SIA & OR ... A to Z

A is for Alpine Touring, which continued its ascendancy to the mainstream, helped along by a buzz building new Marker binding (DIN 16!!) as well as new skis from the team at G3 Genuine Guide Gear that are designed to be both AT and Tele friendly.

B is for Bamboo, a.k.a. this year’s organic cotton.

C is for Crocs, which will do an estimated $350 million in sales this year, according to some guy I met on the floor of ORWM. Crocs has also spawned an estimated 350 million knock-off brands, according to my eyeballs at ORWM.

D is for Doug Coombs, who was honored in an incredibly low-key, soulful toast at the K2 Skis booth during SIA. It was a truly cool scene.

E is for El Hombre, who outweighed ski designer Paul Parker by 75 pounds at the official weigh-in party on Sunday night. It would've been more, but Paul wouldn't take his shirt off.

F is for Fashion, which should never be confused with Style. Fashion is what you do. Style is how you do it. And the companies that are rising to the top are the ones who understand this essenital difference.

G is for Goats, as they’ve somehow become the nerd-geek-animal-chic icon of the year, with the support of a major online retailer as well as a Boulder-based apparel brand that designs jackets that look like they’re inside out.

H is for Headhunters who ... in a remarkable sea change ... are now beginning to stalk the rosters of outdoor companies for talented individuals who can bring eco-consciousness and healthy lifestyle brand power to the world of corporate America. Good luck!

I is for Interchangeable Optics from Smith Optics, the biggest leap forward in goggle technology since the dual lens.

J is for Jack and Coke, the new Red Bull-Vodka.

K is for Kootenay Mountain Culture, one of the leaders in the new regional mag resurgence. Mirrored by N'East on the Cold Coast, the Mountain Gazette in Colorado, and Wend in the Pacific Northwest, magazines that are rooted in local culture are finding an audience that stretches far beyond their "official" distribution area.

L is Lifestyle, for Chouinard's sake. This is really a post in its own, but here’s the nickel tour: as outdoor participation is flat (or “not growing” in advocacy parlance), the clear opportunity for growth is to go in a direction not tied to a specific activity. Duh.

M is for M&A boys who have had a staggering effect on both the SIA and OR marketplaces. The big have gotten bigger, the small have gotten smarter, and the next round of massive purchasing is expected to begin in late 2008.

N is for Nau, which apparently is the Maori word for “He who frowns at you.”

O is for Ogden. which opened their arms, their checkbooks, and who knows what else to get the attention of the Amer Sports Group. It's definitely paying off, as the Utah community will reap a massive hiring spree thanks to an estimated 75% no-we-won't-move contingent from Salomon, and a rumored 99.5% Utah-non-merci group at Suunto.

P is for the Piton, which co-hosted one of the most relaxing and least pretentious parties of the entire OR/SIA week. PBRs in the corner. Untouched egg rolls in the center of the room. Funniest moment? When somebody actually said “What Blog do you Work For?” out loud.

S is for Sustainability, which is not a marketing strategy. It's a part of our lives, for the rest of our lives. It's time to drop the idea of sustainability as a "concept" and recognize that it's an essential part of our reality.

T is for Timmy O’Neill, whose Patagonia-Superhero-Underpant-Japan video debuted yesterday on Google video. Sure, it’s about 10 times as long as it needs to be, but it’s got some real soul. Plus, Timmy's a funny bastard.

U is for Under Armour, which had a major presence at SIA, or at least it felt like they did. Never underestimate a brand that's known by a globe full of NFL fans.

V is for Volcom (NASDAQ: VLCM), a brand which does a hell of a job imitating drunk and impoverished snowboard bums during the annual SIA show. On the one hand, they're the guys driving handicap scooters around the floor wearing tie-dye groove wear. On the other hand, they're the guys who racked up $61 million in the third quarter of 2006. Yes. The third quarter.

