O is for the Outdoor Industry Breakfast

The only thing weirder than the fact the that the Outdoor Industry Breakfast brought in WalMart's Director of Sustainability to provide the keynote address for this January's ORWM show .... was the silence.

The everyday low-price meat of their presentation hinged on sustainability programs and environmental goals that were established in 2005, as well as their progress toward some significant goals set at that time -- and since then -- for 2015.

“I had to bite my tongue,” said one attendee. “It was like listening to an abusive spouse announcing that he’s planning a 20% reduction in beating his wife over the next 10 years.”

I've definitely got questions about why the OIA would choose WalMart over other available speakers for this event. My guess is that it had something to do with the "inspiration through association" thing ... specifically, if the world's biggest retailer can get on board with a logical and structured sustainability plan, why can't the specialty retailers and small businesses attending OR?

The weird thing about that logic is that by holding up one part of WalMart's business strategy as a role model, it infers that you're endorsing the rest of the model as well. Even stuff that happened before they turned green in 2005. LINK.

But I've also got questions about why WalMart would care about the outdoor industry? According to their presentation at ORWM, they get about 600 requests per year for speaking engagements ... so some level of care is definitely going in to choosing when and where their employees speak.

Was WalMart's presence at ORWM because of the rising importance of a highly influential group of business people known as the "outdoor industry"?

Or was it because it was a full room?

According to Bloomberg, WalMart recently reported their seventh straight sales declines at US stores, as well as an accompanying, unequivocal statement from CEO Mike Duke that there is "no greater priority than improving US sales. (LINK). Didn't see any mention of sustainability in that report, btw.

LINK: Full video of ORWM Industry Breakfast with Jeff Rice, WalMart Director of Sustainability


OR-SIA 2011: N is for Nocturnals

Who is Grace Potter and why does her band keep following me around the country?

OR-SIA 2011: M is for Movement Skis

They came, they saw, they flexed.

The record-breaking crowd of retailers at January’s SIA Snow Show made Movement Skis one of their top stops of the week-long event, taking time out of their packed schedules to check in with the new Rocky Mountain-based team.

And while retailers checked in with the new faces behind the brand – which relocated its North American base to Colorado in early January -- they did what any other card-carrying, red-blooded American skier would do in the presence of am impressive array of big mountain freeride and freestyle skis.

They fondled them.

“The most common thing we heard in the booth was ‘I can’t wait to ski these.’ We must’ve heard that a couple hundred times,” said Jonathan Degenhardt, brand manager for Movement Skis. “There’s no doubt that there’s huge demand out there what Movement has to offer."


OR-SIA 2011: L is for the Lusty Lady

As noisy as a packed bar during Fleet Week, but as bright as an Elementary School cafeteria, the snowboard section at SIA is the definition of sensory overload.

Dudes in banana outfits? Check. Publicly traded Volcomers blocking the aisle? Check. Young man covered in cotton candy? Check. GirlTalk coming from every third booth? Check. Check. Check.

But in this very noisy place, there are moments of quiet joy as well. Like the Ride Snowboards booth.

An homage to strippage, the Seattle-based snowboard brand unveiled a booth architecture "inspired" by the Emerald City's legendary peep show, the Lusty Lady. While a very small percentage of Seattle-ites have ever been inside the Lusty Lady, just about everybody's cruised past it at some point and chuckled at their witty marquee.

Ride did a pretty good job with their booth's mini-marquee, but here are some clips from the Lady herself.


OR-SIA 2011: K is for Kick Ass

There are certain times in a young(ish) man's life when his thoughts turn toward kicking ass.

This is one of them.

For two weeks in late January and early February, I had the pleasure of helping spread the word around about the new Delirium and Asylum boots from Garmont, which will hit the shelves in F11. Designed by the same pioneering boot design team that started the freeride AT revolution with the game-changing Adrenalin (2005), the new models are clearly poised to upend the old world order of AT.

The Delirium and Asylum are a new breed of boot ... unapologetically designed for uncompromising downhill performance, but incorporating the best uphill technology available in the market today. They come at the task of designing an AT boot from a unique place. A place where power is everything.

The new Delrium and Asylum have it all. They've got race-driven anatomically correct shell designs and performance fit. And they've got hybrid liners that are baby-face plush out of the box, but can also be thermoformed.

