Retiring Snowsports Industries America (SIA) president David Ingemie was presented with the 30th Annual BEWI Award at a luncheon in his honor on Nov. 13 at the Seaport World Trade Center on Boston Harbor as the Boston.com Ski & Snowboard Expo got underway.
Bernie Weichsel, president, BEWI Productions, called Ingemie "an iconic figure in the U.S and international snowsports business," noting that he had headed up SIA for over 30 years (actually 39 years). SIA is the association of snow sport product suppliers that runs the annual member-owned Snow Show in Denver. Annually, ski retailers place orders with product suppliers for 80-90% of the wholesale sales for the year at the Snow Show. The organization also collaborates with all components of the snow sports industry with the goal of promoting the growth and development of snow sports and conducted research for many aspects of the business.
In making the presentation before more than 150 ski industry leaders, Weichsel said, "David has been an innovator in snowsports marketing and market research. He has worked steadfastly to expand participation in and sales throughout all aspects of snowsports. Our industry is that much better thanks to the tremendous contributions David has made to it."
The native New Englander, from Fitchburg, Mass., began his career in his hometown, working at a local ski shop and later at Wachusett in Princeton where he was named marketing director in 1969.
In accepting the award, Ingemie credited his success to his work with a wide variety of snowsports industry people and organizations. "I'm very lucky to be standing here and have the attention, but if it wasn't for all of us in the room and all the people I've worked with, none if this would happen. I'm just kinda the lucky guy at the top that gets the credit for it. I'm fortunate enough to have perspective to see 360 degrees."
Ingemie strongly believed in the value of market research to guide product and program development in the ski industry, demonstrating how such research could guide both the trade association and its members in how best to react to market and demographic changes over the decades. He conceived or conducted various programs to increase snow sports participation with titles such as the "Ski It to Believe It!" Campaign, "Let's Go Skiing, America!" Subaru Deduct-a-Ski, "Inside Skiing" school assembly program, and so on.
He was among the first industry leaders to not only embrace snowboarding but to place it on par with alpine skiing in promoting and growing the snowsports market. He was involved with the early development of snowboarding from "Share a Chair" program to garner snowboard acceptance at ski areas, to the development of the USSA Grand Prix program that still provides the highway for snowboarders to get into the Olympics, and the Mountain Dew Snowboard Festival that introduced snowboarding to thousands at ski areas across the country in the middle 1990s.
Ingemie likewise placed great value on the role of cross-country skiing and snowshoeing developing committees to create marketing programs such as Cross Country Close to Home and Winter Trails. He always included these snow sports segments in the world of snowsports marketing and supported efforts to organize the retailers, product suppliers, and area operators to work together.
Ingemie was also awarded the NSAA Carson White Golden Quill Award at the NSAA Convention in May of 2015 and was nominated for a NASJA Lifetime Achievement Award. Following the 2016 SIA Snow Show in January, he'll work on a legacy project for SIA. The industry will indeed miss Ingemie's positive energy and drive to popularize snow sports. Reposted from SnoCountry.com by Martha Wilson and embellished by XCSkiResorts.com editor Roger Lohr, (former SIA employee hired by David Ingemie in 1986).
If there was an American Cross Country Ski Hall of Fame, Johannes von Trapp would be one of the surefire inductees. The famous story of the von Trapp family is well known - their escape from Austria in the beginning of World War II and the Broadway and Hollywood songs such as Edelweiss, My Favorite Things, and Do Re Mi. In November of 2014, Johannes von Trapp spoke at a luncheon of Nordic ski area operators and one could tell they looked at him as their living history. He grew up with 9 siblings as the last born in the original von Trapp family and he is also known as the proprietor, who opened Trapp Family Lodge, the first commercial Nordic ski area in 1968.
In 1938 just before World War II, the Baron and Baroness von Trapp left all their possessions and estate near Salzburg, Austria. With nine children and one on the way, they fled Austria and were granted asylum in the US. That child on the way was Johannes, who was born in 1939 and now is the president of the modern day Trapp Family Lodge in Stowe, VT.
Arriving in the US with only four dollars, the family settled in Philadelphia and through their music turned a family hobby into a profession as the Trapp Family Singers. In 1942, they bought a small farmhouse in Stowe, Vermont because the landscape reminded them of home. They rented out rooms at their farmhouse to skiers and ran the Trapp Family Music Camp.