W is for Who stole the boot from the Head booth during set-up day at SIA? For some reason, I didn't see that in the daily ...

X is for Ex-Salomon employees who have left the mother ship to find their own paths, instead of relocating to a state with the lowest per-capita expenditure on eduction in the universe. Best of luck to you all.

Y is for Yours Truly, who is clearly still trying to figure out what it all means, and Z is for Bond James Bond SchnitZspahn coming soon to a literary festival near you. Yeah, I know it doesn't start with Z. Sue me.


Smith delivers ... again

At today's SIA show, Smith Optics unveiled yet another massive leap forward in technology to the crowded throngs of retailers and industry watchers: The I/O goggle.

As the first and only goggle to feature intuitive interchangeable optics, the I/O builds on the easy-lens-change tradition that began with the Smith interchangeable series, back in the day.

No joy in Mudville

Organizers have cancelled the Hahenkamm downhill. After helicoptering in snow from nearby passes, a night of "hairdryer" like wind has melted it all away.

From Ski Racing mag.


Name that global crusader

...."(BLANK) is one of the most forward-thinking companies we have ever seen," says (BLANK). "They're not just committed to bringing the world good products. They're also committed to doing a world of good with those products. That combination can be a powerful force on a global level, and we wanted to play on their team ... Agency and client will immediately begin focusing on the evolution of the brand and its place in the global culture -- not just as a funky (BLANK) trend but as a company with the ability to affect lives and communities."

a) Nau
b) Horny Toad
c) Patagonia
d) Apple
e) Microsoft
f) None of the above

And the answer is ... LINK

Helicopter skiing takes on a whole new meaning

Next weekend is the Hahnenkamm, the world's greatest downhill course and arguable the world's greatest ski event. By virtue of its legendary status and fixture on the World Cup calendar, the famed Kitzbühel race is the time when racers are in peak-season form, when the picture is becoming clear as to what the BIG story of the year will be.

Is it Bode? Is it Hermann? Nope ... it's global warming.

According to the New York Times, race organizers have spent close to $400k to carry more than 100,000 cubic feet of snow by helicopter to create a sufficient snowpack to run the race.


Unofficial ORWM Calendar Highlights

9 am … Always Drinking, Never Hydrating?
Get a free Kelty water bottle because Saturday is actually “Be Nice to Your Liver Day.” Location: the wonderful world of Kelty, booth 20017.

3 pm … Because Frank always sounds better after a few beers, It's the annual OIA “Policy and a Pint.,” a time to ask OIA staffers all those questions that have been burning a hole in your synapses since last August. And, if for some reason you can’t remember that question, you can just drink their beer. Location: OIA booth 5600.

5 pm ... Pale Morning Media announces new green initiatitves. To support the increasingly important role of green business practices in the outdoor industry, Pale Morning Media will unveil several public relations initiatives designed to awe and impress all those around us: Group Showering, Freegan "dumpster diving" media dinners, and recycled pitches. Location, TBD.

7:30 am … Gentlemen, start your checkbooks.
The Conservation Alliance breakfast remains one of my favorite events of every show (honestly), as it reminds me that we’re actually doing good work in the outdoor industry. Location: The Marriott.

4 pm … Win a pair of G3 Skis. Drink beer. Use your marginal math skills. It’s the official El Hombre “Weigh-In Party.” Swing by their booth and ask Chris Strome for details. Trust me. Location: G3 Genuine Guide Gear, Booth 28001.

8 pm … Ever had a Horny Mojito? What about a Horny Martini? Now's your chance. Horny Toad, Crumpler and Icebreaker are hosting a big-time throw down at the Hotel Bar, just down the road from the Salt Palace. Serious fun, taken seriously. Location: 155 W 200 S.

8 pm Bloggers Ball …
The rumor is that Kenji’s Night Three Party has been taken over by a bunch of bloggers who know the difference between MMPORPG, RSS, and WYSIWYG. Free Cheryl Tiegs posters to the first 100 visitors. No word yet on whether Devo will be playing. Location: Ask the Piton.