They've got high-overlap shell design for perfect power transfer to the medial mid-foot — exactly where you need it to arc and control today’s big skis. And they've got multi-injected insert construction for an exceptionally damp and solid alpine-boot feel.

They've got Quick-Change sole sets that are compatible with all fixed-heel binding norms, and can be changed in a flash. And they've got a Bomber Easy³ Magnesium Ski/Walk Mechanism with multiple forward lean positions that can be quickly and precisely adjusted with a single hex bolt.

They've got the ability to drive the biggest skis on the biggest terrain on the biggest days. And they've got the ability to turn around and skin back up to do it again.

In other words, they've got the ability to kick ass.

OR-SIA 2011: J is for Joe Rogan is an Idiot

Joe Rogan - Ants on the Mountain
JokesJoke of the DayFunny Jokes
The good news about trade-show induced insomnia is that you get a chance to catch up on your shitty television viewing. And during the SIA show, I caught a bit of Rogan's shitty standup routine on Comedy Central.

Joe's shitty shtick started off with an extended rant about Mt. Everest .... and finished with an exposition about how cities are more "natural" than being in the mountains during the winter (clip above).

I'm not sure what deal he cut with Satan, but clearly involved a "friendship with benefits" kind of arrangement. The guy's 15 minutes of fame should've been over 10 years ago.

Additionally ... he's ill informed as well. I know plenty of folks that could easily pass his Mt Everest litmus test (skip to 44 seconds on the clip below).
Joe Rogan - Pot Protects Important Memories
JokesJoke of the DayFunny Jokes


OR-SIA 2011: I is for Insomnia

My first appointment is at 8:30 am. Sweet. That means if I fall asleep in the next 10 minutes I'll sleep for 9 hours and be totally rested for a huge day.

Did I sync my google calendar to my iphone? Pretty sure I did. Even if I didn't, there's plenty of time in the morning to check on that.

Mental note. Don't forget to sync calendars.

What time is my wake up call?

Maybe I should set my phone alarm as well.

I like it to be cool when I fall asleep.

Why isn't the air conditioner working?

It's certainly making enough noise.

Mental note: Bitch about the AC to the manager.

I bet I'm dehydrated already.

The water here makes me suspicious.

Paranoid, dude. Chill out.

I hope I'm not touching the bedspread.

This mattress smells like Lysol.

I think it's Lysol, anyway. Might be something stronger.


Mental note: Bring pajamas next time.

Where the hell was Moulton today?

Pretty sure I confirmed that.

Did I?

I should turn my phone off.

If I fall asleep in the next half hour, I can sleep for a solid 7 hours and be totally rested for a huge day. That's pretty good.

Why did I order shellfish in Utah?

What an idiot.

If I go to the emergency room, I totally deserve it.

My body weight will probably take care of it.


It's amazing that I can't stay awake until 10 pm at home, but can't fall asleep before 2 am on the road.

Hello, Mr. Benadryl.

There it is.


Feeling drowsy.

OK. Stop thinking about the drowsiness. That's a sure way to not fall asleep.

Just let it happen.

If I fall asleep in the next hour, I'll still get a solid 5 hours.

I can live with that.

These shows are like one long day with a bunch of shitty naps in the middle.

That's funny. I should tweet that.

Is Starbucks open yet?

Mental note: Get a stronger prescription.


OR-SIA 2011: H is for Hansen’s Moustache

Top facts from OR/SIA about the moustache of Matt Hansen, senior editor at Powder Magazine.

5. Hansen's moustache got carded at El Chanate.

4. Hansen's moustache is big enough to hide a fully grown Tom Bie.

3. Hansen's moustache can convey as many as three major emotions -- “happy,” “intrigued,” and “late for an appointment."

2. Hansen's moustache was so huge at OR/SIA, it needed its own trade show badge.

1. Hansen is no longer growing a moustache. The moustache is growing him.


OR-SIA 2011: G is for Greg Hill

* Greg Hill doesn't need a waxing iron. He just holds the wax against his calves.

* When Greg Hill breaks trail, the trail apologizes.

* Greg Hill isn't blinded by whiteouts. Whiteouts are blinded by Greg Hill.

