With the amount of snow slowly dawdling at most east coast resorts we had to go north to find more. Friday morning I hopped in the Ski The East Subaru with Production Manger Cam Willis, and Ski The East athlete Zach Masi with our sights set on Sugarloaf on Maine. Before making the four and a half hour trek we made a quick pit stop in Lydonville snagging one more Ski The East athlete and all around good dude Sawyer Sellingham. Once we arrived at Sugarloaf we checked into our icy 12 person condo and headed up to meet Terrain Park Manager Jake.
I stood for what I thought was 15 minutes at Steak Frites IV; just appreciating Olivia Neumann artwork, vibing to the A1 beats provided Crusty Cuts and Loupo. I pulled my phone out the check how much time had passed 45 minutes, it was 12am, looking around Signal Kitchen everyone I rolled up with had departed. A few seconds later I got a text from Cam Willis “Joe afterparty…Orchard Terrace come thru..bush tomorrow”. With my phone on five percent battery, I tossed on music and sent it across town to Orchard Terrace. Once I arrived at Orchard the whole crew was there, at the moment I knew we would be destined for a late arrival to Sugarbush on Sunday. After hanging around for a minute, I left yearning for a semi early start to my Sunday and an iPhone charger.
Cam and I arrived at Sugarbush early Sunday afternoon, just in time for the snow to start softening up. After we took a few warm up laps, we started filming a few runs through the park for the Bush Bandits 6. On our ride up the Sunny D Lift we came to the conclusion Cam’s knee and my energy were just about burned up for the day. However, we really did not want to vacate just yet; this was the first weekend of the long awaited warm temps and bluebird sky Vermont is known for in spring. We decided instead of filming another lap we would hike the Jersey Barrier and shoot a photo, mainly because of its short hike.
The short hike did not make up for the amount of attempts it took to boost myself up on top of the square bar. The bit of snow transition that would have normally been at the bottom of the barrier had melted away from the warm temps on Saturday. My first few attempts were not promising, since I was more or less ramming into the barrier trying to figure out the transition. After few more attempts, I was finessing my way through the tranny getting on top of the square bar. Throughout this entire process Cam was taking test shots on his Lumix GH4 to figure out the best angle for the photo. The first angles worked but I really wanted to the photo show how truly steep the jersey barrier was that day. Due to Cam’s injured knee he could not be down hill from me incase I got bucked off the barrier, he would not have enough time to quickly scurry out of my way. The final angle we tried Cam was laying on the snow pile the jersey barrier was set into; leaning into the tranny with his upper half of body and arm fully extended the GH4 was basically on the snow. We must have looked like two kooks; with Cam fully sprawled out on the snow in his infamous marble Tall T productions sweatsuit and myself hiking the most awkward feature in the park for close to an hour.
This whole experience makes me truly recognize and appreciate how much effort goes into getting that perfect angle for a photo. Especially in action sports where the subject is in constant motion, you need to snap the photo at the perfect movement. This was the first time I was able to have true input on a photo taken of me and I could not be happier with how it turned out.
In early January Orage made an announcement that they would be signing multi year contacts with high profile big mountain skiers Callum Pettit, Rory Bushfield, and Elyse Saugstad. Being able afford these three high profile skiers Orage dropped the majority of their park and street team. And by majority I mean the entire park and street team, dropping Andy Parry, Chris Logan, Will Wesson, and Magnus Graner from their roster. The reason behind the purge of the park and street segment of their team was due to their rebrand which is expected to be in full effect for the 2016 – 2017 season. Orage wanted to move away from park/street image to the more profitable big mountain image.
Orage had planned to keep long time athlete Phil Casabon (B-Dog) on the roster, since he was the face of the park/street team having a pro model jacket with them since 2010. On one condition, if he changed up his style of skiing and dress. Orage wanted Phil to start skiing more big mountain and wearing slimmer fitting clothes. However, Phil did not agree with Orage’s decision on their new brand direction he also left Orage. Many believe Phil was dropped by Orage because he was not a profitable entity to the company. This the exact opposite, as we see in the screen show below of Phil speaking about his decision to leave Orage. Phil’s pro model jacket was most sold out jacket every year he had one.