A Mighty Wind

SIA is getting greener.

For the 2007 Vegas Show, they're purchasing renewable energy certificates from Renewable Choice Energy (Boulder, Colo.) to offset their estimate for 100 percent of electric power usage at the upcoming show. A tally that's 225,000kWH, according to the release.

How does Renewable Choice Energy work? It's pretty simple. You pay a premium to ensure that a wind power contribution is made to the national power grid, equivalent to the energy used by your event (or your home or your business, etc). You're not replacing fossil fuel use, but you are helping integrate wind power into the mainstream and making it a more viable energy source.


Let's get ready to STUMBLE!!!

How much does Paul Parker weigh? No, really. A pair of free G3 skis is riding on it.

At the upcoming ORWM show, if you can guess the difference in poundage between the 0-percent bodyfat, road biking, backcountry maven that is Paul Parker ... and that of of a 6-foot-4 caped and masked wrestler that answers to the name of "El Hombre", you could win a pair of FREE G3 Skis.

I wouldn't lie to you.

Drop by the G3 booth (#28001) anytime before Sunday afternoon to make your guess. Winners MUST BE PRESENT TO WIN, and will be announced at 4 pm on Sunday. Tequila!

Minty fresh

A verrrrrry special thanks to Craig at Two Dog Design for his help with this one.

A metaphor who’s time has come

Maybe it was Powder Whore. Maybe it was Powgasm. Or maybe it was the oh-so-creatively named Ski Porn

But it was definitely the 46,000 search results that came back on Google for it.

Ok. We get it. Ski movies are like porn movies.

Is it because they really only need to be about three minutes long? Or because they’re the most fun to watch when you’re 14? Or because their true benefit is the creation of some serious pent-up demand? Or because of the face shots?

Whatever the reason, it's spreading (we’ve now got "bike porn" at 35,500 Google results and even "fish porn" at 13,000). And now, it's time to do what it takes, concentrate on the task at hand, and pound away until we can bring this whole thing to an appropriate conclusion.


Pale Morning Media launches paperless,
blog-friendly, Media Kit 2.0™

(FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE) -- Pale Morning Media LLC, a Vermont-based communications agency specializing in the outdoor world, began unveiling a new concept to the national media corps this week: a paperless, web-friendly, online “press room” known as Media Kit 2.0™.

Blending the best of old and new, the innovation accomplishes two major goals of contemporary public relations. Not only does it embrace the rapidly changing media environment of web 2.0, but it also eliminates the unnecessary waste that results from traditional paper press kits.

“This is the natural evolution for public relations in the outdoor world,” said Drew Simmons, founder and president of Pale Morning Media. “Media Kit 2.0™ is easier to use for writers and editors, more effective for the brands that it spotlights, and massively more eco-friendly than traditional alternatives.”

In addition to the eco-sensibility and the media friendliness of the new concept, Media Kit 2.0™ provides Pale Morning Media and their clients with full analytic capabilities. Being able to know which news releases are read, when they’re read, and how they’re used will provide invaluable feedback that can then be used to craft better, more efficient, media information.

The design of Media Kit 2.0™ was fueled by first-person blogging experience, developed on the agency’s internal blog, Wicked Outdoorsy, a site that recently surpassed it’s 25,000th page view.

Retaining the basic reverse-chronological blogging format, Media Kit 2.0™ also includes the familiar elements of traditional news releases such as the boilerplate, the “contact us” entry points, and a dynamic attention-grabbing headline and body copy.

Where the kit differentiates itself is through a wealth of images, hyperlinks and cross-referencing that’s designed to connect the reader to the vast resources of the web, to engage them in compelling brand stories, and to anticipate and answer questions before they arise.

The premier version of Media Kit 2.0™ was developed for Pale Morning Media’s premier apparel brand, Horny Toad, and received a surprising early boost when a high-profile industry blog accidentally discovered the project through a backlink survey.

