Friday, January 28, 2005

Utah's Ski Marathon

Ever since I started backcountry skiing, I've come to realize just how close all of the resorts in Utah are. I've mused with friends about how cool it would be to score lift tickets from each resort, get it all lined up with early ups at one or two of the resorts and then nail every resort in the central Wasatch, linking them together by means of backcountry skiing.

Well, a group of 5 one-uped me and skied all 11 of Northern Utah's ski resorts.

Ski Utah


Thursday, January 27, 2005

Vail: The New Sin City

Seems like everyone gets into trouble with the law in Vail. Even young jibbin freeskiers (Tanner Hall, Mickael Deschenaux, Chris Biollo-is CB even 21?) who can't handle their liquor. See article.


Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Look What the Competition's Up To

Looks like Bryce is taking the concept of a customer driven site quite seriously. Wonder how many deals he'll find. News Article


Atomic Triplet? Triple your pleasure

News leaking out of the Vegas SIA show has pegged Atomic with the most creative and exciting ski offering. The Triplet HP, Atomics new brain child for the park and pipe, gives you not two but three skis with your purchase, and it should hit stores at only $499 or so.

The cool thing is that the skis are all different top-sheets (pink is still hot) so you can choose your ski steeze dependent on your mood, or just have a backup ski in case you blow an edge.

Confused on what to do about buying one solo binding? Here's an idea - Though not intended this way, if you nab two of your buddies and all go in on two purchases, you'll each score a set of skis for $333. Atomic is bringing people together in creative ways. Problem solved.

Freeskier News


We're destined to become drones

It seems that ski and binding manufacturers are tying to make drones out of us all by giving us little or no option but to purchase an integrated binding system. Either you purchase the integrated binding/ski combo or ski your old sticks. For most of us gear nuts, the thought of skiing the same pair of skis more than 2 seasons is like kissing your sister - it's a kiss, but....

Then SIA reports that “Integrated ski systems had double digit growth in both specialty and chain stores, clearly becoming the way of the future. Well, that took rocket science to figure out. If you only offer integrated ski systems, chances are it'll show growth.

Next integration - goggles and helmets, mark my words. Helmet and goggle manufacturers will team up to offer goggles that only fit one type of helmet. Sounds far fetched? So did integrated ski/binding systems 5 years ago.

Ski Press - SIA report


Sunday, January 23, 2005

Quizno's Doesn't Allow Refills


So I went into Quizno’s this afternoon, just like I have every day of the first week in this office, to buy a refill for my big soda cup. Each time I go in I ask for a refill and the guy behind the counter charges me for a small soda. $1.29 for a refill is more than double what a refill goes for around here but I’m lazy so I was happy to pay it (e.g. China Panda charges .52 for a refill and the Chevron charges .82).

This quiet Sunday afternoon when I went in there I was greeted by an middle aged woman who was unfamiliar with the cash register and not wearing a Quizno’s uniform. It’s easy to spot the owners at a place like this. It’s the haughty expression and the disdain for the uniform as a well as the total incompetence…they work hard to communicate the “I would never be an employee here, just an owner” through their every action.

When I asked for a refill, and a chocolate chip cookie that I didn’t need, she declined. She said, “we don’t do refills.” I said, “how about charging me for a small soda then?” “But that’s a large soda cup. No, we don’t do refills.” I explained to her that I had been buying refills from her store all week long. She informed that that deal ended now and she was going to train her employees better. I said, okay, I’ll take a large soda. And she told me, “not if it it’s not going in a Quizno’s cup.” For those who think, “maybe she was doing it for health reasons. Maybe she’s not allowed to fill customer cups. The quick answer is that it’s a serve yourself soda location

It’s moments like this that a massive dark rage wells up within me. The fact that she didn’t understand that her biggest expense is the cup, that the margin on soda is the highest margin in the place, that I’m saving her money and increasing her margin, that I was buying the damn cookie just so it wouldn’t be a piddling $1.29 purchase, that I am, after all, THE CUSTOMER, all of these simple business concepts completely eluded her. She stood her ground like Patton. “There’s no key on this register for a refill and we certainly aren’t going to make one for you” she announced with the authority that ownership brings.

But this is the new me. Where in the past I would have let me rage show, I would have told her exactly how pathetically dumb she is, ahhh, not anymore. This is the Dale Carnegie me. I quietly assessed her and realized that you cannot oppose superior power with power. She is the master of her domain and unless I was willing to resort to violence I would surely lose by going head to head. So I changed tactics and said, “I would really like to buy a refill and I’m happy to pay for it but part of the reason that I use a refillable cup is that I don’t like wasting things when I can avoid it. It’s better for the environment if we all go with refillable containers instead.”

