The Environmental Impact of Ski Wax

As of January 2020, a chemical in the PFAS class for use in skier’s wax that may be waterproofing skiers lungs and harming the environment. 
 
The EPA initially denied the request for the chemicals use before they overturned their decision and allowed the chemical to be used on downhill skis. The EPA did not force the chemical’s manufacturer SWIX to go through the standard procedure as outlined in the Toxic Substances Control Act. Instead, the EPA agreed to an exemption for the chemical under the low-volume exemption, which allows the manufacturer to make up to 10,000 kilograms of the chemical per year. By agreeing to the low-volume exemption, the chemical was brought to market without having to undergo the extensive testing that is typically required. 
 
After the initial refusal, SWIX hired a Washington D.C. law firm to plead their case. In papers written by the lawyer, and obtained by Outdoor Magazine under the Freedom of Information Act, the lawyer claimed that the EPA needed to approve the request or that SWIX might be forced to go out of business.  
 
In an article published by the Environmental Defense Fund, it is pointed out that no one knows if there will be any damage to the environment or not because the correct protocol was not employed. Instead, the government yielded to pressure from a private business. The fund is particularly concerned about chemicals, such as this one, that is approved through low-volume exemption proceedings. 

How Black Diamond Equipment is Growing Direct-to-Consumer Business

While Netherland native Jan-Willem Driessen, who moved to the United States in 2012, is no longer with Black Diamond, he gave an interview to Total Retail Talks on how Black Diamond transitioned itself to become a direct-to-consumer brand. His insights may help others who plan to take their company on a similar journey. Black Diamond decided to concentrate more on their direct-to-consumer efforts because they saw a huge advantage in engaging more closely with skiers to learn their wants and needs. They also hope to identify new target audiences who want their products. In making the move, the company also hopes to lower its customer acquisition costs and to increase the life cycle of each customer.  
 
Black Diamond chose to work with Lexar to overcome hurdles that they anticipated encountering along the way. The company also was careful to price its products to wholesalers so that they would not harm their business. Through the efforts of Lexar, the company was able to gain more insights into its current customer base while managing the costs of the transition. Lexar was able to provide them with more data than the company currently had about the people using their products. Then, Black Diamond was able to create digital marketing programs to increase the number of leads that they received and to increase the cart value of each company.  
 
Two marketing ideas proved extremely efficient. The first was to offer sweepstakes and other prize programs to people who were willing to give Black Diamond their contact information. The company also worked hard to gather additional email addresses through other channels. Then, they sent skiers personalized emails based on consumer behaviors. 

How Russia Learned to Love Ski Resorts, But Not Ski Racing

The Russian national women’s ski team coach says that the country must use the resources, such as Rosa Khuto, that were built for the 2014 Winter Olympics or lose the support of the government and the Russian residents. Coach Anastasia Popkova says in the AP News, however, that is a massive challenge in the country where business people from Central and Western Russian seem to love cross-country skiing. Still, these residents show little interest in ski racing. 
 
As an example of the lack of enthusiasm for alpine skiing, Popkova points to the country’s coverage and lack of interest for the World Cup that was scheduled to be held at Rosa Khutor. Before bad weather forced the event to be canceled, about 50 people showed up to watch the opening ceremonies, but very few stuck around to watch world-class skiers draw for positions because no one seemed to know their names. Leading up to the event on national television, sportscasters covered the University Games in Siberia instead of the World Cup championship. 
 
Different facilities are trying unique approaches to try to get more people interested in ski racing because Popkova says that the future of the industry relies on more people becoming interested. He also says that the more people that are interested, the more likely Russia is to develop a top team in the future. At Sochi, officials are looking to find ways to build enthusiasm for the sport and keep in fresh in the minds of Russian executives. Officials at Rosa Khutor are hoping that those skiing there now have such a great time that they want to bring their children back to enjoy the spot where they made fond memories as a child. 
 
It may be decades before the success of these plans is known. Russians may someday discover that their national sport is not football, but that is ski racing instead, but that day is a long way away. 

Major Snow Prompts Major Apology

Vail Mountain, a major destination for anyone serious about downhill skiing and other winter sports, had a major problem in early February 2020.  
 
What could cause social media users to dub the incident as a “lift line apocalypse”? Surely a little snow at a winter resort could not cause such a thing, right? That’s exactly why Vail Resorts issued an apology to guests. But this was no mere flurry. 

Feet of Snow 
The system that moved through the Rockies February 6-7, 2020. While snow is expected in the mountains, this system brought 38 inches to Vail Mountain over the course of 48 hours. Rabbit Ears Pass, about 90 miles due north of Vail, received more than 51 inches during this storm. 
 
Beth Howard, COO at Vail Mountain Resort, said this particular storm was in the top five snow events experienced during the resort’s 58-year history. It was quite an undertaking by ski patrol, operations personnel, and slope groomers to get the slopes safe to open. 
 
