Sunday, June 30, 2013

Red Bull X-Alps 2013. Technical Innovations

Athletes line up for the start of the Red Bull X-Alps 2013, will be carrying some of the most advanced flying gear ever, unimaginable to those racing in previous years.

Here’s some of the key progressions in ten years of racing:

1. Pack Weight
If athletes from the 2003 race could time-travel forward, they’d be gob-smacked by just how light their successor’s equipment has become. Race favourite Chrigel Maurer has shaved his equipment down to a mere 7 kg – that’s 65% lighter than the 20 kg monster bags the first racers set off with. Indeed the Red Bull X-Alps has inspired a new industry in lightweight paragliding gear with several of the advances made during gear development being taken forward to market.

2. Glider Line Layout
Recently paragliding design has gone through a revolution. New ‘two-liner’ technology has drastically reduced the number of suspension lines. Just like road bikes, less drag equals more performance. Some new gliders have as little as 188 metres of line – compared with an average 300 metres ten years ago.

3. Increased Aspect Ratio
Today’s wings are skinnier and slicker than ever. New arc layouts and more stable profiles have increased the wings’ aspect ratio from around 5.5 to 7.75. That means they glide better and cleaner through turbulence. Today’s wings glide at around 10.5:1 to 11:1, compared with around 9:1 back in 2003. So, with no wind, from an altitude of 2,000 metres, an athlete will glide a 23 km, compared with 18 km back in 2003.

4. Glider Stability
Paragliders fold away nicely on the ground, but you don’t want them doing that in the air. New leading edge profiles give a stronger, boxier shape which mean athletes can fly faster, with more security. New rules mean this year all athletes must fly fully-certified wings which have been through structural and flying tests to ensure their safety.

5. Harness Technology
Stream-lined ‘pod’ harnesses - which feature a neoprene full body fairing – were only just coming on the market in 2003. Heavy and cumbersome, no athletes chose to use them in the inaugural race. Now, advances in fabrics mean most will be flying super-lightweight pod harnesses weighing between 1.5 to 2 kg.

6. Live Tracking
In 2003, no-one knew where anyone was! Live Tracking was introduced in 2005, and hundreds of thousands of spectators now watch the race develop online. The system also means athletes and supporters can watch their rivals and adjust their tactics to try and out-wit each other.

7. Airspace Technology
It’s the one big untalked about subject. Every year several athletes get penalized or even disqualified for infringing forbidden airspace – even Chrigel Maurer got served a 24-hour penalty in 2011. In the first race, a plastic map and chinograph pencil were all athletes had to navigate around these complex, invisible zones. This year, athletes will benefit from the Flymaster Live navigation system which gives visual and audio warnings.

8. Supporters
Let’s not forget the true heroes of the race. They quietly get on with the cooking, cleaning, navigating and blister cleaning… all while driving thousands of kilometres, with little sleep themselves. Organisers have realized how massive a job being a supporter is and this year athletes are allowed two.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Red Bull X-Alps 2013 Racers

In a few days a new edition of the Red Bull X-Alps kicks off in Salzburg. The 2013 edition comes on the ten-year anniversary of the first Red Bull X-Alps.
Red Bull X-Alps is an adventure and paragliding competition for 32 selected internacional athletes from 21 different nations. The challenge is to cross the Alps from East to West and finish in Monaco as quickly as possible traveling only by paragliders or by foot.
The line-up consists of some legendary characters and many familiar names in the 10-year history of the Red Bull X-Alps. But there is also plenty of new talent keen to take on the world's toughest adventure race — and challenge the two-time champion Christian Maurer (SUI1).
 Comments Christoph Weber, race director: "Selecting the athletes was a really difficult task. We received a large number of applications from highly qualified individuals — world-class adventurers with very impressive flying credentials. The line-up promises to be even stronger than in previous years. It's going to be an exciting race!".
Applications came from all over the world and include champion paragliders, Everest summiteers and explorers. One of the main names to watch will be the Nepalese adventurer Babu Sunuwar (NPL), competing for the first time. In 2011, the 29-year-old climbed Mt Everest, paraglided from the summit, then kayaked to the sea, a feat that earned him the accolade, National Geographic 'adventurer of the year'.
Familiar names include Michael Gebert (GER1). Unsurprisingly, he is hoping to spend more time in the air this time around — in 2011 he famously hiked 991km! Another athlete famous for his capacity for endurance is Toma Coconea (ROM) who has competed in every Red Bull X-Alps to date. He is back for his sixth dose of suffering, pain and glory.
Some athletes bring impressive mountaineering talent — Antoine Girard (FRA2) has soloed K2 without oxygen. Others spring from a wide range of professions such as Stephan Haase (USA2) and Iñigo Gabiria (ESP) — both firefighters — to three-time athlete Honza Rejmanek (USA1), whose job as an atmospheric scientist gives him an analytical understanding of the sky.
Christian Maurer (SUI1) will of course be on the start line to defend his title. The Swiss flying ace, a former paragliding world champion, smashed the course record in 2009 and dominated the 2011 edition from the start.
Other names to watch include Max Mittmann (GER3), who will be competing for the first time. The 36-year-old finished 2nd, just one kilometer behind Maurer, when they raced against each other at Bordairline Interlaken. A big-wall and alpine climber who's run a 2:50 marathon, Mittmann's race strategy is to 'enjoy the torture'. Another is Thomas Hofbauer (AUT3), 40, also a rookie. He has achieved several paragliding podiums including a first place at the 2012 Crossalps.
Lloyd Pennicuik (AUS) has been forced to withdraw from the 2013 Red Bull X-Alps. He will be replaced by first-time athlete Michal Krysta (CZE) while Red Bull X-Alps veteran Andy Frötscher (ITA3) gains a place thanks to a wildcard entry. It brings the total number of competitors to 32.

The confirmed entries are listed below:

1. Claudio Heidel (ARG)
2. Michal Krysta (CZE)
3. Paul Guschlbauer (AUT1)
4. Mike Küng (AUT2)
5. Thomas Hofbauer (AUT3)
6. Thomas de Dorlodot (BEL)
7. Max Fanderl (CAN)
8. Iñigo Gabiria (ESP)
9. Clement Latour (FRA1)
10. Antoine Girard (FRA2)
11. Victor Sebe (FRA3)
12. Jon Chambers (GBR)
13. Michael Gebert (GER1)
14. Lars Budack (GER2)
15. Max Mittmann (GER3)
16. Aaron Durogati (ITA1)
17. Peter Gebhard (ITA2)
18. Kaoru Ogisawa (JPN1)
19. Shoichiro Tadano (JPN2)
20. Pil Pyo Hong (KOR)
21. Ferdinand Van Schelven (NED)
22. Babu Sunuwar (NPL)
23. Pawel Faron (POL)
24. Toma Coconea (ROM)
25. Pierre Carter (RSA)
26. Evgenii Griaznov (RUS)
27. Christian Maurer (SUI1)
28. Martin Muller (SUI2)
29. Honza Rejmanek (USA1)
30. Stephan Haase (USA2)
31. Raul Penso (VEN)
32. Andy Frötscher (ITA)

Monday, June 24, 2013

Red Bull X-Alps 2013. Two Weeks To Go!