Johannes commented that they were too poor to pay to use the ski lifts in Stowe, so they skied up and down in the woods around the farm. He attended Dartmouth College and upon returning to Stowe, he later operated the lodge. He started the ski area out of his barn, renting cross country skis, and giving ski lessons to become the first commercial cross country ski resort in the world. He had hired his first staff person, Per Sorlie, an ex-navy man from Norway, who had great enthusiasm for cross country skiing and who had a brother who wholesaled cross country ski equipment from Norway.
They would pack the trail in the early morning, rented and sold Nordic skis, and taught ski lessons. Johannes stated that he grossed $8,000 that first year in the cross country ski business and he doubled the revenue in the following year. The original concept was a way to attract guests to fill the rooms at lodge.
He always thought that the business would involve backcountry skiing as the key element and today he still hopes that backcountry will grow and become a more noticeable part of the Nordic ski scene. He commented about the "violent contrast" in product development that has become "plastic, nylon, and form fitting," citing the Americanization of Nordic skiing…but he does admit that the new equipment and clothing have great virtues and he has come full circle embracing the high tech that has been incorporated into the sport and business.
Johannes answered a question about grooming as he reminisced about the first snow machine he bought for $50 to pack the trails. They built many different weighted boxes with skis on the bottom to drag behind he snowmobile and set tracks on the trails.
In the early 1970s, the lodge included a riding stable but the horses impacted the trails too much so horseback riding was discontinued. Johannes cited a recent survey taken by UVM students at Trapp Family Lodge that revealed the skiers mostly cared about the track quality. But he still believes in the psychic benefits of being outdoors and he loves how the sport has taken off.
The lodge occupancy has increased over the years and acquiring the nearby land (Trapp Family owns 90% of the trail property) was important to maintain the trails. The lodge history included the fire in 1980 and rebuilding in 1983. In 2000, Trapp added 24,000 square feet of meeting space and accommodations to the lodge and four years later the first villas adjacent to the lodge were completed and sold.
Johannes' son Sam became vice president of the operation in 2007 adding mountain bike trails in the summer and snowmaking in the winter. In 2008, Trapp Family Lodge celebrated its 40th anniversary and was covered in the NY Times, on ABC World News and created its first television advertisement. In 2010, Trapp Lager beer was introduced on the property and a new facility will be opened in 2015 in Massachusetts to greatly expand the brewery operation.
Johannes von Trapp is one of the American cross country skiing forefathers, who will be recognized for his vision of cross country skiing and his connection to a world famous family story.
In a story published in The Globe and Mail, Canadian gold-medal Olympian in cross country skiing, Chandra Crawford has entered the MBA program at the University of Calgary's Haskayne School of Business. Ms. Crawford, who won gold in cross-country skiing at the 2006 Turin Games and seven World Cup medals (two of them gold) in her 14-year skiing career, saw the MBA program as a way to hone her social entrepreneurship expertise as founder of Fast and Female, which is an international program to develop initiatives that will entice more girls to get into and stay in sports.
Chandra set up the non-profit Fast and Female organization in 2005 to encourage girls and women aged 9 to 19 to stick with competitive sports instead of bowing out, as many do, in their teens. The hope, she says, "is that 25 years from now, girls will stay in sports through their teens and we will have a big pool to draw on for Olympic sports."
The Fast and Female organization offers day camps and other opportunities for participants – nearly 9,000 in Canada, the United States and other countries to rub shoulders with Olympic and other elite women athletes.
Prior to the official start of school, Chandra submitted her first assignment – an assessment of their own businesses – that gave her insights into her organization. "If we can create a strong business in terms of Fast and Female, then it will continue to serve girls into the future," Chandra said.
The Fast and Female program cites that girls have 1.3 million fewer opportunities to play high school sports than boys have. Lack of physical education in schools and limited opportunities to play sports in both high school and college mean girls have to look elsewhere for sports –which may not exist or may cost more money. Often there is an additional lack of access to adequate playing facilities near their homes that makes it more difficult for girls to engage in sports.
Despite recent progress, discrimination based on the real or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity of female athletes persists. Girls in sports may experience bullying, social isolation, negative performance evaluations, or the loss of their starting position. During socially fragile adolescence, the fear of being tagged "gay" is strong enough to push many girls out of the game.
