SNEWS Q&A: On the hill with SIA Nordic Director Reese Brown

SIA hired Reese Brown to help grow the cross-country skiing market, both at the Snow Show and as a sport. After a morning skiing with him at Copper Mountain, Colo., SNEWS sat down with Brown to get the scoop on his strategy at SIA.

Reese Brown was hired in spring 2011 as SnowSports Industries America’s Nordic Director, a new position within SIA to help increase the Nordic market. Reese has been managing SIA’s annual Winter Trails since 2001 and also manages several promotional marketing campaigns, ski and cycling events. SNEWS caught up with him at PSIA-AASI’s annual Team Training event in Colorado the week of Oct. 24, 2011, where he met the PSIA Nordic Team to get on snow and discuss opportunities for growing cross-country skiing in the U.S.

SNEWS: What is your mission as the Nordic Director of SnowSports Industries America?

Reese Brown: I have been tasked with two missions: first to successfully grow the SIA Nordic demo at Devil’s Thumb Resort. That means bringing a greater number of qualified retail buyers to the event. Second, the SIA membership has asked me to grow the number of participants in cross-country skiing. Both of these tasks I am finding incredibly exciting and challenging. 

SNEWS: What are the opportunities for Nordic skiing that you’re seeing in the U.S. right now?

Reese Brown: I see several opportunities for cross-country skiing in the U.S. First, there is an aging population that is currently engaged in downhill skiing and they are prime candidates to stay in snowsports, but looking to lessen the physical demands. Second, there are many elementary-aged school children who live in snow states and who would enjoy cross-country skiing if it was presented to them. Lastly, the largest opportunity is to introduce cross-country skiing to those that do not have a winter sport, but live in snow states. This group is the hardest to identify and the hardest to reach.

SNEWS: What are the roadblocks?

Reese Brown: Simply put, money. But that is more of a speed bump. In my research, I have met incredibly talented and passionate people who truly believe that cross-country skiing is a great activity that can provide great social, health and family benefits. My efforts will be in unifying this group and working with them to tell a great story and deliver it to many more people than we have in the past.

SNEWS: You and I just had a great time skiing with the PSIA-AASI Nordic Team in Copper Mountain – how do you see tapping into what they or other free-heel focused groups are doing to help grow the sport in the future?

Reese Brown: Skiing with the PSIA Nordic Team was a great experience, but I also spent time with them in meetings and at meals. They are a fascinating group full of knowledge and enthusiasm and are great ambassadors of the sport. I want to help PSIA promote them, which in turn will help advance the sport. Additionally, there are the U.S. Ski Team Members as a resource, the retailers and the cross-country resorts. If we all take our energy and focus it on a common message and then deliver it through our respective channels, it could be very powerful.

SNEWS: With just a little more than three months until the On-Snow Demo at Devil’s Thumb Ranch, what do you feel are the most important -- and most attainable -- goals heading into the Snow Show?

Reese Brown: With this short time left before the show, my primary goal is to better engage the Nordic retail community and encourage them to attend the Snow Show and the On-Snow Demo/Ski-Ride Fest. I feel there are so many great benefits of the Show environment including not only seeing and touching the new equipment, but sharing ideas with other like-minded retailers. I learn something new with every Nordic conversation I have and am so convinced that if we expand the conversation, we will better deliver the message and incrementally grow the sport.

--Peter Kray 

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