In just two weeks, July 7th, a new edition of the Red Bull X-Alps kicks off in Salzburg. The 2013 edition comes on the ten-year anniversary of the first Red Bull X-Alps.
Red Bull X-Alps is an adventure and paragliding competition for 32 selected internacional athletes from 21 different nations. The challenge is to cross the Alps from East to West and finish in Monaco as quickly as possible traveling only by paragliders or by foot. The route is almost 200km longer than in 2011, and will see athletes battling across some of the most challenging and inhospitable terrain in the Alps.
From Venezuela to Japan, from South Africa to Nepal, the world's top adventurers and paragliders have been training hard to ensure they are ready for the ultimate challenge of their lives.
It's a race like no other. Tactics, equipment and bodies have all been finely tuned over the preceeding months to ensure optimum performance. But what happens after the start gun fires is anybody's guess as athletes have to battle not just their own limits of endurance but the unpredictability of mother nature.
Race director Christoph Weber comments: "Setting the route was inspiring — we thought about exciting landscapes, wild nature, good cross-country places and famous paragliding sites. We wanted an epic route".
For the legion of fans, this promises one thing — a gripping and spectacular race to follow. Thanks to the latest advances in GPS technology, Red Bull Mobile Live Tracking lets fans and supporters follow the race as it unfolds on their smartphone and tablet as well as their desktop ensuring they never miss a moment of the drama. Live weather information, powered by, 3D maps, real-time updates and stats also add an exciting dimension.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Thinking Outside the (Ski Resort) Box 3: Harley-Davidson's Real Test Ride

Harley-Davidson is one of the most recognizable brands in the world. The company attempted to focus in love for motorcycles and Harley-Davidson to build and manage the consumer dialogue surrounding the brand.
The Harley-Davidson Consumer Experience encompassed the various activities that built relationships with consumers. This marketing campaign was created to parallel and support the customer buying process.
"When entering the store, customers were invited to do a test ride. Then they went out to ride the bike. They rode for a while and then were surprised by 60 bikers who made them feel like part of the gang. So, even before buying a Harley-Davidson they understood what is to have a Harley".
A campaign conceived by Moma Propaganda, Brazil

harley-davidson // real test ride from Ricardo Franco on Vimeo.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Audi quattro signs its name to Winter Games NZ

The sponsorship agreement, signed between Audi New Zealand and Winter Games NZ, provides the perfect platform to showcase Audi quattro, says General Manager of Audi NZ, Dean Sheed.
"After 33 years of leading the world in quattro permanent all-wheel drive technology, and with the five millionth quattro vehicle having rolled off the assembly line this year, it makes perfect sense that Audi would lend its support to the Winter Games and the sports most closely associated with quattro".
Sheed says that there are some powerful synergies around the partnership.  "Audi is really at home in the snow. We were the first to host New Zealand’s leading ice and alpine drive programme in the Southern Alps – the iconic Audi ice experience – and internationally Audi is the key sponsor of a number of winter sports events and teams in the Northern hemisphere, so the addition of the Winter Games sponsorship here in New Zealand is hugely exciting".
Sir Eion Edgar, chairman of Winter Games NZ, said the partnership was a major boost for winter sports in New Zealand. "Audi’s sponsorship of Winter Games NZ is fantastic news, not just for the Games but also for the development of winter sport in New Zealand. It enables us to achieve our objectives of profiling winter sports in New Zealand and providing our athletes and communities with a world-class event".
"Just as Audi pioneered the development of four wheel-drive vehicles like the quattro, which we all now rely on to get us safely up to the ski fields, so Winter Games NZ is breaking new ground for winter sports events in the Southern Hemisphere. The eyes of the world will be on the Audi quattro Winter Games NZ as the best in the world come and compete for their spot at Sochi 2014 and we can’t wait!".
Winter Games NZ takes place from 15-25 August 2013 featuring alpine skiing, cross country skiing, snowboard, freeskiing and curling at Coronet Peak, Snow Farm, Snow Park, Cardrona Alpine Resort and Naseby. It is one of the top five events on the international winter sports circuit and includes seven World Cups, attracting the best of the world’s elite snow sports athletes as they compete to qualify for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. The two-week long Games also include a full Downtown Sessions festival programme featuring films, live music and entertainment in Queenstown and Lake Wanaka.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

The Ski Week. The Alpine Tour

The Ski Week brand and concept is owned by European Travel Ventures - a private limited company registered in Stockholm, Sweden and the head office is in London, UK.
Following the steps of the Yacht Week, the company will launch in March 2014 the Ski Week. European Travel Ventures want to create the ultimate winter event. It will be a week filled with skiing, music, parties and guests from all over the world. Every day will be exceptional, every night something magical.
The Alpine Tour will survey the best resorts so that The Ski Week is the best it possibly can be when it is launched in 2014. A team of The Yacht Week veterans has been travelling across the Alps for 26 days searching for the deepest snow, intensest parties and the most unique resorts. The search started in Austria on 7th March, 2013, continuing through Switzerland, France and Italy. The goal is to offer you the best week of skiing you've ever had.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The Ski Week

The Ski Week brand and concept is owned by European Travel Ventures - a private limited company registered in Stockholm, Sweden and the head office is in London, UK.
The Yacht Week was founded in 2006 by two Swedish students, Erik Biörklund and William Wenkel. They decided to challenge and rejuvenate the traditional yachting market. Typically regarded as a sport for the retired, they brought forth the concept of young, fun, affordable sailing.
The pair intend to open up sailing holidays to new markets and audiences and make it acessible to holidaymakers who have never considered sailing before, much as skiing became popular in 1970s.
The company has more than 950 yachts (for 2013 they forecast booking over 1200 yachts for people from over 40 countries) for hire in Thailand, Croatia, Greece, Italy and British Virgin Islands.
Customers can either crew themselves or bring aboard a licensed sailing captain provided by the company. The captain will be experienced and keep you safe and on course throughout the week.
Following the steps of the Yacht Week, the company will launch in March 2014 the Ski Week. European Travel Ventures want to create the ultimate winter event. It will be a week filled with skiing, music, parties and guests from all over the world. Every day will be exceptional, every night something magical.

"The Ski Week aims to become the leading brand and trendsetter within the skiing industry. From our success with The Yacht Week we will create a social event with many opportunities for guests to meet new friends, go skiing in the best resorts and attend exclusive parties".

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Second IOC's Coordination Commission visit starts in PyeongChang

The second visit of the International Olympic Committee (IOC)’s Coordination Commission to the 2018 Olympic Winter Games host city of PyeongChang got underway today. The visit will last for two days (18-19 June) and will be led by the Chair of the IOC’s Commission, Gunilla Lindberg.
The meeting will also be attended by representatives of the PyeongChang 2018 Organising Committee (POCOG), the Korean Olympic Committee, and the local governmental authorities.
The two days of meetings will allow the Commission to review POCOG’s progress since their last meeting in 2012. Updates will be given on areas as diverse as workforce, sport, venues, marketing, communications, education and technology to name but a few. These updates offer the opportunity to POCOG not just to present their achievements, but also to gain guidance and insight from the members of the Commission, which includes representatives of the athletes, International Federations, National Olympic Committees, IOC members and the International Paralympic Committee.
The IOC, as the guardian of the Olympic Games, assists and monitors the work of the Organising Committee for the Olympic Games through the work of the Coordination Commission. The Commission visits the host city once a year until four years from the Games, when the visits become twice yearly until the Games are held. The Commission’s full meetings are supplemented by the regular visits of smaller IOC teams involving the Commission Chairman, selected members of the Commission and members of the IOC administration.
The 23rd Olympic Winter Games will be held on 9-25 February 2018, and the 12th Paralympic Winter Games will be staged on 9-18 March 2018.

Beaver Mountain (Utah): A Family Affair

The Twenty-First Century ski industry is a highly developed form of tourism. During the 1990s publicly traded corporations took control over the most popular ski resorts in North America.
Only a handful of ski resorts are still family-owned and family-managed.
Beaver Mountain in Northern Utah is America's longest family owned and operated resort.  From 1939 to present, the Seeholzer family tell their ski tale. There were no rules in the old days, as a dairy delivery truck powered the first lift.
Thanks to Harold and Luella Seeholzer (and later their children), Beaver Mountain Ski Area has become a legend in family corporation and is one of the fine small ski areas in Utah.
Family owned, family operated, family oriented. Beaver Mountain knows families and promises to give you one of the best skiing experiences around...