As girls grow up, the quality level of their sports experience may decline. The facilities are not as good as the boys' venues and the playing times may not be optimal. The availability of quality, trained coaches may be lacking in their community or these coaches may be more focused on the boys' programs that have more money for training. Equipment and even uniforms aren't funded for many girls' programs at the same levels as boys so their ability to grow and enjoy the sport is diminished. In short, sports just aren't "fun" any more.
School sports budgets are being slashed every day. Fewer opportunities within schools mean families must pay to play in private programs while also footing the bill for expensive coaches, equipment and out-of-pocket travel requirements.
Today's girls are bombarded with images of external beauty, not those of confident, strong female athletic role models. To some girls, fitting within the mold that they are constantly told to stay in is more important than standing out. Peer pressure can be hard for girls at any age; when that pressure isn't offset with strong encouragement to participate in sports and healthy physical activity, the results may lead girls to drop out altogether.
Fast and Female works to develop initiatives that will entice more girls to get into and stay in sports. Programs developed are centered on experience-based programming and informational and educational programming.
National Fast and Female Summits: The Fast and Female Summits offer girls, parents and coaches an ultimate day of inspiration and education to help boost girls' involvement and participation in all sports. Led by illustrious female Olympians, Summit events involve activities to stimulate the minds, bodies and souls of aspiring champions. The programming also includes sessions for parents and coaches by leading sports, nutrition, physiology and psychology experts.
Regional Fast and Female Champ Chats: Regional Fast and Female Champ Chats are sport-specific, half day events led by female Olympians and focused on female youth between ages 9 to 19 years old. Each Champ Chat includes an active component plus an inspirational presentation by the lead female ambassador.
Customized Fast and Female Training Clinics: Fast and Female also offers customized training clinics and camps for clubs or teams and works with the team coaches to develop the most inspiring and effective camp for girls. A network of experts in the realm of physiology, nutrition and psychology across the country, clubs and teams can create novel experiences for their athletes.
INFORMATIONAL AND EDUCATIONAL PROGRAMMING
The Fast and Female Resource Centre is where many useful links concerning female athlete specific content is posted. The Resources Centre has the latest information on psychology, nutrition, physiology, coaching, and parenting of the female athlete.
Fast and Female TV has many short clips and interviews featuring a variety of individuals who contribute to telling the powerful and positive stories concerning girls in sports. The Fast and Female newsletter is published monthly to keep girls informed on the latest and greatest things concerning Fast and Female and girls in sports!
For more information, click http://www.fastandfemale.com/
According to an article in the Oxford Hills Sun Journal, Dave Carter, who passed away earlier this year, is one of eight skiers being inducted into the Maine Ski Hall of Fame in the fall. Carter was 65 when he passed away in early March after a battle with cancer.
Hall of fame director Dave Irons said Carter, who will be inducted at a banquet at Lost Valley in Auburn on Oct. 24, was a pioneer in the field. His wife, Anne, will accept the award on his behalf, Irons said.
He co-owned Carter's X-C Ski Center with wife, with stores in Oxford and Bethel, for over 35 years. Together, they started the Oxford Hills Nordic Ski Club in 1981 with the community helping them build trails at their farm.
In January, Irons notified the Bethel native that he had been chosen by the selection committee, fearing if he waited, it would be too late. After learning of the award, Carter told the Bethel Citizen a few weeks later that it was his dream to get as many people on skis as possible.
Carter's crowning achievement in the field, Irons said, was passing on his passion to get others, especially children, to take up the sport. To this end, he began an after-school program in School District 17 that ran from 1985 to 2005. Close to 100 children participated in the program each winter.
David Carter of Carter's Cross Country, in Bethel and Oxford, Maine had a positive attitude and was still skiing the week prior to his passing. He is survived by his wife Anne and 3 daughters. The Carter family runs two trailheads, operates a lodge, and a retail shop. They were instrumental in the creation of the new non-profit operation Bethel Outdoor Center to operate the trails of the now defunct Sunday River Inn operation.
Dave Carter had more than 40 years experience XC skiing. He started on the Gould Academy XC ski team and went on to compete on the U. Maine XC ski team. Dave was hired to start the Sunday River Ski Touring Center and he was one of 4 Mainers, who helped start the Jackson Ski Touring Center, in Jackson, NH.