The challenge with this much snow falling this quickly is keeping the slopes safe for everyone. 

Keeping Everyone Safe 
What most people who are not from the mountains fail to realize is the danger this much snow can pose. The amount of snow, falling this quickly, puts a lot of stress on the base layer. When that happens, the snowpack becomes unstable, increasing the risk of an avalanche.  
 
Out of an abundance of caution, Vail staff and management took the time needed to ensure the safety of skiers before opening the slopes. Fortunately, the lines that formed well before the daily opening dissipated within a couple of hours and allowed people to enjoy this beautiful area with fresh snow. 

California Resorts Offers July Skiing Option

When most people think about California in the summer they tend to think of hot weather and beaches. However, the diverse topography and landscape of the state offers many unique opportunities. During the 2019 ski season, California was also a surprisingly great place to ski all the way up until July.  
 
During the winter of 2018 and 2019, the California mountains received more than 150% more snow than they normally do. This included nearly 600 inches of total snowfall, which was more than enough to last all winter and well into the spring. It was so much snow that the Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows announced that they would stay open until at least July 7.  
 
The majority of the impressive snowfall came after January 1. At the start of the new year, the total snowfall for the season was only around 67 percent of average. However, this changed quickly when a number of major winter storms impacted the area. By the end of March, the total snowfall for the season was well ahead of the average pace. 
 
While it provided a lot of great late-season skiing options, it also provided a lot of optimism for the state’s water crisis. Once the snow melts, it will soon become part of the total water system across the state, which should help to replenish after recent droughts. 

Cataloochee Becomes First Resort to Open for 2019/20 Ski Season

The United States is well known for having many great areas of the country that are ideal for skiing. This includes the eastern part of the country, which has some of the top resorts and mountains in the world. For the 2019/20 winter ski season, it was widely expected that the resorts in Vermont and other parts of the northeast would open first. However, this year, the first resort to open surprised many people
 
This year, located in the cozy section of western North Carolina, the Cataloochee ski resort was opened in early November. This made it the first resort to open in the eastern region of the United States. While Cataloochee usually provides skiers with several great months of snow and skiing, this year was a bit of an anomaly.  
 
The main reason why Cataloochee was able to open so soon is due to a random weather event that provided it with an unexpected early snow and cold weather. While it is normally rather mild in early November near the resort, the 2019 fall brought some surprisingly cool and temperatures that dropped well below freezing several days in a row. This allowed the resort to make enough snow that they were able to open three different runs. 

Backcountry Skiing Accident Spawns ‘Fido Pro’ Business

As the weather turns more pleasant, more and more backpackers are bringing their four-legged friends on travel and backcountry adventures. This may seem counterintuitive; responsibility is the most crucial aspect of being a backcountry adventurer, and hikers must be prepared to both protect themselves and assist others in emergency situations. As a result, there has been a spike in dog rescue calls from backcountry enthusiasts ill-equipped to handle their dogs’ emergencies.

 

Enter: Fido Pro, a Carbondale-based company building backcountry gear for dogs. Paul Hoskinson, the founder of Fido Pro, says their products are developed with two primary goals: “To assist you in saving your dog should it become sick or injured in the backcountry and to help prevent injury from occurring.” Hoskinson, himself a backcountry skier, ultra-marathon trail runner, climber, and mountaineer, created the company out of personal need.

 

Hoskinson has undertaken countless backcountry adventures with his two German Shorthaired Pointers. In 2017, Hoskinson had an accident. On Memorial Day weekend, he and his dog, Remi, were backcountry skiing with a group of friends. They spent several hours ascending the bowl. After dropping in, Hoskinson realized that Remi quickly caught up; after a series of turns, he felt one of his skis collide with Remi. After stopping to take a closer look, he realized the ski had caused a deep gash on her leg.

 

Luckily, Hoskinson and his friends had the knowledge to tend to the dog’s wound. After wrapping the gash and squeezing Remi into an empty backpack, they began the long ascent out of the bowl to find professional medical help. After a couple of months, the two were back on the trails together.

 

Hoskinson wants people in his situation to be better prepared to take care of their dogs when things go wrong. His company is the first step toward backcountry dog preparation and survival.

 

 

Putting Ski News into Practice

We here at World Ski News love bringing you the best, most current stories in the world of skiing. However, as we enter summer, we understand that ski news won’t be as frequent or captivating; we’ve seen a downturn in coverable stories since the end of the 2018 Winter Olympics. However, we have an idea to keep bringing you ski-related content: publishing ski resources. While we understand that many of you grew up skiing and/or riding, there is a substantial number of readers who have never set foot on the slopes. Maybe you’re interested in the history of the sport, or perhaps you just love the USCSA. Regardless, we figured it was time to start publishing a series of resources for those interested in getting into the sport. By the time we’re on the other side of the off-season, you’ll have the knowledge you need to try it out for yourself.