2nd Winter Youth Olympic Games: Lillehammer 2016 on track

Last week, the International Olympic Committee’s Coordination Commission for the Lillehammer 2016 Youth Olympic Games (YOG) concluded their second visit to received updates from the Organising Committee (LYOGOC) on the status of preparations for the 2nd Winter Youth Olympic Games in 2016 .
During two days of informative meetings held in Gjovik, which will host the short track events in 2016, LYOGOC shared with the Commission their ambitious and exciting vision for delivering an event ‘for young people, by young people’ based on their core values: "playful and determined", "awesome and humble". Other Commission members present included Olympic skeleton racer Adam Pengilly and two-time Olympic champion short track skater Yang Yang, who had particularly fond memories of Gjovik as the location of her first ever World Championships in 1995.
Staying true to these values, this small team can count a number of achievements since the Commissions first visit in October 2012. They have brought on new members of staff – namely Financial Controller, Head of Culture and Education Programme and Head of Games Operations – connected with key stakeholders and created a strong network of external experts.
The Commission, chaired by Olympic ice hockey champion Angela Ruggiero, was also pleased to receive presentations on the overall concept of the Culture and Education Programme, legacy commitments, a review of the Venue Master Plan and a first overview of the Marketing and Communications plans. Also of particular note, LYOGOC gave an update on the Youth Olympic Village, which received a green light for construction ahead of schedule, while construction of the ice hockey training venue is well on track.
Speaking after the meetings, Miss Ruggiero said: "This is crucial time for LYOGOC as they start building the foundations for their project and establishing their vision, mission, and ambition for the YOG 2016".
"Already, they have demonstrated a full understanding of the YOG spirit, working with students and young people from the region in a “playful and determined, awesome and humble” manner, as their values state, and their vision is very well in line with the IOC vision of the YOG (...) The IOC is in no doubt they will deliver an unforgettable experience to the young participants, local youth and beyond and we look forward to going on this journey with them".
Steeped in sporting history, Lillehammer is no stranger to the Olympic Movement, having hosted, in 1994, an unforgettable Olympic Winter Games.
The Winter Youth Olympic Games in Lillehammer, to be held between February 26th and March 6th 2016, will bring together more than one thousand athletes between 14 and 18 years of age from approximately 80 National Olympic Committees to compete in Bobsleigh, Luge, Ski jumping, Alpine skiing, Nordic Combined, Cross Country, Biathlon, Curling, Figure Skating, Ice hockey, Speed Skating, Shorttrack skating, Snowboard, and Freestyle (Skicross / Halfpipe).

Monday, June 17, 2013

Switzerland Tourism Family App

The new "Family Trips" app offered by Switzerland Tourism is an indispensable information tool featuring a range of exciting suggestions for the whole family. There are places to visit all over Switzerland, including the main resorts like Zermatt.
You can download the app from the Switzerland Tourism website as well as other sites. Designed for smart phones and iPads, the app has won the "best of swiss web award 2013" in the "mobile" category. The user-friendly app can be adapted to suit the needs of every family. It helps the family council on the road or at home to find the fitting adventure. Just enter your filter criteria, such as age of the children and preferred type of excursion: urban, relaxation, action, nature, indoors or outdoors, half day, whole day, region.

FIS SnowKidz Award 2014

In September 2013, the FIS member National Ski Associations will be invited to apply with their projects for the 3rd ‘FIS SnowKidz Award', presented as part of the ‘Bring Children to the Snow' campaign. This award aims to recognise and promote the best examples of bringing children to the snow in varying national circumstances.
The FIS SnowKidz Award 2012 was presented at the 48th International Ski Congress in Kangwonland (KOR). The judging panel had a difficult time deciding the final eight projects from 21 nominations. In the end, the judges could not separate Germany’s School Sport Concept and the Czech Republic’s SnowKidz events and the two countries tied for 1st position.
The FIS SnowKidz Award 2014 will be presented at the 49th International Ski Congress in Barcelona (ESP). Event Organisers wishing to apply must contact their National Ski Association who is the responsible organisation for submitting applications to FIS. Projects must be on-going or no older than two years. Each National Ski Association may submit a maximum of two projects. All eight projects selected for the final round and presented at the FIS Congress 2014 will receive a certificate and CHF 5’000. The winning projects will receive additional CHF 10’000 (1st prize), CHF 8’000 (2nd prize) and CHF 5’000 (3rd prize).

In November 2008, the FIS Council decided to initiate a campaign to 'Bring Children to the Snow'. The campaign has been divided into two dimensions: an International Communication Campaign and a National Activity Campaign with different projects and programs depending on the country.
The main aim of the FIS campaign is creating a pool of lifetime skiers and snow lovers among small children. The campaign is about bringing newcomers to snow and keeping those with initial experience there. At the same time, it is not focused on generating competitors for any particular FIS discipline in the first instance.

Award Regulations

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Skiing is a Lifetime Passion: 95 Year Old Skier - Forever Young - Ski Utah

George Jedenoff is a 95 year old skier from Oakland, California. who skis Alta, Utah. With a lifetime season pass and a healthy lifestyle George shows us that skiing can be a part of any stage of life.

Sochi 2014 Unveils Celebration Cauldron for Olympic Torch Relay

The Sochi 2014 Organising Committee has unveiled the Celebration Cauldron for the Olympic Torch Relay, which will begin on 7 October in Moscow.
The lighting of the Celebration Cauldron will be the culmination of each day’s festivities across Russia during the 65,000km Relay, which will be the longest in the history of the Olympic Winter Games.
The concept behind the cauldron, which was developed by a team of renowned Russian designers, echoes that of the Olympic Torch and was designed in an identical style. The colours of the cauldron are bright red and silver: cold 'ice' sparkles in the sunlight and is topped off with a warm, dark scarlet 'flame'.
Each cauldron is 130cm tall, 60cm wide and the base is 110cm wide. The cauldron and its component parts have been put through numerous tests, including in extremely harsh weather conditions.
"The Celebration Cauldron of the Olympic Torch Relay is one of the main features of the Relay", said Dmitry Chernyshenko, President of the Sochi 2014 Organising Committee. "Each region will have an opportunity to keep the cauldron. The cauldron will form a part of Games legacy and will remind the people of each region of this historic event – the longest Torch Relay in the history of the Olympic Winter Games".
The Celebration Cauldron was unveiled as part of the festivities in Moscow’s Red Square marking the national holiday of the Russian Federation - "Russia Day".

Sochi was elected as the host city for the XXII Olympic Winter Games at the 119th IOC Session in Guatemala City on 4 July 2007. The Sochi 2014 Games will play host to the seven Olympic Winter sports (Skiing, Skating, Luge, Biathlon, Ice Hockey, Curling, and Bobsleigh) currently on the Olympic programme and will run from 7 to 23 February 2014.

FIS Awards Marketing and Commercial Rights to the 2019 and 2021 Alpine and Nordic World Ski Championships

FIS awarded the marketing of all commercial rights to the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships and the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships taking place in 2019 and 2021 to Infront Sports & Media. This was announced after the spring meeting of the FIS Council in Cavtat-Dubrovnik.
The agreement between the federation and the international sports marketing company includes the distribution of worldwide media rights across all platforms and territories. It also covers the complete spectrum of marketing rights, including title sponsorship, presenting sponsorship and hospitality packages.
Furthermore, Infront will handle media production of the four events, transmitting an HD signal to broadcasters around the world.
Gian Franco Kasper, FIS President stated: "The FIS World Championships in the Alpine and Nordic Events have demonstrated their status amongst the most important winter sports events. We are confident that the new partnership between FIS and Infront to market and broadcast the Championships in 2019 and 2021 can develop them even further and especially on a global basis".
Bruno Marty, Executive Director Winter Sports at Infront, commented: "Covering two global event highlights, the agreement marks a milestone in the continuous enhancement of Infront’s top-level winter sports portfolio. We thank the FIS for its trust in our expertise and are proud to provide it with the full spectrum of commercial support out of one hand. We will greatly contribute our experience from marketing a majority of FIS World Cup events and further boost the commercial strength of the FIS Alpine and Nordic World Championships. The experience we have gained from jointly developing the media production standards for FIS World Cup events, will further contribute to an increased appeal".
The hosts for the 2019 and 2021 FIS Alpine and Nordic World Ski Championships are not yet determined. Bids for the 2019 Alpine event have been submitted by Are (Sweden) and Cortina d’Ampezzo (ITA). Candidates for the 2019 Nordic event include Almaty (Kazakhstan), Oberstdorf (Germany), Planica (Slovenia) and Seefeld (Austria). A proven track record in the marketing of FIS events as media and/or marketing partner to the majority of national associations hosting FIS World Cup events across various disciplines, Infront is already profoundly involved in the sport on a global level. In this role, it has facilitated global media rights distribution through a collective approach, developed and produced attractive programming formats and increased worldwide visibility for the series. On the sponsorship side, Infront has successfully implemented a streamlined sponsorship approach across more than 50 races in Alpine skiing – guaranteeing high exclusivity and an impactful positioning to sponsors.
Together with the FIS, Infront has also established guidelines to ensure a consistent quality in media production across the entire season. Thanks to its know-how and capabilities in the field, the group has also produced selected events with its own team. In the past, Infront has already collaborated with FIS for the media rights distribution of the FIS Alpine and Nordic World Ski Championships outside of Europe. As a shareholder of FIS Marketing AG, it is involved in the marketing of FIS controlled rights to the FIS World Cup.

