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Outdoor: Did you hear?…

Leki receives unexpected surprise from trekking pole fan, first-ever ispo China show draws 13,000, Merrell plans "Let's Get Outside" TV campaign, PPA seeking input on boat hull standards, plus much more...

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For the week of March 22-28

>> This customer needs to be cloned and distributed! On Feb. 21, Leki received a surprise letter at corporate, from a fan of its trekking poles, along with a $20 check, made out to Leki. The letter stated: “Enclosed you’ll find a check for $20. After hiking the Inca Trail with your trekking poles I determined that you didn’t charge me nearly enough for them. Even $20 (more) does not cover their worth but I gotta draw the line somewhere. They were invaluable on the hike and I think I’d still be there if I didn’t have these poles to help out. I’m a 46-year-old reasonably healthy individual and figured I could do the trail with no sweat. I did some training in preparation and decided, at the insistence of others, to get some trekking poles ‘just in case.’ I had considered them but ended up buying them at that last minute and am I glad I did. I made the trip to Albuquerque a week before the trip to pick them up at REI.” SNEWS® View: Note to REI. You can apparently raise the price on Leki poles at your Albuquerque store. Note to Leki. Be sure to start charging REI more for your poles. Just kidding.

>> More than 13,000 attendees were drawn to the Shanghai New International Expo Center for the first-ever ispo China trade show March 14-17, where nearly 150 companies featured sports equipment and sportswear collections in six categories including outdoor and snowsports. Trade show management said that approximately two-thirds of the trade visitors came from China, while the other one-third largely came from the countries neighboring China. Asia is currently the third largest market for sports equipment and sportswear following the United States and Europe, and the China show represents an expansion of Messe München’s — the producers of the Germany ispo winter and summer trade shows — event portfolio. “Our ‘brands only’ concept was oriented exclusively to internationally active brands. Consequently, ispo china represents the first meeting place for international sports brands and professional retailers in the Asia-Pacific region and makes exchanges of information about high quality brand products possible for the first time,” Manfred Wutzlhofer, CEO of Messe München GmbH, said. Among the outdoor and wintersport companies exhibiting at the inaugural event were Mammut Sports Group, Dakine, Fischer, Gregory, Head Sport and Lowa. Rolf Schmid, CEO of Mammut Sports Group, said, “We had many very good visitors here. We (made) good contacts with experienced distributors and retailers from big chains who were interested in buying our product. The quality of the visitors was very high, and also the mixture was very good for us to feel how our brand will be accepted in the Chinese market.” Among the special events that drew interest were the W.L. Gore-sponsored retail conference, which provided retailers with information about stock and order management, marketing and use of staff; a seminar by trend-and-color forecaster Promostyl; and the climbing wall. The last day of the show was open to the public, but ispo management said a large number of trade visitors were still working into the afternoon. ispo china 06 is scheduled March 13-16, 2006, at the Shanghai New International Expo Center in China.

>> Black Diamond’s Powderkeg ski mountaineering event drew more than 160 competitors from all corners of the world, including 30 World Cup athletes alongside local Wastach powder hounds. BD hosted the International Ski Mountaineering Council (ISMC) World Cup Event in North America, a point-to-point style race from Alta to Brighton Ski Areas, and was the only North American stop this season for World Cup National Team members from Switzerland, France, Germany, Spain, and the United States. Alta was the starting point and included three divisions — world cup, race and recreational — and ended in Brighton. This year, the Powderkeg included telemark for the race and recreational categories, expanding the appeal for alpine touring and telemark enthusiasts. The World Cup category was dominated by the French with men’s winner Florent Perrier setting a course record at 1:33:08. France’s Stephane Brosse was second at 1:33:16 and Italy’s Manfred Reichegger placed third at 1:34:22. The top American finisher was Brendan O’Neill at 1:45:56. The Women’s World Cup was won by Italy’s Gloriana Pellissier at 1:56:07, followed by France’s Nathalie Bourillion at 2:02:27 and Switzerland’s Gabrielle Magnenat at 2:03:28. Jeannie Wall was the top American woman finishing a close fourth at 2:05:28. Sponsors included Patagonia, Scarpa, Ski Utah and the Utah Travel Council. Complete results and images images are available at:

>> Merrell Footwear has signed on as a co-sponsor of Globe Trekker, a public TV series on PBS stations featuring adventures around the world, to promote its new “Let’s Get Outside” brand campaign. Estimated to be in the six figures, Merrell will have 78 15-second TV spots that will run from April through December featuring six different messages that urge viewers to examine their personal balance between inside and outside living. Globe Trekker, formerly known as the Lonely Planet, broadcasts weekly throughout the United States on local PBS stations to more than 2 million viewers. The show features travel guides Ian Wright, Justine Shapiro and Megan McCormick as they venture off the beaten path to mingle with local people, soak up their culture, sample traditional cuisine and enjoy the area’s scenery. Merrell also will have brand visibility on the Globe Trekker website,, with a link to

>> The Professional Paddlesports Association (PPA) is seeking input as it continues to refine a voluntary standard for canoe and kayak safety to be used by manufacturers. All data received by April 11 will help the standards committee determine appropriate formulas for determining maximum weight capacity of vessels. The association said it plans to complete a draft of the standard, also called a “consensus ballot,” that will be distributed to the industry for review and comment. After that, the Hull Performance Project Technical Committee of the American Boat and Yacht Council (ABYC) will review all comments and incorporate changes as necessary. Then ABYC’s Technical Board will vote on passage of the standard. PPA anticipates that the standard will be published in August 2006 and go into effect in August 2007. Email, with “testing protocol” in the subject message, for more information and to participate.