He also worked to promote more back-country skiing. "If you're an alpine skier, you'll like our hills. We have elevation," he said. "But if you're not, we have flat, too." Dave was a farm boy and serious XC skier. He had said that Anne was the first girlfriend, who didn't leave after he took her cross country skiing. They skied and bushwacked almost 10 miles uphill and back. It was her first time on skis. They have 3 daughters who help in the business as well. "They cross country skied the day after they walked," Dave had said. They also have 2 granddaughters, who are the 8th generation of Carters in the area.
Carter had been focused on keeping the business green, since before it was a popular phrase. The lodge is built of wood which was cut on their land by the Carter brothers, and custom milled. All the windows and doors were furnished by their cousin (at Western Maine Supply). The lodge was economically designed by Dave. The rental cabins are "off-grid". Even the new trail groomer has been optimized so that it uses 1/6 the amount of fuel that the old groomer used, to reduce the carbon footprint. The lodge and cabins are also heated with wood that comes from the property. The wax room at the lodge is a passive-solar greenhouse.
The XC ski industry will miss one of its true luminaries.
John Frado, who passed away in June of 2012, contributed to the sport of cross country (XC) skiing as one of the forefathers of commercial XC ski resorts and areas as a planner, consultant, and leader within the industry. He was one of the earliest XC ski area operators at Northfield Mountain in Northfield, MA and he helped develop the Nordic ski patrol and professional instructors on a national stage. And Frado consulted for many of the largest and most successful XC ski areas in the U.S.
Frado founded what was to become the Cross Country Ski Areas Association and gave presentations at most of the association's conferences and meetings between the late 1980's until 2011 to educate other ski area operators about significant facility, trail, program, and business design that led to the development and increase in sophistication of the XC ski area business.
The great value that John Frado has brought to the cross country ski world with regard to the quality and maturation of the industry should be recognized by the snow sports world. He was a leader in the XC ski industry and is an excellent example of a "snow sports builder." The XC ski industry is indebted to his contributions.
Along with 15 other ski area operators, John Frado joined Joe Pete Wilson in 1977 founding what is now the Cross Country Ski Areas Association. He served as vice president for many terms and continued to be elected to the Board even after leaving Northfield Mountain, the ski area he designed and operated for 17 years in Massachusetts to pursue work as an independent consultant and trail designer.
John's talent for trail design was officially recognized when Northfield Mountain's trails were placed into the National Recreation Trail database, a designation reserved for exemplary trails and made by the US Secretary of the Interior.
John put his background in emergency services and firefighting to good use while helping to create the Nordic division of the National Ski Patrol. He authored the "Ski & Toboggan Manual" for the Nordic Division and became a Senior Patroller when all testing was done at alpine ski areas (skiing an alpine slope on skinny wooden skis with 3-pin bindings, wearing a loaded backpack and all the while pulling a toboggan loaded with a "patient"). The ski patrol at Northfield Mountain was the first to be registered at a Touring Center (aka XC ski area or Nordic Ski center).
Johannes Von Trapp of Trapp Family Lodge is credited with putting John on cross country skis in the early 70's. The two shared an educational background in forestry and land management. John was a strong advocate of ski instruction supporting professional certification and empowering his staff and volunteer patrollers at Northfield Mountain to give away passes for group lessons. He laughed about being given "a beginner lesson" from Olympic coach, John Caldwell just months after getting on skis, while they tried to standardize a lesson for Eastern Professional Ski Touring Instructors-EPSTI, the forerunner of PSIA-Nordic. John truly believed lessons were an investment in return customers.
Frado joined forces with Jonathan Wiesel and worked under the name Nordic Group International. He's left his mark on Nordic centers across North America. His clients are a who's who of the industry including: Gatineau Park, Hardwood Hills, Lone Mountain Ranch, Great Glen Trails Outdoor Center, Devil's Thumb Ranch Resort & Spa, Tahoe Cross Country, the Nordic centers in Breckenridge and Frisco, Latigo Ranch, Telluride Nordic Association, and Dartmouth College, among many others.
John's love of humor and his passion for quality were the perfect combination for being a steward of the recreational experience. He advocated for memorable, fun trail names and spoke on the subject at CCSAA conventions.
John was connected for decades with moose and one could say it was his totem. His Nordic Group International office was filled with moose memorabilia, his farm tractor was named Moose, and he used moose for his email and license plate. John was officially given the nickname Crazymoose at Great Glen Trails Outdoor Center after surviving a run-in with a moose, breaking his finger in the process. He designed and supervised construction of the Great Glen trails and lodge and was the assistant director for its initial ski season.