Infront Sports & Media, based in Zug, Switzerland, is one of the leading international sports marketing companies in the world. Infront has around 500 employees in 20 offices across 10 countries, including Austria, China, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Singapore, Sweden, Switzerland as well as countries hosting a major sports event. The company enjoys successful partnerships with 120 rights-holders and hundreds of sponsors and media companies.
In 2012, Infront successfully delivered over 3,300 event-days including 18 World Championships.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

New Hampshire Ski Resorts Report More Than 2.5M Visitors This Season

The 2012-13 ski season in New Hampshire was a success for skiers and ski area operators alike. Mother Nature’s cooperation provided excellent skiing and riding conditions for much of the 2012-13 ski season resulting in impressive business levels. New Hampshire’s resorts hosted more than 2.5 million skier, snowboarder, and snowtubing visits, according to numbers released by Ski NH.
Alpine ski areas recorded a total of 2,276,370 alpine skier and snowboarder visits, a 20.9% increase from the prior winter and a 4.7% increase over the ten year average. This number is the 5th best downhill ski season on record for the state. Cross country areas also had a very successful winter, hosting 151,276 visits, a 57.2% increase from the prior winter and a 14.8% increase over the ten year average. Areas with snowtubing parks reported 113,058 snowtubing visits, a 23.4% increase from the prior winter and a 7% increase over the ten year average.
New Hampshire’s extensive snowmaking infrastructure went to work before the December holidays and got the slopes ready for the vacation period. At that point resorts welcomed a lengthy stretch of regular snowfall and outstanding skiing and riding conditions. Most of the holiday periods had excellent business levels thanks to enjoyable weather and snowfall. In contrast to recent years, the winter weather continued right through March making for excellent skiing and riding conditions well into April.
Mostly without the benefit of snowmaking technology, cross country ski areas really enjoyed the abundant natural snowfall. The storms cooperated and spread the snowfall relatively evenly across the state, allowing entire trail networks to be opened and guests enjoying snow-covered scenery.
Since 2000, New Hampshire has recorded 8 of their top 10 ski seasons showing the success and growth of skiing and snowboarding in the Granite State. New Hampshire businesses rely heavily on the ski industry. An economic impact study conducted after the 2009/10 season showed a total of $910 million dollars spent by guests visiting NH ski areas. Of that total, only 12% was spent directly at ski areas, with the remaining 88% spent on ski visit-related expenses such as lodging, restaurants, gas, tolls, retail, and other.
"After a difficult ski season last year, this winter was what everyone was hoping for. New England skiers are resilient and realize how much snow our ski areas can make, but there’s no substitute for the excitement and fun consistent natural snowfall produces", noted Karl Stone, Ski NH’s marketing director.
"With 8 of our top 10 winters occurring since 2000, we’ve got a great deal of momentum for skiing and riding in the state. It’s always a good sign when our ski areas close with snow still on their slopes and trails due to guests moving on to other activities and not a lack of snow", summarized Alice Pearce, Ski NH’s president.

Ski NH is the statewide association representing 33 alpine and cross country resorts and more than 200 lodging and guest service properties in New Hampshire.

Salomon Freeski TV: Poor Man's Heli

Salomon Freeski TV 6th season. Episode 12:
Antoine Boisselier has stared across at the Belledonne Mountains his whole life. He's always dreamed of laying ski tracks on their difficult-to-access slopes. Two years ago, he and a group of close friends launched their paragliders from across the valley and took a chance.

Colorado Ski Country USA 50th Anniversary Meeting Concludes With Double Diamond Awards

Colorado Ski Country USA (CSCUSA) acknowledged outstanding industry professionals at its fourth annual Double Diamond Awards Reception yesterday evening. The ceremony marked the conclusion to a milestone 50th Annual Meeting for the Colorado ski industry’s trade association. The Double Diamond Awards are CSCUSA’s hallmark event that allows industry professionals to come together and honor snow maintenance professionals, athletes, instructors, patrollers and industry legends. This year’s honorees ranged from a 14 yr-old straight-A student to a United States Senator. Bestowing the honors upon the winners, and presenting alongside President and CEO of CSCUSA, Melanie Mills, was longtime Colorado ski icon Billy Kidd of Steamboat Springs. Kidd was the first male athlete to win a medal at the Olympics in downhill skiing. Plenty of other industry representatives were on hand at the History Colorado Center to celebrate the 2012-13 season, and witness the best in Colorado’s ski industry be acclaimed.
Each year, coaches, resort supervisors and managers nominate one outstanding candidate from each category from their respective resorts. The CSCUSA committee of judges, comprised of industry peers, then chooses award finalists based on a number of factors, including the individual’s application letter and interview. Final judging criteria include professionalism, dedication, contribution, leadership and attitude.
Double Diamond Award recipients this year ranged from industry veterans to up-and-coming winter athletes. Double Diamond Awards were given in the categories of: Slope Groomer, Snowmaker, Terrain Master, Instructor, Patroller, and All-Star Athlete. CSCUSA ended the evening by bestowing the organization’s annual President’s and Chairman’s Awards.

Double Diamond Awards for snow professionals went to:

Slope GroomerSteve Fischer, Aspen Mountain
Fischer, who has worked for Aspen Skiing Company for 23 years, found his way into grooming after beginning at Aspen Mountain at the age of 21. In the years since, he has covered virtually every on-mountain task, from building runs and terrain parks to creating venues for World Cup events. His passion has been described as second-to-none, and through his longtime service, inspires fellow co-workers to put in the long hours necessary to create some of the best slopes in the world.

SnowmakerTucker Roberts, Crested Butte
Roberts has just completed his 12th season working as a graveyard snowmaker, two years after becoming Crested Butte’s only full-time employed snowmaker. During this time, Roberts worked a grueling schedule, spending his spare time surveying scenes and trying to understand even more to become better at his expertise. Taking into account water availability to energy demands, pump capacities to line configurations are all part of the process for Roberts – all in pursuit of a superior product.

Terrain MasterChris Whitson, Winter Park
After falling in love with machinery at an early age after receiving his first Tonka Truck, Whitson was set on a path that would determine his career choice. He became a Terrain Park Crew Member at Winter Park, and after two seasons of snowmaking, became an operator. He soaked in as much knowledge as possible during his stint as an operator, and now has been a full-time Terrain Park Groomer for four seasons, creating his own unique style along the way. Some of his features are among the most recognizable at Winter Park, and he continues to study design theories to improve guest experience.

The Double Diamond Award for the Spencer Nelson All-Star Athlete of the Year went to:

Spencer Nelson All-Star Athlete of the YearStorm Klomhaus, Winter Park Competition Center
Despite only being 14 years old, Storm Klomhaus of Winter Park Competition Center has compiled a number of athletic triumphs. She competes for the USSA Team Academy at the Under-16 level, and won the Rocky/Central Junior Championships on the heels of recovering from injury. This past year she qualified for the Under-16 Nationals for the second time, despite her young age. She also recently won the Overall category at the Under-16 Nationals.
Klomhaus is also an excellent student. She has just skipped the 8th grade and is now classed as a freshman at the USSA TEAM Academy, having already begun summer classes to get ahead for the upcoming ski season. She is a straight A student, and has plans to complete as much schooling as possible in addition to her ski-racing career.

The Double Diamond Awards for Instructor of the Year and Ski Patroller of the Year went to:

Instructor of the YearAshley Sifers, Ski Granby Ranch
Ashley joined the Ski Granby Ranch team after working with the National Sports Center for the Disabled at Winter Park for nine years. She is extremely passionate about converting never-ever skiers and riders into committed guests that will embrace the sport and return year after year. Her understanding that one incredible experience on the snow for adults and/or children will create smiles and memorable experiences that will last a life time for the guest. Her passion for this concept was one of a number of reasons she was selected as Instructor of the Year. Once at Ski Granby Ranch, Ashley focused on helping the resort grow their private lesson products over the prior year by 28 percent, and managed to help hit a conversion rate of lessons to all skiers at 10 percent for last season.