Instead of just dropping everyone on the park/street team and telling Phil “we won’t pay you anymore but we want you to change the way you dress and your image, to have the privilege to keep wearing our gear”. Orage easily could have easily kept all of their park/street skiers on the team with out pay, by simply flowing them gear for free letting them keep skiing how they want to ski. And if they did not want to have any support from Orage they could be free to leave. It is not like Andy, Will, Chris, Magnus and Phil were not adding any value to Orage. They were putting in work producing more content than anyone else on Orage’s team: Andy and Will have Line Traveling Circus web series, Andy has his solo project Tell A Friend Tour, Chris is a part of backcountry web series Big Picture Mountain, Magnus is featured in many edits with The Bunch and films at least one movie segment a year, and Phil has his hands in everything filming web series, movie segments, as well as putting on his own event The B&E Invitational.
Since dropping Andy, Will, Chris, Magnus and Phil leaving Orage has sucessufuly lost the support of the core freeskiing market which they used build their brand over the past decade. And it shows, below are a few of many comments showing resentment towards Orage’s discussions on their new brand direction from forums Newschoolers.
Yes, a part of being a brand is constantly changing trying to access new markets and being most profitable. However, when you are selling with markets that have many influencers and passionate supporters such as ski industry. You can not just desert the “core” area that got your brand off the ground. This rebrand Orage has pulled has greatly reduced if not ruined their brand affinity in the freeski market.
Orage easily could have used some creative thinking on a way to continue working with Andy Parry, Chris Logan, Will Wesson, Magnus Graner, and Phil Casabon. Something as simple as a 5-10 minute park/street edit, with all of the riders “b-footy” that did not make into their edits or segments from that season. The video could have been simply uploaded to Vimeo or Youtube and shared by the riders. The only costs Orage would have incurred would be sending outerwear to the five riders and paying someone to edit the video, in reality probably less than $2,000. Even just showing this genuine effort and giving back to their core market would have saved their brand affinity. Pulling a move like this especially in a highly judgmental and passionate market is not a wise idea. Especially if you have given to much to the community as Orage has for the past decade.
For the past decade Orage has positioned itself as an innovator that gives back to freeskiing community. Having arguably the most diverse park/street team ever, they brought street fashion to skiing outwear with unique fabric choice and hosted the legendary “anti-competition” the Orage Masters RIP. Their genuine passion for freeskiing secured Orage their spot the highly judgmental freeski niche. However, with the purge of their entire park/street team all of the work Orage put in the past decade to increase their brand affinity has gone down the drain and it shows. Here is a link to a growing thread on Newschoolers about what the community thinks of Orage’s rebrand.
Our Honda Element aka The Ele has been in the family since 2003. In summer 2010 when I got my license my dad passed The Ele on to me, for its reliability and how practical it would be for traveling around. Making countless trips around the east coast, and two cross country drives to Mt. Hood the miles on the odometer have been steadily racking up. Ever since I got back from my first cross country trip to Oregon, I have been claiming the Ele would “easily make it to 200,000”. As I was driving back from Sugarbush I realized 200,000 miles was quickly approaching. To ring in the 200,000 I needed to take the Ele on an adventure.
With predicted low temperatures dipping to almost -10 F in the mountains of Vermont during the day and no snow in the streets of Burlington; I decided to vacate Vermont. After decrusting from our buddies 22nd birthday on Friday night, I headed to north to Quebec City with Zach and Alex Harrington Saturday morning. We casually made it through the border; making our first stop at the nearest Tim Horton’s for some Iced Capps and snacks. Two and a half hours later we arrived at Cam and Liam’s Air B&B, hoping they would have survived the Red Bull ReDirect Afterparty. They didn’t, it was 1:30pm the house was locked up with both Cam and Liam inside still KOed from the after party.
To kill some time while they slept off a rough night we drove around Quebec City, gathering supplies for the trip picking up a shovel, water, and of course more Tim Hortons. We made contact with Cam and Liam at 3:30pm as they arose from the crypt, while we were at Tim Hortons using wifi, and refueling on doughnuts and Iced Capps. Zipping across the city we arrived at the Air B&B, after a half hour of reminiscing about the previous nights festivities, Magnus and Lucas from The Bunch pulled through with hopes of hitting a spot. The sun was setting and we had no lights for our cameras we decided scrap the idea, instead whipping up a big dinner. Once we finished cleaning up the crew split; Cam, Alex, Zach, Magnus and Lucas didn’t get enough partying the previous night heading back downtown for seconds. Liam and I had more than enough, we stayed back at the house and watched a few Vice documentaries.
