Essentially the ski industry fucked up and they can no longer pay their best riders. All the top-tier athletes are getting flow at best. What does this mean for the aspiring skiers in our sport? Will this devastating news affect the number of gapers who hope to one day beat the X-Games and/or make Super-unknown finals?
I feel this is a valid question because living the life of luxury like Tom Wallisch is far more appealing than living as a transient in the woods knowing you're one injury away from life-long crushing debt like Joey Ciprari. Regardless of the career children pick, they all have one common end goal of financial and personal comfort. If this doesn't exist in skiing then what incentive do they have? What incentive do the parents have to push their children into it? Personally I'd rather watch that "Bvcsh" edit than living as a failure in the woods like Joey and I think most parents would agree. Watching all ten minutes of that god awful trash edit filled with backseat landings on mediocre tricks and flailing arms from Bunch groupies is far more appealing than crying myself to sleep every night wondering, "what if?".
That brings me to my next question. How will the failing industry affect the b-grade skiers who purposely don't progress and try to create a career in skiing by other means? It was already tough in the industry for people who don't know how to ski but after chatting with Liz Swaney, it seems to have gotten worse. "Its unfortunate the ski industry is doing so poorly. Typically Olympic athletes such as myself have piles of offers to comb through but after this Olympics, that pile is thin. I have one promising offer from Armada but I can't go into that. I just wish I wore suspender pants over a hoodie and mittens that are too big for me. I watch those guys doing pretty much the same thing as me but they seem to have no problem finding sponsors. It doesn't seem fair." While that's technically true, in reality its a case of the grass looking greener on the other side.
I was lucky enough to chat with a member of the Bunch who chooses to remain anonymous out of fear of retaliation. This is what he had to say... "Look man, at first I thought it was a way to make a living in skiing without having to actually progress and risk injury. Imagine if Rory Walsh came up to you and said, 'Put on this kit, swing your arms around like a jackass, film it with a $50 hi8 camcorder and your insta will blow up, no progression required.' Doesn't that sound great?" I agreed, that does sound like a good deal. He continued on, "I listened and within a few months I had 15k insta followers, flow product from 3 different companies and a 2k travel budget! Its not much but its more than what I had before. I was so grateful... but now its different. The failing ski industry has no more money for us. I'm down to a 40% discount at best. I'm losing my passion for doing basic tricks with bad style and messing up on landings but claiming it was done on purpose... it doesn't seem worth it now. I don't want to be a washed up hack living in the woods on minimum wage like Joey Ciprari. Its scary, I'm not sure what to do now."
As a casual observer, you can say to these people that you have to progress to make it in skiing because taking advantage of loopholes and following fashion/style trends in skiing can only take you so far. Yes, that's true however in the past the ski industry has been strong enough to prop up these fringes. A member of Hood Crew had this to say, "At the time we moved to Park City we had influencers like Tom Wallisch, Joe Brogan and Henrik to look up to. Their baggy clothes and smooth style was the hot shit and we had no problem picking up sponsors after copying them. About three seasons ago we realized the 'Bunch' was becoming popular so we made a group decision. We traded out our clothes along with any sense of dignity to ride this 'new wave'. The sponsors didn't seem to mind and a few of us even improved on our contracts without improving in the park! It was amazing. However this season has been terrible for all of us and its actually worse now than it was before we wore hoodies over our helmets. Its sad and depressing... almost as depressing as Joey Ciprari's situation."
I'm not sure if the consolidation of corporations and global warming are to blame for this, but its clear it has far reaching implications especially for those the groms look up to for inspiration. This is a serious matter that we all need to recognize is happening and what to do about it... if anything can be done. Feel free to leave your thoughts below and please be constructive and respectful in your responses. Thank you.
**This thread was edited on Mar 22nd 2018 at 12:28:42pm