Though this will be part of a larger series, we figured we’d briefly cover the basics in a concise but broadly-reaching article. Below, we have detailed the four tenants of skiing: equipment, culture, and technique.

Equipment—Skiing, necessarily, requires equipment. You need, at minimum, skis, boots, and bindings. Once you get your mountain legs, you should add poles for balance. Skiers should also incorporate a range of safety and protective gear: helmets, goggles, snow pants, gloves, and a jacket. If this sounds expensive, you’re right—skiing is an incredibly expensive activity. However, you can cut costs with ski rental delivery and by visiting mountains on weekdays for reduced lift ticket rates.

Culture—This is more in line with the stories we cover. Skiing and snowboarding have very distinct cultures, stereotypes, and terminology. Do you know what a glade is? What about a blue square? Do you know the difference between crud and cashmere? Skiing has developed its own language and cultural currency; many of us take this knowledge for granted but learning the necessary information can be incredibly rewarding.

Technique—We’ve finally arrived at what is perhaps the most important tenant of skiing—actually doing the thing. Technique can be broken into three categories: movement, stopping, and turning. Once you learn these basic skills, you’ll be able to better assess how your personal skiing style affects speed and agility. A technique will change in different conditions—you won’t exercise the same turning motion in a glade as you will on a groomed slope.

We look forward to covering the above topics in the coming months. Hopefully, with a bit of time and application, you’ll exit the summer season better understanding what It’s like to be a skier.

Strong Start to Snow Season in Much of Western U.S.

The start to the 2018-19 ski season is such that we could be in line for a banner year across much of the country and in the western U.S. especially. More than just its ski terrain and slopes, Colorado has been leading the way this year in weather and snow conditions. A recent report from The Denver Post’s The Know has some eye-opening figures and comparisons from last year.

 

Vail has been able to take full advantage of its enormous 5,000-acre terrain since mid-November with the famous Back Bowls open for Thanksgiving and one of the earliest openings ever for the resort. In Winter Park, there is 90 inches of snow compared to 52 inches at the same time the previous year and considerably higher than the yearly average of 71 inches. At more than 1,300 acres, the skiable terrain is more than 10 times larger than it was last year. Copper Mountain has about 5 times as much skiable terrain and skiable trails as the same time the previous year. The snowfall amounts have just about tripled. In southern Colorado, there isn’t the same eye-popping numbers, but even these resorts, most notably Telluride are still slightly above average.

 

In fact, it’s not just Colorado and what stands to make this a banner year for skiers and snowboarders is the breadth of the snow-driven weather. USA Today reports that there is similarly strong snowfall in Utah, Wyoming, and California, which together with Colorado comprise a sizable share of the overall U.S. ski industry. From the news report:

“In Wyoming, Jackson Hole has collected 114 inches of snow and already has stretches of steep upper terrain open. Snowbird and Alta, on the Salt Lake side of the Wasatch in Utah, have come alive after a slower start compared with other states, with 110 inches of snow having fallen in just a few weeks.”

 

And it’s not as if the eastern U.S. is that far behind or even behind their own seasonal averages. In particular, Stowe in Vermont has had its own notably strong start to the season with many parts of the ski area that don’t typically open till January already doing so by the end of November.

Lake Placid Jumping Complex Prepares Olympic Hopefuls

Aerial Freestyle Skiing is a notoriously difficult event to follow. Skiers perform incredibly complex maneuvers, creating both suspense and awe. While this esoteric sport is a wintertime favorite, the athletes involved must train year-round. In areas with temperate climates, this can be difficult. Luckily, aerial freestylers can practice outside and in the middle of the summer… in Upstate New York.

 

The Olympic Jumping Complex in Lake Placid has been around for a while, but it continues to be an invaluable resource for athletes in the area. There are currently eight Olympic hopefuls in training, living nearby, and jumping at least twice a day. In November, they’ll pack up their skis and head out to Park City, Utah to apply their new skills.

 

The Lake Placid ramp consists of a dampened plastic surface, which simulates the feeling of moving across snow. Air is pumped into the pool to break the surface tension of the water, lessening the sting of impact. Skiers launch from large ramps to fly over the length of a football field. This safe, season-defying, and (dare we say) fun alternative to the real deal allows athletes to build skills without risking serious injury. Mistakes can be made in the water that might result in career-ending accidents out on the snow.

 

In addition to providing an excellent training opportunity, the Olympic Jumping Complex is an excellent resource for those interested in trying the sport for the first time. This is the best way to learn the sport and build skills from the ground-up. Plus, these water jumps can qualify for the Olympics—qualify in the water, then compete on the snow.