Snow sports remain hot despite economy

Few industries are immune to the current economic downturn, but one showing some resilience to the recession is snow sports. A recent report by SnowSports Industries America (SIA) found sales of new skis, snowboards, and related products were up 9% this fall.

Few industries are immune to the current economic downturn, but one showing some resilience to the recession is snow sports. A recent report by SnowSports Industries America (SIA) found sales of new skis, snowboards, and related products were up 9% this fall.

Media coverage of snow sports is also holding up fairly well, notes Caroline Andrew, director at Missy Farren & Associates, whose clients include snowboard and apparel maker Burton.

“There's definitely been interest in the economy as it pertains to snow sports, but overall coverage is still strong, from the products to the top athletes,” she says. “The travel media is also interested because families are still making [recreation] trips.”

In the past, snow sports media had a distinct demographic division, with coverage of snowboarding skewing younger, while traditional skiing stories were aimed at an older, more affluent audience.

But with skiers now hitting the half-pipe and doing many of the same tricks as snowboarders, the line between the two activities is all but erased, says Derek Taylor, editor of skiing outlet Powder.

“Our average age is probably 10 years younger than a lot of ski magazines,” he says. “But we try to talk not so much to an age demographic as to a passion demographic.”

Taylor explains that his title does product reviews and some coverage of the top-tier pro ranks, but also plenty of lifestyle stories.

“We like to write about the mountain culture and everything that goes on around the sport,” he adds.

Carson Stanwood, principal and head of the Jackson Hole, WY, office of Carmichael Lynch Spong, recognizing that some newspaper coverage of snow sports has been cut, suggests that decline in coverage is offset by interest from broadcast outlets.

“There's still plenty of destination content, and the latest technologies are on TV outlets such as Versus,” he adds. “There's also people like Paul Hochman, gear and tech editor for Today, who does segments on the latest in hard goods and apparel and how they make the sport more fun.”

SIA president David Ingemie suggests the real challenge in creating coverage isn't so much finding content for the enthusiasm, but generating stories that broaden the snow sports audience.

“Many of the articles are not being written in laymen's terms to attract new people,” he notes. “So we'd like to see more of a focus on comfort and safety and how much fun... snow sports are for the entire family.”

Ingemie adds that may mean more coverage in general-interest outlets.

“Editors need to understand how many snow sports participants there are in their market,” he says. “There are more than 400,000 in the Washington, [DC], area alone, for example, and they tend to be from the upper-demographic audience these outlets want to reach.”

Pitching...snow sports

  • Remember that every winter storm is a story opportunity, especially for destinations looking to attract that last-minute skiing and snowboarding enthusiast
  • Don't segment pitches by age. Not only is skiing suddenly a hot youth lifestyle again, but many middle-aged people also hit the slopes on snowboards
  • Keep in mind that many snow sports outlets prefer to use their own art, so target and work with freelance photographers rather than just send images on your own

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