>> The Avalanche Fund, formerly the American Avalanche Advisory Fund, has reorganized to best ensure access to winter backcountry avalanche forecast information. The first meeting will be Saturday, Feb. 1, at Outdoor Retailer Winter Market in Salt Lake City. Peter Metcalf, CEO of Black Diamond, and Bruce Greenstein, president of the Friends of the Northwest Avalanche Center, will co-chair the board of directors. The mission of the Avalanche Fund (AF) is to provide support and pursue stable funding for backcountry avalanche centers. The AF will execute its mission through the creation, encouragement and support of regional Friends of Avalanche Center Groups; serving as a national voice on avalanche issues; and providing advocacy at the state and federal level. For more information, contact Greenstein at email@example.com or 206-484-1360. For more information on regional avalanche centers, visit www.avalanche.org
>> Backcountry Access landed a large order this week from the U.S. military for its groundbreaking Stash packs, Companion shovel/probe systems and Tracker DTS avalanche beacons. The order came from the U.S. Navy SEALS and includes 2,150 Stash packs, 2,150 Companion shovel/probe systems and 500 Trackers.
>> W.L. Gore is launching the company’s first national promotional tour intending to reach younger consumers, ages 18 to 25, “who are passionate about wintersports,” with information about waterproof/breathable ski and snowboard apparel and accessories made with Gore-Tex fabric. The tour, featuring a black Hummer H2 and16-foot trailer wrapped in Gore logos, will begin this month and travel to established events and competitions at U.S. and Canadian winter resorts. Tour stops have already been made in January at Whistler, B.C., for the Whistler Big Mountain Experience, and Crested Butte, Colo., for College Ski Week. The tour will continue at the Powder Tour Stop in Snowbird, Utah, Feb. 2; Boardfest in Crested Butte, Colo., March 4-8; and the Extreme Freeskiing Championships on March 11 in Jackson Hole, Wyo., and on March 25-29, in Crested Butte, Colo. The tour concludes on April 2 with the Powder Tour at Mammoth Lakes Ski Resort in California.
>> In Memoriam: Dennis Yates (50), a telemark ski instructor at Bear Mountain in California, was among the seven killed by an avalanche while skiing the Canadian backcountry in eastern British Columbia last Monday. He was on a guided trip organized by Selkirk Mountain Experience Skiing. The group was out despite warning of hazardous conditions from the Canadian Avalanche Association. Also killed were Truckee, Calif., resident Kathy Kessler and snowboarding legend Craig Kelly of Washington state. A SNEWS subscriber remembered Yates as “an amazing man. Though he fought MS for the past decade, he skied flawlessly and also wrote and performed music in and around the Los Angeles area. The last time I saw him was at a music benefit where he donated time and talent. Dennis was an inspiration to me and a kindred spirit.”
>> Officials from Nikwax Waterproofing Systems have announced that apparel manufacturers Cloudveil and Isis have officially signed on to be endorsees of Nikwax garment-care products.
>> Daymen Photo Marketing has announced it will close its Outdoor Division, Daymen Outdoor Marketing. Several of the company’s current lines, including Smart Wool, Clif Bar, Pacsafe, Dermatone, and AlpineAire Foods will now be handled by Bud Shirley, the current sales manager of the division. Shirley is forming his own distributorship under the name “BlueRiver Trading Ltd.” that will be operating by March 1. Shirley can be reached at Daymen through late February, and afterward at 416-891-9867.
>>Rutabaga has announced that Teva Footwear has been named the major sponsor and Toyota USA has been named the automotive sponsor of the annual paddlesports exposition, Canoecopia. As show sponsors, they will be helping promote the 100,000-square-foot show and have the opportunity to visit with the 20,000-plus expected show attendees. Canoecopia 2003, billed as “the world’s largest consumer paddlesport exposition” will be held in Madison, Wis., March 14-16, 2003. For more info, click on www.canoecopia.com. SNEWS View: Very forward thinking of Teva since Rutabaga has not been a Teva dealer as far as we are aware. Canoecopia is indeed a premier event for the paddlesport industry and well worth it for any sponsor to hang its hat on for a while.
>> John Connelly, brand manager for Zamberlan footwear, told SNEWS that the company will join the growing list of sponsors of Phil Oren’s Boot-Fit clinics in 2003. “We recognize and appreciate the great work Phil and his staff have done in educating and training boot fitters in specialty stores over the years. Now that Zamberlan is expanding in the U.S. market, we wanted to support Phil’s work and give attendees a chance to try our great fit,” said Connelly.
>> Ojai International has hired Robb Shurr as marketing director — and not just because he can mix a mean drink. Shurr brings to Ojai a wide range of experience and expertise in marketing, sales, branding and art within the outdoor industry as a consultant and marketing director for Gramicci.
>> WhenFrisby Technologies walked down the inevitable path it was on by filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on January 16, SNEWS subscribers wondered what would happen to some of the company’s partners even though Frisby asserted that the business will continue as usual during the reorganization. One of Frisby’s partners, Schoeller, went so far as to go public with a statement from its CEO, Hans-Jürgen Hübner, saying, “Production, marketing and distribution of Schoeller’s thermal phase-change management textiles are not affected by Frisby’s application for protection under Chapter 11. Nothing will change for our customers and business partners because of the U.S. proceeding.”
>> Erehwon Mountain Outfitter has added two folks to its executive team, company President Rudi Mayer told SNEWS. Randy Bhanik has been hired as the merchandising manager, and Eric Grudin has been promoted to director of stores overseeing all store operations. Erehwon operates six stores in the Chicago and Madison, Wis., areas.
>> Mackey J. McDonald, chairman and chief executive officer of VF Corp. (NYSE: VFC), has named Terry Lay as vice president and chairman of the Outdoor and International Jeanswear Coalitions. In his new role, Lay will oversee the continued worldwide growth of VF’s Outdoor brands, including The North Face, JanSport and Eastpak, in addition to his responsibilities for managing the company’s jeanswear businesses in Europe and Asia.
>> Since being acquired by Pacific Trail in 2001, Moonstone’s new management team has taken a number of steps to restore the brand to a vastly improved standing with its dealers and consumers. Moves that have certainly helped the company are working closely with renowned American climber Brent Bishop and the company’s design-review board of climbers to develop innovative, technical clothing and sleeping bags for the serious user, adapting the delivery methods of its parent Pacific Trail to ensure on-time delivery, and building an experienced and enthusiastic sales team. Now the company has established a Retailer Advisory Panel “to ensure that the product not only meets the needs of serious users, but also is saleable.” Moonstone tells SNEWS that the panel, which will ultimately be composed of five or six retailers from across North America, will provide input to product designers in the early stages. SNEWS View: Moonstone keeps getting better and better. Retailers who are carrying the product tell us the company has returned to its days of glory with quality product and, best of all, strong sell-through. Kudos to the team.
>> Eagle Creek has hired Gary Eckwortzel as director of design. Eckwortzel will oversee the company’s product design and will work closely with the company’s development, marketing and sales teams. Eckwortzel has extensive experience in design and development, both with Fortune 50 companies and leading organizations in the outdoor, sports and travel categories. He recently served as the general manager of hardgoods for Patagonia.