>> There, in a USA Today feature on Dec. 5, titled "Great gifts for people on the go," is a plug for a reversible microfiber travel vest from Travelsmith.com that is just priceless and leaves us wondering what the article's author Kitty Bean Yancey was smoking at the time. After all the raves about what's good, Yancey offers this sage advice, and we're not making this up: "Would be more useful if it had sleeves." Umm, then why didn't you review a jacket instead? After all, the product clearly says, VEST! But then, maybe that's just us.
>> GERMANY --If you're going to the February ispo show in Munich, Germany, get ready for a snowball fight with, oh, about 1,500 of your best friends. On the second day of the show on Feb. 2, Gore-Tex in partnership with Laureus Sport for Good Foundation will sponsor the battle as a way to show off its new XCR gloves. Indoors no less. The Kongresszentrum on the fairgrounds will be filled with snow, and a snow fight area will be marked off with industry representatives invited to come on down and throw some snow around. Of course, a party will follow for the 1,500 invited guests -- all benefiting the foundation that promotes sports participation. Look for special guests, which may include Boris Becker, who is the chair of the foundation, or other sports celebrities. For more, go to www.ispo.com.
>> The Professional Paddlesports Association (PPA) and America Outdoors (AO) have ended their talks aimed at consolidation. Apparently, although PPA and AO share the vision for a united organization, differences of opinion on methods for establishing leadership for the new organization was ultimately the reason for ending discussions between the two organizations. SNEWS View: Reading between the lines here, one can quickly determine that while PPA asserts it was the association making all the compromise offers, it was the issue of eventual leadership -- either David Brown or Matt Menashes -- that killed the deal. No way was Brown going to relinquish any control, step away, step aside or step down and you can take that to the bank. Menashes stated in the release, "We will engage our partners at the Trade Association of Paddlesports in further discussions on" the topic of combining associations. We believe that will be every bit as difficult a challenge as PPA faced trying to meld with AO.
>> GERMANY -- Each year Germany's Outdoor magazine (that country's equivalent of Backpacker in many ways) asks readers to vote for their favorite gear in various categories and tallies the results to come up with its annual Gear of the Year. This year, the magazine received more votes than ever -- nearly 8,000 to be exact -- for the fourth edition of the competition, and The North Face received top-four recognition in seven of the 12 categories in which it offers product. For example, in the category "technical jackets under 250 Euros," TNF's Flight Jacket took top billing. In the category for those over 250 Euros, the company's Mountain Guide Jacket was second. Fourth place in hiking shoes was the company's Mt. Tam Low. In down sleeping bags came the company's Superlight, and in the category for synthetic sleeping bags, TNF's Cat's Meow took second place. Also in second place in the category for tents costing more than 400 Euros was TNF's VE-25. Last but not least was TNF's Stamina 70 which earned fourth place in the category for multi-day packs over 200 Euros.
>> This holiday season, Hooked on the Outdoors (www.ruhooked.com) launches a fresh installation of "Gear Minutes" on CNN Headline News and the RSN Television Network in select cities. Each Hooked on the Outdoors Gear Minute profiles a selection of the latest outdoor equipment. Hosted by recording artist and TV personality Greta Gaines (www.gretagaines.com), the Hooked on the Outdoors' Gear Minutes were filmed at RSN Television studios in Portland, Maine. Broadcast through RSN Television, the Hooked on the Outdoors' Gear Minutes will be seen on RSN affiliates in more than 100 resort communities, as well as during RSN Outdoor Updates. RSN Outdoor Updates appear on the CNN Headline News channel in New England, the Colorado front range and the greater Chicago area. RSN Outdoor Updates appear 24 times a day at 54 minutes past the hour, and are distributed to approximately 6 million cable subscribers per airing.
>> Ortovox recently provided two X1 transceivers and a donation of $500 to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center. In thanking Ortovox, CAIC Director Knox Williams said, "The CAIC looks to private donors to help provide funding and equipment. Ortovox's generous donations will subsidize education courses, teaching and help us purchase more equipment." According to the CAIC, in the last decade, it has reached over 25,000 backcountry skiers, snowboarders, snowmobilers and enthusiasts. It offers around 60 snow safety courses throughout Colorado and is based in Boulder.
