The Unofficial Network’s Best “Do Everything” Skis of 2018

The Best “Do Everything” Skis of 2018

February 13, 2017 By Lily Krass

We took one for the team and spent two days at “work” testing the skis of the future at SIA’s OnTheSnow Demo event at Copper Mountain last week to find the best daily drivers of 2018.

It’s hard to find a ski that truly does it all. But when you find the right ski, that perfect year-round mountain companion that stays true to you on hard pack and storm days alike, you hold it tight and never let it go. So with two days of non-step ski testing, we narrowed down our selection to make your life a little easier. Whether you’re skiing twelve inches of blower pow, shredding bumps or ripping corduroy, these skis won’t let you down.


Black Crows Atris Birdie – Unofficial Networks Editor’s Pick


The Atris Birdie takes the cake this year for the most versatile women’s big mountain ski. Don’t let the wide waist width fool you, the Atris Birdie is a super versatile ski that performs well in all conditions. Slightly wider than a traditional all mountain ski, the Atris Birdie skis more like a 95 in hard pack but of course, floats like a feather on those ultra-deep days we dream about.

Lengths: 169.1, 178.3

Dimensions: 138, 108, 125

Rocker: Rocker-camber-rocker



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The Big Shift

The industry’s traditional seasonal calendar has been upended by changing consumer buying habits, retail strategies, weather patterns, product cycles and trade-show schedules. In which direction should brands and retailers go?

By David Clucas

In November 2016 … The thermometer read 70 degrees throughout much of the country. Retailers were hawking fleeces, puffies and winter boots. Vendors were taking next winter’s orders before the first snowflake of this season ever fell. And the industry’s trade shows were leapfrogging their future summer and winter trade shows into the spring and fall. All the while, consumers were still back-to-school shopping.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to assess the situation — the active-lifestyle industry is out of sync.

In what’s largely been a rush to reduce risks and costs, the industry has lost one of the most valuable business tools — flexibility. That’s especially needed in a predominantly weather-dependent winter. To put it another way, instead of properly layering for adaptability on a cold-weather hike, we’ve stubbornly put on nothing but an expedition-weight parka and barreled out the door determined that snow will appear when we want it to. In reality, we’re destined for a sweaty, chill-inducing, miserable experience.

Why? Aren’t we smarter than this?

To diagnose and begin to solve the issue, the industry must come to terms with some new realities, including big shifts in consumer shopping habits, retail strategies, weather patterns, product cycles and trade-show schedules.

Shifting Consumers
The ultimate driver of all change is the consumer, who is rapidly moving ahead — whether the industry chooses to catch up or not — thanks in large part to the technology at their fingertips.

“The customer is becoming accustomed to on-demand everything,” said Mike Massey, owner of Massey’s Outfitters in Louisiana. “Uber, Airbnb, OpenTable … they’re all about providing services and products at the last second. Why should people expect anything different from retail?”

To that end, Massey and many other industry retailers and brands — from The North Face to Deckers Brands — are reporting what’s being called the “buy-now, wear-now” trend. Simply put, consumers are purchasing products closer to their time of need. They buy winter jackets when it gets cold, instead of planning ahead in September when the products typically start hitting retail shelves.

The shopping strategy, while nerve-racking for retailers, is a boon for consumers. First, it gives them great flexibility — a must for today’s on-the-fly society. Shoppers can wait to see if it ever gets cold, or if their friends decide on that ski trip or not. Better yet, when the consumer is finally ready to make the purchase, the jacket is likely on sale after sitting on the shelves for months. And there’s no fear in finding the right size and color — the entire internet is their stockroom.

There’s nothing but upside — consumers have been trained to wait.

Even with something as sure as the back-to-school season (you can guarantee kids are back in the classroom by early September) students and their families are delaying their purchases. Why? To wait and see what the other kids are wearing, of course. Then they can choose the right styles to buy on demand.

Even for retailers effectively filling that demand, the reality has come with significant extra costs, particularity in logistics — constantly shifting products across the country, not to mention the environmental costs of all that transporting, Massey said. To help with some of those logistics, Massey formed, a growing service helping match consumers’ online demand for outdoor goods with local store inventories. That’s one advantage local brick-and-mortar retailers have: Some consumers are delaying their purchases to the literal last minute, meaning they can’t wait for online shipping — they need to find a local store that has it now.

Shifting Retailers
Retailers are reacting to consumers with shifts of their own.

“They’re placing fewer orders in advance of the season, and instead are preferring to make in-season orders once they have a clearer read on seasonal trends,” said Dave Powers, president and CEO of Deckers Brands. “Retailers can no longer fill their stores in late August or early September with fall product and expect to sell-through their assortment if the weather is warm.”

“It’s less pre-season and more in-season,” Massey echoed, adding that the same strategy goes for which products are hitting the retail floor. “We used to bring out the skis as early as July; now, it might be as late as January, depending on the weather.”

