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‘Ski to Survive’, US Ski and Snowboard look to F1 example to engage fans

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Oct 21 (Reuters) – Before taking over as chairman of US Ski and Snowboard, Sophie Goldschmidt was CEO of the World Surf League (WSL) and held senior roles in the NBA, WTA and Rugby Football Union.

She brings the lessons learned from those positions to her new job, but it’s Formula 1 that captures Goldschmidt’s attention as a new season of Alpine World Cup skiing kicks off this weekend on the glaciers above. above Sölden, Austria.

The United States will host a record eight World Cup races (alpine, snowboard, freestyle and freeski) this season, but like Formula 1, Goldschmidt says there is room for more and hopes a return in glitzy Aspen for a men’s downhill in March will be able to generate the same buzz F1 did when it staged a race in Miami.

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“We would like to see more (races),” Goldschmidt told Reuters. “Look at what F1 has done.

“Aspen is one of the most iconic places in the world for skiing, who doesn’t want to go to Aspen?

“I gave our team a small task to try to do for us what the Miami Grand Prix did for F1.

“I couldn’t believe the attention this event got in its first year, it seemed almost bigger than the Super Bowl.

“I think Aspen can kind of energize our sports and make the profile of our athletes the same if we do it right.”

Switching from surfing to snow, Goldschmidt took over US Ski and Snowboard duties at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic ahead of the Beijing Olympics.

She has used the time since to assess US Ski and Snowboard, identifying areas where things were working well and others that could be improved.

At the top of that list is raising the profile of American snow sports and athletes.

As part of the effort, Goldschmidt said US Ski and Snowboard would take another page out of the Formula 1 playbook, considering developing a project similar to Netflix’s hugely popular “Drive to Survive” series which sparked a stir. increased interest in F1.

WEALTH RESORTS

While with the WSL, Goldschmidt worked on the production of “Make or Break”, a behind-the-scenes look at the world’s best surfers which was released on Apple TV+, and believes luxurious resorts, fearless athletes and the colorful characters from the various World Cups have all the elements for a compelling series.

“Like it or not, the dangerous side of the sport attracts fans, casual and hardcore alike, and the venues are as glamorous as they come,” Goldschmidt said, adding that she was in discussions with a number of sports companies. production.

“You look at the bravery comparing downhill racing to Formula 1, I mean these athletes are going over 100mph on icy hills with nothing around them.”

With more than 25 million Americans hitting the slopes each year, Goldschmidt believes there’s an underserved market to tap into and thinks new broadcast and streaming deals will engage that audience.

Last week, US Ski and Snowboard extended its partnership with NBC Sports, which will provide coverage of all domestic World Cup events.

Earlier in October, Goldschmidt announced a multi-year partnership with Outside Interactive to develop content and live stream all competitions at home.

“There are more (Americans) skiing and snowboarding than in all of Europe,” Goldschmidt said. “So building a relationship, becoming more relevant to them is a really important area.

“We are in an incredibly competitive sector and industry and if you stand still you are stepping back in my opinion.”

If the sport is to grow significantly in the United States, it will need to address a glaring lack of diversity in snow sports, both recreationally and competitively.

“There is no silver bullet,” Goldschmidt said. “We have made progress and still have a long way to go and we are realistic about that.

“For business and performance reasons, and frankly, it’s the right thing to do.”

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Reporting by Steve Keating in Toronto, editing by Ed Osmond

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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