Wednesday, September 20, 2017

The Future of Skiing

Courtesy of Style Altitude
I needed a crystal snowball for this assignment! What a challenging task: To put together forecasts and prognostications about as many aspects of the ski industry as possible in order to speculate about the future of wintersports for Style Altitude magazine! The mammoth project took me over a week to research and write and you can see the outcome at: http://stylealtitude.com/the-future-for-skiing-and-snowboarding.html . If you have anything to add on this subject, please send me your ideas at: louise.hudson2011@gmail.com

Wearing their logo on their sleeve: Courtesy of Aspen Skiing Company
It was actually a great, early start to ski season writing and blogging for me and a reminder of all the wintry fun ahead. Really got me back into mountain mode, especially when my son, who is living in Canmore, near Banff at the moment, told me they just had their first September snow!


Elaine Deed, Shreditor of Style Altitude
Look out for more articles from me for Style Altitude over the season - I'm one of the team now and you can see my bio at: http://stylealtitude.com/style-altitude-team.html . The magazine is all online, specializing in unique concepts and original commentary from an eclectic team of snow-mad editors and writers who all ski or snowboard. Some of them are even ski/ride swingers, including Shreditor, Elaine Deed who is a former fashion editor and director for the British Evening Standard newspaper, W Magazine, Cosmopolitan and Tatler. Follow her on Twitter at @Stylister. Elaine is also a fashion stylist - http://www.elainedeed.com/- so if we ever meet, I think we will get on really well .... until I ransack her wardrobe, that is! The magazine is based in the French Alps for most of the year with contributors from all over the mountains. "Style Altitude is for all riders, aimed at both skiers and snowboarders," says Elaine. "And for cyclists in the mountains during the summer." It also spans every generation from 18-year-old Seasonaires (which I used to be) to 80-year-young Geezonaires (which I hope to become). As well as featuring piste, park, pipe, touring, slack, sidecountry and backcountry, Style Altitude focuses on gear that has both function and fashionable flair. 


First tracks at Telluride
I'm trip planning at the moment, kicking off with a mountain month in Canada starting mid December, when I hope to ski Lake Louise, Sunshine, Mt Norquay and Nakiska and also venture into British Columbia to the Powder Highway and maybe even further to Whistler Blackcomb. After that I'm traveling to tantalizing Telluride for the first time ever at the end of January, followed in Feb by a nostalgia trip to Tahoe, which I will be revisiting after a 26 year absence! I hope to ski a variety of resorts including Northstar, Heavenly, Squaw Valley, Diamond Peak, Homewood and also stay at Clear Creek

Waldorf Astoria Park City - suites are bigger than an apartment and there's a private gondola up to Canyons Village!
Hotel Jackson, Jackson Hole - modern, boutique luxury
In March, it's back to Utah when the wonderful Waldorf Astoria Park City is hopefully on the agenda, with great skiing from Canyons Village all around Park City and, just up the road, at Deer Valley and then on to Solitude. Next, it's the Hotel Jackson at Jackson Hole where I first went to do the incredible Elevate women-only ski camp - I'm taking hubby, Dr Simon Hudson, this time. He has never skied there and was totally jealous when I went last time! No idea where I will ski in April yet but I definitely intend to get some sensational spring skiing in. 

Me, in head-to-toe rental ski outfit at Nozawa Onsen - I know, I look like a boy! Now you can see why I favour fur hoods and belted jackets!
By the way, I forgot to mention this article which was published right at the end of last season in Eat Drink Travel mag, all about my Japanese skiing experience with Scout Ski. You can read it here: http://www.eatdrinktravel.com/ski-japan/. Word of warning: book early for Japan, it gets booked up a long time in advance!

As usual I am in the process of identifying new trends in the wintersport industry to pitch to various editors in the hope of some sizzling assignments. If you have any fun stories or anecdotes about people, places or products in the ski/board industry, drop me a line at: louise.hudson2011@gmail.com. Also, please join me on social media in spreading the ski buzz: 



I've been working on articles for Calgary's Child and The Dallas Morning News, so look out for links to those as the season starts to kick off - you never know, your favourite resort could be featured. 