In recognition of John Frado's contributions to the snow sports industry, the association asked ski area members to name or rename a trail Crazy Moose (or some version of Crazymoose Corner, Crazymoose Climb, Crazymoose Crawl, etc.)…trails in his name are a fitting remembrance of John Frado as one of the most significant personalities in the history of the U.S. cross country skiing community. (This article was mostly written by Chris Frado, wife of John Frado and CCSAA president ).
In a story in the ParkRecord.com, Howard Peterson announced his retirement from Soldier Hollow in Midway, UT, where he was the executive director of the Soldier Hollow Legacy Foundation and an original advocate for Salt Lake City hosting the 2002 Olympic & Paralympic Games.
Peterson pushed for the XC ski and biathlon venue that would become Soldier Hollow to be made a permanent one with a lasting legacy. The venue's operation was transferred to the legacy foundation as a community and recreational fixture in the Heber Valley as a training and competition destination for XC skiers.
A Maine native, Peterson retires after a long history in the snow sports community. He began in 1974 as ski director at Bretton Woods resort in NH and moved west to work for the US Ski Association in 1978. His 13-year tenure as USSA executive director saw the reuniting of the US Ski Team with USAA in Park City, UT. He helped elevate freestyle skiing to Olympic medals status and chaired the FIS Advertising Committee.
Along with a first class XC ski facility, Peterson established a full-service tubing hill at Soldier Hollow (with snowmaking) to build the venue's revenue and customer base serving more than 420,000 tubers in the last decade and a half. More than 91,000 Utah youth have tried skiing through the foundation's programming. Soldier Hollow is also the home of the world's foremost Sheepdog Championships and other significant Heber Valley events.
Soldier Hollow, which was the Utah site of all of the Nordic skiing events at the 2002 Olympics has an 11,000 square foot lodge built with recycled timbers as construction materials for building beams, columns, perlins, siding, interior roof, baseboard, and casing. Approximately 90 percent of the wood used in the lodge was salvaged from a 1902 railroad trestle that once crossed the Great Salt Lake. The bridge was no longer used in the 1950's and a wood reclamation project extracted the materials from under the water.
Tom Kelly, vice president of communications for the US ski & Snowboard Association gives Peterson credit for convincing the US Olympic Committee to choose American Olympic bid cities based in part on their ability to create "legacy" athletic venues. "He has impacted the entire region with a tourist attraction that is remarkable and when you look at the numbers of kids that he had introduced to XC skiing, it's huge."
U.S. Ski Team member Kikkan Randall made history as the first American woman to win the FIS Cross Country Skiing World Cup sprint title. The 29-yearold native of Anchorage, Alaska, clinched the title in mid-March with an 11th place finish in Drammen, Norway. XCSkiResorts.com spoke with Randall to find out more about the woman who reached this pinnacle. See the photos from Aimee Berg and the US Olympic Committee at Kikkan Randall takes Manhattan.
Kikkan is the first American male or female to win a World Cup season title in xc skiing in 30 years. Bill Koch was the last American to reach such heights in the sport in 1982. Randall maintained consistency all season in sprint events, scoring several podium finishes and two victories.
As a 15-time US National Champion and a 3-time Olympian, Randall validated a major milestone in her career, hoisting the hard-earned Joska crystal globe she was awarded as the FIS Cross Country World Cup sprint champion at the season finale in Falun, Sweden.
Newest TV spot 8/24/13 about Kikkan Randall from Utah's KUSA: http://www.9news.com/
Sprint races have time trials where each contestant skis the course in interval starts. The fastest sixteen skiers advance to elimination rounds. The first two skiers in each of the eliminations move on to the semi-final races, which consist of two heats of four athletes each. The medal sprint is one race with the top two skiers from each semi-final heat.
Randall opened the season with two straight wins and clinched the title with one race remaining. She commented, “It's been an incredible season. It has been really fun and challenging. I feel like this is the perfect cap to end it.”
Actually her tour in Europe ended after receiving the award. She had a 4th place finish in the Red Bull NordiX competition where she raced a skiercross course with jumps, banked turns, and uphills against other Nordic ski racers vying for the finish line.” Kikkan proclaimed the NordiX “really cool” and thought that it could attract young people to xc skiing in the US because of the high intensity level of action in the race.
