Consider the stoke fired! Skiers and boarders from all across the east coast spent last weekend in Boston to kickoff the winter season, as they have for over two generations. Now called the Snowbound Expo and run by Great Britain’s Raccoon Management, thousands of winter sports enthusiasts and industry insiders gathered at the sparkling new Boston Convention and Expo Center, adjacent to Boston’s piers for three days of trade show exhibits, celebrity lectures and book signings, news updates, and general goodwill and excitement. More than just your garden variety trade show, major industry players hosted Q&A sessions, announcements, and celebrations. The stoke was clearly palpable as winter sports enthusiasts of all ages frequently packed events to standing room only status.
The U.S. Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame kicked off the long weekend Thursday night with a cocktail party and industry update session hosted by Hall of Fame extreme skier Dan Egan. First among those recognized were Chuck and Jann Perkins of Stowe, Vermont, whose $1,000,000 gift to the Hall has already paid dividends in the form of a new roof for the building. The Hall is being renamed in their honor. Inductees for 2024 include women’s moguls superstar Shannon Bahrke of Reno, Nevada, snowboard legend Jeff Brushie of Burlington, Powder Magazine founders and editors Jack and Dave Moe, and developer Les Otten, currently reopening the fabled Balsams Resort in northern New Hampshire. The class will be inducted at the Snowsports History Celebration in March, which will be held in Park City, Utah. Further, a long line of Skiing Associations provided updates regarding capital improvements to resorts and ski areas of all shapes and sizes: from mega resorts to local mom and pop peaks.
Additionally, the North American Snowsports Journalists Association (NASJA, of which Your Author is a board member and participant) NASJA also made a significant splash on several fronts. First, they sent formal advisement to state, federal, and local governments regarding the dangers of artificial intelligence and its intersection with journalism, warning them to be cautious of dangers that could jeopardize the industry.
“The North American Snowsports Journalists Association (NASJA) joins our many colleagues throughout the creative community across all disciplines and genres in support of the US Department of Commerce’s proposed AI Guiding Principle 11, which states as follows:
Principle 11. Implement appropriate data input controls and audits.
“Organizations should commit to implementing appropriate safeguards throughout the AI lifecycle, and particularly before and throughout training, on the use of personal data, material protected by intellectual property rights including copyright-protected content, and other data which could result in harmful model capabilities. Appropriate transparency of training datasets should also be supported, and organizations should comply with applicable legal frameworks,” they wrote in a press release and in response to a call for public comments.
“NASJA likewise respectfully suggests the augmenting of Guiding Principle 11 with language that unambiguously reaffirms that creators and copyright owners across all disciplines and genres are entitled to the rights of consent, credit and compensation for the use of their copyrighted works in Generative AI systems. We suggest further that it be acknowledged that such rights are applicable whether the instances of use concern so-called “training” of such systems via input, the generation of derivative works from such systems via output, or otherwise. Moreover, we believe it helpful to the overall protection and progress of US and global creative culture to reinforce (i) that such Generative AI input uses do not implicate fair use protections as they are presumptively non-transformative, and (ii) that such Generative AI output uses shall likewise be fully subject to existing copyright infringement standards.”
NASJA also hosted an industry-wide update from Ski Area Management’s Dave Meeker, and a lively discussion among the many NASJA members in attendance ensued. Meeker gave updates on economic outlooks, capital improvements, and demographics. Finally, they are planning to host several professional development seminars on critical topics such as the ethical intersections of journalism and PR and how can skiing become more affordable. All snowsports journalists and other new media are encouraged to apply for membership.
Still, the flagship event of the weekend was the Expo – bigger and better than ever with more exhibitors and an ever-widening panoply of wares and services. Everything you could imagine needing was there: skis, boards, poles, boots, gloves, gadgets, and clothes. (led, of course, by the inimitable Stokemobile from Teton Gravity. Their sickness never ends…) But also ski resorts, ski clubs, ski schools, ski patrols, magazines, historical societies, brewmasters and booze purveyors, and yes, CBD, and even THC. Those with wanderlust could ffed their curiosity with a visit the stalls of Stratton, Jay Peak, Sugarbush, Cannon, Saddleback, Ragged, Tenney, Whiteface, Cranmore, or Loon. I’ll take a breath and add Steamboat, Aspen, Tremblant, Attitash, Wildcat, Jackson Hole, Big Sky, Tahoe, Hokkaido, and countless others. The same was true of the equipment manufacturers – just taking skis alone as an example, every major brand had their new models and a great any up-and-coming brands also took the opportunity to enjoy the exposure and networking. Basically everybody who is anybody comes and exhibits. And everyone who loves skiing and snowboarding should come at least once in their lifetime to our sport’s greatest pre-season confab. The stoke is unconquerable…and that’s what our sport is really all about.