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Key to a Boom in XC Skiing? ...Marketing!

September 10, 2017


"Adapt or die." ...XC skiing is fading most everywhere, and this is a disaster in its own right. But it's especially hurting in areas where snowfall is becoming sketchy. Why? What can be done?

Even in sketchy places there always is SOME snowfall, even QUITE A BIT, and such places in snowcountry are generally within an HOUR'S drive from better snow. Yet drive-time is NOT a determinant or deterrent for the popularity of an activity. The problem is marketing.

Does any sport require frequent or constantly similar conditions just to exist? ...Sailing is only good on windy days, yet many still enjoy having a sailboat around despite a short season and fickle weather. Sure, having say 10 snowy days might be groovy, but if there are only 5 days, why does skiing have to disappear? It doesn't. The problem is marketing.

Does widely varying conditions hurt biking? No, biking has found ways to enjoy every condition. In fact, it has developed an attitude that enjoys biking EVEN MORE when the conditions are "bad." In cyclocross, one gets a certain number of bikers when the weather is dry. ...But the numbers don't decline when there is slush, mud, wind and rain. Even though the biking has technically gotten much harder and "worse." Of course we have to put quotes around all good and bad in outdoor sport conditions because it's all relative. ...Except for XC skiing. If snow isn't pristine it's called bad, even though snow exists over a wide range of types and conditions. Why has this happened? The problem is marketing.

Biking would have the same problem as skiing if bikers insisted on only skiing in velodromes.


Snow... We can have white snow, hardpack, soft snow, slush, corn, crust, ice, thick snow, deep snow, powder, thin snow, dirty snow, manmade snow, snow mixed with leaves, watery snow, clear snow that we see leaves and dirt through. ...As long as the ground is somewhat frozen and there is some at least partially frozen liquid on top of it we have what can be called snow. We have a substance that is slippery. One kind is not better than another. We have something that a wide range of skis have been designed to go fast on. This is so that people can have fun outside in the winter using simple gear and beautiful skills.

...How much of the outdoor fun market understands this and appreciates what it means for XC? If very few do, then the problem is marketing.

We don't have one kind of snow, so we don't have one kind of ski. This is common knowledge. What seems to be less well known is that a thrifty, common type ski works great on the widest range of snow. However, this kind of ski has been labeled "intermediate" and is ignored by many skiers. ...A midlength midwidth nowax ski with metal edges can basically do it all really well.

Is ski design finished? Can ski bases be improved or revised?

I think skis can be developed further technically.

Some elites complain about scratched bases from skiing in diverse terrain. The majority of casual skiers don't use that as an excuse -- their problem is more basic marketing. But elites fear scratches. I don't know if they've ever quantified the badness of scratches even for elite purposes but it's irrelevant for skiing diverse surfaces. Still one could say that scratches cause a ski to wear out. And? Everything wears out. Whether this kills a sport or not is...marketing. Skis are a consumable. Elite skis are $500, skis suitable for diverse terrain are $200. They all last several seasons despite scratches. They all last longer than do bike tires and chains.

Most serious XC skiers have maybe 6 pairs of skis which are essentially identical. All look the same, anyway. It would be like despite knowing the diversity in biking, most serious bikers had 6 velodrome track bikes each with a slightly different frame-flex then complained that they didn't have a bike suitable for trails or gravel roads. That would be nuts! ...And a problem of marketing.

Ski skill can also be further developed since the skills needed to enjoy a wide range of snow conditions are not taught in any books or official classes.

...But the biggest challenge skiing faces is marketing.


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