Patroller of the YearJake Ziemski, Arapahoe Basin
Patroller of the Year Ziemski came highly recommended from his nominating supervisor. He is a member of the Colorado Rapid Avalanche Deployment Team, has his Level II Avalanche Certification and has attended the National Avalanche School. He is well known at his ski area for consistently trying to achieve more as he prepares his safety measures. In part due to his preparatory nature, Ziemski was part of one of the most incredible life saving actions ever seen at his ski area, and as a result was awarded the National Ski Patrol Blue Merit Star.

The President’s Award went to Ken Kowynia, United States Forest Service
The President’s Award is chosen by the CSCUSA President, and gives the organization the chance to recognize individuals who have shown dedication, passion and commitment not just to the ski industry and winter sports, but to the CSCUSA association overall. The President’s Award is a way for the ski industry to say thank you to individuals who have supported the association and its purpose, and who have made a distinctive impact and impression.
Kowynia, recently retired from the United States Forest Service, has been a consistent partner who worked closely with the association and the industry as a whole. During his career, he helped plan and coordinate the development of terrain and improvements at a number of Colorado ski areas, including Arapahoe Basin, Breckenridge, Copper Mountain, Steamboat, Telluride and Winter Park. His extensive knowledge helped ski areas remain accessible and enjoyable for guests from across the nation, and his work remains evident in the extensive access the public has to the nation’s outdoors recreational areas.

The Chairman’s Award went to United States Senator Mark Udall, D-Colorado
The Chairman’s Award, chosen by the Colorado Ski Country USA Board Chairman, is an award presented annually to a person who has made extra ordinary contributions to the ski industry in Colorado.
United States Senator Mark Udall was a steadfast friend to the Colorado ski industry in the past year, recognizing the importance of tourism to the state’s economy and raising issues that were of vital importance to the Colorado ski industry. He has been a strong advocate for the industry in Washington D.C., including carrying the Ski Area Recreational Opportunity Enhancement Act in late 2011. The bill allows a more streamlined process for ski resorts to build summer improvements. Due to the political climate in the nation’s capital, Sen. Udall persisted and brought the bill back three different times before it finally passed and was signed into law by President Obama. He is a strong natural resources supporter, and outspoken advocate for the ski industry.

Colorado Ski Country USA (CSCUSA) is the not-for-profit trade association representing 21 Colorado ski & snowboard resorts. CSCUSA is the global voice of the Colorado ski industry.

El Colorado to Host The North Face Chilean Freeskiing Championship

The steep and technical slopes of El Colorado will host top freeride skiers from around the globe at The North Face Chilean Freeskiing Championship August 7-11, 2013. The event will serve as the only 4-star Freeride World Qualifier (FWQ) in Chile making it a crucial competition stop for athletes hoping to advance to the 2015 Freeride World Tour. An additional important FWQ is pending in Argentina as well.
Registration for the event is capped at 65 skiers and will open Monday, June 17, 2 p.m. MST on
"Freeride is very up and coming in Chile. The sport is a mixture of freedom, speed and exploration-both of the mountain and of your own boundaries", said Tomás Philipps with The North Face South America. "Hosting an FWQ event at Santa Tere, the most prolific freeride zone in Chile, is not only a victory for all skiers, but also demonstrates the promising future for the sport itself".
Salt Lake City based MSI will once again produce and manage the event in conjunction with The North Face South America and local production company Wetfly.
"This season promises to bring a whole new level of competition to the Andes with this stop being designated as one of the most important Freeride World Qualifiers", said event director Bryan Barlow of MSI. "Athletes will gain critical FWQ points which will set the trajectory for the rest of their season".
The Freeride World Qualifier point system (FWQ) has been developed as part of the SWATCH Freeride World Tour by The North Face (FWT). All FWT events are designated as 5-star events. FWQs range from 1 to 4-stars and enable athletes to earn a corresponding ratio of points based on their performance at competitions. Accumulated points immediately affect an athlete's position on the FWT ranking system. At the end of the season (May 31, 2014) the top ranked athletes will qualify to participate on the 2015 FWT.

Event Schedule:

Wednesday, August 7, 2013: Athlete Registration and Welcome Party

Thursday, August 8, 2013: Inspection Day

Friday, August 9, 2013: Competition Day

Saturday, August 10, 2013: Finals and Farewell Party

August 11-12, 2013: Weather Days

Friday, June 14, 2013

Salomon Freeski TV: Not another GoPro edit

Salomon Freeski TV 6th season. Episode 11:
A new GoPro edit is uploaded to the internet every 3.57 seconds, but trust us when we tell you, this is not just another GoPro edit. Featuring the skiing of: Mark Abma, Kaj Zackrisson, Cody Townsend, Chris Rubens, Alexi Godbout, Mike Douglas, Tommy Ellingson, AJ Kemppainen, Vincent Gagnier, and more.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Colorado Ski Areas Report Visitation Increase in 2012/13 Season

Colorado Ski Country USA (CSCUSA) announced today at its 50th Annual Meeting that statewide skier visits totaled an estimated 11,445,000 in 2012/13. This estimation shows Colorado being up 3.95 percent compared to last season. Colorado Ski Country’s 21 member resorts hosted an estimated 6.4 million skier visits during the 2012-13 ski season. This represents an increase of 3.8 percent, or approximately 235,000 skier visits, over the previous season. Colorado resorts bested the estimated 1.9 percent uptick in visits in the Rocky Mountain region of the U.S., while falling short of the national overall increase of 11 percent.
After opening on October 17, 2012, Colorado’s 2012/13 ski season was slow to get off the ground due to several factors, most notably, variable snow conditions and a few resorts that were late to open. "In-state visitors tend to lead the charge in the beginning of the season, but an unusually warm fall kept local skiers and riders from logging in those early ski days", said Melanie Mills, president and CEO of CSCUSA.
Towards the end of the year, ski areas saw a strong holiday period with snow conditions more in line with an average year. December snow storms fueled robust holiday visitation and set up resorts for a positive winter. "It wasn’t until mid-December that the snow really started to show up, but it showed up big time and made for a quintessential Colorado winter ski holiday at resorts", Mills continued.
Once resorts recovered from an early season snow deficit, conditions greatly improved in January and February and carried the momentum of a rebound season. The major ski weekends, especially Martin Luther King and President’s Day, were all met with bumps in snow totals which helped drive skier visits and an uptick in revenue. "January and February brought closer to average snowfall throughout the state and resorts saw skiers turning out in greater numbers", said Mills.
The season finished with a very strong spring as guests who visited resorts were greeted with what Colorado is known for; snow that wouldn’t quit, a superior product and top-quality service. Resorts all closed with abundant snowfall on their slopes and some were able to extend their seasons beyond planned closing dates.
Colorado, the ski market leader in the United States, continued to underscore its top priority in 2012/13; skier safety. Colorado resorts emphasize safety and responsibility for guests and employees in their daily operations and shine the spotlight on safety education by participating in National Safety Awareness Week. Additionally, several CSCUSA member resorts have been recognized for their safety initiatives as recipients of the 2012/13 NSAA Safety Awards including: Crested Butte for Best Use of New/Social Media, Arapaho Basin for Best Helmet Safety Program, and Copper Mountain for Best Overall Safety Program (350,000 or more visits).
While recognizing skier visit numbers, and the emphasis resorts place on safety and skier responsibility, CSCUSA also reported on the number of skier fatalities. During the 2012/13 season, Colorado saw eight skier fatalities, a sharp downturn from the prior year. A skier fatality is when a skier or snowboarder dies due to trauma related injuries, within the resort boundary, during operating hours, on terrain that is open to the public.
In Colorado last year, a skier’s chance of having a fatal accident was about 1.4 in a million. For perspective, the National Safety Council (Injury Facts, 2012 edition) reports that in 2010, 5,200 pedestrians were killed, 2,500 people drowned while swimming in public pools and 800 people died while bicycle riding and the National Weather Service reports that, so far in 2013, seven people have been killed by lightning strikes.
"We are very pleased with where we ended up for the 2012/13 season and are thrilled to see such a strong recovery trend for both Colorado and the ski nation", commented Mills. “This season concluded with momentum in our favor as our resorts continue to set the gold standard in the industry for skier experiences".
Skier visits for the past 10 years can be downloaded here.