She was ready for it with a quick, “I do plenty for this planet.” For some reason I sort of doubt her on that one, but whatever.

“The cup is the expensive part of this transaction, if you just don’t give me the cup, you’ll make more money, I said.

“WE DON’T DO REFILLS” she thundered at me.

Still outwardly calm, like the terminator, I didn’t say all the things I thought like:

1. For this stupid $1.29 transaction you’re willing to burn a customer for life?
2. How much revenue can I drive away from this location in the next 10 years?
3. How much revenue can I drive away from the parent company in the next 10 years?

Instead I went with the plain vanilla, “I think you are making an unwise business decision.” She was clearly done with me and she announced, “I am completely comfortable with my business decision. I think I know my business better than you.”

I calmly went on my way and gave The Panda my hard earned jing.

She won the battle, no doubt, but we’ll see who wins the war. It has just begun.


Thursday, January 20, 2005

Mainstream Backcountry Gear?

Random magazine perusing has shown that small outdoor companies are making it big in the corporate magazine culture... A Flow Snowboard and bindings were giving away in JANE magazine and Arbor Snowboards were referenced in a ode to retro-inspired wooden winter gear in the Jan 17th issue of Newsweek. Luckily, George Bush was not demo-ing the A-frame for the article.


Online stores - less shopping, more research?

Web-to-store (known as W2S) shopping could be an online store's biggest threat. As online stores become more competative with each other and try to increase conversion rates by supplying consumers with every possible bit of product data, they could be empowering consumers with all the information needed to hop in thier car and drive down to thier local store to finalize the purchase. In this way online stores could become online research centers.

According to this reasarch, the model of doing business solely online could prove more challenging moving forward. As brick and mortal stores become more web savvy, online stores will need to find more effective and often more creative ways to ensure the sale takes place online and not down the street.

The Study

The outlook for using the Internet to research purchases before going to local stores, otherwise known as Web-to- store (W2S) shopping, is stronger than online e-commerce, according to new research released this week.

The 2005 U.S. Web2Store Benchmark Survey was conducted by The Dieringer Group. It measured shopping patterns during the last three months of 2004

The U.S. Web2Store Benchmark Survey is a survey of 1,101 consumers who used the Internet to research products or stores prior to making a local shopping trip during the last three months of 2004.


- The DRG estimates 83.4 million U.S. consumers made offline purchases impacted by online information during 2004, up 19 percent from the prior year.
-Approximately 80 million shoppers used the Internet during the fourth quarter for W2S shopping.
-According to the study, the growth outlook for W2S shopping is robust for retailers who use the Internet to drive shoppers to their local stores.
-Research findings show that among all W2S shoppers, 70 percent say they do more W2S shopping now than they did a year ago and 48 percent plan to do more W2S shopping in 2005.
-Online product research conducted by consumers this past year, often done in online stores, was responsible for driving $180.7 billion in offline spending, compared to $106.5 billion in direct online consumer spending.


"Based on these results, it's clear shoppers prefer to use the Internet to find and better understand what they want to buy before making their purchases at local stores," said Brian Hand, President and CEO of "This benchmark research drives the conclusion that the outlook for W2S shopping is stronger than online e-commerce and has enormous potential for all retailers, from national brands to small stores."

For the whole story visit - News Finder


Kraft vows to stop advertising crap food to kids

Nice to see the Evil Philip Morris taking a stance on child obesity. Wonder it they will develop natural energy bars our just buy Clif Bar...

Kraft Foods (KFT) said it's shifting the mix of products it advertises for children aged 6 to 11 on television, radio and print media toward products that meet specific nutrition criteria, and will also identify those products with a specific flag on products' label. Examples of existing products that the company will continue to advertise in media aimed specifically at the 6-11 age group include: Sugar-Free Kool-Aid beverages, Lunchables Fun Pack Chicken Dunks and 1/2 the Sugar Fruity Pebbles cereal, it said. To qualify for the new labels, food will either have to provide beneficial nutrients or meeting specifications for reduced calories, fat, saturated fat, sugar or sodium


Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Rated by Who? has this image on their homepage:

Curious, they say rated the best. I can't help but wonder who rated them that? It's a very official looking gold seal and all. That's a good fifteen minutes in Photoshop. But isn't authenticity with the customer too important to fudge things like that? Just curious.