After breakfast the next morning Liam, Zach, Alex and I loaded in the Ele to go see what Quebec City had to offer. Liam was our guide for the day, already spending quite a bit of time in Quebec City this year with HG Skis filming for their new movie. The first spot we went to was a waterfall the middle of the city, unfortunatley there was a “Replica Ice Fishing Hut” directly next to the ride out area. As we were walking up, manger of the Ice Fishing Hut accused us being too loud to be near the Ice Fishing Hut and kicked us out of the waterfall. We loaded back into The Ele and zipped to Artillery Park. Artillery Park was built in the 17th as a defense mechanism for Quebec City. With a variety of cobble stone features we easily spent 3 hours roaming around skiing the park.
With our cravings for Iced Capps and wifi growing we left Artillery and headed back to Tim Hortons. We made contact with Cam, he finished editing the Red Bull ReDirect highlight video, Magnus and Lucas were also accounted for after another long night on the town. All of us decided to link up at some school near the Tim Hortons for an evening session. By the time we all linked up at the school the sun was quickly setting, temperatures were dropping, and the wind was picking up. We skied a pick-nick table to bench combo for an hour or so; Liam tired to film iPhone clip and got some mild frost bite. After everyone was throughly frozen we cruised back in the AirBnB to change for dinner.
Leaving the Ele back at the AirBnB we all crammed in to Cam’s car and cruised to Pub L’oncle Antoine. Liam had been fiending to check out Pub L’oncle Antoine since he saw it the previous week walking through the Ville de Québec; a historic area converted into a shopping area in the heart of Old Quebec City. After a bone chilling 10 minute walk from the car to Pub L’oncle Antoine we were welcomed in by a roaring fire. Besides the fire the interior like something I had never seen before, the walls, ceilings and archways were all constructed from cobble stone giving the space a medieval feel.
The food was average pub fair, but the beer selection was massive featuring craft beers from all over Quebec and the rest of the world. I am far from a beer aficionado but their house shandy caught my eye, called Fonce et Lumiere. The Fonce et Lumiere was like no other shady I have ever tried; tasting flavors of coffee and chocolate I was hooked. After a few more drinks we went back to the AirBnB for to get some sleep before our last day in Quebec City.
The next morning I was woken up at 7:30am by Liam talking AirBnB owner about how many of us were staying in his house. He was not particularly pleased to find out there were five of us in his one bedroom condominium and added an extra $150 on the price for over occupancy. Sorry Cam, we will make it up to you. After that hang up Zach, Alex and I packed all of our luggage into The Ele, heading back to fountain we got kicked out of the previous day. When we arrived Replica Ice Fishing Exhibit from the pervious day was already disassembled and being loaded into a truck. We skied the waterfall for three hours, then headed to look for a place to snag some early dinner before driving back to Burlington. After ten minutes of walking around we found La Pizzaio a gourmet pizza shop. The pizza at La Pizzaio was something I’ve never experienced before, a flat bread with perfectly burnt cheese lined the perimeter replaced the delicious crust flat bread pizza lacks.
With a boost of energy from La Pizzaio we got from the pizza embarked on our drive back to Burlington. We made two stops, one at a Tim Hortons for last Iced Capp and to top off the Ele’s gas tank. The first bit of the drive was pretty rough, with both Alex and Zach working on engineering homework, I just drove in silence listening to Sirius XM Fly. After cruising for about three hours it happened, I glanced down at the odometer The Ele was about to break 200,000 miles. The past six years of claiming was about to come to a reality, the Ele hit 200,000 miles and we kept on cruising with no problems. We arrived at the border, made it through with ease an hour later we arrived back Burlington. Going on these adventures with The Ele is so nostalgic, reminding me its not hard to find adventure. Pick a place, do some research, get it your car and go, it’s that simple.
Below is the edit that Alex chopped up on our three and a half hour drive back to Burlington.
