Hot Sheet: Adapt to survive, new helmet legislation & more Lindsey

In this week's Hot Sheet, news from the Travel Symposium, new laws regarding helmets on the slopes and skiing closed areas, as well as Lindsey Vonn and Jackson Hole's near-record season.

At the opening session of the 36th Annual Mountain Travel Symposium (MTS) in Beaver Creek, Terry Jones, founder of Travelocity and current chairman of Kayak, emphasized innovation as the key to weathering the current economic recession. Capturing the Forum’s theme of adapting to survive, Jones said that, “the Internet is like Darwinism on steroids. You evolve or are eliminated.”

He reminded the audience that we live in a world driven by speed and convenience, that there is strong evidence that consumers have more trust in information provided by strangers on the Internet than established brands, and that marketing is no longer one-way message blasting but interactive communication with customers. Jones also recommended fostering a culture of innovation so creative ideas can be launched, grown, and in some cases become wildly successful like Travelocity that grew from 10 employees at its inception to 1200 employees today. He summarized by quoting Darwin and reminding the audience that it isn’t the strongest or fittest that survive but those most adaptive to change.

In other presentations, John Garnsey, co-president of Vail Resorts used a case study of Beaver Creek to illustrate what really matters. “One of the things that I think impacts all of us is delivering on our brand promise,” said Garnsey. “If you make a mistake, you can’t take it back and we’re making an emotional promise that includes experience, memories, and meeting a set of expectations.” He acknowledged that with social media, “if someone has a bad experience, within seconds the whole world knows about it.”

New Massachusetts bill would require free helmets with ski rentals

The Herald News is reporting that ski resorts in Massachusetts would be required to hand out helmets for free with all ski equipment rentals, under legislation filed by Rep. William Brownsberger (D-Belmont) after a constituent’s son was seriously injured during a ski accident.

According to the Herald News, the teenage son of Rep. Brownsberger's constituent was discouraged from wearing a helmet by ski resort attendants renting him equipment, but he opted to wear one anyway. It was what saved his life when he hit a tree. “Skiers have to take responsibility for what they do,” Brownsberger said. “Ski areas do have some control over the injury risks. We can encourage them to do a better job protecting people.”

Washington State makes it a crime to ski closed areas

In Washington State it is now a misdemeanor to ski closed areas. On April 6, 2011, the state House passed a bill equating skiing in clearly marked closed hazard areas at ski resorts with criminal trespassing. Supporters of the bill said they hope the potential of a criminal record and a $1,000 fine would help skiers safe and also protect the lives of ski-patrol and search-and-rescue workers.

“When you have volunteers from the neighborhood that are sometimes spending days to find someone, the lives of the people doing these operations are far more valuable than a misdemeanor crime,” Rep. Chris Hurst, D-Enumclaw, told the Seattle Times.

IOC taps Vonn to mentor athletes at youth Olympics

The International Olympic Committee has announced that Olympic champion Lindsey Vonn will take a leading role in mentoring athletes at the 2012 Winter Youth Olympic Games in Innsbruck, Austria. Vonn will become the first ever Winter Youth Olympic Games Ambassador.

“I have been skiing since I was two years old,” said Vonn. “So I know the importance of strong role models. When I first met my hero, Picabo Street, it was a huge thrill and an unforgettable moment for me. She inspired me to become what I am today. If I can have even half that effect on some of the young athletes I come into contact with, it will be worth it. I’m really looking forward to it.”

Whistler halfpipe contestantas revel in IOC ski decision

The historic decision that Halfpipe skiing is now an Olympic discipline was an exciting revelation for the top skiers who will converge on Whistler Blackcomb to compete in the Pipe qualifiers, and two days later in the finals during the Telus World Ski and Snowboard Festival.

The World Skiing Invitational was last month elevated to platinum level in the Association of Freesking Professionals rankings, placing it in the same realm as X Games and Dew Tour. The WSI, hosting the AFP at the TELUS World Ski and Snowboard Festival, is the first chance for these skiers to come out and compete in the Degree Superpipe, an event that may eventually lead them to Olympic glory in Sochi, Russia, 2014.

“The TWSSF is thrilled to host the first top level International pipe completion following the decision to include it in the 2014 games. We’ve been privileged to have these athletes compete at our event for over a decade and we share their excitement they will have an opportunity to do so on the Olympic stage,” said TWSSF’s Jess Smith.

Jackson Hole reports second best season on record

Jackson Hole Mountain Resort opened for the winter a with wall to wall, top to bottom opening of the mountain, on Saturday the 27th of November. Never before in the recorded history of Jackson Hole Mountain had so much snow fallen so early with totals snowfall reaching the 130 inch mark on opening day. The snow kept coming, and November, December, and March were all above average in terms of snowfall. The season closed with 558 inches of snow recorded on the upper mountain. Total skier visits for the 2010-2011 season reached 478,553, the second highest in the resort’s recorded history.

—Peter Kray

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