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WinterSports Hot Sheet: New skis, retail intros, avy accidents & more

SNEWS got a first look at some of the new ski gear that manufacturers are starting to unveil for the SIA Snow Show. The avalanche season is well underway...and a couple of wintersports companies have made some very interesting new hires.

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After a couple of relatively quiet seasons spent weathering the recession, ski makers appear to be unleashing their pent-up design energy for 2011-2012.

Representatives from a half-dozen alpine ski brands converged on Vail, Dec. 1-3, 2010, to give gear editors, includingSNEWS WinterSports and PEAKS Magazine, an on-snow preview of new models and technology.

The early consensus is a thumbs-up. While Salomon is taking its new V-shaped BBR to the public (click here to see the Nov. 25, 2010, SNEWS story), most manufacturers are asking that 2011-12 details be kept quiet for a few more weeks as retailers seek to move this season’s inventory.

SNEWS did learn that Blizzard is looking to break the mold with a bullish move into the free ski category. Volkl is replacing the market-leading Unlimited AC50 and AC30 with skis that should take that category to a new level. And Rossignol is filling the gap between its big-selling Avenger and S7 with new models that promise to provide a memorable Experience. Stay tuned to SNEWS as more 2011-12 details become available.

Head retailer intro showcases athletes, skis at Birds of Prey

Head Wintersports brought in 25 top retailers from around the country to test new product, be wined and dined, and watch — from a VIP hospitality tent, no less — the brand’s top athletes compete at the Audi Birds of Prey World Cup races in Beaver Creek, Dec. 3-5.

“We not only want to showcase the new products, but how we believe that Head as a brand is back,” said Jon Rucker, Head’s director of sales and marketing. “We’re trying to showcase the complete package — skis, boots, bindings, helmets and snowboards — and when you do that properly, it really does invigorate the brand. The buzz is coming back. This is not your grandfather’s Head.”

The 2011-12 ski collection, led by an overhauled and expanded Peak series, does include a nod to the brand’s American heritage with a “1950” graphic on the tail, commemorating the launch six decades ago of the Head Standard.

Colorado avalanche death is season’s third fatality

A backcountry skier was killed by avalanche in Colorado on Dec. 5, 2010, near Loveland Ski Area, becoming the season’s third avalanche-caused fatality.

According to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center (CAIC), “Two skiers were involved in an avalanche on Mt. Trelease. One was caught and killed in the slide. Early reports indicate the victim took a long ride through timber.”

The Denver Postreports that the skier was a 32-year-old man from Golden, Colo. The CAIC said the slab avalanche broke at 11,600 feet and “initially ran on an old snow layer but stepped to the ground about 25 to 50 vertical feet below the crown.”

A snowmobiler was killed by an avalanche in Utah’s Uinta Mountains on Nov. 26, 2010, and, as reported earlier in SNEWS, Wolf Creek Ski Patrol Director Scott Kay was killed by an avalanche on Nov. 22, 2010.

KSL Capital Partners completes acquisition of Squaw Valley USA

KSL Capital Partners said it has closed the previously announced acquisition of substantially all of the shares of The Squaw Valley Development Company, which includes all facets of Squaw Valley USA ski operations, the Village at Squaw Valley and related real estate holdings. 

“Squaw Valley is the birthplace of the modern mountain resort in the United States with a heritage, history, amenities and perhaps most of all, extraordinary terrain that can never be replicated,” said Eric Resnick, KSL’s managing director.

In a press release, KSL again reiterated the company’s desire to retain recently appointed Squaw Valley President and CEO Andy Wirth. “Squaw Valley has already begun a transformation under his leadership, and we look forward to working with him and the Squaw Valley team as we usher in a new era,” said Resnick.

Ski area owner and balloonist Richard Abruzzo’s remains found at sea

The bodies of two American balloonists and their gondola were discovered in the net of an Italian fishing boat on Dec. 6, 2010, two months after they disappeared while competing in a race over the Adriatic Sea during a fierce storm, according to a report from the Associated Press.

The AP said that documents found in the gondola confirmed the identities of Richard Abruzzo, 47, of Albuquerque, and Carol Rymer Davis, 65, of Denver. The two had been participating in the 54th Gordon Bennett Gas Balloon Race when contact was lost Sept. 29 as they flew over the Adriatic during a strong storm. (Click here to see the Oct. 7, 2010, SNEWS story.)

A longtime competitor in ballooning events around the world, Abruzzo was part of a family business in Albuquerque that owns both the Sandia Ski Area and Ski Santa Fe.

Goulet at Coalision, Spyder rep reaps reward & more ski people news

Coalision, the Canadian lifestyle and apparel company, announced the appointment of Francois Goulet (photo – right) to the role of executive vice president of Orage, effective Jan. 1. Goulet has more than 20 years of experience in the ski industry, most recently as president of Rossignol North America.… Daniel Clayton Inc, the rep group named Rep of the Year by Spyder Active Sports, was rewarded with a three-wheeled Can-Am Spyder Roadster decked out in matte black paint, red highlights and custom Spyder logos.… American downhill and Super G legend Daron Rahlves is adding another credential to his impressive snowsports resume by becoming a member of the Professional Ski Instructors of America-American Association of Snowboard Instructors.… Specialty ski apparel brand Powderhorn announced the addition of two new sales agencies to its growing sales force. Focusing on ski territories with key specialty accounts, the newest additions to Powderhorn’s sales team include Victor DeGeorge in the Southeast and Ruby and Tom Pike in the Northwest.

–Peter Kray

On Oct. 6, 2010, veteran journalist Peter Kray joined the SNEWS team and is now editor of the new SNEWS WinterSports channel. We trust you are enjoying the full offering of WinterSports news. Be sure to email your friends and let them know the best WinterSports news has arrived — just in time for the start of the winter season. Got WinterSports news? Send your WinterSports news to Kray at Subscribers can also post WinterSports news releases directly to the SNEWS website. Email us at to learn about posting your own news releases, or for any other questions or comments. We love to hear from our readers