<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/156050493″>Strange Broots</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/alexharrington”>Alex Harrington</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a>.</p>
The current state of freestyle skiing is traveling back in time. Not trick wise, but rather in mind set. Freestyle Skiing also referred as “freeskiing”; when freeskiing first became a thing it was due to mogul skiers wanting to desert the competition scene due to heavy regulations to start skiing for themselves. With Freestyle Skiing securing it’s place in the Winter Olympics in two divisions Slopestyle and Halfpipe, the most publicized aspect of the sport is under heavy regulation from the FIS. Oh you don’t think regulation is heavy think again. The FIS online library features fifteen documents of regulations for Ski Halfpipe and Slopestyle alone, it is safe to say our sport a slipped back into the clutches of regulation. With the publicity of the Winter Olympics behind Freestyle Skiing, the mindset of regulated freeskiing is becoming the norm.
Businesses in the ski world are starting to take freeskiing very seriously. Ski academies such as Carrabrasset Valley Academy (CVA) and Killington Mountain School (KMS) are now offering Freestyle Skiing programs, attempting to groom their skiers to be X-Games and Olympic caliber. With freeskiing being taken so seriously, many people are starting to loose sight of why we left the mogul field, to have fun with your friends and skiing for ourselves.
However, all hope is not lost because we have people like Andy Parry, Andy is the coordinator behind the Tell A Friend Tour. For the past four years Andy heads back east from Utah for the holidays in the iconic Line Traveling Circus Van.
After the holidays and New Years have passed, Andy gets back in the van and begins Tell A Friend Tour. The mission of Tell A Friend Tour is; to show young skiers on the East Coast and Midwest what freeskiing is truly about, having a good time with your friends.
I was lucky enough to get to cruise along with Andy and the rest of the Tell A Friend Tour crew for the first two legs of the tour. The program of Tell A Friend is something very similar a skateboard team demo tour. Andy and his crew arrive at mountain, ski around for a few hours, run after run more and more skiers notice the Andy and the rest Tell A Friend crew and by 11am we would have a posse of twenty plus skiers of all ages. Once the posse is in full force Andy picks feature for the whole posse to session together until it is time for the highlight of the stop, free pizza.
Two stops that really stand out in my mind were Bolton Valley and Cannon Mountain. When we first rolled up to Bolton the park was not in the usual spot at the base of the mountain, my concerns grew thinking to myself “I wonder if they forgot about us? Bolton opened two days ago do they even have enough snow to build a park?”. Luckily Bolton did not for get about us; their park crew relocated park to very gradual and secluded trail mid mountain. The location change was a great move, the pitch of the trail was steep enough do give speed to hit all the features; yet it didn’t feel like you were summiting Mount Everest every time you hiked back up to the top of the park. A small yet unique selection features kept everyone entrained for the whole day, the lift cable feature was definitely the highlight of the day. The pizza at the end of the day was by far best and most plentiful of my two-leg journey with Tell A Friend Tour.
On January 9th Charlie Dayton and I left Burlington at 7am, headed for Cannon Mountain. Neither of us had ever been to Cannon, luckily a few of our friends had grown up skiing there. After asking our friends what they thought about Cannon our hopes were very low on what Cannon had to offer. Until we took our first chair ride up everything changed; looming in the distance was their early season terrain park. The terrain park was small about the size of a footfall field, and was loaded with rails, bonks and hips giving it that unmistakable skatepark vibe. Once the kids started showing up, they kept on coming. By 11am the park was filled with sea of at least 40 skiers from all over New Hampshire and Maine. With a unique selection of features and large group skiers they day flew by. At the end of the day while eating pizza in the lodge, I could tell by the smiles on everyone’s faces the day could not have gone much better.
Events like Tell A Friend Tour need to continue to be happening in the freeskiing world. A win-win for all four parties involved: attendees (young skiers), riders, mountains and especially sponsoring brands. The young skiers get to ski with and meet their internet hero’s, something very unattainable for young skiers living on the east coast due to lack of major events such as Winter Dew Tour and Winter X Games. The young skiers are also shown by the Tell A Friend Tour crew that you do not need to be out at Breckenridge or Park City to enjoy and progress the sport. The riders on tour get to spend their time doing what they love, having fun skiing and traveling all around the world with their friends. Mountains receive earned media in the form of photos,videos and write ups shared from Tell A Friend Tour; and it’s affiliates riders on social media and freeskiing news outlet Newschoolers. However, the greatest benefit from Tell A Friend Tour goes to the sponsoring brands, because they are getting direct exposure to their target market. Sponsoring companies help fund the tour budget and/or giving product in-kind for prizes, in return for direct exposure. Everyone wins, with such a symbiotic relationship for all parties involved the Tell A Friend Tour cannot fail, unless of course the Traveling Circus Van breaks down again.
