November 7, 2004
Oceanside, Calif. (Ski Press)-Freeze Magazine began in Boulder, Colo., in 1996 as a manifesto for skiingâ€™s new revolutionaries â€“ the pipe and park-popping two-plankers that looked to the energy and innovation of snowboarding for their inspiration.
Through its 8-year run, the magazine set the grade for New School skiing, identifying the rising tide of adolescent athletes as â€“ through sequenced-photos, cut-and-paste ads and no-holds interviews â€“ it created the media that defined them.
The ski industry couldnâ€™t ignore the excitement. Race-oriented ski companies started hiring mop-haired Generation Yâ€™ers to help develop new ski lines, terrain parks sprouted like dandelions, new ski companies like Line, Armada and 4FRNT rose out of the hardpack, film companies were formed, and competing magazines such as Freeskier and Primediaâ€™s short-lived Axis hit the stands to compete for the new scene.
â€œIt was a great run and I am proud of what the magazine accomplished in changing the attitude and awareness of the ski industry to the youth market,â€? said Mike Jaquet, founder of Freeze Magazine.
Along with former Mountain Sport Media Publisher Andy Clurman, Jaquet built the magazine from the framework of a television pilot he wrote in college called Generation S, about a young group of skiers that the industry was ignoring. According to Jaquet, Freeze was as much about re-invigorating the slumbering sport as it was about uniting like-minded skiers across the nation.
All of which is why the action-sports industry was collectively shocked last week when TransWorld Media officially decided to close the magazine. After all, it was only last year that Freeze moved from its home offices with Mountain Sports Media in Boulder, Colo., to Time Warner Inc., publishing partner TransWorld Mediaâ€™s Oceanside, Calif., offices to create new marketing synergies for the magazine.
â€œIt leaves a huge hole for us as far as how we reach that audience and that age group,â€? said Pat McIlvain, Oakleyâ€™s director of global sports marketing. â€œJaquet and Allen Crolius were the two only real visionaries we had a relationship with over at TransWorld, and Freeze was behind the impetus for us to get back involved with print again.â€?
McIlvain said he wrote a letter to TransWorld management telling them how disappointed he was in the decision, questioning what the move might mean for Oakley advertising in the companyâ€™s other magazines. In the meantime, he said Oakley will continue to focus more on sponsoring videos and editorial trips to reach the youth driven side of skiing.
â€œI think Freeskier will really reap the rewards of this move,â€? said McIlvain.
Jeff Mechura, brand director for K2 Skis, also feels someone else will profit from the void Freeze Magazineâ€™s departure will leave behind.
â€œObviously, young skiers will now be looking elsewhere for their Freeze type fix,â€? said Mechura. â€œOne thing is for sure though, these skiers arenâ€™t going anywhere. Skiingâ€™s popularity amidst the youth culture has been building steadily for years, and skiingâ€™s youth core is bigger and stronger than it has ever been, which is why the termination of Freeze comes as a surprise.â€?
From a ski sales point of view, Mechura added, â€œIt is clear that Freeze was a major part of the communications equation that helped jump start the increases we are seeing at retail in more recent seasons.â€?
In Vail, Colo., the news Freeze would cease publication met with speculation it would also result in the end of the US Freeskiing Open. Beginning in 1998, the Open introduced the Slopestyle event to skiing, and helped make terms like â€œjibbingâ€? and â€œskiercrossâ€? part of the ski lexicon.
â€œI was as disappointed as everybody else to hear that Freeze had been discontinued,â€? said Chris Jarnot, Vail Resorts vice president of marketing. â€œI realize that just like us, other companies in this industry have to make difficult decisions from time to time. But it was a very important link to the freeskiing movement that put so much energy into the sport of skiing in the past 8 years. And it was an important link to an audience that will be our destination skiers in years to come.â€?
Jarnot said the good news is that Mountain Sports Media will pick up the reins on the Open. And, he added, registration is almost full for the event, scheduled to happen at Vail Jan. 19 to 23.
The staff still gets to publish its January issue of the magazine, ending the publishing cycle two issues short of the six they sold ads for this season. Jaquet, who had become TransWorldâ€™s director of sales and business development, said he will put back on his editorâ€™s hat for the final issue of the magazine.
â€œI hope the ski industry will continue to remember and realize the power and importance of the youth market,â€? Jaquet said. â€œThese kids are the future of everybodyâ€™s business and if we lose them now, we will lose them forever. To capture these kids, the sport must be marketed just like other action sports â€“ with credibility, through the sportâ€™s biggest stars like Tanner Hall and CR Johnson, and through vehicles that the kids connect to â€“ (including) the internet, the independent ski movies, and through grass roots events like the USASA series and the US Freeskiing Open. With Freeze gone, the existence of those vehicles now becomes vital to the survival of the sport.â€?
(Edâ€™s note: Mountain Sports Media and TransWorld Media management were contacted for this article but did not return calls. TransWorld e-mailed a release that was posted last Tuesday on Skipressworld.com).