Industry News 9/23/2009

EVENT: Freeski Industry Gathers to Shed "Bastard Child" Reputation

Freeski Industry Gathers to Shed "Bastard Child" Reputation
Carte Blanche: The Freeski Summit, presented by Origin Design + Communications, wraps International Freeski Festival

Freeski industry athletes, manufacturers, filmmakers and media gathered last Sunday to attend Carte Blanche: The Freeski Summit, lead by Origin Design + Communications as part of the International Freeski Film Festival (IF3). The event focused on discussions surrounding the role attendees have in marketing the sport and on shedding the bastard child inferiority complex that appears to be limiting the industry’s growth.

The event served as a more serious wrap-up to IF3’s five days of movie screenings and parties, and discussions centered around two panels featuring an impressive line-up of speakers including freeskiing phenom Simon Dumont; freeskiing's godfather Mike Douglas; athlete agent Michael Spencer from EGO Sports Management; Mike Nick, Director of Marketing from Orage; Scott Jewett, Director of Marketing at Red Bull; and Martin Giroux, the Sales and Marketing Director for Mont Saint-Sauveur International.

Panelists discussed the role of athletes in marketing the sport, the role of brands and retailers in both creating and responding to consumer demand, ideas for growing participation and overcoming barriers to entry into the sport, trends in the business, and the lack of a cohesive organization that would bring all segments of freeskiing together. The response was an encouragingly passionate audience discussion.

Several key take-aways came from the session including the need for more athlete involvement; focus on removing barriers to entry into the sport; collaboration and communication between sponsors, athletes and media in communicating freeski's message to the public; and innovative marketing strategies such as athlete outreach, learn-to programs, urban events, and amateur comps to expand exposure. While the discussions created some lively debate, the prevailing message and rallying cry for the day appeared to be, "Rise up freeskiers. Unite. Stand proud. Together we will shed our bastard status!"

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