During the winter of 2010 an outerwear company by the name of Causwell made a big splash in the freeski community. Causwell had a very unique brand position, brining a much needed breath of fresh air to ski fashion. 2010 was smack dab in the middle of the ski fashions dark ages; were pretty much every person skiing in the terrain park resembled a king size bag of Skittles. Causwell based the majority of their first season release focusing on earth tones that could be fashionable both on and off the mountain.
Yes, there was an outlier that really resembled a bag of king size Skittles.
The promotion plan Causwell used to enter the winter outerwear market was untraditional and spot on. Instead of taking the traditional approach of debuting their outwear line up at Snow Sports Industries of America’s annual Trade Show (SIA). Causwell’s first move was unheard of at the time, releasing a cross promotional video with their parent company Surface Skis. Surface Skis was founded in 2004 and already had a large customer base that Causwell was able to utilize. The video was named Surface/Causwell Team at PC featured up and comers John Ware and Jeff Kiesel wearing only Causwell. After being filmed and edited Evan Heath the video was uploaded to Newschoolers and Vimeo. The video was very well revised from the skiing community racking up a combined 27 thousand views. Causwell knew how to communicate with their target market; there was no big press release about this cool new outwear brand. The video was simply uploaded, the views and comments about their outerwear poured in.
Causwell continued to ride out with their current brand image of being primarily for terrain park skiers for one season; until realizing it was possible to expand towards other aspects freeski world such as backcountry skiing. To access this market Causwell enlisted the help of Eric Pollard. Eric Pollard is more than just an innovative backcountry skier, he is a creator. The owner and head editor at Nimbus Independent a video production company focused on adventure and backcountry skiing. Eric is also renowned artist in the winter sports world designing his own pro model ski with Line Skis from the ground up since 2003, goggles with Dragon Alliance and accessories with Dakine. Eric’s taste was the perfect compass for Causwell’s new brand direction and image.
Causwell took a more traditional and professional route informing the public about their collaboration with Pollard; releasing the news to freeskiing media outlets Freeskier and Newschoolers. After the fire had started to burn out, Pollard and Causwell reignited the fire at the 2011 SIA Trade Show premiering his outwear line. Here are some photos from the first press release for Causwell and Eric Pollard Collaboration
Of course Causwell had a unique promotional plan for Pollard’s outwear line besides a press release and the 2011 SIA Trade Show. To continue feeding the flames Pollard and Causwell also released images of his outwear line in action on Facebook. These images were captured during their big picture promotional plan with Nimbus Independent and their En Route video series. The En Route video series was about skiing in unique locations such as Arlberg, Cascadia and Alaska. The other element besides skiing in these videos was the lifestyle Pollard and the rest of the Nimbus Independent crew take part in to produce their videos. The lifestyle aspect of these videos acted perfect opportunity to promote Causwell as functional both on and off the ski hill.
The En Route series was a success racking up views and shares with ease. Unfortunately, the same could not be said for the business relationship between Causwell and Pollard. In early 2012 Pollard left Causwell, for long time accessory sponsor Dakine to help develop and design their outerwear. To this day no official statement has been released to why the separation happened; rumor has it the separation was related to payment.
After the separation with Pollard, Causwell started to slowly modify their brand image. The skiing content slowly stopped, changing outdoor lifestyle and then on to fly fishing. Yes, fly fishing.
This rebranding happened because Eric Pollard is such an influencer and legend in skiing. Having make an announcement about Pollard leaving Causwell would have been a very bad branding play and would have greatly effected their brand affinity. If Causwell wanted to continue to be a leader without Pollard; there legitimacy would have been heavily questioned to those who have never owned the outerwear.
It seems Causwell’s down fall was due to putting all of their eggs in one basket with Pollard and Nimbus Independent; to be the primary piece in their promotion campaign for the 2012 outerwear line. Because he is such an influencer the idea makes great sense on paper, the idea seemed like it could never fail from a marketing stand point. If Pollard would have not left Causwell, the brand would have been destined to taken off, making them a large player in the ski outerwear world. This is a great example showing what can happen to a brand if an influencer in a specific niche is added, promoted heavily, and then deserts the brand.