“…. We are impressed with (Pale Morning Media’s) uber modern press release on Horny Toad's Fall 2007 line. It's that time of year where editors are disgusted by the 100's (of) shitty, same 'ole press kits they should be reading, but instead just chuck into the round file. It sure is nice to see someone put some real effort into it and do something nice,” wrote the anonymous author at the Piton.

Working media that use Media Kit 2.0™ will be able to access the site in whatever way works best for them … through individual links received via email, through a bookmark of the URL in their browser, or by opting in to an RSS feed from the site. An additional option for the media will be to go through a permanent web portal that accesses all of Pale Morning Media’s clients.

“Our job has always been to convey our client brands in the best possible light,” added Simmons. “When we can do that and make it a easier for the working media to find what they’re looking for, then it’s a very good day.”

Pale Morning Media LLC is a Vermont-based communications firm specializing in the outdoor world. Through a combination of primary-source public relations and creative web 2.0 strategies, Pale Morning Media has been telling their clients’ stories in the best possible light since 2001. Pale Morning Media’s current brand partners include Horny Toad, Kelty, G3 Genuine Guide Gear, Smith Optics, and the Northern Outdoors adventure resort.


Bags for Shwag

When our friends at Horny Toad rolled out their tote-bag giveaway concept for ORWM, the official position was that it would "light a spark with retailers," encouraging them to replace their current disposable paper bag program with reusable totes of their own.

But let's face it, it's also a chance to sidestep the incredibly lame paper bags that everybody snags at the magazine bins. By the time your caffeine buzz disintegrates, the dead-tree bags have too.

Paper is by far the largest portion of waste in America today, filling up more than 34 percent of landfills nationwide, according to the EPA, and I'd be willing to bet a pair of dinged up old Atomic Skis that paper is an even larger chunk of waste at the Outdoor Retailer shows.

Just check out the "land of abandoned press kits" in the show media room on Day Four if you don't believe me.

Tequila + Yurt Trip + Smack Talk = Free Skis

There comes a time in every man's life when he has to wear the stretchy pants.

In case you've got a backcountry trip planned in the next month (attention Don Pattison), or just feel like building an epic snow cave in your backyard in Boulder, you could win a new pair of G3 skis.

It's pretty damn easy. Even for guys like us.

Host a "Backcountry Fiesta" and be creative as possible. Record it with the digital video camera daddy bought you or your cell phone stalker camera, and send it to our buddies north of the border. Suggested backdrops include huts, yurts, snowcaves, bivy sacks and 1996 Ford F350 campers.

The deadline for entries is Cinco de Mayo (May 5, 2007) ... and the Grand Prize winner receive a G3 Guide Kit, including a pair of to-be-unveiled-at-ORSM 2008 G3 skis, G3 Targa Ascent bindings, G3 Climbing Skins, G3 AviTECH Shovel, G3 Bonesaw and G3 Speed Pro Probe.

Two runner-ups will each win a G3 Targa Ascent binding, the lightest touring telemark binding on the market today.


14-year-old becomes first to solo the Atlantic

Finally, a dream that every youth with access to a 28-foot Tide 28 yacht and a couple months off from school can achieve.

Chapter 22: The differences between OR and SIA

In SLC ... drinks require a $20 bill in advance.
In Vegas ... drinks are free.

In SLC ... Hummers are bad, bad, bad.
In Vegas, hummers require a $20 bill in advance.


Sharing the Love

In November, Horny Toad rolled out a dealer program called the 20% Solution.

Pretty simple and pretty cool, the program essentially took the total sum of their fall reorders, and carved out 20 percent. Of that sizable chunk of beer money, they gave half to charities recommended by their retailers and half to their long-term social purpose enterprise Search for Adventure.