Colorado Ski Country USA (CSCUSA) is the not-for-profit trade association representing 21 Colorado ski & snowboard resorts. CSCUSA is the global voice of the Colorado ski industry.

Salomon Freeski TV: The Burn

Salomon Freeski TV 6th season. Episode 10:
Every summer, forest fires burn wildly across the temperate mountain regions of the world. As destructive as they are, they have a purpose and beauty that often goes unappreciated. As winter arrives in the burned forest, so do the skiers. They have come to celebrate new lines opened up by the previous summer's fires that have now burned themselves out -- or have they?

The Sölden Session Teaser. Big Jump 2013

A short anticipation of next fall's video of the famous session on the Rettenbach glacier in Sölden  feat. Mario Wanger, Tom Klocker, Peter Koenig, Mario Käppeli, Matthias Vogt, Flo Cornelius, Michael Macho, Tim-Kevin Ravnjak, Max Buri, Jan Necas and many others...

Almdudler Snowpark Sölden - Big Jump 2013 - Snowboard Teaser from QParks on Vimeo.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Salomon Freeski TV: Etna

Salomon Freeski TV 6th season. Episode 9:
Nestled in the southern Mediterranean Sea, Sicily is not your typical ski destination. Kim Havell and Elyse Saugstad spend a week there trying to decide which is more alluring and dangerous: the romantically-charged Sicilian males or the lave-spewing volcanic crater of Mt Etna?

Utah Ski and Snowboard Industry Announces 2012-13 Skier Day Visits

The Utah ski and snowboard industry closed the 2012-13 winter season Memorial Day weekend with a total of 4,031,621 million skier day visits, up over 5 percent from the previous season’s 3,826,130. The 5.4 percent increase marks a great success for the industry, ending above four million for the sixth time in the last eight years, and a significant increase after the lackluster 2011-12 season, which was down 9.4 percent from the 2010-11 season.
Early season storms helped meet the pent-up demand for snow sport enthusiasts and started the season out strong. Although the season snowfall was below average, the total snowfall exceeded the pervious seasons low totals, and in-conjunction with resort snowmaking, provided excellent conditions throughout the season.
Ski Utah is confident that awareness and demand for the Utah wintersport product is continuing on a positive trajectory. Utah skier day visits for 2012-13 performed better than the Rocky Mountain (Colo., Idaho, Mont., N.M., Utah, Wyo.) average increase of 1.9 percent.
 "Utah ski and snowboard resorts did an outstanding job getting the word out on early season snow", noted Ski Utah President Nathan Rafferty. "Even when the storms slowed, new and upgraded snowmaking systems ensured that all of the resorts had exceptional snow all winter".
Nationally, skier day visits were up to 56.6 million, up 11 percent from 51 million the previous season. This is the biggest rebound in 30 years with visits up in all regions.
For a complete history of Utah’s skier days visit
Ski Utah is the marketing firm owned and operated by the 14 statewide ski resorts that make up the Utah Ski and Snowboard Association (Alta Ski Area, Beaver Mountain, Brian Head Resort, Brighton Resort, Canyons Resort, Deer Valley Resort, Eagle Point, Park City Mountain Resort, Powder Mountain Resort, Snowbasin Resort, Snowbird Ski and Summer Resort, Solitude Mountain Resort, Sundance and Wolf Mountain). The organization has been creating brand awareness of and demand for the Utah wintersports product since its inception in 1978.

Saastal Mountain Cleaning Day

Saturday 15 June 2013 will be Saastal's fourth Mountain Cleaning Day.The event is supported by the "Summit Foundation". Its aim is to leave the slopes spic and span after the winter sports season. This special event aims to raise participants’ motivation and awareness about looking after the environment. After a lot of trash has been picked up in Saas-Fee for the last three years, the organizers decided to start rotating in the Saas Valley. Therefore the cleaning is happening in Saas-Grund this year. Afterwards the volonteers will be rewarded with a big barbecue near the Kreuzboden Lake.

Celebrity involvement
The organizers of Mountain Cleaning Day have moved away from the conventional community action projects that Saas-Fee has seen over the years to instead present an event with a difference and attract as many participants as possible. Participants are divided into various groups, each led by a famous person. A couple of big names have already stepped up. So Nick Harrison the coach of the British sailing team (olympic silver London 2012), Ladina Meier-Ruge a new blood in biathlon, Aurel Anthamatten a new blood local snowboarder and last but not least Thomas Stocker a well known climate expert confirmed their participation to this lovely event. We are still looking who will join us and come help to proclaim the main message "Take care to the environment!"

Chill & Grill The main aim of Mountain Cleaning Day, supported by the Summit Foundation and different local producers, may be to leave the Saas-Grund slopes spic and span, but the organizers spare no effort in rewarding the volunteers for their help. Once the cleaning is finished, they put on a big barbecue in near the Kreuzboden-Lake.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Salomon Freeski TV: Roots. Austria

Salomon Freeski TV 6th season. Episode 8:
Austria is known as the cradle of modern skiing. Chris Rubens and Mike Henitiuk explore this country's obsession with sliding on snow from the Hahnenkamm to the Arlberg.

Two New Lifts at Whistler Blackcomb Next Season

Lift expansion includes new Harmony 6 high-speed six-pack in Whistler Mountain's Harmony Zone and new Crystal Ridge Express high-speed quad in Blackcomb Mountain's Crystal Zone.
"The introduction of the New Harmony 6 high-speed, six-pack chairlift and Crystal Ridge Express high-speed quad chairlift will bring shorter wait times, letting our season pass holders get in even more skiing and riding", says Stuart Rempel, Senior Vice President of Marketing and Sales at Whistler Blackcomb.
Whistler Mountain’s Harmony high-speed, quad chairlift will be replaced with a new Doppelmayr high-speed, detachable, six-pack chairlift capable of transporting six people on each chair. Blackcomb Mountain will see a lift enhancement with a high-speed quad chairlift going into a new area in the Crystal Zone, currently accessed by a fixed-grip triple chair.
"This lift expansion clearly demonstrates our commitment to continuously enhance the skiing and riding experience on both mountains", says Dave Brownlie, President and Chief Executive Officer, Whistler Blackcomb. "Each zone the new lifts will service is unique and much-loved by Whistler locals and destination guests alike. The capital we are investing to enhance our already amazing experiences will make Whistler Blackcomb even better".
The new high-speed quad chairlift in the Crystal Zone will be 1,708 metres (5,604ft) in length, with a vertical rise of 535 metres (1,755ft). Skier carrying capacity will increase by 65 per cent over the current lift to 2,400 skiers per hour. The new quad will deliver skiers and riders to the same location as the current triple chair next to the Crystal Hut. However, the aspect of the new lift line is dramatically different, and will originate 158 metres (518ft) lower than the old Crystal lift. The bottom elevation will be 1,292 metres (4,239ft) and the top elevation of the lift will be 1,827 metres (5,994ft).
This bottom terminal location along the Blackcomb Glacier Road ski-out eliminates the need to utilize the Excelerator Chair to access many Crystal Zone trails including Ridge Runner, Rock ‘N’ Roll, and gladed trails like Outer Limits. It will be even quicker to return to the Glacier Express chair to access Horstman Glacier, Blackcomb Glacier and Spanky’s. The increased length of the chair’s line will give skiers and riders the opportunity to lap the entire Crystal Zone – from undulating cruisers to gladed zones riddled with natural terrain features and snow-caked trees straight out of a Dr. Seuss book. The name of this exciting new quad chairlift will be determined through a competition to be announced by Whistler Blackcomb later this winter.
The Harmony Six high-speed chairlift will replace one of Whistler Blackcomb’s most popular lifts and will dramatically improve the uphill capacity by 50 per cent; going from 2,400 skiers per hour to 3,600. The Harmony Six will service terrain spanning from the edge of the Symphony Amphitheatre all the way over to Glacier Bowl, adjacent to the Peak Express. This area, known as the Harmony Zone, makes up over 485 hectares (1,200 acres) of Whistler Blackcomb’s 3,306 hectares (8,171 acres) of total terrain. With a wide variety of beginner to expert terrain options, the Harmony Six will ensure skiers and riders are able to spend more time on the mountain exploring the spectacular, powder-covered alpine that Whistler Blackcomb is celebrated for.
The Harmony Six has the same alignment as the current Harmony quad; spanning 1,729 metres (5,672ft) in length, with a vertical rise of 525 metres (1,722ft). The top elevation of the lift is 2,107 metres (6,912ft); the bottom elevation is 1,582 metres (5,190ft).
Construction on the lifts will begin this spring and will continue through the summer and fall with an expected opening at the beginning of the 2013.2014 winter season.
Whistler Blackcomb, the official alpine skiing venue for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, is located in the Coast Mountains of British Columbia 125 kilometres (78 miles) from Vancouver. North America’s premier four season mountain resort, Whistler and Blackcomb are two side-by-side mountains which combined offer over 200 marked runs, 8,171 acres of terrain, 16 alpine bowls, three glaciers, receives on average over 1,192 centimetres (469 inches) of snow annually, and one of the longest ski seasons in North America.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Lego Freeskiing: Deep Pow