Chris Grover, US Cross Country Team Head Coach, said, “It’s been a long road leading to a crystal globe for Kikkan. She has been part of the U.S. Ski Team since 2000. During this time, she has been systematic and incredibly professional in her approach to training, racing, and living. She is now reaping the benefits of many years of hard work and her success should serve as a model for what can be accomplished with a bit of talent, a ton of hard work, and a positive outlook. We are all so proud of her.”
So who is Kikkan Randall? She’s the niece of two former Olympians and she was nicknamed “Kikkanimal” by her high school running teammates in Anchorage because she was always pushing them to do more and try harder. For some of the financial support needed to compete, Kikkan secured some Alaskan-based sponsors including Subway, an automobile dealership group, and various health businesses.
As a role model Kikkan visits elementary schools to talk with kids about working to attain their dreams and being active everyday. Proclaimed as a “Get Activist” she inspires kids to lead a healthy lifestyle in the “Healthy Futures” program. She also encourages female athletes in the “Fast and Female” programs. And now when she speaks to groups, she has the World Cup globe for show-and-tell, too.
Randall is dedicated to expand the popularity of cross country skiing in the US. After winning the World Cup title, she spoke with USA Today, NY Times, Wall Street Journal, Chicago Tribune, and other major media about her accomplishment and to spread the gospel that cross country skiing can be enjoyed at any level.
Randall’s record of American firsts in xc skiing includes first World Cup women’s podium, first World Cup women’s victory, first World Championship women’s medal, first Olympic women’s top ten and first World Cup Overall women’s discipline leader. In the 2010 Winter Olympics she placed eighth in the women’s sprint, the best ever American women’s finish and she participated in the 2014 Winter Olympics. Congratulations!
Kikkan Randall Sponsored by Kashi
It was announced that US Olympic hopeful XC sprint cross country skier Kikkan Randall will be officially sponsored by Kashi for the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games. Kikkan Randall is the world cup cross country ski champion. Kashi products (cereal, crackers, bars, etc.) are natural, minimally processed and free of highly refined sugar, artificial additives and preservatives. The Kashi brand is a subsidiary of the Kellogg Company. The Kashi intention is to spread the word that living a healthy, positive lifestyle begins with eating right, and the Kashi marketing director commented. "We're passionate about the power of positive eating and we really found a perfect partner in Kikkan."
Randall endorsed Kashi products, "They provide me with the right nutrients to give me energy for my workouts. I believe in living a healthy and active lifestyle and one of my goals is to inspire others to do the same, which involves eating positively so they can pursue the things they love." XCSkiResorts.com recognizes this sponsorship as a great thing for cross country skiing. Kikkan Randall is the first American cross country skier to garner such a bigtime sponsorship and she is a great hope to popularize cross country skiing to a higher level.
More than 10 million Europeans of all ages and fitness levels are Nordic Walking (also known as Ski Walking) with special Nordic Walking Poles. This new fitness activity turbo charges the normal walking regimen burning as much as 40% more calories compared to regular walking.
Nordic Walking poles help individuals with balance issues, knee issues or new knees, hip issues or new hips, back issues (including those with rods in their back), weight issues, multiple sclerosis (MS), Parkinson's Disease, neuropathy, arthritis, bursitis, scoliosis, lumbar stenosis, fibromyalgia, post polio, osteoporosis, stroke recovery, cancer recovery, and other limitations to walking. Nordic Walking is helping thousands of people get off the couch, get outside, start walking safely, and effectively launching much needed walking campaigns.
While hosting Nordic Walking clinics in Traverse City, MI, Pete Edwards, who sells Nordic walking equipment was introduced to Michelle Honer, who had signed up for a Ski Walking class. When she walked up the handicap access ramp prior to the class with her cane it was apparent to Pete Edwards that she had some balance issues. She informed her classmates that she had MS. The first Ski Walk was only a few blocks out and back but within several weeks, Michelle was covering about two miles in an hour.
For seven years Michelle had ridden an electric scooter in the Traverse City MS Walk but since taking the Nordic Walking class, she has used the Nordic Walking Poles for the 5 km (3.1 miles). Local newspapers and TV stations have covered her remarkable story. "My special Nordic Walking poles have allowed me to walk taller, faster, further, and with much more stability than with my cane. Their one-piece design is so much better than my old adjustable poles, which broke unexpectedly at an extremely inconvenient time," commented Michelle.
