The SIA Board Meeting, held September 24-26 in Washington DC, included a visit to Capitol Hill to discuss issues that affect the snow sports industry with Congress people from some of the Board Members’ districts. The visit was enjoyable and enlightening for both the visitors and the Senators and Representatives they met with.
SIA Board President Tim Petrick commented, “The most surprising aspect of our meetings on Capitol Hill was when Senator Maria Cantwell (D-Washington) came into the room. I figured she would send one of her legislative assistants but it was great that she sat down for nearly an hour to learn about issues impacting the winter sports industry and the ski resorts.”
Rome Snowboard Corp’s Dan Sullivan said, “This was the first time I have done anything like this – I was part of a Vermont contingency with manufacturers and resort owners and we met with Representative Peter Welch (D-Vermont) and Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) who are both huge supporters of the winter sports industry. I really enjoyed checking out Patrick Leahy’s office on the top floor of the Senate building overlooking the Washington Monument. It was all pretty amazing.”
David Currier of Smith Optics said that he and SIA’s Director of Research Kelly Davis enjoyed learning that Senator Risch (R-Idaho) and his wife, Vicki, were skiers and fans of Sun Valley. “He said they had been coming there for Christmas holidays for 45 years. I guess that was why he had such a quick grasp of the items on our meeting agenda! So we promised to connect and make a few runs on Baldy later this season.”
Currier added, “To be able to walk into the Senate Russell Office Building and down those halls where countless leaders of our nation have also tread was truly a reverential experience. But to actually enter Senator Risch’s office with an appointment to meet with a sitting Senator on issues crucial to the well-being of our snow sports industry and the state of Idaho was incredibly inspiring. Because of the pending issue with the shutdown of the government, and being advised that the Senator was on the floor, we didn’t expect to meet him. But shortly after we were led into a conference room, he suddenly appeared through a side door and was immediately engaged with us and one of his senior staffers on all our issues and talking points, and acknowledged the importance of our suggested remedies.”
The SIA Board also welcomed members of the National Ski Areas Association (NSAA) Board members for a roundtable discussion and brainstorming session about growing participation in snow sports. Members from both groups expressed that a lot can be accomplished when working together. After two days of discussion, including an evening cruise down the Potomac, everyone felt that a lot of good ideas and progress were generated.
“We are in this industry together, and we can be far more effective to grow it by working together rather than separately. Getting the leadership/boards of the two industry association around the same table is simply fantastic. It is amazing what can be accomplished with a shared vision,” said Tyler Fairbank, of The Fairbank Group, which owns Bromley Mountain, Cranmore Peak and Jiminy Peak as well as EOS Ventures wind power.
Stephen Kircher of Boyne Resorts agreed. “Getting all of us to focus on the issue and share best practices is the best way to move the needle for the industry. The resorts and the equipment providers are symbiotically linked. We agreed that we need to set our goals higher for conversion, and that we need to rely on data to set these goals.”
Fairbank summed up the feeling of camaraderie at the meeting with his description of the Potomac River cruise: “The cruise was fantastic. What a great opportunity to get to know my counterparts on the SIA board. The collegiality in this industry is unparalleled.”
With great bonds formed, ideas shared and plans made, the meeting generated direction for the industry to grow as well as helping to keep snow sports issues on the radar screen on Capitol Hill.
For more photos from the Potomac River cruise, click here.