>> After three years of planning, Buck Knives will open the doors to its new manufacturing facility in Post Falls, Idaho, on May 21 with a ribbon cutting ceremony and public open house. Designed and constructed to meet Buck’s specific needs, the new 128,000-square-foot facility will allow the knife company to continue manufacturing the majority of its knives in the United States. Buck’s marketing and sales teams will remain in the San Diego area.

>>Wolverine World Wide’s Bates footwear division will be outfitting U.S. Marines with new hot-weather and temperate-weather combat boots — an exclusive one-year contract valued at $19.2 million. With manufacturing plants in Michigan and Arkansas, Bates said it has created performance footwear to meet the unique needs of military personnel using Wolverine Warrior Leather that undergoes a special leather tanning process that infuses a water, chemical and stain-resistant Scotchguard Protector into the leather. It also has a Vibram sole, Gore-Tex lining and DuraShocks Comfort System for shock absorption.

>> With more than 26,500 hours documented last year, the American Hiking Society is once again offering over 100 trail stewardship retreats across the country, as well as Hawaii and Alaska, through its Volunteer Vacations program. Volunteers will spend one to two weeks building and maintaining trails in national parks, national forests and other public lands across the nation. These adventure opportunities cost only $120 plus transportation and include food, lodging or a tent site, and plenty of memorable tales. For a list of 2005 trips, visit or call Shirley Hearn at 301-565-6704, ext. 206.

>> The second installment of SGMA’s Executive Webinar Series focuses on doing business in Europe and is designed to provide valuable, convenient and affordable educational opportunities for sport-industry executives. The webinar, presented in two two-hour sessions, is designed for manufacturers with sustained relationships in Europe, as well as those who are just beginning to tap into the potential of this promising environment. SGMA’s legal task force has recruited leading authorities to educate “attendees” on opportunities and knowledge for success doing business in Europe. The first session is April 20 from noon to 2 p.m. EST, and the second session is April 27 from noon to 2 p.m. EST. The Doing Business in Europe webinar series is $199 for SGMA members and $299 for non-members. To register, click here.

>> Black Diamond Equipment has become a diamond level sponsor of the American Mountain Guide Association (AMGA), and will also be the exclusive partner of the 2005 Rock Guides exams, offering guides funding and support. Black Diamond will fund one full tuition scholarship for any AMGA rock, alpine or ski mountaineering course or exam. As the exclusive partner of the 2005 Rock Guides exams, Black Diamond will award each rock guide exam participant $400, substantially lowering their overall costs for the exam. Recipients will also receive Black Diamond climbing packs and helmets. For more information, visit or

>> Four new faces have popped up at CamelBak: E. McDowell “Mac” Tillman as director of product marketing, Jonathan Austen as category manager-outdoor, Thomas Andrews as regional sales manager, and Stephanie Rapp as promotions manager. Coming from Timberland, Tillman will develop and introduce products and lead his marketing team in integrated marketing efforts and all aspects of product launches. Austen will be responsible for growing the company’s outdoor category business through product development, driving product launches, developing and implementing trade and consumer promotional programs, and positioning the brand. He has 15-plus years of experience with Pearl Izumi, The North Face and Reebok. Andrews will manage East Coast sales and has worked for Bell Sports and Yakima/WaterMark. Rapp will oversee all aspects of the company’s strategic grassroots events, sponsorships, promotional events, retail clinic programs and partnerships. She has worked for Boeri, REI, and Clif Bar.

>> Dansko footwear has hired Kristin Carpenter Public Relations (KCPR) to handle its public relations. For more information, visit or

>> Cloudveil has hired John Rounds as director of North American sales and Ali Levy to the newly created position of retail merchandising coordinator. Rounds, formerly the national sales manager for CamelBak’s recreational division, will relocate to Cloudveil’s Denver office. Levy joins Cloudveil from her former post at Marmot as the visual retail merchandiser, and will work with former Cloudveil National Sales Director Dave Ellingson who will shift his focus to the newly created position of director of brand development. Cloudveil said it is creating a new focus on brand development to complement the sales team, focusing on product presentation and sell-through at the dealer level. The new group will be responsible for enhancing POS/merchandising programs, employee tech manuals, creating a regional program of dealer roundtables, and act as the liaison between the marketplace and the sales and product development teams.

>> To cap off the ski racing season, HighGear is partnering with the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association (USSA) and Ski Racing Magazine to offer outdoor enthusiasts the chance to win prizes. Winners will be drawn weekly through the end of March, and prizes include HighGear’s TrailAudio digital audio players and TerraTech digital compasses, as well as official U.S. Ski Team gear including hoodies, T-shirts and hats. Details are available at and

>> Fifty-nine percent of online consumers begin their shopping searches on aggregator sites — such as search engines, comparison shopping sites, shopping portals and auctions sites — rather than at merchant sites, according to a report conducted by BizRate Research on behalf of Shopzilla. That’s a 13 percent increase since late 2002 and an upward trend that will continue, said Shopzilla. A contributor to the growth is the amount of price comparison available on the Web. The survey found approximately 87 percent of online shoppers compare online retail offers with catalog merchants and retail stores to find the best price. Roughly 71 percent said they were able to find better sales and discount offers online than with offline retailer or catalog merchants. Search engines are the most popular type of aggregator used by online shoppers, with 54 percent of the market, followed by comparison shopping sites at 24 percent. Auction sites and shopping portals draw less than 15 percent of traffic. The survey also found that 34 percent of online shoppers said they buy the same brand “most of the time” when shopping online, 62 percent reported buying the same brand “some of the time,” and about 1 percent said they “always” buy the same brand.