booked overnight stays (through SkiStar’s accommodation agency operations) was approximately 517,000, an increase of 2.5 percent from the previous year.
Revenue for the full year was SEK 2,536 (2,306) million, an increase of SEK 230 (10 percent) compared with the previous year.
Profit after tax rose by SEK 99 million to SEK 486 million during the financial year, giving SkiStar increased scope to focus on and invest in SkiStar’s continuing development.
SkiStar development operations and sales of shares in Vacation Club this year have made an earnings contribution of SEK 146 million. 
SkiStar continues to concentrate sales on Bookings for the 2018/19 winter season are 5% higher than at the same time the previous year. Just over 50 percent of the total capacity expected to be sold in the full winter season is already booked. The highest level of growth in the foreign markets is coming from the UK and Denmark. It is also pleasing to see that SkiStar’s apps are used by about 80 percent of our guests and that engagement in SkiStar’s MySkiStar customer club continues to increase. The number of registered members is now over 780,000.
Construction of the Scandinavian Mountains Airport, located between Sälen and Trysil, is continuing according to plan. The airport is expected to have a major impact on business and industry in the region and is important to our investment in Hundfjället, where we are planning a new SkiStar Lodge and opening an eight-chair express lift this winter.

SkiStar is listed on the Nasdaq Mid Cap, Stockholm. The Group owns and operates alpine destinations in Sälen, Åre, Vemdalen and Hammarbybacken (Stockholm) in Sweden, Hemsedal and Trysil in Norway and St. Johann in Tirol in Austria. Market share is 50% in Sweden, 31% in Norway and 41% in Scandinavia. The Group’s core business is alpine skiing, with a focus on the guests’ overall skiing experience. Operations are divided into three segments; Ski Resorts – Operation, Infrastructure, and Exploitation. As the leading operator of European Alpine destinations, SkiStar’s business concept is to provide memorable winter experiences, offering value for guests, employees and other interested parties, which, in turn, creates value for our shareholders. The Group’s business model and fundamental strategy are based on offering the entire range of accommodation at all of SkiStar’s destinations through one distribution channel, thereby ensuring a high occupancy level and providing the conditions to maximize the sale of SkiPasses.
SkiStar is also official title sponsor to the 2019 Alpine World Championships in Åre.
From its foundation in 1975 until 2001 the company was called Sälenstjärnan AB. That year the Group adopts the name SkiStar AB.
SkiStar is one of the partners in the Scandinavian Mountains Airport. Located between Sälen and Trysil the first aircraft are expected to touch down in winter 2019-2020.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Long-term Agreement Reached for Grandvalira with the Incorporation of Ordino Arcalís to the Brand.

After months of uncertainty, Grandvalira has guaranteed its future with a historic agreement that also has added the incorporation of the Ordino Arcalís Ski Resort to the brand.
The intention to bring an end to the Grandvalira regulatory agreement and the mandate given to NEVASA for the marketing of the joint ski pass was announced in 2017. Aware of the economic advantages for the two companies, the two Parishes and the country as a whole, the heads of SAETDE and ENSISA, with personal mediation by the President of Andorra, Antoni Martí, have worked intensively over the last months to resume the collaborative effort.
This work has been reflected in a continuity agreement for Grandvalira that must be ratified by the governing bodies of SAETDE and ENSISA in the coming days. The agreement aims to lay the foundations for a beneficial future for all parties involved, and for the country as a whole.
It is indefinite, and after 10 years, allows for a two-year period during which either of the parties can declare they are no longer interested in continuing. This time limit assures the future stability of the sector for operators and companies.
It was also established that SECNOA is able to acquire up to 5% of NEVASA's shares, with the board of directors split equally between ENSISA and SAETDE/SECNOA. Despite the change in shareholders, the proposal and adoption of the General Meeting agreements need at least 60% of the NEVASA social capital.
In addition, the agreement adds the inclusion of the Ordino Arcalís resort to Grandvalira. The combination of the two resorts allows them to offer an even more pioneering snow experience, with a total of 240 km of slopes and a visitor influx translating to over 2 million days of skiing. This places the center among just 7 in the world to have surpassed this figure, according to the world ranking of over 2,000 resorts that Swiss consultant, Laurent Vanat, publish every year.
Grandvalira will gradually start incorporating products from the Ordino Arcalía resort into their portfolio. SECNOA will contribute to financing NEVASA, following the same criteria as SAETDE and ENSISA.
The prospect of a stable future, and with ambitious growth plans on the part of all NEVASA members, is the best possible outcome for such a key strategic sector in Andorran economy. In the 2017-2018 season, Grandvalira saw a record increase with a 2% rise in passes sold over the previous year, and skiers from abroad responded well to the commercial strategy pursued over the last three years. The upward trend in international markets saw a 15% rise in monthly income over the year before, and more than 40% over the last three seasons. The Grandvalira continuity agreement means it will be able to keep working with international tourist operators, with the aim of improving visitor diversity traveling to the Principality.
The agreed framework sets the stage for ambitious investments that resorts are planning in order to push the Grandvalira and Ordino Arcalís brand. They aim to increase skiable space, improve food, parking and service facilities, increase skier transport facilities and continue working on the digital transformation that was put into action last season.