Retailers are also learning to shift merchandising strategies, beyond just always lowering the price. That comes thanks to growing consumer databases — albeit a big investment — paying off in the form of targeted marketing campaigns with the right incentives at the right time for the right customers. Getting a handle on inventory data will help, too. If a retailer knows that a 2016 running shoe model is low in stock nationwide, there’s little reason to discount it. Even if the 2017s are around the corner, someone will prefer the 2016 and seek it out. The airlines have figured out supply-and-demand pricing — so should we.

Shifting Vendors
Vendors and brands are beginning to react to shifting consumers and retailers, but it’s been a slow process. The big problem is that up until now, brands have been pushing hard in the opposite direction.

The realities of overseas manufacturing have created a juggernaut of long lead times and earlier wholesale order deadlines. Concept-to-shelf times run more than two years in some cases, frequently falling out of touch with current consumer demands and fashions.

In response, a new niche of Made-in-the-USA brands and techniques are flourishing with greater flexibility and reduced production times, but the segment is still a very thin slice of the pie. New technology and machinery, plus new trade policies, may soon ramp up U.S. and made-in-market manufacturing, but in the meantime, brands are eyeing broader strategies to stay relevant.

One answer comes in the form of “rolling launch strategies outside the traditional calendar,” said Eric Greene, general manager for Exxel Outdoors’ Performance Outdoor Group. The idea is that brands will push outside the boundaries of just launching product on the spring/summer and fall/winter timetable.

Powers at Deckers echoed the move: “Brands must design and develop year-round product, improve the way they forecast and plan their inventory and optimize their development calendar so it is as close to market as possible,” he said. Even Deckers’ Ugg brand, typically worn when the weather is colder, is shifting to expand its year-round product, Powers said. “Today we release product multiple times a year and offer a more diversified assortment.”

Shifting Trade Shows
While consumers and retailers are moving closer to in-season schedules, it’s curious to see the industry’s major trade shows moving the other way. It suggests that brands aren’t quite ready to give up on their push for earlier order deadlines.

In November 2016, Outdoor Retailer announced it would move its annual summer and winter trade shows up nearly two months — Summer Market to June, Winter Market to November. The shift literally moves the shows out of their respective seasons — into spring and fall.

The move was inevitable as the trade shows saw more of their attendees conducting business at earlier events such as Grassroots. A global peer, the OutDoor show in Germany, moved its summer show to June as well. It’s all a response to those long lead times in manufacturing, said Darrell Denney, executive vice president of Emerald Expositions, which owns and operates the shows in conjunction with the Outdoor Industry Association.

“Sourcing internationally has become more rigid,” he said. So has pressure on company managers to get orders in. “In the past, even two years ago, the directive was to have 70 percent of orders in before production. Now it’s 90 percent,” he said. “Everyone is looking to reduce risk.”

Outdoor Retailer Show Director Marisa Nicholson acknowledges that retailers are pushing back against the earlier order deadlines. Still, she said, earlier trade shows can provide both sides better intel and feedback, even if those orders come down the road. “The one thing retailers can agree on is that it will be nice to see the entirety of the industry in one place when they are making decisions,” she said.

There are still fractures when it comes to the trade shows. While Emerald officials said they opened discussions to other players, such the Snowsports Industries Association and paddlesports groups, representatives for both said meetings were more directive than discussion oriented.

“One glass of wine to tell us ‘here’s what we’re going to do’ is not progress,” said SIA President Nick Sargent. “There has to be a real desire to achieve a solution that’s in the best interest of the entire industry.”

Shifting Seasons
Ultimately, Mother Nature may have the biggest shift in store.

There’s little debate that a warming planet presents big challenges for the industry. But there’s less discussion around the many forms of climate change, including what seems like winters that come later in the season.

Our colleagues at SSI Data, powered by SportsOneSource, have noticed this trend in the retail sales figures. While total winter jackets sold will always be the greatest during the weeks leading up to Christmas — snow or not — the biggest unit sales bumps (versus the average) over the past few years have come after the holidays, during January, February and March … even April. You don’t see the change as much in dollars, because most all cold-weather product is discounted by then, but it proves earlier points that consumers are waiting for the cold to hit and getting good deals to boot.

Which brings us back to the traditional seasonal calendar. Winter doesn’t officially begin until December 21 and it doesn’t officially end until March 20, yet we expect two feet of snow and sub-zero temps the day after Halloween. Or we crow if it isn’t beach weather by March 1.

Perhaps the best shift we can make is moving the holidays to February.

This story appears in the Winter 2017 SGB Magazine, publishing next week. Snag your print copy at Outdoor Retailer Winter Market by visiting the SportsOneSource booth (#100).

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Introducing Picture Organic Clothing

The next company to know in outerwear is an environment-inspired French company

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The Black Crows, Episode 2. Yorgo Tloupas

On y va.

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13 Things You Should Give Up If You Want To Be Successful

13 Things You Should Give Up If You Want To Be Successful

by Morgan Robson

Sometimes, to become successful and get closer to the person we can become, we don’t need to add more things — we need to give up on some of them.