For planning your first tracks of the season, here are the latest proposed ski resort openings (if somewhere you love to ski isn't included, send me the date):


Oct 15 - Loveland
Oct 20 - Araphahoe Basin
Oct 27 - Mt Rose Tahoe
Oct 28 - Killington
Nov 3 - Wolf CreekMonarch
Nov 4 - Nakiska
Nov 8 - Mammoth
Nov 11 - Sipapu

Bring on the snow!!



Monday, August 28, 2017

Countdown to Ski Season!


Waiting for Winter, Ski Utah
I don't usually write any ski blogs in August - or publish resort press releases - but Ski Utah's mountain motivation video amused me enough to make an exception. I had such a great time there in March that I can literally still feel the rush of hitting those record-breaking snow conditions! Ski Utah's clever carrot campaign has reached around 40K Facebook fans and over 10K on Instagram - and counting. “This project was meant to get people excited that the ski season was only about 100 days out and to get people to start thinking about pre-purchasing their season passes and/or lift tickets while the deals are hot," explains Director of Communications, Paul Marshall. "The ski industry always gets tossed into the category of being ’too expensive’ but that is for those who don’t plan and while this music video can be seen as a little corky and off-the-beaten path, it catches your attention and hopefully helps get the ball moving on planning this winters ski trip…preferably to Utah." 

Over the next couple of months I'll be working on ski article research, for all the magazines and newspapers I work for, for the 2017-18 season as well as creating my upcoming ski blog series which will launch in November and go on until the end of April. If you have any great ideas or tips about people or places, trends or techniques in skiing or wintersports tourism, please drop me a line at: louise.hudson2011@gmail.com. 

First exciting news for the season is that I will be writing for Style Altitude, a ski and style online magazine based in the UK. And I have six articles scheduled in The Dallas Morning News this winter. And I am currently working on a family focus for Calgary's Child magazine.

Also, to tantalize your tastebuds, I'm starting to make up a list of projected Ski Resort Openings, so do let me know when your fave hill is scheduled to launch - here are the first few I have been sent:

Oct 15 - Loveland
Oct 20 - Araphahoe Basin
Oct 27 - Mt Rose Tahoe
Oct 28 - Killington
Nov 2 - Sunshine Village Banff
Nov 3 - Wolf Creek, Monarch
Nov 8 - Mammoth
Nov 11 - Sipapu

And here's the press release that caught my attention from Ski Utah:

SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH (August 24, 2017) – When your morning commute becomes a little longer because the local school 'slow signs' have been turned back on, we assume you are just like us and automatically think—SKI SEASON IS 100 DAYS AWAY! To offset the next three months of anxiety, driven by powder skiing dreams, we recommend planning your ski vacation. And, once you pick the location (preferably Utah) it is best to pre-purchase a season pass and/or lift tickets while the deals are still available. We know that process can be hard so we thought we could help by supplying you with some information about Utah passes.

Also, since we feel your pain, we went out and produced our own music video to help calm your skiing nerves. Phil Collin’s 1982 hit song You Can’t Hurry Love says: “ . . . no you just have to wait, which reminds us that we can’t hurry our love — Winter. So enjoy the video and join Utah in #WaitingForWinter.

Season Pass Information:
Much of what makes Utah's skiing so fantastic is the close proximity of its 14 resorts and the unique qualities that can be experienced at each. Skiers and snowboarders who truly appreciate the variety each resort has to offer should take advantage of the below passes.
Ski Utah Silver Pass ($3,150) – With purchase of the Ski Utah Silver Pass you receive 30 days at EACH Utah resort except Park City, where the pass is valid for 60 days of skiing. Limited quantity available.

