How much can happen in five years? Let's see... a sport can go from being so dorky not even Leonard sitting in the front of Calculus would touch it, to having hot girls drool over the ones that rule it... an industry can go from a couple of race companies making twin tips on the side, to supporting several independent ski companies, magazines, film companies, and clothing lines... and an online ski community can go from 15 kids in Ontario to 45,000 people around the world.
Whether through blind luck, good timing, or fantastic planning, I was able to be a part of this change at the lowest level. It was 1999 when I laid down the first lines of code that propelled Newschoolers.com straight into a gutter. Okay so the site bombed the first time... BUT! The next year, I started over, with new first lines of code, and bam, here were are today. It has been a crazy 5 years.
In 1999, when you went to Newschoolers.com, a little spinny skier guy would greet your entrance. If you remember that, you probably also remember when Freeze was the message board to go to, Eskimo Films was where you watched your videos (pretty much all John Symms), and FreeSkiOnline was where you went to read about how to do a backflip and check out private back country photo shoots. It was a different time back then! Everyone knew everyone on the Internet, and if you saw someone in the terrain park with twin tips, they were your friend.
Then 2000 came around, and the site, sort of how we know it today, was launched. You could log in, send messages to your friends, have a profile, and write articles. A whopping 80 or so people used it for probably the entire first year. The most popular thing to do at that time was argue about discrepancies in human behavior and social interactions. I remember in 2000 trying to get free lift tickets to ski hills for covering events and being denied constantly. Ã¢â‚¬Å“You're a website you say? Sorry, you don't qualify.Ã¢â‚¬? But I didn't really care. The site was small, all the members got along... some even hung out together off the Internet (GASP!).
The last week of January in 2001 marked the biggest highlight of the site up to that point. I remember being in a euphoric haze that 500 entire people were members on the site. I really couldn't believe it. Who were all of these people? Where were they coming from?! Why were they going to MY website? In the fall of that year, a massive re-code was undertaken, known to most as, Ã¢â‚¬Å“The Re-CodeÃ¢â‚¬?. If you were around, you remember the headaches, if you weren't, consider yourself lucky. And hey, who will ever forget the Skier's Stock Exchange? I hear rumors it's coming back. Or how about JMMT?
Once 2002 hit, the site was banging. So was the sport. Events were going off, the movies were getting good (not to discredit 13 or Royalty... two of the best ski movies ever made). Members spread ARMADA rumors faster than nannies in a hair saloon. Newschoolers partnered up with media greats Poorboyz and Freeskier to help each other with content and other such fantasies. We threw our second NS Festival at Blue Mountain. I got free lift tickets whenever I wanted. Chris K O'Connell joined the staff and NS was off to the races.
Most of you can remember the rest. 2003 brought new sponsors, a new editor (Ethan Stone) which equated to the best skiing news coverage available on the net (IMNSHO), new features like Cults and MyThreads... of course it also brought about 20,000 new members and made things most interesting! Remember the Spam wars with rival websites (although not supported by me personally, quite humorous looking back on it)?. It was also in 2003 that Newschoolers was officially considered the busiest alpine skiing website on the Internet. In 2003, we witnessed our first 1 million hit day. We did miss out on the cover of TIME magazine, but we won't let our panties bunch over that one.
2004 carried the same progression. We were invited to Mammoth to cover the Orage Masters for the online world. We were featured in the Denver Post. We spent the summer at High North covering the happenings and taking over 10,000 pictures for campers to purchase or send to their friends. You know the rest.. it's been covered day in and day out in our news
In just over a month, it will be the five year anniversary of skiing's largest website. It will also mark the biggest change in the site's history.
As of September 1st, I will no longer be a member of the Newschoolers.com staff. I have enjoyed every minute of the past years creating and developing the site. I am proud to say that I have been a part of something that has affected so many people, and I hope it has affected the industry in a positive way. The reason for my leaving is to pursue other adventures, in the industry, and out. I have many hobbies that I would like to explore, and my commitment to Newschoolers is not always forgiving. After all, I'm not the President of the United States, I actually have to do some work.
Making the decision to leave Newschoolers was one of the hardest I have ever had to make. Creating something out of nothing and then devoting five years of your life to it gives you an amazingly strong a mental bind that is a struggle to break. Add to that a network of great people, some of whom have become your best friends, and it's not something I'd like to decide on a daily basis.
But, my time has come to change my life course, and Newschoolers.com is in damn good hands for the future.
Taking my place as head hauncho will be Chris K O'Connell, better known as cko. The brilliantly talented cko has been a critical part of running NS for over two years now, and knows the site better than anyone.
Taking over the position that Chris is leaving will be Ethan Stone, better known as kamikaze. Ethan brought the news section on NS to a new level, and will now be Chris' right-hand-man.
NS has also hired Sales Person Extrodinaire, Doug Bishop, better known as MDFresh. Doug has been a member since nearly the beginning. His role will be to make NS some money so that it can be a driving force behind events, and extend its event coverage, to help give back to the industry what the industry has given to NS for all these years (yes, that's you!).
Taking over the programming role will be a network of friends and programming geniuses. Say goodbye to bugs, glitches, and (sadly) the Online Alien.
I have to extend a huge thanks to all the members that have helped make NS what it is today. I owe a great deal of respect to all of you that have helped me along the way. There is no way that I could list the hundreds of people that I personally owe thanks to, but you know who you are, so thank you. It has been an amazing five years that I will never forget.
Harvey can always be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. For all future site needs, contact Chris at email@example.com or Ethan at firstname.lastname@example.org. For sales, contact Doug at Mr.Bishop@newschoolers.com