I need to do more of what I did last week. For all the hours I’ve spent writing blog posts, I simply haven’t had the time or resources to visit resorts and talk to the marketers behind the brands. A week and a half ago, a trip to Denver worked out perfectly for me to stop by Keystone’s pre-season rail jam and finally meet Laura Parquette and Jordan Williams (the resorts uber-talented communications and marketing directors).
Here’s a quick run down of the event:
- 15 tons of bagged, “double frozen” shaved ice trucked in from Denver
- Four divisions (M/W ski/board), many sold out
- Three features – cannon rail, two down rails (with stairs between)
- At least a dozen people filming or taking pictures at any given time
- Reps from GoPro, Colorado Snowboarder, and other brands
- Around 300 people watching during prelims
- Riders from all over, including one from Utah we ran into
- Tons and TONS of stoke from the kids riding
As an event, it was a great lead in to the snow that graced the 13,000′+ peaks a couple days before and the flakes that would blanketed Keystone’s upper slopes a few days later. I’m serious when I say these kids were pumped. For a while I hung out near the top and listened to rider after rider try to talk the people in charge into letting them take one more run.
They didn’t even care if their extra runs counted, just having ptex touching snow was enough for some of these kids to be stuck with permagrins.
There are a few positive indicators for this event in the future.
First, it’s becoming awesome coverage-bait. Last weekend, SnowboarderMag broadcast Bear Mountain’s HDHR (same idea, shaved-ice snow, small setup, but in SoCal with invited riders). Hot Dawgz and Hand Rails has been gaining momentum for a few years now, with the kinks worked out this year, Keystone could step up the coverage next year and really capitalize. Even this year, they got solid coverage from a lot of outlets including TWSnow, Newschoolers, and GrindTV.
Second, social media is building the stoke more and more each year. When I did high jump and long jump in high school, one of my coaches used to not let us jump in any sort of competitive way for days and days before a meet. He wanted us to be so hungry for it that we were mentally fired up as we were physically. I see the same thing happening with skiing and social during snowless months. Resorts are doing an awesome job of keeping skiers engaged over the summer which I think is simply amplifying the snow withdrawals. Once the snow comes (or the chance to shred) skiers are stoked out of their minds.
Third, it’s fun. Keystone probably didn’t see a huge spike in EpicPass sales on Saturday, but the loyalty they generated by giving these park rats a way to shred a month before the season starts is priceless.
All in all, a great event and a fun one to watch.
Published September 24th, 2012 by Gregg Blanchard.