Author: Lauren Slaughter

The Outdoor Retailer winter and summer shows collectively bring a $40 million dollar boost to our local economy per year. Photo: Carlo Nasisse

Outdoor Retailer has stirred up some controversial topics in our city since the show’s birth 10 years ago. From activists fighting the toxic water-resistant products being sold, or local residents voicing their opinion on the upset it puts on the city’s daily routine, overall O.R. (as the industry calls it), kills it when they land their four-day marketplace on our stomping grounds.

The winter and summer shows collectively bring a $40 million dollar boost to our local economy per year. That means restaurants, bars, shops, and people in any service industry occupation see a significant percentage increase in their income in a short amount of time. If you are anywhere near the downtown area during the bustle, you can tell that the landscape just “feels” different. As I was walking to the Salt Palace on the city’s main streets, I even thought to myself, “This is kinda fun. It kinda reminds me of how I feel in NYC.” I stress ‘kinda’ because earlier that morning I was kinda irritated with the constant stop-and-go traffic on my way to work. What usually takes me a good seven minutes by car, took me a solid 15. And some dude behind me flipped me off, and aggressively honked his horn for cutting him off. I had to get to work! I kindly returned the middle finger gesture, and noticed Massachusetts plates—damn New Englanders.

Besides some personal hiccups with the attendees, (one DB told me his products were mostly for hippies—effin’ hippies), I actually was very impressed with the show. You can find anything you want there. Food products, survival products, camping equipment, even more mainstream items for the runner, yogi, or biker. Even the now trendy Carhartt brand had a giant two-story booth equipped with dressing rooms and a sitting area. The entire show kept my eyes wide and my head on a swivel. And of course, true to the stereotype that typically suggests that outdoor men (& women) are pretty down to earth and cool, I was able to strike up a few conversations with exhibitors that didn’t leave me feeling like I begrudged their existence.

Some research for this article led me to some interesting facts about what Outdoor Retailer’s relationship to Salt Lake is like. Because the show has dramatically grown over the years, the 25,000 expected attendees can’t fit into the Salt Palace or the city’s hotels anymore. The local business revenue is so crucial to our overall economy’s health during the event, that this year, to convince O.R. to stay in SLC for another two years, state officials gifted a 150,000 sq. foot exhibition tent, which cost $2.66M. That’s no chump change, and O.R. is a freakin’ big deal—at least to our government.

My shout out to everyone: next time Outdoor Retailer is in town, patiently grin and bear the attendees’ demanding disposition as they grace our favorite hang-outs, and remember your buddy just made an extra $100 bucks tending bar the other night—“Drinks for the house!”

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Photo: Austin Boyd

“Ski bike … It’s what you think it is,” says Cameron Wood, local BMX pro (S & M, Lotek, Shitluck), as he explains his new product.  “Literally, a ski (or skis) on a BMX bike.” My jaw drops while my brows furrow, and the questions begin …

Skis on bikes first came about in the 1920s when some joe schmoe decided to get creative with his road bike and a set of skis. You might remember seeing a ski bike in John Cusack’s 1985 cult classic, Better off Dead, as a persistent newspaper boy chases him down the slope screaming, “Two dollars!” Shredders weren’t content with standing sideways on just one type of terrain, which has resulted in skateboarding, surfing and snowboarding. Wood and his friend, longtime local BMX rider Greg Ingersoll, felt the same way about BMX. The pair got their first taste of ski biking when local BMX lord Matt Beringer mounted a few of his bikes with skis and would just mess around. “We’ve been playing with skis on bikes for about eight years,” says Ingersoll.

Waves of backlash surfaced from the local BMX community about how BMX skis would “never work,” but Wood and Ingersoll believed in the project. “I think it’s never taken off because there hasn’t been the right market or the right time for it. Also, a lot of parts makers think it’s too expensive because a ski mount means more manufacturing time and material cost. For me, making a BMXS [big mountain cross ski] mount is a relative cost to time versus material/labor cost, as anything else in the business,” says Wood. He is the owner of The Wood Shop, a BMX store/woodworking shop where he provides all the BMX fixings and needs, including woodworking objects that he has crafted himself (all of his displays are made from pallet boards by hand).