Ski Utah Yeti Pass ($649) - This pass is valid for one day of skiing at each of Utah’s 14 ski resorts. That’s just $46 per day. A perfect pass for parents with kids rocking the Ski Utah Passport.
Ski Utah Passport ($35) - This is the pass of all passes for any 5th or 6th Grader in the world. The Passport offers 5th Graders three days of skiing and 6th graders one day of skiing to shred all 14 Utah resorts. 
Ski City Super Pass (amount varies) - Looking for flexibility? The Ski City Super Pass allows unrestricted skiing at AltaSnowbirdBrighton or Solitude. The pass can be purchased anywhere for a range of three to 10 days of skiing. Also, with purchase of this pass the UTA ski bus is free to and from the resort. Price varies depending upon number of days purchased.
Ski3 Pass ($157) - This new, fully loaded pass includes a full day of skiing at SnowbasinPowder Mountain plus a full day and night skiing at Nordic Valley with the purchase of two or more nights at participating hotels in Ogden.
Wasatch Benefit Pass - Qualified AltaDeer ValleySnowbird and Solitude pass holders enjoy two free days of skiing at each of the other three resorts. 
____________________________________________________________________________
There are more ski pass options than ever before. Welcome to the new age of flexible, perk-filled passes. This collection of season passes not only grants you skiing and riding access to Utah's resorts but skiing privileges across the country as well.
Epic Pass ($859) - Vail Resorts owns and operates 15 ski resorts throughout the world and this pass offers unrestricted access to all of them—including Utah’s Park City. For even more affordable rates with a few restrictions, there are the Epic Local Pass, Epic 7-Day Pass and Epic 4-Day Pass, Park City Youth Pass, and Park City 4-Pack. 
Mountain Collective Pass ($469) - This pass offers you two days at each of The Collective destinations for a total of 16 unrestricted days at some of the best resorts in the world, including Utah’s AltaSnowbird, and new this year, Snowbasin. It also includes up to 35 percent off lodging and 50 percent off additional tickets. 
M.A.X. Pass ($679) - With 44 mountains across North America offering five days each, the M.A.X. Pass has max appeal. If you have this pass, you’re in luck, as local favorite Brighton Resort and Solitude are participating Utah resorts.
____________________________________________________________________________
To highlight a few other noteworthy season pass/daily deals please see below:
Brighton Resort continues to offer kids 10 and under ski or ride FREE with a paying adult and has expanded their age-base pricing breakout to include a ‘Millennial’ pass at $650 (before Sept. 27) for adults between the age of 26-30.
Deer Valley offers unbelievable benefits. Eligible pass holders can receive up to six buddy passes, four day passes at Solitude, two day passes at Alta, Snowbird and Brighton Resort, on-mountain discounts, summer mountain biking and three complimentary day tickets to Steamboat Ski Resort.
Eagle Point Resort can be 100% rented out Tuesday through Thursday through the ‘As You Wish’ program. 
Powder Mountain is capping their season pass to 3,000 and day passes to 1,500 this season to keep the ratio of 1 skier per 3 acres of skiable terrain.  
Snowbasin Resort has a season long Learn & Earn program that supplies any first-timer three lift tickets, three lessons and rentals for $499. Upon completion you receive a seasons pass.
Snowbird offers a ‘Ten-2 Share Card,’ which you can ski or ride Snowbird for about $55 a day. Receive 10 days of unlimited access to that is transferable between friends and family with no blackout dates.  
Solitude offers the ‘Ultimate Family Pass’ which includes two Adult and two Junior passes (age 7-17) for $1,999 (price increases after September 4, 2017).
For all of Utah’s 14-resort season pass pricing, benefits and links to purchase please revert to  http://bit.ly/YouCantHurryWinter



Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Homegrown, home-honed skis from 93 North


Sam McEwen (left) and Max Flowerday (right) from 93 North Skis 
What do two engineering majors with a love of the Canadian Rockies and a lifetime of skiing adventures do when they graduate? Get a high-paying job so they can afford their expensive hobby for the rest of their lives? No! Set up shop making cool custom skis, of course! 

