>> In a recent article in the Marine Corps Times titled, "D'oh! Two new packs -- one was better, one was cheaper. Did the Corps choose the wrong pack again?" the second paragraph states: "In six months of head-to-head tests, two packs based on commercial designs proved their superiority to the MOLLE, but the Marine Corps Systems Command documents obtained by Marine Corps Times show that one was the better pack -- the one the Corps rejected." At issue is a $58 million military contract win for Arc'Teryx (the company partnered with Propper International of St. Charles, Mo., the company that makes the Corps' combat utility uniforms, since Arc'Teryx is a Canadian company). The company that lost the contract bid was Bianchi, owners of Gregory Mountain Products. No one is disputing that the Gregory pack cost more, but what is at issue are the test results. According to the Marine Corps Times, answers to the 92 questions the Marine field-testers filled out placed Gregory as the favored choice 73 times, and Arc'Teryx only 16 times. Three ended in ties or favored the old MOLLE pack. The Marine Corps Times is published by the Army Times Publishing Company, a Gannett Co. Inc. subsidiary. Gannett owns USA Today and others. To read the full article, click here (you'll have to register).
>> The Michigan Snowsports Industries Association has launched a program that offers free skiing to eligible fourth graders in Michigan. The "Cold is Cool" Ski and Snowboard Passport gives each student up to three free lift tickets or trail passes at any of the 19 participating Michigan ski areas. Although the students must be accompanied by a paying adult, up to two fourth graders are allowed to ski free with each adult. For more information, go to www.goskimichigan.com.
>> Fischer Skis just sent us a press release announcing Fischer Fight Night! Apparently, the ski company, in concert with Freeskier Magazine, is co-sponsoring a series of 12 amateur boxing events that will hit eight major Colorado and Wyoming mountain towns this winter. Any non-professional boxer who wants to get into the ring for three one-minute rounds is eligible. A Fischer rep told SNEWS, "A Ring Girl Competition also will add to the flavor of the evening's activities." Fortunately, a trained referee will keep watch (of the boxing matches, not the Ring Girls) and several local amateur judges (including local Fischer dealers) will participate. Thankfully, all fighters are provided with 16-ounce gloves (almost like boxing with pillows) and safety gear, including full boxing head gear. Apparently, these events are quite popular with the bar crowd. For more information, go to www.knockoutevents.com. SNEWS View: Well, we'll give Fischer props for thinking way out of the box here. We're still wondering, however, what fight nights have to do with skiing? Assuming the bar is packed with 300 or so rowdy folks, the majority of whom are likely to be male, we imagine the bar owners will be very happy for sure. IF, and that is a very BIG IF, folks actually connect Fischer with the dealer-judges and find their way into local stores in the weeks to follow, we suppose Fischer will be happy too.
>> The Professional Paddlesports Association (PPA) just presented the association's annual industry awards. The PPA Environmental Excellence Award went to Joe Feil, owner of Wolf River Canoe and Kayak, in recognition of his longstanding commitment to protecting waterways. Japan native Shugo Nakanishi was the recipient of the President's Award, recognizing his dedication to bringing the paddlesports business to his country. Through his relationship with PPA, Nakanishi was able to learn enough about the U.S. paddlesports industry to successfully secure several million dollars in funding from the Japanese government to provide access sites for canoes and kayaks along the Omono River. The Ralph Stevens Vendor Partnership Award was received by two honorees -- long-time PPA supporter and recent board member Steve Krautkremer, formerly with Old Town Canoe, and NRS in recognition of its outstanding customer service, excellent products and strong support for retailers and rental businesses. The Frank Jones Outstanding Member Award, the highest honor for a PPA member, went to American Canoe Association Executive Director Pam Dillon in recognition of her ongoing support of PPA and boating safety.
>> Eagle Creek and Clive, a subsidiary of Eagle Creek, concluded their six-week food drive with a grand total of 50,759 pounds of food collected. The company gathered an equivalent of close to 600 pounds of food per employee. All food and funds collected during the food drive is turned over to the San Diego North County Food Bank, which feeds nearly 100,000 families. Every October, the employees of Eagle Creek and Clive are split into several teams and engage in spirited competition to see which team can gather the most food. Competition is based upon the total weight of food collected by each team. After six weeks of finding unique ways to gather food and raise funds, the company conducts a "weigh-in," the team with the most food has bragging rights until next year's food drive.
>> Primaloft has re-upped as the primary sponsor of the second annual Adirondack Backcountry Ski Festival to be held Feb. 27-29 in Keene Valley, N.Y. The festival will consist of instructional clinics and guided tours hosted by specialty outdoor retailer The Mountaineer, with help from Adirondack Mountain School and Plattsburgh State University's Adirondack Experience program. Any profits from this year's event will benefit the NYSEF Youth Nordic Ski Program and the Adirondack Ski Touring Council.
>> Black Diamond Equipment Ltd. has established a partnership with Peregrine Outfitters of Williston, Vt., to distribute products for Black Diamond Performance Lightware. BD announced: "The Peregrine affiliation will open new doors to the Performance Lightware line, a newly formed division of Black Diamond Equipment Ltd., created to focus on the growth BD is experiencing with their headlamps." In other BD headlamp news, Black Diamond recently received a significant military order for the Polar Star Headlamp from the Austrian Army and worked a joint venture with Decathlon of France to promote the Ion.
>> GERMANY -- Last week we told you all about how well The North Face placed in a consumer poll about the best gear by Germany's Outdoor magazine. We forgot to mention some other companies who placed well, too! The Mammut Lhotse XCR Jacket took top honors for technical jackets costing more than 250 Euros, and the same company took third in the category of backpacking pants. In the category for tents costing more than 400 Euros, Hilleberg overwhelming took top price for its Nallo 2 GT, while Mountain Hardwear managed fourth for its Trango 2. Lowe Alpine took top prize in categories for backpacks both under 200 Euros (Cerro Torre ND) and over 200 Euros (Alamayo 90+20). Among headlamps, Petzl had a significant lead in taking top honors with its Myo3, while Black Diamond was third with its Orbitron. The annual contest asks magazine readers to vote in 13 categories and has created quite a following, raking in nearly 8,000 reader votes this year.
>> Buff headwear has announced it will co-sponsor the Life-Link/Dynafit Randonnee Rally ski-race series during the upcoming winter.
>> InSport International has retained Backbone Media of Carbondale, Colo., to manage its public relations efforts. InSport is counting on Backbone Media to maintain the company's high profile in the core running and cycling markets while expanding the brand's presence in the fitness, yoga and cross-training markets.
>> Grabber Performance Group (GPG) awarded a cash prize and specially engraved trophy to Tackett Brothers of McKinney, Texas, for winning the "Rep Group of the Year." Donaldson and Associates also received awards for "Targeted Product Master" and "New Account Champion" for the 2002/2003 season. Each year, GPG honors the outstanding achievements of rep groups, based on highest increase in sales, most new accounts for the season, and sales for a particular product line.
>> The Winter ispo sporting goods trade show in Germany, Feb. 1-4, 2004, is sold out. More than 1,600 exhibitors from more than 40 countries are expected to set up shop in February at the Munich Trade Fair. The entire 160,000 square meters (1.7 million square feet) of the expo hall as well as the ICM are already completely booked. Show management said it also expects yet another jump from attendees from outside of Germany, with a large increase from the middle and eastern European countries. For more on the show, go to www.ispo.com.
>> Hooked on the Outdoors magazine has hired Gina DeMillo as the publication's managing editor. Previously, DeMillo was senior associate editor at Backpacker magazine, while her byline has appeared in Shape, Bicycling and other titles.