* Greg Hill skied the Spearhead Traverse in 4 hours and 1 minute. For the first 3 hours and 59 minutes, he was working to cure cancer.

* Greg Hill eliminates depth hoar.

* Unstable snowpacks wear transceivers to prepare for Greg Hill.

* Greg Hill's climbing skins don't stick with glue. They stick out of respect.

LINK: Greg Hill skis 2 million feet in a year
LINK: Greg Hill Blog


OR-SIA 2011: E is for Everest

In his ‘Save the Poles’ expedition, intrepid explorer Eric Larsen visited the North Pole, the South Pole and the summit of Mt. Everest …. three of the world’s coldest places … in a single year, specifically to highlight the effects of climate change on the world's coldest places.

From a distance, Eric appears to be a mild-mannered guy, appearing not much different from other clean-cut, low body fat Boulder-based outdoor athletatrons. But up close, Eric’s wry sense of humor and acute focus on keeping climate change in the news is inspiring.

His speaking gigs are fully worthy, mixing first-hand storytelling with scientific facts, and providing a much-needed wake up call to an outdoor audience that has left the global warming bride at the altar.

LINK: Save the Poles with Eric Larsen

OR-SIA 2011: D is for DynaSplit

Like dogs and cats living together, the amalgamation of Dynafit bindings on split snowboards seems an unnatural ... almost unholy .... alliance.

But splitboarding is going off right now with numerous brands joining the party started by Voile back in the day (see Venture, Jones, Gnu). And it's surging despite the big hairy elephant standing in the corner of the living room: the retrofitting of heavy, clumsy strap bindings and lace-up boots into a touring kit.

As long as the snowboarder in you can get used to wearing some hardshell AT boots (not so different from those Koflachs everybody rode back in the early 90s), and as long as the skier in you can get used to seeing some Dynafits drilled into your snowboard, we may have found the perfect set up. With extra width, splitboards already climb like a mofo. And by shedding pounds and adding the firm sole of a solid mountaineering AT boot, getting up that slope just got considerably easier. Coming down? Nothing tops a board for pure backcountry powder enjoyment.

The proof is already out there. If I wasn’t overserved during a slideshow last January at Snowbird, I’m pretty sure Greg Hill said that his brother used a DynaSplit set up for a two-week backcountry traverse they did together in BC. I’m also pretty sure that there are several solid splitboard forum discussions on the topic, and that Off-Piste did an article about setting your own DynaSplit rig up in one of last season’s issues.

Adding another layer of legitimacy to the DynaSplit trend are the efforts of Will Ritter at Spark R&D who seems to be way ahead of the curve. In his booth at SIA, Will showcased some very clean, very intriguing DynaSplit set-ups ... utilizing a beautiful and wholly unique drilling plate made specifically for DynaSplitters.


Bicycle Rights!

Pretty sure this guy works at ORS.

OR-SIA 2011: C is for Chris Davenport

The first time I ever heard of Chris ‘Dav’ Davenport, he was banging his way through an ambitious mission to ski all of Colorado’s 14ers in a single year. It was a pretty savvy move for a pro skier … stretttttttching the annual allotment of 15 minutes of fame into an entire season … but Dav didn’t fade away after his 14er year. He parlayed it.

Dav did a book, and a lengthly speaking tour on the 14er project, and then he started popping up on TV. Soon after, he came on board as a directing partner of the resurgent Kastle Skis. Leading sponsorship roles continued to follow as he anchored down the Garmont athlete roster, and got a billboard size mugshot on team Spyder as well.

The hardest working man in the ski business put out a film last year on his Antartica efforts, followed it up at this year’s OR show with a book signing of his gorgeous, self-published 4.1-pound book, "50 Classic Ski Descents," and probably has a dozen other projects cooking that I have no idea about.

Seeing his face around nearly every corner at both ORWM & SIA made me realize that this is clearly Dav’s moment in the sun … and that he’s tracking on a different sort of pro-skier trajectory. Perhaps even drafting off the mohawked profile of the current elder statesman of skiing ...

Yeah, him.


OR-SIA 2011: B is for Boutique Skis

It’s a strange twist of fate that small snowboard companies get the label of “garage brands”, while small ski companies are considered “boutique.” One brings to mind a surfy, soulful batch of Point-Break extras; while the other makes me think of pedicures, bathtubs full of cocoa butter, and free yoga gloves.