The mechanics of a ski bike are simple: Instead of the two wheels on a BMX bike, you have two skis. Last year, the duo made their first prototype of what is now called the BMXS mount, which attached the skis to the bike. The ski mount that Ingersoll and Wood have created is a bit revolutionary for the ski biking genre, which is one reason why they believe the time is right to market this now. “Instead of having a compartmentalized mount alongside shocks, we’ve made a simple one-piece mount and omitted shocks altogether. That setup provides the stability needed to ride on snow according to the conditions of the day, and all you need to change is the type of ski,” says Ingersoll.

Wood and Ingersoll decided that ski biking was way too cool to stay quiet, and, this year, started creating a line of ski bikes under the moniker Outlaw Union. “Riding a ski bike is like being a kid again,” they say. “Every feature, every trick, even the downhill is inexperienced. It makes BMX new again,” says Ingersoll. Ingersoll and Wood are building the Outlaw Union BMXS line slowly and organically. Last year, they took their bikes up to Brighton Resort and, like any other rider on the hill, varied their day with riding tree lines, hitting the park or just bombing the groomers. “Every time we took our bikes to Brighton, a crowd swarmed us, asked us questions and were curious about what the hell we were doing,” says Wood. The reaction at the resorts is also what gave Wood and Ingersoll the confidence to make ski biking something legitimate. When asked about tricks and riding techniques, both responded with, “We ride boxes, have hit rails, but ski biking is so new that we are just learning what we can do, which is what makes the sport so much fun.” Wood says that the best trick that he’s done is a smith grind on a half-moon monkey bar.

Wood and Ingersoll are great business partners, and approach marketing the BMXS line step by step with no outside financial help. “Because we see the potential of ski biking and have already used so much of our time and resources to begin building Outlaw Union, we don’t just want to hand it over to someone else to make decisions because they have contributed more money. We want to grow this [and] want to market this—we are still way too invested,” says Wood. To help get ski biking off the ground this season, they will have a booth at Brighton Resort where they will offer ski bike rentals and lessons to anyone interested. FYI, because the discipline is so new, they recommend anyone who tries it wears a helmet and pads. Next year, they hope to have a solid BMXS team in place, videos available and advancement in their unique line of Outlaw Union ski bikes. Right now, ski bikes are available for purchase at The Wood Shop (2212 S. West Temple) without the benefit of instruction on the hill. As for where they think ski biking could go in the future, the sky is the limit. Wood says, “Ski biking could be really big. It would not be surprising to see it become a serious winter sport with solid competitions or maybe even Olympic participation.”

Follow the development of Outlaw Union BMXS online at outlawunion.com, and don’t forget to catch these guys at Brighton Resort this winter.
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Photo: cezaryna

It was a bitter-cold morning. I exited the Majestic lift at Brighton and rode my board into a quiet scene atop the hill. A couple tents were set up, and a few people were around—some parkies still shoveling the loose snow—but no crowds yet. I didn’t know what to expect when I was asked to cover the opening of the very first women-only terrain park: Krista’s Park. After doing some research online, I began to grasp who the late Krista Moroge was and why a women’s terrain park at Brighton, the longstanding “locals” mountain, bears her name and honor. Krista was an essential and respected member of the action sports community as a businesswoman and a rep for Burton. She was also a talented athlete in a variety of activities, including skateboarding and, most prominently, snowboarding. Her passing from cancer in 2010 shook the winter sports community. She was a pioneer for action sports in Utah and the Intermountain West and had an unmistakable zeal and passion for life that was contagious enough to earn her the respect of the snowboarding world.

