How Utah has helped shape the skiing industry

By Tyler Tate

For the Deseret News

Published: Friday, Jan. 20 2012 11:40 a.m. MST

Roger Strong, left, talks with Betsy and Scott Fischer about boots at Black Diamond during the Outdoor Retailer Winter Market in Salt Lake City, Thursday, Jan. 19, 2012.

Ravell Call, Deseret News

Skiing is Utah’s cash cow, and now manufacturers including Rossignol and Saloman are relocating to the state.

In the 2010-2011 ski Season, Utah had 20 million visitors skiing 4.23 million total ski days. All of this combined, the ski and snowboard season brought $1.2 Billion dollars worth of revenue to the state.

Skiing has been the world’s most popular winter sport for 1000 years, since the first tribesman strapped on wooden planks and floated across the snow-covered terrain. As technology has changed the shape of skis, there remain core basics that have remained a constant in the manufacturing of skis. From the wood core to the p-tex that lines the bottom, companies have been trying every angle they can think of to build a niche in the market and separate them from the competition.

Because of Utah's accessibility and its winter weather, Utah has become of permanent home for many different ski companies including; Atomic, Rossignol, Saloman USA, Goode Skis and Black Diamond.

In 2011, Utah repeated as Forbes Best State for Business and Careers in the Sixth Annual Look at the business climates in the 50 States. Business highlights of Utah include energy costs 31 percent below the national average and a 5 percent corporate tax rate, a rate significantly below Utah’s western neighbors.

Rossignol moved to Utah in 2006 from Vermont to be central to the winter market. With the easy access to snow and the airport to travel to France, Rossignol has found their home in Ogden. Founded in 1907, Rossignol is still rooted in family values with the CEO still being an owner of the company while still being a global corporation.

When asked about the evolution of skiing, Ryan Greer of Rossignol said, “The biggest change is the easy use of skis. In our line of Nordic, the skis have become shorter and easier to navigate.” Nordic skis have changed to be lighter in weight and multi functional for all types of users even the most beginner.

Northern Utah features six different Nordic Cross Country parks including the Olympic facility at Soldier Hollow, near Heber. The culture of cross-country skiing has changed and the convenience is here in the state.

Ogden-based Saloman USA Skis, entered the ski community as a binding manufacturer but has grown into a global wide companies recognized for the skis with numerous sponsored athletes. Saloman USA Skis stays in Utah for similar reasons as the other Utah based companies.

Saloman USA has used the benefits of being rooted here in the state to boost their bottom line and to use what the state provides as a testing ground for new products. With their new guardian binding with easy use features to make touring and traditional skiing a simple two-step process to their wider bindings that allow for better balance transfers, Saloman USA has also found a way to make their skis lighter in weight. Using honeycomb wood and reducing the edge throughout the tip and tail, their Rocker 2 Series will be on the market in the fall of 2012.

Skiing at its core has not changed through time, but with the accessibility and the business benefits Utah offers, there have been significant changes that seemed small have created a more competitive yet safer ski industry.

Atomic skis

Atomic skis and Tyler Tate

Tyler Tate is the owner and writer of T Squared Action Sports at tsquaredsports.com. You can follow him on Twitter @TSquaredSports

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