Ski Racing Media needs to be innovative and relevant, and in my second Fall Line column, I would like to address our editorial strategy and agenda moving forward. Simply reporting on World Cup results is not value added. Access to results is completely commoditized. What I believe folks want to know is the how and the why behind the results. Our readers want to get to know the athletes, the venues, and the history of the White Circus. This behind the scenes contextual understanding is the first part of our four-part editorial strategy. Nevertheless, we will also report the news with the objective of being the go-to source for all things ski racing.
Our second area of focus will be all things North American ski racing — be it NorAm, World Pro Ski Tour, NCAA, USCSA, NASTAR, or local racing in the U.S. and Canada. We will be exploring and challenging the leaders of the various entities to defend the status quo. Is U.S. skiing utilizing the NorAm circuit as a development tool to optimize the circuit and best prepare our athletes for the World Cup? Is NCAA racing organized and optimised to be to take college athletes to the next level? Are our racing strategies formulated with cost in mind? Are we holding venues accountable to deliver races on hills and surfaces that are appropriate?
Our third area of focus will be ski racing as an industry. We will publish stories about the movers, shakers, and innovators of the resorts, clubs, academies and governing bodies. There is an “arms race” of investment around the U.S. with major venue enhancements including new lifts and snowmaking. It could create haves and have-nots. On the other hand, the have-nots may end up being our European competitors. Good discussion! Some resort companies, such as Powdr, have made huge investments in ski racing, including a new tech venue at Copper Mountain, not to mention their support for ski racing by hosting the Killington World Cup. We will run a profile on Powdr in the new year. I recently visited Burke Mountain Academy and was very impressed with the way they are exploring the use of technology in physiology. I am aware of some programs fighting the travel “arms race,” bucking the trend for too much expensive racing. Cost is a major issue for me. I will be challenging our sport’s leaders to stop this trend toward exclusivity.
Lastly, but most importantly, we strive to be a beacon of truth for the ski racing community, laying out the steps to a successful journey depending on one’s goals. As a well-known student of the sport, I am often asked about the journey. Invariably, at the end of our discussion, folks say, “If only someone had told me this 10 years ago.” We will explore these pathways at all levels of the sport and share all that we learn. We will work to uncover empirical truths that identify best practices in our sport while challenging the anecdotal examples and urban legends that can be misleading. We will research funding sources and other opportunities to improve access to ski racing. We will engage thought leaders globally to help us understand the leading trends and methods that are driving athlete development and the sport of ski racing overall.
The first major subject of this column will be a deep dive into the Leever Partners’ study of development. In 2016, Leever Partners President Kris Ochs and I conducted a three-part study. In the first part, I traveled to Europe and interviewed thought leaders, including heads of NGBs, head coaches, program managers, elite coaches, and head strength and conditioning leaders. We asked a series of questions and recorded their views. We conducted an online survey of 140 World Cup athletes, asking a series of questions about their development. It was very enlightening. Lastly, we did a statistical deep dive into point profiles, finish rates, number of starts, and speed versus tech. We will write extensively about our findings.
This is a new strategy for Ski Racing Media in which we will focus on deep insight and innovation. I have a huge passion for ski racing! I believe it is an inherently positive and rewarding activity. I know of countless examples of families of all walks of life who have had a life-changing, positive experience as a result of the sport — regardless of ultimate achievement. I intend to shout from every rooftop about our wonderful sport. Is it perfect? Of course not! Are we willing to hold the powers that be accountable? Yes!
My viral post, “What’s wrong with US Ski Racing,” from two years ago is evidence of that. My dream for Ski Racing is to be a voice for positivity about our sport — but one of honesty, not just the good news. I believe to the tips of my toes that, done properly, there is no reason for any athlete to have regrets about this journey. Ups and downs along the way? Sure, but it is an inherently rewarding journey, and we dedicate our mission to all those who have chosen to be a part of it.
I hope you will join us in this community!