They are good, almost as good as some of our lesser competitors.


Snowbird underground

Snowbird planning Euro-style ski tunnel, new lift

(AP) -- Snowbird ski resort is planning to replace one of its original 1971 chair lifts with a longer, faster lift that would take skiers nearly to the top of the resort in Peruvian Gulch. But that's not all: the resort would drill a 400-foot tunnel through the mountain so skiers can reach the backside in Mineral Basin, riding a conveyor belt without taking off their skis.

The sheer engineering audacity of the tunnel is bound to turn heads in the industry, and cost a lot of money, although how much is unknown; Snowbird officials said they hadn't drawn up plans and were still examining the lift and tunnel as a concept.

Check it here


Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Oakley and Bluetooth Too

Looks like Bluetooth's spreadin' the love around the action sports industry. First the THUMPs, now something even cooler? Hopefully they actually look cool too.


Burke Gets a Ski Sponsor, Line Loses Skogen

Sarah Burke has finally found a ski sponsor. Volkl picked up the freeski diva as well as former Line Skis athlete Skogen Sprang. That'll make the Skogen Sprang Line pro model something of a collectors item in the near future.


Friday, January 14, 2005

Line Reactor Gets Positive Reaction

The Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise has apparently tested the Line Reactor binding and given it a props for cutting down on skier injuries.


Thursday, January 13, 2005

Quiksilver Making Bid for Skis Rossignol

Report: Quiksilver Making Bid for Skis Rossignol [PREM]
Skis Rossignol shares jumped early on Monday after a French newspaper reported that Quiksilver Inc. was making a bid for the company. Rossignol is "a company we are looking at more closely, even though it is not the only possibility", said Bernard Mariette, Quiksilver's president, in an interview with French newspaper Les Echos...(1/3/2005)

Buyers Take: Sorry that's all I could post. I don't pay for the BOSS report. Money is cheap and consolidation is happening in our industry. This would be a move for Quiksilver to gain a manufacturing facility to build snowboards under their brand.


SBI Acquires Cloudveil Apparel; Forms new Company

SBI Acquires Cloudveil Apparel; Forms new Company
SportsNewsSource Posted: 1/13/2005
Cloudveil, producers of innovative technical outdoor and mountaineering apparel and Sport Brands International (SBI) have announced the formation of a new company, Cloudveil Mountain Works, Inc. Financial details of the agreement have not been disclosed.

Cloudveil Mountain Works, Inc. President, Brian Cousins, explains: "We are extremely excited about this opportunity for Cloudveil to continue its development in the outdoor specialty market and to extend our reach globally. With SBI, we gain added financial strength and sourcing resources, which will allow our outstanding team in Jackson Hole and Denver to accelerate the growth of the Cloudveil brand."

In his new title of Global Brand Director, Stephen Sullivan added, "This is a super positive move for Cloudveil as the brand platform remains in place and, at the same time, we benefit from being able to tap into the global resources of a larger strategic partner. This will allow us to increase our product development focus and expand much more rapidly."

Jim Reilly, the Managing Director of the newly formed company and a Senior Vice President of Sport Brands International commented, "Cloudveil is an authentic brand with a management team that understands the specialty business. We believe an entrepreneurial approach to building a strong sustainable business should be at the heart of everything we do. Cloudveil is a perfect example of this."

Cloudveil offices remain in Jackson, Wyoming and Denver, Colorado and the entire in-house team and independent sales force remains intact and forms a foundation for future, near-term expansion.

Buyers Take: I'm not sure who SBI is but I can only imagine that it will help this brand. They need an infusion of capital to chase and develop new technoligies. They were once the leader in softshell and now they are just someone who makes it.


Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Coming Soon: Future Sports Skiwear Collection

While Abercrombie and Fitch may have snagged Jeremy Bloom for his body, J. Lindeberg snagged Jon Olsson for his talent. J. Lindeberg, a lifestyle clothing company out of London will have its technical skiwear collection ready for next season.