There are certain things that are universal, which will make you successful if you give up on them, even though each one of us could have a different definition of success.

You can give up on some of them today, while it might take a bit longer to give up on others.

1. Give Up On The Unhealthy Lifestyle

“Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live.” — Jim Rohn

If you want to achieve anything in life, everything starts here. First you have to take care of your health, and there are only two things you need to keep in mind:

1. Healthy Diet
2. Physical Activity

Small steps, but you will thank yourself one day.

2. Give Up The Short-term Mindset

“You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.” — Mae West

Successful people set long-term goals, and they know that these aims are merely the result of short-term habits that they need to do every day.

These healthy habits shouldn’t be something you do; they should be something you embody.

There is a difference between: “Working out to get a summer body” and “Working out because that’s who you are.”

3. Give Up On Playing Small

“Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people will not feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone, and as we let our light shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” Marianne Williamson

If you never try and take great opportunities, or allow your dreams to become realities, you will never unleash your true potential.

And the world will never benefit from what you could have achieved.

So voice your ideas, don’t be afraid to fail, and certainly don’t be afraid to succeed.

4. Give Up Your Excuses

“It’s not about the cards you’re dealt, but how you play the hand.”
― Randy Pausch, The Last Lecture

Successful people know that they are responsible for their life, no matter their starting point, weaknesses, and past failures.

Realising that you are responsible for what happens next in your life is both frightening and exciting.

And when you do, that becomes the only way you can become successful, because excuses limit and prevent us from growing personally and professionally.

Own your life; no one else will.

5. Give Up The Fixed Mindset

“The future belongs to those who learn more skills and combine them in creative ways.” ― Robert Greene, Mastery

People with a fixed mindset their intelligence or talents are simply fixed traits, and that talent alone creates success — without effort. They’re wrong.

Successful people know this. They invest an immense amount of time on a daily basis to develop a growth mindset, acquire new knowledge, learn new skills and change their perception so that it can benefit their lives.

Remember, who you are today, it’s not who you have to be tomorrow.

6. Give Up Believing In The “Magic Bullet.”

“Every day, in every way, I’m getting better and better” — Émile Coué

Overnight success is a myth.

Successful people know that making small continual improvement every day will be compounded over time, and give them desired results.

That is why you should plan for the future, but focus on the day that’s ahead of you, and improve just 1% every day.

7. Give Up Your Perfectionism

“Shipping beats perfection.” — Kahn Academy’s Development Mantra

Nothing will ever be perfect, no matter how much we try.

Fear of failure (or even fear of success) often prevents us from taking an action and putting our creation out there in the world. But a lot of opportunities will be lost if we wait for the things to be right.

So “ship,” and then improve (that 1%).

8. Give Up Multi-tasking

“You will never reach your destination if you stop and throw stones at every dog that barks.” ― Winston S. Churchill

Successful people know this. That’s why they choose one thing and then beat it into submission. No matter what it is — a business idea, a conversation, or a workout.

Being fully present and committed to one task, is indispensable.

9. Give Up Your Need to Control Everything

“Some things are up to us, and some things are not up to us.” — Epictetus, Stoic philosopher

Differentiating these two is important.

Detach from the things you cannot control, and focus on the ones you can, and know that sometimes, the only thing you will be able to control is your attitude towards something.

Remember, nobody can be frustrated while saying “Bubbles” in an angry voice.

10. Give Up On Saying YES To Things That Don’t Support Your Goals

“He who would accomplish little must sacrifice little; he who would achieve much must sacrifice much; he who would attain highly must sacrifice greatly.” — James Allen

Successful people know that in order to accomplish their goals, they will have to say NO to certain tasks, activities, and demands from their friends, family, and colleagues.

In the short-term, you might sacrifice a bit of instant gratification, but when your goals come to fruition, it will all be worth it.

11. Give Up The Toxic People

“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”
― Jim Rohn

People we spend the most time with, add up to who we become.

There are people who are less accomplished in their personal and professional life, and there are people who are more accomplished than us. If you spend time with those who are behind you, your average will go down, and with it, your success.

But if you spend time with people who are more accomplished than you, no matter how challenging that might be, you will become more successful.

Take a look at around you, and see if you need to make any changes.

12. Give Up Your Need To Be Liked

“The only way to avoid pissing people off is to do nothing important.” — Oliver Emberton

Think of yourself as a market niche.

There will be a lot of people who like that niche, and there will be individuals who don’t. And no matter what you do, you won’t be able to make the entire market like you.

This is entirely natural, and there’s no need to justify yourself.

The only thing you can do is remain authentic, improve and provide value every day, and know that the growing number of “haters” means that you are doing important things.

13. Give Up Your Dependency on Social Media & Television

“The trouble is, you think you have time” — Jack Kornfield

Impulsive web browsing and television watching are diseases of today’s society.
These two should never be an escape from your life or your goals.

Unless your goals depend on either, you should minimise (or even eliminate) your dependency on them, and direct that time towards things that can enrich your life.


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