Michelle Honer is now an official Ski Walking Ambassador for the ski walking website, who assists in many of the Nordic Walking clinics. Her success with the poles encouraged Edwards to host Nordic Walking clinics at MS Support Group meetings and he has worked with the Jimmie Huega Center in Colorado, which is dedicated to helping those with MS to lead healthier and more active lives.
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The North American Snowsports Journalists Association (NASJA) presented the Lifetime Achievement Award to Thom Perkins of the Jackson Ski Touring Foundation (JSTF) in a ceremony held at The Wentworth in Jackson, NH. The ceremony was held at the Eastern Ski Writers Association Annual Meeting in April 2011.
"I would like to thank the writers for their kind and generous recognition," said Perkins. "There are so many amazing people in this industry that have been or could be recognized. I am truly humbled and honored to have been selected for this award."
From a small village in New Hampshire that has been transformed into the Mecca of North American cross country skiing, Perkins has been and continues to be a leader in Nordic ski marketing. With the inception of the Internet, Perkins was an early adoptor who embraced email marketing as a communications tool and developed a website to spread the Nordic ski gospel.
Perkins was a founding member of the Cross Country Ski Areas Association and served as president from 1981 to 1983. He is presently Board Member Emeritus for the organization and he is a long time advisory board member of the Friends of New Hampshire Skiing. He remains one of the few xc ski area operators members of Eastern Ski Writers Association and over the years, he has hosted the eastern writers three times in Jackson, NH. He realized how effective it would be to invite ESWA journalists to his town to cover Nordic skiing and Jackson's amenities.
"There are many people who enjoy both Alpine and cross country skiing in addition to the purists," said Perkins. "Recognition of that fact in the media is good for not only the sport but the writers themselves. It's a message I've been working on for years. Cross country skiing is such a vital sport - good in so many ways. I don't see it as Alpine vs. cross country skiing. I see it as us against the other options that the public has for their time."
After seeing a video commercial about the Jackson Ski Touring Center, XCSkiResorts.com spoke with Perkins about some of the things he is doing to market JSTF. He had the commercial professionally produced in a 2-minute ad with video and voice over that is airing on the Jackson website, in ski columns, and on Facebook and YouTube. He wrote copy, developed a shot list, and made it work. JSTF is also regularly on Resort Network TV for live interviews and ski conditions.
There was a billboard on Route 16 in NH, which was claimed to be the first ever billboard dedicated to xc skiing. It was underwritten by Swix Sprots and Fischer Skis but touted JSTF. Jackson did not contribute funding for the billboard but it helped get it done.
Perkins raves about the JSTF activity on Facebook, which gets thousands of views. The JSTF staff really has Facebook cooking for the area and Perkins recommends using the fan-based rather than the social pages on Facebook. He uses MailChimp for an outreach email distribution service, which he says can be segmented many different ways to contact up to 5,000 people on his lists. It provides detailed info about who is opening the mail and it also automatically feeds Facebook and Twitter.
That stuff is great and many more xc ski areas will be moving toward these marketing methods. But a favorite Thom Perkins idea last year was the offer to Alpine skiers to come to Jackson on Sundays, the "get away day." Many Alpine skiers, who visit the high country for the weekend like to leave early on Sunday to return home and they feel that they can't get their money's worth at the Alpine ski area for only a couple of hours of skiing on Sunday. JSTF offers anyone who shows a Saturday Alpine lift pass, a 33% discount on a Jackson trail pass, lesson, rental, or package. It has been advertised in the newspaper, on the website, and on Facebook and it is bringing incremental income to Jackson.
Perkins touts that the most important factor to xc skiing many NOT be snow...it's land! As the director of the JSTF, he has helped to secure the 150 kilometers of trails in the village that connect the village with lodges, nature, and area destinations by working with 82 private landowners for the privilege of crossing their properties. The development of the nonprofit JSTF as an organization of landowners, businesses, and a local ski club has been duplicated in many other states across the nation.
While accepting the award, Perkins quipped that even though it was a lifetime achievement award, he was not quite finished at Jackson Ski touring just yet. XCSkiResorts.com and the Nordic ski industry were glad to hear that!