But at the SIA show last month, you couldn’t swing a sponsor-hopeful freeskier by the ponytail without hitting some of them newfangled boutique skis. With more than 70 startup brands on the market today – skis are the new garage snowboards.

Jason Blevins, ski writer emeritus for the Denver Post, popped into the booth at SIA with a simple question: if big ski companies say that boutique ski brands aren’t cutting into their business, but boutique brands say they’re all growing, isn’t somebody stretching the truth?

Only one way to find out ….

LINK: Denver Post


iPad 'Daily' taps Vermont native as news editor

Like a lot of "mid-career" newspaper journalists Patrick Garrity had to make a choice. He started as an entry level sports guy and worked his way up until he was ... true story ... the associate editor for local content & public service at the Burlington (VT) Free Press. But the world he knew shape-shifted before his eyes and the native Vermonter (Northfield High School Class of '86 and UVM Class of '90) walked away from 12-hour days, a shrinking newsroom and occasional shifts on the copy desk to cover for co-workers who were forced to take week-long unpaid furloughs.

After leaving Burlington in autumn of 2010, he's done OK for himself. He's landed a gig as a news editor for the much hyped "The Daily," the world's first iPad-only news app that was launched Feb. 2 by News Corporation. We caught up with him in the middle of busy, busy week, by email, of course.

WO: You left Vermont, where you boarded, ran, fished (a little), you backpacked, and now you're on to bigger and better things in NYC. You still getting out down there and what are you doing?

PG: Central Park is my outdoors oasis, and fortunately I live only about five blocks from it. Frederick Law Olmsted is my hero. The place is a jewel, and I try to get out for a run there when I can. There's no doubt that I've had to put a lot of the things I love to do in Vermont on hold, and that's been hard. I know I'll appreciate them that much more when I go home.

WO: Tell me what's it like to be part of something new, something truly groundbreaking in the media world ?

PG: It's been exciting, inspiring and terrifying all at once. As a lifelong newspaperman, the decline of the industry has been difficult to endure -- and the constant predictions of newspapers' demise grew quite tiresome. To be involved with this sort of innovation and be part of the "future" of newspapers, rather than their long, slow death has been pretty cool. The iPad really does offer new ways to tell stories without compromising good journalism, and we're still learning what this thing can do.

WO: Knowing a)your interests and b)your new job is there a chance the two shall meet? I guess the question is will The Daily pay much attention to outdoor recreation?

PG: I can honestly say everything is on the table, because so little is known about our audience. In the next weeks and months we'll learn what our readership loves and hates and try to respond accordingly. But I know for sure we could do amazing things on the iPad with pieces about, say, Shaun White's next big trick or kayaking some unnavigable river in Asia.

WO: Being right there in the media heartland, what's the reaction from other media types when you tell them what you're doing?

PG: Mostly curiosity, with a tinge of envy -- and more than a little snark, this being New York and all. It is remarkable -- and often unsettling -- to me how the media is a story all in its own here. This venture has earned more than its share of attention and, now that we're live, certainly will be watched with a very discerning eye. We better do it well.

WO: You're an editor. Should PR people pitch you with story ideas, and if so, what kind and how best to do it?

PG: I've always said, everything in moderation. Pitch judiciously, and you'll be taken seriously. An e-mail is best for me, personally. Phone calls ... no thank you.

WO: You're an editor. Should freelancers pitch you with story ideas, and if so, what kind and how best to do it?

PG: Good stories are always welcome. We suggest looking at what we're doing in the first few weeks of The Daily to get a flavor for what we're looking for. Three-thousand-word stem-winders probably aren't the way to go on this device, but alternative, edgy, fun storytelling is always part of a good pitch. That said ... a good story is a good story, and we want them.

WO: Do you still read newspapers, not on-line either, but real newsprint and ink newspapers?

PG: I get a couple delivered to my door every day. And most days, I actually get a chance to read a little of them. I still love reading the paper -- the paper paper -- and expect I always will.

WO: What do you have for an iPad?

PG: I have the 32GB, 3G-ready model. She's all I can handle and then some.

WO: Nas or Jay-Z?

PG: Neil Young.

- MC