Cat skiing and back-country booter sessions in lego form...
By Oxburger Studios

Salomon Freeski TV: Andreas Fransson. Tempting Fear

Salomon Freeski TV 6th season. Episode 7:
Fear is one of the main component of the freerider's life.
Over the past 3 years Andreas Fransson's logged first descents in a half-dozen countries, battled back to life from an accident that nearly killed him, and become the most talked about skier in the epicenter of all things extreme -- Chamonix, France.
What makes Andreas most intriguing, however, are his thoughtful musings on meaning from a life on the edge - a willingness to enter mental spaces that few have ever experienced.
In Tempting Fear Sweden's soft-spoken Adventurer of the Year explores a place in which fear overwhelms all emotions, playing both friend and enemy in a pas de deux where death lies just one misstep away.

Thinking Outside the (Ski Resort) Box 2: "Our Heroes are Back" Campaign

The slogan 'Our Heroes are Back' is used to announce that, after an absence of one decade, all major pieces in the Rijksmuseum's collection are back where they belong. This is what happens when they suddenly emerge in an unsuspecting shopping mall somewhere in The Netherlands. With the support of main sponsor ING, entrance to the museum was free on the 13th of April from 12:00 to 00:00.
The Rijksmuseum is Holland’s biggest museum. It boasts a breathtaking collection of old masters. The most famous work in the collection is of course Rembrandt van Rijn’s Night Watch.
A stunt conceived by JWT Amsterdam and sponsored by ING brought Rembrandt’s ‘The Night Watch’ to life with the slogan “Our Heroes are back!” to life to celebrate the reopening of the Rijksmuseum.
"A gathering of some 30 gentlemen, members of the Shooting Company of Captain Frans Banninck Cocq – better known as Rembrandt’s ‘The Night Watch’ – descended on an unsuspecting shopping centre in Breda in the Dutch province of Brabant".
"This Flashmob recreates Rembrandt's Night Watch. It's considered one of the most famous paintings in the world".

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Mountain Travel Executive Summit 2013

The Executive Summit is a special MTS presentation within the Forum. It is designed for senior management (owners, corporate officers, senior management) of medium and large tourism-dependent businesses. This is a unique opportunity for a small but influential group of leaders to chart the future of the mountain resort industry.
While the Executive Summit has a customized agenda, it is combined with the MTS Forum and General Sessions for a full day of education, networking and business development. The afternoon is dedicated to an exclusive working luncheon featuring a focused topic, limited presentation and a highly interactive discussion, and concludes with an exclusive networking reception.
Attendance at the Executive Summit is by invitation only.

"An ambitious three-hour Executive Summit drew about 100 winter travel leaders to explore how leadership, innovation, and passion could expand the winter travel business. The Summit repeated advice about enabling experiences through targeted apps and social media sharing, but went further. Intrawest CEO Bill Jensen predicted that more than 50 percent of future leaders will come from outside the industry, because they will have the skill set needed—including a broader view of recreation and marketing.
This session boiled down growth initiatives to several ideas that surfaced repeatedly throughout the conference: offer free or inexpensive learn-to packages, coupled with opportunities to upsell guests to a variety of services and activities; and create an organized national campaign.
While that sounds an awful lot like the “Got Milk” campaign and the reviled “Ski It to Believe It” program of 20 years ago, it at least shows that travel companies, like equipment and apparel suppliers, are becoming focused on growing the number of participants in winter sports. And social media may well provide a new way to reach a broad market without spending millions in general advertising. In general, the speakers and small-group discussions that followed them urged more risk-taking (as in trying a variety of new approaches to growing participation) and experimenting with pricing, which might be considered a subset of risk-taking" (SAM April, 2013).

Mountain Travel Forum 2013: Session IV

General Session IV
Thursday, April 11th 8:30AM - 10:15AM
The Crystal Ball

  • Online travel pioneer Erik Blachford has seen it all. The "next big thing" comes to him every day as a venture partner at Technology Crossover Ventures. This founding team member and second CEO of Expedia played key roles in developing the world’s largest travel agency. He helped luxury adventure travel company Butterfield and Robinson rethink their strategies as its CEO. And it doesn’t hurt that he’s an avid skier.
"Eric Blachford, a travel veteran and outside expert turned technology investor (Technology Crossover Ventures), urged resorts to enlist customers in marketing. For this, he noted the value of pictures. With changes in photo and video technology and the explosion of photo-sharing sites, resorts can tell stories via photos to grow their businesses. Or, more precisely, let their guests tell stories via pictures.
He cited “Betabrand” apparel, which enlists buyers to take pictures of their new togs, then puts those onto customized homepages of the Betabrand website. That is, customers buy, then take pictures of themselves sporting their Betabrand gear, which then take center stage on a Betabrand home page—which they are then encouraged to share with friends.
The key point is that every customer can have his or her own Betabrand home page. That gets buyers invested in the brand, and gives friends a closer connection to the brand as well. More than 7,000 people have thus become evangelists for Betabrand. That’s one way to get your market to do your marketing for you.
This is “growth hacking:” convincing good customers to Tweet and otherwise spread the word about you. It works well for lots of online businesses, such as Dropbox, which gives free space to users who bring in new subscribers, and Surveymonkey, a free service that nonetheless generates $845 million in sales, via upgraded data analysis). Both rely on upselling of premium services and features. He and others suggested resorts should do similar: offer free skiing and riding for an hour, say, or for a portion of the mountain, and then upsell for extended/greater use, etc.
He also envisioned a use for Google Glass: give out the glasses to influencers—a freemium—so long as they share videos with friends.
Ian Arthur of Intrawest said that such “gamification” is a big cultural trend and getting bigger, and that the mechanics are readily available. Just about any resort can get into the act.
When it comes to making the sale, resorts should both create their own digital programs and work with partners, Blachford said: “You don’t get to control how people shop. People want to shop how they want to shop.” Some will come straight to a resort; others will use other, trusted sites, from Trip Advisor to Expedia. What matters is that they find their way to you.
A corollary to this idea is that a resort’s online shopping experience has to be as good as the online leaders, such as Expedia or Amazon. That’s what customers are used to. If you don’t make shopping easy, people will shop somewhere else.
When it comes to easy, Blachford thinks big. In praising the Mountain Collective for its ease of purchase online (with back end support provided by Liftopia), he suggested that resorts go even further: create a pre-paid pass that's good for any ski area. The industry could even forge its own currency, similar to frequent-flier miles.
Blachford suggested resorts offer a “first ever” free ski pass bundled with “goodies” such as free ski and boot rentals. Asked how such a pass could be tracked effectively, he said, “it doesn’t matter.” Just get people hooked, he said, they will spend plenty in both the short and long run
"(SAM April, 2013).

Mountain Travel Forum 2013: Session III

General Session III
Wednesday, April 10th 4:30PM - 6:00PM
Connecting Travelers and Suppliers: Disruption or Status Quo?