The Winter Olympics were first held in 1924 and 86 years passed before the US had a gold medalist cross country skier standing on a podium at the famous quadrennial competition. Bill Demong of Vermontville, NY was the man to attain the gold amongst a team destined to gather hardware in the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. In past games, American cross country skiers have had as much promise, but they have not delivered as expected, until the 2010 US Nordic Combined Team stepped up to the podium with individual gold and silver medals and a team silver medal. Johnny Spillane, Bill Demong, and Todd Lodwick had previously won world championships (Demong in 2009) and were internationally ranked 8th, 10th, and 13th respectively in the Nordic Combined World Cup standings last February.
Johnny Spillane broke the ice with a silver medal in the first competition for the team at the new facility built for the games outside of Whistler, British Columbia. He appeared to have the gold in hand but he was caught from behind by a Frenchman with only 4 tenths of one second remaining to the finish line. The French guy was born in the USA and lives in Missoula, MT. It was also tough luck for American Todd Lodwick, who led that race for 95 percent of the time and then ended up in 4th. His comment, "Fourth place sucks." American Bill Demong, who started in 24th position after his jump, made it back to finish in sixth place. Add it all up and the Americans had three finishers in the top six and things bode well for the team competition in Nordic Combined later in the week. Spillane commented, "I spent too much energy catching the racer ahead, who it turned out was already dead on his skis." Spillane said that he was so spent that he didn't even remember entering the stadium or being passed. "Obviously, you want to win the gold, but what counted was that I was satisfied with my performance." He also spoke about "added pressure in the team competition compared to the individual races because it is more for country and your teammates."
Spillane and his wife had a baby girl last July and he also had a knee operation in the summer. The baby and the rehabilitation will slow his getting back into the competitive fray until late January. He realizes that with a baby that "it will be tougher to be on the road so much and hard to keep motivated this year."
Bill Demong is a goal and plan oriented fellow and after the Olympics he took a couple of weeks reflecting and decided to "enjoy and continue success with the team and individually and try to defend my championships."
Demong's story is made for TV. After winning the gold in Vancouver in the Nordic Combined big jump, he proposed marriage to his girlfriend and then was selected by the US Olympic Team athletes to carry the flag in the closing ceremonies. "It was a whirlwind of a few days but a perfect ending to a perfect Olympics," commented Demong about the "pretty hectic and exciting" time immediately following his triumphs. But why no Wheaties box cover? Demong said "those things are predetermined before the games even start."
A few years back his career was hanging in the balance after a serious accident in a swimming pool. "Fracturing my skull was the turning point in my career as it gave me a year off to recuperate and redefine why I wanted to ski and what I wanted to get out of it. I like to get my angry out and chase people." And then in the 2009 World Championships in the team competition, Demong made headlines for misplacing his racing bib amidst his racing outfit. The US team was disqualified in that competition but his teammates were quick to forgive him. After the incident, he not only went out and won the big jump world championship, but later in the month he took gold at the King's Cup in Vikersund, Norway, which is considered one of the highest honors in Nordic Combined competition.
Do Olympic Athletes Turn those Medals into Cash?
The Nordic Combined Olympic medal winners have been very busy since the Vancouver games. Both Spillane and Demong spoke of their trip to army bases in Iraq and they've done plenty of fund raisers to help various causes and ski programs. Spillane said, "It was so busy for 3-4 months and now it is calming down. For sure you make money, but it is not six figures." He commented that "it is a small window and there are not as many opportunities as I thought. The ski team helps with training but does not line much up financially" for these athletes and it sounds like there was very little lined up in advance.
Demong also said there were more opportunities after winning Olympic gold but he pointed to the nonfinancial opportunities that are very meaningful such as supporting a renovation of Dewey Mountain where he grew up skiing, and developing a new company. He wants to take advantage of "new venues that were opened up so he can build something long term and make a difference." Both skiers spoke of their development work with younger skiers as "giving back to the sport."
There was some sniping at the Olympics about the weather advantage for some of the jumpers in Nordic Combined events and upon being asked about it Demong commented, "It seems that at every event the weather causes whining, but it evens out. The best skiers usually win." And it also seems that Bill Demong taking an individual gold medal and a team silver medal was indeed the best Nordic Combined skier at the Vancouver games. Congratulations!
Click for the story of Leon Leonwood Bean also known as LL Bean the famous outdoor store in Maine celebrating the 100-year anniversary on SnowshoeMag.com.
Click for the story of Suzy Chaffee, the female ski icon from the 1960's, who speaks about her battle to give opportunities to women, native Americans, and the environment at SkiDiva Conversation.