It may not quite be what Dani Flowerday had in mind when she sent her son Max off to Queens seven years ago. But having grown up spending holidays at Windermere, near Panorama, and skiing weekends at Lake Louise, it isn't all that unlikely. After all, Dani herself just graduated as a Level 2 CSIA ski instructor at Banff Mt Norquay this season. "Ever since Max started skiing at age 3, he's had undying enthusiasm for the sport," says Dani. "I have to admit I was skeptical about their business at first but I'm proud of how Max and Sam have worked tirelessly to apply their mechanical engineering abilities and love of skiing to create a beautiful ski. Max and Sam have found a way to follow their passion for skiing and hopefully share it with the world."


Sam McEwen about to jump into the shark tank at Bow Summit - Courtesy of 93 North
Tackling the terrain at Chatter Creek on 93 North Andromedas 
 - Courtesy of 93 North
Partnering with fellow engineering grad Sam McEwen, Max says the techie twosome started making skis for themselves while starting jobs in the oil patch: "We are really passionate about skiing and, both coming from an engineering background, we wanted to learn to make skis as a hobby at first. Later it became our idea for a business." They began brainstorming ski construction during a backcountry foray. "We went on a backcountry ski trip along the 93 North Highway, the road to the Icefields and Jasper. It was en route to Jasper that we started talking about making skis," says Max. "After that, we slowly built a few pairs in Sam's garage. Later, when we tried them out and found them to be good, we decided to try a business."

Three Sisters Mountains: the inspirational backdrop to Canmore
Securing a small business loan has helped the engineering entrepreneurs pay rent, buy materials, and set up a workshop to build 93 North Skis. The loan was intrinsic to giving them "a real chance" says Max: "When an industrial space came up in Canmore, we thought it would be the perfect place to start a ski company and we didn't know of any other active ski building companies in Alberta." And it has paid off as they've sold out most of their inventory this first season.
Putting in tracks at Lake Louise (Courtesy of Lake Louise Ski Resort)
Clientele has been building via their vast family and friends ski network, word of mouth, newspaper articles, and social media marketing via Facebook and Instagram. They have also held very successful ski demos at various ski hills this season including RevelstokeLake Louise, Red MountainWhistler Blackcomb and Marmot Basin at Jasper. "Ski demos at Lake Louise had a great response, we were able to attend five demo days there this season which was really great," Max enthuses. "But I am just thankful for all for all of the resorts that hosted us."

They are hoping to break into the buoyant Banff market too, perhaps with a future demo day at Sunshine Village“The 93 North Andromeda is designed to perform well on steep off-piste terrain such as Horto’s Revenge found off of the Tee Pee Town chair,” says Sam. 

Nerd Nite at Canmore Brewing Co - you can find out about the next event
at www.facebook.com/nerdnitebanff 
Intent on increasing awareness, 93 North took part in an evening event at Alberta's newest brewery, the Canmore Brewing Co, which specializes in creative beers that reflect a commitment to authenticity and respect for tradition. "Our very first Nerd Nite presentation," says Max, who recommends the IPA. Nerd Nite is actually a worldwide organization devoted to bringing together beer buffs with an appetite for learning. "The boys from 93 North Skis kicked off the preservations with a talk about getting in to the ski business and how they are made," says Susan Dunn, Canmore Brewing Co owner. "We then heard form a biologist in Banff National Park about re-introducing the bison into the park and the logistics involved. My husband, Brian Dunn, ended the evening with a nerdy look at beer making." With 50 participants, proceeds were donated to the Knight's Cabin charity (a taste of cause-related marketing for the fledgling entrepreneurs). "The night was a lot of fun," says Susan. "There were a lot of laughs as the boys from 93 North admitted to skiing naked down a lift line to make a sale in the early days of their start up!" 

Putting the Andromedas through their paces at Fernie Alpine Resort - Courtesy of 93 North
Topsheets for 93 North skis, designed by Emily Beaudoin
So, apart from the determination to do whatever it takes, what is 93 North's edge over the competition? "Our skis are designed specifically for the Rocky Mountains, the area we know so well," says Max. "We make an all-mountain ski for powder and also edge-to-edge transfer for packed runs. Although they are very lightweight for backcountry touring, we want them to be used as a resort ski, too." Using a wood core made from poplar and maple sourced locally, the flagship Andromeda skis are reinforced with carbon fibre. Their website promise: "This ski is a go-getter and the carbon fiber reinforced poplar/maple core is designed specifically to charge through ice and crud. An underfoot width of 104mm along with an early-rise rockered tip makes turns in deeper snow feel effortless." 