Brighton’s Jared Winkler and Kim Doyle at the official opening of Krista’s Park.
Brighton’s Jared Winkler and Kim Doyle at the official opening of Krista’s Park.
Naturally, I arrived at the event early to prepare myself for the opening and grab some interviews from those who were closely acquainted with Krista. After a short while, the impact she had on her surroundings during her life became evident. Not only was I hearing how amazing and talented she was from her friends directly, but I also caught conversations between others about her beauty, camaraderie and athleticism. As I kept talking with people about Krista and learning about her positivity, unique personality and giving nature, I felt humbled. I believe a lot of “tomboyish” females feel like me: So often, in our years of sports, we end up “playing with the boys” because finding a female friend whom you can compete with, joke with and have fun with enough to actually call a friend (sans jealousy) is hard to come by. To be honest, getting to know Krista vicariously through the stories I was hearing made me wish I had a role model like that in my life—a good friend to share in the journey of the sometimes-uncomfortable territory of male-dominated sports. During her life, Krista was that role model for fellow females as well as males. “She was such a good friend and leader. She showed me the ropes of the industry,” said Josh Fisher, owner of Four Horsemen Sales, the distributing company for Burton and predecessor of Krista’s SLCK sales agency. Inspiration and love for life set Krista apart from others. She didn’t seem to be arrogant about her talents and popularity in the outdoor recreation scene. She just seemed to be a very kind person, which is why she was so well liked. “I never heard her say a bad word about anyone,” said Krista’s snowboarding friend, Jenna Waite.

Krista was diagnosed with breast cancer in late 2007, after deciding to go see a doctor when a snowboarding injury wouldn’t heal. It was a hard question to ask, but I had to get the details on Krista’s cancer—not only for the sake of the article, but for the sake of the many women out there who could find themselves in a similar situation. “So, please tell me, from the beginning, about Krista’s battle with cancer,” I asked Kim Doyle, Director of Retail at Brighton, good friend of Krista’s and brainchild behind Krista’s Park. Doyle began explaining how one day, Krista was snowboarding a terrain park in Park City. “She hit a rail but missed her landing and fell on her chest. The bruise was unusually large and the pain seemed unusual, too. She was worried and went to see a doctor. They initially dismissed the injury, but the pain and severity never subsided. She went back again and found breast cancer. She was in her early 30s, and healthy!” My heart sank, knowing that breast cancer is every female’s fear. It is a scary thought that you keep in the back of your head in order to not let it worry you, because the experts tell us we don’t need to think about it until our late 40s. “The cancer metastasized quickly,” Doyle went on to say. “Krista kept her condition quiet for as long as she could, but eventually, it was changing her life, [and] she couldn’t participate in the activities she once loved. [Friends] didn’t understand what was going on.”
Krista’s husband, Park Beutler, was at the event as well, honoring his late wife. His reverence for the situation was apparent, and each question I asked him about Krista was hard for him to answer. He paused and let a few tears fall with every mention of her. “How would Krista have responded to this terrain park if she were here today?” I asked, knowing it would be another tough question. As he wiped his cheeks, he said, “She would have been embarrassed. She was a modest person.” He wiped his cheeks again, looked to the ground and smiled. “She was beautiful and amazing,” he said. “We met right here, right where this park is. This used to be a half pipe; this couldn’t have been a better location for Krista’s Park.” I smiled as I listened to Beutler reminisce about his late wife.

Krista fought cancer hard and, like many cases, the cancer moved to other areas of her body, and eventually took her life in the spring of 2010. “She was an unbelievable person—my boss, my mentor and my friend,” says Stacey Adams, former SLUG Games coordinator and one of Krista’s besties who was there to share her love and support.

Krista’s Park came about this last July when Doyle, longtime associate of Brighton (her family owns and operates the resort), realized how very few events were around for women and how very few women even entered contests. She called Fisher and told him the idea of creating a women-only terrain park at Brighton in honor of Krista. Anticipating how well received this would be by female athletes, as well as the entire sports community, Doyle and Fisher then collaborated with Burton and Boarding For Breast Cancer (B4BC), a non-profit organization, to make it happen. Krista’s Park opened Dec. 21, 2013. “The park will always just be for women. Not only can we honor one of our dear friends by building this, but it is a chance for females to approach park obstacles without feeling the intimidation of male snowboarders. The features are smaller, and for beginning to intermediate riders, but really, the best part about the park is giving females this opportunity to progress and feel safe exploring their talents,” says Doyle.