>> The Winter Sports Division of Amer Group Plc (owners of the Atomic brand) acquired Volant, a North American-based ski brand, from the Huffy Corp. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. In addition to acquiring the assets of the company, Atomic also acquired several patents in ski technology, including steel technology used in the construction of Volant skis. Estimated sales for Volant in 2003 are $4 million Euro ($4.8 million USD) with the majority of sales occurring in the western United States. Matt Miller, vice president of marketing for Atomic, told SNEWS that Atomic will continue to market and sell Volant as the "ultimate affinity brand" for customers where money is less of an object. Atomic is no stranger to the Volant brand having built the skis for the company in Atomic's Austrian Altenmarkt factory on an OEM basis for the past two years. Volant's vice president of sales, Schultz Greenberg, and the rep force will remain with Volant, but all the backend and customer service is coming in house to Atomic, and that's a good thing. SNEWS has heard that the level of customer service as well as shipping accuracy under the Huffy regime did not make dealers very happy at all -- not good with such a high-priced brand. As for the future, Miller assures us that Volant will remain very focused on the alpine niche market, and while he will never say never to the idea of high-end Volant tele skis, Miller says it's not likely.
>> The OIWC (Outdoor Industries Women's Coalition) is seeking nominations for its third annual Pioneering Woman Award to be presented at the group's Winter Gathering, Sunday, Feb. 1 in Salt Lake City during Outdoor Retailer Winter Market. The winner will join previous award recipients Kitty Bradley of Catalyst Communications and Rachael Ligtenberg of REI. Nominations should be no more than 100 words describing how a nominee has had a positive impact on other women's careers and specifically what she's done to demonstrate a commitment to mentoring female colleagues. Nominations must be received by 5 p.m. on Dec. 22, 2003, and should be emailed to Maile Buker at email@example.com . The winner of the Pioneering Woman Award will receive a check for $1,000 to be donated to a charity of her choice in her name. The top three finalists will be announced Jan. 5, 2004.
>> Snowbird ski resort in Utah will be the destination for winter backcountry enthusiasts Jan. 23-25, 2004, as part of a new Backcountry Awareness Week that will include seminars, on-snow demonstrations, discussions and a Black Hat fund-raiser for the Friends of Utah Avalanche Center. An all day tram ticket, lunch, two classes, an 8:30 a.m. pre-public tram ride and a chance to win a free day of heli-skiing for a backcountry course attendee is $49. Mountaineer and author Andrew McLean will be the main presenter at the Black Hat fund-raiser on Jan. 23. Items to be auctioned at the fund-raiser include an eight-day Wilderness First Responder course offered by Crested Butte Outdoors, a day of heli-skiing from Wasatch Powderbird Guides, autographed copies of avalanche-related books, backcountry equipment, etc. For more information, go to www.snowbird.com.
>> Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., recently visited InSport International's Beaverton headquarters to demonstrate his support for InSport and other local companies that continue to manufacture in the United States. The Senator toured the company and met with InSport's operations and executive team. The company was recently awarded a significant contract to outfit the U.S. Navy SEALs with seven garment styles. All seven styles are manufactured in the United States using Polartec fabrics, which are also produced domestically.
>> DeFeet was voted the brand of choice for cycling undershirts in Cycle Sport Magazine's 2003 Reader's Survey. Cycle Sport's readers chose DeFeet's base layers over 19 other companies, including Nike, Hind, Pearl Izumi, Castelli and Under Armor. The magazine's readership is composed of 19- to 55-year-old cycling enthusiasts, 94 percent of which are male, reside in all regions of the United States and train year-round. Many are competitive. SNEWS View: Does this mean DeFeet has to change its name to DeMoreDanFeet?
>> Garmont North America will be the North American distributor of Silvretta free-ride and ski mountaineering bindings starting January 2004. Garmont North America has sales and distribution centers in Williston, Vermont and Cowansville, Quebec. According to the company, all bindings, including the new "Pure," and service parts will be in stock by Jan. 1. Dealers can contact Garmont toll free at 800-943-4453 in the United States and at 877-263-4747 in Canada.