  • Innovators are driving the travel industry, including start-ups, traditional intermediaries and even global distribution systems. The push is ever-changing between customers (mountain travelers), suppliers (resorts and lodging properties) and those who connect them. That’s our focus.
    Philip Wolf, PhoCusWright founder and industry visionary, talked about the need for companies to constantly evaluate their sales, marketing and distribution strategies. Not working? Wolf says "change it".
"The latest skier/traveler study by PhoCusWright, a travel industry research and consulting firm, drew a lot of press, especially its discovery that people who ski and ride equally are the best customers. They travel and spend more, and more often. Alas, they are also a small piece of the overall pie, about 16 percent of the travel market.
The more relevant news, for most resorts, concerned the composition of the overnight traveler. They tend to be older, digitally connected (82 percent), and they rely on digital sources for their information. Half of them book online exclusively. So: enable people to buy digitally, even at the area, through an app via smartphone. Standing in a ticket line is so wasteful and inefficient, so 20th century.
A few surprises in the study: snowboarders described themselves as less adventurous than skiers describe themselves; and nearly two-thirds of destination travel planning is done by—of all things—men. They want to know about snow conditions, and how to minimize hassle for the family, too" (SAM April, 2013).

Mountain Travel Forum 2013: Sessions I & II

General Session I
Wednesday, April 10th 8:30AM - 10:15AM
The World of Travel According to Google & Facebook
  • First came search. Then mobile and video. And now travel. Google’s Rob Torres, Managing Director for Travel, explained the "now and next" for Google, travel, and us. A fresh, fast track.
  • Facebook has a juiced-up focus on travel. Erik Hawkins, Industry Manager for Travel, North America, explained how Facebook plans to unleash the power of more than a billion users on the world’s third largest industry and what’s in it for you.

"Word of mouth is still a marketer’s best friend, and it’s now being delivered by social media. Travel experts from Google and Facebook described the exponential growth in their involvement in travel; showcased new technology like Google Glass, which incorporate a small voice-activated point-of-view camera; and provided advice on how to connect with customers through current and future tools. And if a picture is worth a thousand words, video speaks volumes: it’s becoming an important piece of the decision process for travelers" (SAM April, 2013).
General Session II
Wednesday, April 10th 10:45AM - 12:25PM
Leveraging Bloggers for Profit
  • Engaging in meaningful conversations and campaigns with influential bloggers is the key to any successful communications strategy and growing sales in 2013 and beyond. Expedia Vice President Hari Nair explained how his company’s strategy with bloggers has led to phenomenal success. How it works, why, and even a look at the ROI.
  • A panel with Krista Parry, Senior Vice President and Chief Innovation Officer at Powdr Enterprises and founder of Snowmamas blog, and Anne Taylor Hartzell, founder and creator of Hip Travel Mama, talked about how they used their passion for travel and blogging to help travel brands drive engagement and bookings with fellow travelers.
"Bloggers provide another source of trusted word-of-mouth. Hari Nair of Expedia said that 50 percent of Gen Xers look to bloggers for advice; overall, a 25 percent of travelers do.
Bloggers, of course, have independent voices, and as such may not be completely in tune with the marketing message. But that’s part of the point: they have their own unique voice, and that authenticity makes them believable and trustworthy. Their organic advocacy can help you increase engagement and strengthen relationships.
That’s the value of bloggers such as Park City’s Snowmamas, as Krista Parry of Powdr Enterprises pointed out. Blogs are a fine way to reach a targeted audience, like moms. Millennials, the future core customers, are always engaged. Yes, marketers can’t control the message and interaction, she said, but then, that control was lost years ago. The best you can do now is go with the flow and be involved" (SAM April, 2013).

Mobile Is NOW

  • HotelTonight is providing innovative solutions for mobile bookings. With more than $37 million in venture capital, they have big growth plans. Founder and CEO Sam Shank explained the larger societal trend towards last-minute, on-demand consumption, and how consumers expect everything to be at their fingertips more than ever before. Shank talked about how mobile will impact all aspects of mountain travel - before and especially during the guest's visit.
"That’s equally true for mobile communications, which can usher in a suite of new services and, if handled correctly, new revenue streams. Sam Shank of HotelTonight, a last-minute booking app (2,500 hotels, 90 cities, 12 countries), described how a suite of apps on a location-enabled smartphone could serve as a sort of on-mountain remote control, Think of an app as a button on the remote, he said.
How would this improve the experience? For starters, resorts could sell tickets without a ticket window (or waiting line). Guide guests to the best parking places, most suitable trails, and shortest liftlines. Push lunch menus to guests shortly before noon, say, direct them to nearby restaurants (thank you, location services), and allow them to order ahead and reserve a table. The app could also alert the kitchen when guests are approaching the restaurant, so that food could be ready the moment guests arrive. That’s efficient for both guest and resort, he noted. And why not offer line-cutting privileges on a busy day, or private lessons tailored to the terrain a guest has been on? Prices for both could be adjusted as supply and demand changes, minute by minute
"(SAM April, 2013).

His five rules for apps:

do just one thing, really well
• complete tasks quickly, efficiently
• offer limited selection (make choices easy)
• personalize the choices (based on previous purchases or choices)
• anticipate needs—know where customers are, and send reminders.

Mountain Travel Symposium 2013

From April 7 to April 13, the Westin Snowmass Conference Center in Snowmass, Colorado, hosted the 38th Mountain Travel Symposium (MTS). The event is the largest and longest-running annual gathering of mountain travel professionals in North America.
MTS 2013 was a blast. More than 1200 buyers, suppliers, and resort executives convened for the most productive MTS in its almost four-decade run.
MTS has grown as the industry has grown. It has extended its reach and offerings to include mountain travel professionals from around the world as well as tour operators, ski clubs and councils, MICE executives, and a variety of corporate sponsors.
Trade Exchange attendees (including ski resorts and property management companies) estimated following the 2011 event that 41 percent of the business volume they receive from tour operators came from contacts made at the Symposium. Group Exchange attendees in 2011 estimated more than 25 percent of their total business from ski clubs and councils came from the Symposium alone.
The addition of the new MICE Exchange in 2013 was an exciting, very important business development component to MTS Week. The fresh tracks leading to the Forum general sessions, workshops and the Executive Summit provided attendees with an incredible week.
The Forum includes two full days of professional development and education featuring presentations from nationally-known speakers as well as individual breakout sessions on practical and topical issues. Finally, a variety of receptions, parties, and activities are scheduled throughout the week to maximize networking and relationship building.

This year's Mountain Travel Symposium focused on expanding the winter sports market. And the two-day Forum was full of great takeaways for a brighter future. There is a sea of change coming in our guests: are you prepared to be out in front? Are you communicating with guests and potential guests with the right tools?
The Mountain Travel Forum at Snowmass April 10-11 demonstrated that growing the winter sports market is on everyone’s mind. Sessions focused on bringing new audiences to the mountains and using social media to both sell them on a destination and make their experiences more memorable once there.Attendees and speakers all agreed that the future doesn’t look at all like the past. Guests will be younger and more diverse, and the means of interacting with them will be broader, more mobile, and digital. That could lead to big changes in the way products are sold, from tickets and lunch to parking and reservations, and in the way resorts are marketed.
One novel idea: let the customer determine how much they are willing to buy. As technology expert Erik Blachford of Technology Crossover Ventures said, the sales paradigm is changing: guests are now in control of pricing. They are accustomed to getting a first taste for free, and then opting in for whatever additional services they want.

Next year, Breckenridge (Colorado) will host the Mountain Travel Symposium on April 9-16.

Snow Park NZ Sold

Last May, following a return to Lee family ownership on April 1, General Manager Sam Lee announced that there’s not enough time following the transition to get Snow Park NZ up and running for the 2013 ski and snowboard season. Efforts to open have been hampered by the volume of work and capital required, Lee said.
Now, New Zealand's Snow Park NZ was sold to Southern Hemishpere Proving Grounds (SHPG), a neighboring vehicle-testing facility, and the future of the ski area looks uncertain. SHPG managing director Tom Elworthy told the Otago Daily Times that is was possible Snow Park could still operate as a venue for events and training, but it was unlikely the area would open up to the public because "it's too expensive to run and the market is too small".
Snow Park was operated by the Lee family for the last 33 years, and in 2002, Sam Lee converted the resort into a dedicated freestyle resort. In fact, Snow Park was slated to host the Burton Open and two slopestyle World Cup qualifiers. Elworthy said they have yet to determine whether they would run those events. SHPG's main interest in the property were its workshops and lodges, which would provide accommodation for proving vehicle-testing crews.