Monday, January 10, 2005

Section parts ways with Spyder

Section and Spyder Separate Business Ties

BOULDER, CO, January 7, 2005 – Section Clothing Company and Spyder Active Sports, Inc. announce that Section has become its own business entity as of January 1st, 2005. The relationship between Spyder and Trent and Troy Bush began in 2002, with Spyder supporting the snowboard outerwear brand created by the brothers. The Bushes had control over the brand’s sales, marketing, and product, with Spyder’s back-end support given in IT, accounting and operations departments. Spyder and the Bushes have concluded an agreement enabling the brothers to purchase the Section segment of the business, allowing the Bushes to form a new company under their ownership going forward into the 2005-2006 season.
David Jacobs, Spyder’s president and CEO said, ”Spyder’s skiwear business has grown over 40% per year for the last three years, and does not show any appreciable rate of slowdown going into ‘05. This growth of the skiwear brand has not allowed Spyder to give the needed attention to the core snowboard brand that Troy and Trent Bush have created. I feel this as a great opportunity for the Bushes to give their brand the focus it deserves, and I wish them the best of success with it.”
Trent and Troy Bush, owners of Section, added “The acquisition of Section from Spyder allows us to concentrate on the tremendous opportunities for Section in the snowboard market, and lets Spyder do the same in skiing. We want to thank David Jacobs for believing in our vision of what Section can become, both at the beginning of our relationship, and now as we enter a new phase of our plans for Section.”

Section is a specialty snowboard brand founded in 2002 by Trent and Troy Bush, industry mainstays who have been influential in the development of the progressive snowboard industry since the late 1980’s. Section product is sold worldwide and is based around its patented Section Progression Systems features. It is developed and tested by many of the world’s best snowboarders including Marc Frank Montoya, Scotty Arnold, Casey Nelson, and Lindsey Jacobellis.

Spyder is the largest specialty ski brand in the world. It is an Official Supplier to the US Alpine, Austrian Alpine, Canadian Alpine, and Canadian Freestyle Ski Teams. The brand also supports Team Venom, a band of high profile pro freeskiers. Spyder products are renowned for their integration of high-technology fabrication, sport-specific function, and fashion conscious designs. Based in Boulder, CO, the company sells its performance apparel in the United States and Canada. Spyder is sold in 50 countries outside of North America through the Spyder-Europe office in Baar, Switzerland, and through independent distributors around the world.

Buyers Take: This should help the brand in my opinion. I never thought it was healthy for a snowboard brand to be in the same building as ski brand. Exciting things should come from Section.


Friday, January 07, 2005

One Chica's Take on Women's Skis

At, Lisa Kelly ponders out loud what many women think to themselves about women's specific boards. I concur with her hesitation, and close with this simple philosophy: A woman should stick to her Spatulas.


Geeks and Gear Part 4

Gizmodo loves Burton, beanies, and all things headphones. In my last post, I cited their notice of the Burton/Bluetooth collaboration that we may see next year. Logically, one needs to hear what one's controlling with one's jacket, so now we've got a look at the complementary Bluetooth helmet and beanie.


Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Know your audience?

At the Backcountry offices we get a lot of marketing packages from manufacturers. Usually stuff like catalogs, brochures, CDs and the like are the norm. Recently though, we got a very disturbing package from Gore, of Gore-tex(tm) fame.

Quite simply, the Gore-Tex packet is the most wasteful, foolish thing I've ever seen. Triple fold cardboard and a plethora of brochures, not one of which has any substantive use, are wrapped around a CD. This alone would be mildly irritating for the wastefulness of it. What really burns me up though is that the CD is inside a metal box, which in turn is in a wrapper of sorts made of 1.5 inch THICK cardboard. Take a look at the picture and you'll see what I mean.

I can only assume Gore is sending these stupid things out to manufacturers and retailers all over the country. Attention Dummies! We are the OUTDOOR Industry. We are NOT impressed by your ability to spend money killing trees to package your CDs. CD's for heaven sakes! Next time, send us a CD in an envelope and donate all the money you save to the Sierra Club or something.

I start thinking, "How long has this been going on?" and I get really steamed. Yeah, I like my Gore-Tex Jacket but I'm feeling a LOT less good about it right now.

Consider this a call to action. This sort of wastefulness needs to stop now. We all have computers, and there's a lot more information that fits on a CD than you can pack into a whole box of paper. Get with the program, Gore!


Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Geeks and Gear Part 3

Snowboarders aren't all antisocial punks. There are parties to be planned, rendezvous points to be determined, and jobs to monitor on powder days. Burton's taken their built-in iPod (Ronin jacket) controls a step further for next season, supposedly implementing Bluetooth cell controls into a new outerwear line.


Monday, January 03, 2005

Quicksliver to buy Rossi

Could an American surf company save a French ski company? / Industries / Consumer industries - Rossignol shares rise on Quiksilver approach