93 North Andromeda skis at the Wapta Icefield - Courtesy of 93 North
Wild Bison designed by Emily Beaudoin for Prior, Whistler
Appealing in particular to Millennials, an important part of these home-honed skis' cachet is the trendy topsheet artwork, courtesy of Calgary artist Emily Beaudoin, who is about to graduate from the University of Victoria (and who, incidentally, went to high school with one of my sons!) Emily's artwork was part of the World Ski and Snowboard Festival in Whistler: "A whirlwind of travelling, printing, framing and finally hanging them all up in the gallery," she told me.  

"My art is inspired by the mountains and the wildlife that call them home, so it was easy for me to come up with the ram and owl designs," she says. "I do all of the art by hand, and then combine the separate elements in Photoshop to create the topsheets." Emily has recently designed a logo for the London Bicycle Cafe opening in Toronto this summer. For 93 North, she is already on board for their next batch of skis: "We've just started talking about a third design for their backcountry skis, which will be tested by a few ski guides next year and then sold publicly the following season. I'm thinking of doing something involving an iceberg, but I haven't quite developed the idea fully yet. "

This season's skis, available in lengths 175cm and 184cm, cost CAN$795 without bindings and the lads are looking to partner with a ski shop in the future to facilitate that part of the procedure.
Max Flowerday at work - Courtesy of 93 North
Although the shortest 93 North Andromeda Ski was too long for me (at 5 ft 2 and age 56!) my sons Fergus and Rupert Hudson both tried them out at Lake Louise and were reluctant to return them to the demo tent! "They work really well on everything," said 21-year-old Fergus who has been skiing Lake Louise since the age of 4. "They are so light and flexible and they really fly through powder and chopped up snow. But I was so surprised at how good they were on the pistes and bumps runs, too, really versatile." If he hadn't been saving for a summer in Portugal followed by a year traveling in the Far East, he would have made a down payment there and then! His older snow-bro, Rupert (24) loved them too, especially after skiing for the past 7 years on the same old planks with no servicing: "We skied on most of Lake Louise's terrain with the 93 North skis and they never seemed to falter. I could feel the strength of the skis underneath me and it made me more confident with my skiing, causing me to have even more fun than usual. Also, the artwork was great to look at!" (He was the one who went to high school with Emily!)


Next season will see the launch of the 166cm version - possibly the perfect ski for instructor mom, Dani: "I decided that I'm going to wait until next year to try Max's skis because the 175's are really too long for me. Next year they'll have a shorter version of the Andromeda which will be perfect for me - and they'll have a great top sheet design which I love." I'll definitely be trying them out too! If you're in the Banff Lake Louise area at the moment, you have one last chance to try them out this season at Lake Louise on Saturday (April 29).

Boy joy at Revelstoke Demo Day - Courtesy of 93 North
The flamboyant fatties have been getting many media mentions this season. "Our first season went really well, we have learned so much and people are finally starting to recognize our brand," Max concludes. "CBC, CTV, and Ski Canada and the Rocky Mountain Outlook really helped to raise awareness about our company!" You can read more about them in Ski Canada's SnowOnline News: https://www.skicanada.org/building-new-future/  and in the Rocky Mountain Outlook: http://www.rmoutlook.com/article/Locally-made-skis-now-on-area-slopes-20170112. Also: http://snowsportsculture.com/building-new-future-canmore-entrepreneurs-tackle-ski-industry-one-ski-build-time/ and http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/new-canmore-shop-handcrafts-skis-1.3962428


Contact Info:
Email: 93northskis@gmail.com
Address: 93 North Skis Ltd, 111 Bow Meadows Crescent, Canmore, Alberta, Canada

Phone: (403) 512-0244
Burstall Pass Kananaskis - Courtesy of 93 North