But as I'm sitting here, writing the post-donation news release, I'm struck by how diverse the list of charities are. Horny Toad's a remarkably diverse brand, and their fortunate retailers certainly reflect that. Check out how the regional charities broke down:

* Farm Way (Bradford, Vermont) gave to the Carmelite Nuns (Bradford, Vermont)

* Appalachian Ski & Outdoors (State College, PA) gave to the Climbing Conservancey of Central PA

* Arcadian Shop (Lenox, MA) gave to Berkshire Natural Resources

* Vivala (Tumwater, WA) gave to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Thurston County

* Striper Moon (Bristol, RI) gave to the Bristol Animal Shelter

* John's of Lexington Green (Lexington, KY) gave to the Casa Project of Lexington

* Concord Outfitters (Concord, MA) gave to the Appleton Medical Center Foundation

* Island Pursuit (Stone Harbor, NJ) gave to the Wetlands Institute

* Foot Zone (Bend, OR) gave to NeighborImpact

* Nugget Alaskan Outfitter (Juneau, AK) gave to St. Judes National Chapter

* Sierra South (Kernville, CA) gave to St. Judes National Chapter

* Pipestone Mountaineering (Missoula, MT) gave to the Missoula Food Bank

* Borealis Expedition (Thousand Oaks, CA) gave to Direct Relief International

* See Jane Run (San Francisco, CA) gave to The Breast Cancer Fund

* A Lady's Game (Hinsdale, IL) gave to The Breast Cancer Fund

* Fleet Feet (Sacramento, CA) gave to St. John's Shelter for Women and Children

* Placerville Clothing Company (Placerville, CA) gave to Partners in Care Foundation

* Everyday Outfitters (Eagle, CO) gave to Meet the Wilderness

* Skinny Raven Sports (Anchorage, AK) gave to Abused Women's Aid in Crisis

* Tin Roof (Los Olivos, CA) gave to People Helping People

Fueling a tax discussion

Carbon offsets are a fantastic idea. But are they tax deductible or not?

According to the Native Energy FAQ page, (these are the guys that the OIA and a few other OR companies are partnering with) it sure seems like the whole thing is a write off, regardless of the fact that the organization is a for-profit entity. But, to be a prude about the whole thing, anytime it says "check with your accountant," it's probably a verrrry wise idea.

If you're feeling at all squirelly about the whole thing but still want to do your part, use CarbonFund.org instead. They're clearly a non-profit organization, which ensures full compliance with the tiny print that you'll find at the bottom of your audit subpoena.

New Year's Regret-o-lutions

10. Didn't buy a season pass at Mt. Baker.

9. Didn't invent a snap on accessory for Crocs, then sell it for $10 million.

8. Didn't buy a big trailer park in Ogden, Utah, and convert it into a skate park-tatoo parlor selling Red Bull & Stoli.

7. Didn't drive my Hummer to summer OR.

6. Didn't buy tickets for the sold out Jazz-Nuggets game on Friday night of ORWM. (Got four? Email me)

5. Didn't remember to enter the X Games in time, and missed my chance to pull the first double back flip in fmx history.

4. Didn't alert the media for my first all-nude ascent of the previously unclimbed Delicate Arch.

3. Didn't buy stock in Timmy O'Neill.

2. Didn't give Bode Miller a pre-Olympics private lesson.

1. Didn't come up with a good enough excuse to dodge out of the OIWC drag show.


20,000 tons of carbon

Today's "Mucho Radness" award goes to Outdoor Industry Association for giving carbon neutrality the front page treatment in a new 10% Traveler's Challenge.

A quick back of the napkin calculation estimates that the 40,000 attendees expected at ORWM will put out at least 20,000 tons of carbon in travel alone.

OIA is going with the Vermont-based Native Energy for their offsets. Essentially, it's a voluntary tax on your personal energy habits ... much like the west coast-based "TerraPass and Carbon Fund.

Is a carbon offset tax deductible? Hell, yeah it is. At least according to the Native Energy FAQ page, and the advice of my buddy the tax guy in Maine.