Backcountry Skiing News Roundup 8-2006

Post by blogger | August 25, 2006      

Are you “cringing” at the prospect of your town getting business and jobs? Perhaps so if you’re on a trust fund or live in your Subaru (or both). Otherwise it can be a good thing in the correct dosage (not Aspen). Ogden, Utah is going there. Nearby backcountry and resort terrain provides excellent snow riding, but it’s been one of those secret less crowded secret places like the ones Outside Magazine loves to trumpet. Now the town is doing a big push for economic growth. They’re trying to lure more ski industry businesses to locate there, and the resort is getting major improvements. According to an article in Freeskier (we used to have a link, but it broke) the “hardcore locals” can only cringe. Please define “hardcore local.” Does this involve ramen noodles, or trying to support a family (or both)?

And what is it about the skiing press covering internal industry news with such zeal? Two recent examples. (defunct link removed 2015) First Tracks tells us in breathless detail that “The largest ski and snowboard media group ever brought to New Zealand from the U.S. arrived in Queenstown [New Zealand} today and is expected to generate millions of dollars (NZ) worth of overseas exposure for the country’s ski resorts.” The piece goes on to list the journalists who got picked for the junket, including writers from Powder, Aspen Times and Backcountry.

And along those lines (yawner inside news), numerous publications are reporting the amazing occurrence of BCA picking up North American distribution of Rottefella telemark gear (mostly their bindings). Dear blog readers, do you really care who imports and distributes the gear you buy? If so, it’s interesting that randonnee oriented BCA is entering the telemark fray. Not only does that speak to the popularity of telemark skiing. More, Rottefella owns the majority share of Naxo, so going with the Naxo distributor was somewhat of a nobrainer when Rottefella needed to consolidate a difficult distribution system that involved multiple players.

My crystal ball: the Naxo ski touring binding made its debut a few years ago with problematic durability issues (since corrected). Perhaps BCA’s experience with binding breakage will come in handy with telemark bindings? Let consumer testing commence.

But wait, breakage has already begun. Insiders are reporting unfortunate events at Rottefella due to the stress of developing and releasing their complex NTN binding system and changing their distribution system. With respect to privacy I won’t go any farther than that — and we send our sympathies to any parties involved. Business can be hard and I respect the effort and skill that’s required of any such endeavor. More, as an outdoorsman I appreciate all the sweat toil and stress that’s no doubt gone into many of the fine products we use nearly every day, including Rottefella. Come to think of it, my first x-c bindings were Rottefellas way back in ancient times!

Outdoor recreation is huge. An article in the Colorado Springs Business Journal covers how playing outside has grown to amazing proportions. The article says “it’s growing every year and we’re not talking about just camping and backpacking. Skiing, mountain biking, horseback riding, four-wheeling, it’s all growing… a $730 billion industry, the third largest in the country?

As always, most of the growth in outdoor activities uses land that is not legal wilderness. Let’s keep that in mind when we say we want more legal Wilderness for outdoor recreation “growth.”

Non-wilderness backcountry. That’s where we build our huts and yurts! Look for Couloir Magazine’s Destination Guide in a few days. I just spoke with publisher Craig Dostie, he said the Guide covers more than 259 backcountry accommodations (huts, yurts, lodges) that cater to backcountry skiers and snowboarders. “We were stunned at the amount of this stuff,” says Dostie, “and had to start covering some of these things as systems (rather than individual structures) when we found out there were more than 150 huts and yurts in Montana alone!” As an adventure vacation planner this should be a valuable resource.


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6 Responses to “Backcountry Skiing News Roundup 8-2006”

  1. Michael P. August 25th, 2006 10:10 am

    I highly doubt Freeskier’s editors have any idea how many different ways there are to define “hardcore local.” It certainly doesn’t mean that you’re averse to employment.

  2. Greydon Clark August 25th, 2006 12:33 pm

    “Dear blog readers, do you really care who imports and distributes the gear you buy?�

    No. But one of Rottefella’s old distributors was exceptionally LAME on the customer service front, so I’m glad a solid company like BCA is now involved. I assume I’ll be able to call them and order some needed parts for my R-8s.


    Also, if you only read you’d think 95% of the National Forest system was off-limits to everyone but high level Masons and direct decedents of John Muir. Instead grumbling about the local chapter of the Sierra Club having Congress wrapped around their finger and being able to create Wilderness Areas at will; all of us who enjoy recreating on public land need to get involved the planning process of our local national forest and make sure our interests are represented. More people + better gear = more user conflicts. It’s time to get past the rhetoric, Lou, be a leader.

  3. Mark August 25th, 2006 5:09 pm

    150 yurts and huts…in Montana? I only knew of about 3. Huh. And BCA distributing Rottefella makes total sense. Why split your products around to multiple distributors? Skiing as part of the whole of outdoor recreation might be growing, but isn’t resort skiing a no-growth industry that struggles year after year due to declining participant numbers?

  4. Steve Seckinger August 25th, 2006 5:51 pm

    Park City (where I live) has been getting more of the business parts of the industry in the last few years. American Ski Company moved business ops here, Rossi/Quicksilver moved here, and moved to Park City (from not-very-far-away Heber). I don’t think these have had as much impact though as the dramatic growth in PC as a hotbed for vacation homes.

  5. Eric T August 25th, 2006 7:29 pm

    A few of us tried to live and ski in Ogden, before the olympics and after the upgrades in lifts. That lasted one season, we were out of there the last day of skiing. Finding a decent job in that town is nearly impossible if you are not mormon (calling it like it is). Good luck to anyone trying to live and ski there. The resort is okay (short , real short, steeps, otherwise flat as a pancake), the backcountry is okay as well, nothing like the Tetons or Sierras or the Cottonwoods. So, it will be very hard for the city to promote the snow sports side of things in the long run. Also, the air quality in the area is nothing to write home about, unless you like smog.

  6. Lou August 26th, 2006 8:04 am

    Greydon, good point about customer service. Also, indeed good to be involved in planning process. Locals here did that by building bandit bicycle trails that got included in the latest USFS Forest Travel Plan. I have to admit that was a surprise! Enviros are livid, to put it mildly. And they have a point when they say “if that’s how we’re going to get new trails, then how does this whole process have any meaning?” As a recreation advocate I’m glad to see new trails by whatever means, but I’d certainly prefer they were created by working within the system — if that was possible. Reality is that getting a new trail built requires immense effort before a shovel even hits the ground. Now we know it’s easier to just go build it then hope it’ll get included in the travel plan. Interesting.

    Eric, thanks for the real story. Perhaps you should be writing for Freeskier?

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