The ski season is (thank god) fast approaching. Because of that, this is one of the busiest times of the year for me.
As the snow tires are installed (for those that actually have cars), I begin to more frequently communicate with the companies with whom I have solid working relationships, eagerly exchanging plans and opportunities for the impending season. (And, I begin installing studded road bike tires on my fixie).
Sponsorships are something that I typically view as longer-term mutual commitments between an organization and an athlete’s personal brand. Because of that, I’ve developed not only an extensive personal portfolio, but also an expression of a variety of benefits companies receive from supporting my skiing, climbing, traveling, writing, and lifestyle. My favorite companies to work with are those that are multi-sport and appeal to a broad array of consumers. Narrow-minded brands are, in my opinion, for specialty skiers–one of which I am not.
I consider myself extremely fortunate to maintain healthy working relationships with Smith Optics (eyewear (goggles and sunglasses) and helmets), Line Skis (skis and poles), The Canyons (season pass), Skullcandy (headphones), Planks Clothing (tees, hoodies, headwear), and Spacecraft (headwear and clothing). All of those companies (with the exception of Spacecraft and Planks, both of which are new to me this year) have been great to ride for in the past. And this year’s relationship-building is just beginning to blossom. I’m still seeking an outerwear company’s support for this (and future) seasons, and am in discussions with a few companies that I really like. Additionally, I’m looking for a full-blown streetwear company–most likely a company that has previously focused on surf, skate, snowboard, or bike culture but is willing to expand their horizons to the market that i$ $kiing and the $tuff I do.
Sometimes things don’t go the way I wanted, expected, or chose. While I used to receive product support from Full Tilt Boots, I was alerted that I won’t receive their comfortable boots this year. That’s disappointing, and a perfect example of a setback that makes reaching for success in this industry (whatever “this industry” is) often fatiguing and seemingly hopeless. It’s an easy fight in which to tap out.
Nearly unconditionally, my experiences with ski sponsors have been extremely positive. But that’s for a simple reason: I put a lot of work into this sponsorship gig. I’ve spent countless hours this autumn
climbing kayaking biking traveling sitting in front of my computer transferring mental stories to visual ones, ideas to proposals, and “unemployment” to potential. Phone conversations with team managers, submitting stories for publication, and memorizing product lines on various company websites has become commonplace, as has a constant effort at something I find difficult: self-promtion (see: website struggles). Trying to make skiing, climbing, traveling, and having fun a full-time job is not an easy endeavor. It’s nowhere near as easy as making it a full-time hobby, which I’ve perfected. It is, however, an endeavor that I’m willing to spend many times over the amount of time I’d spend making many times over this amount of money by working a desk job. Read that again. But that’s my time preference. I’d rather fight this uphill battle than submit to the man. Call me stubborn, but I’m going for what I want. Even if it means living in a cold, cold unheated RV in a shaded driveway in the middle of mountainous Salt Lake City during the winter and surviving at lower means than I did even during college.
But I’m having a blast. Today–a WEDNESDAY–I was climbing under the beautiful, clear Utah sky as the warm sun illuminated the endless rainbow of colors created by this lovely precursor to winter.