Mike Spicer, Associate Partner
This past weekend the Canadian Freestyle Ski Association (CFSA) put a bow on one of the most successful weeks in Canadian amateur sport history. You read that right, history was made on slopes at opposite ends of the country and it’s a continuation of a trend that CFSA athletes have been setting since well before the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi.
In Val Saint Come our women’s mogul team made their mark by sweeping the podium, and doing it in fine fashion behind the performance of the three Dufour-Lapointe sisters. In Calgary the following weekend our team again proved that Quebec’s results were no aberration with, believe it or not, another Canadian female sweep of the mogul podium and Mikaël Kingsbury winning his 31st World Cup all leading to a remarkable 10 of 12 possible World Cup medals being claimed by Canadians in an eight day period. All the while in Aspen, Colorado half a dozen Canadian skiers were participating in the prestigious, invite-only Winter X Games.
This team has been winning for decades, making history at every turn and have no intention of slowing down but what makes today’s trend so exciting is that the historical success on the snow is being twinned by an aggressive and audacious business plan behind the scenes.
With 14 domestic events including World Cups in Val Saint Come, Quebec and Calgary this past January, the CFSA is boldly investing resources to execute elite level freestyle competitions on home soil. The motivation being two-fold; increasing the number of Canadians exposed to sport from coast to coast, and encouraging participation from a grassroots level to fill the pipeline with talent for future years.
Following the 2014 Olympic Winter Games debut of the new Freestyle disciplines of slopestyle and halfpipe (where Canada claimed three medals), the CFSA set out on a course to unite the old school with the new school through a brand revamp. The brand direction is aimed at focusing on athlete stories to relate to a broader base of Canadians – ski bums and casual Olympic fans alike – through the creativity and innovation inherent in the sport. To further boost that appeal the CFSA is investing in off-season water-ramp events to give their brand year-round relevance and enhance opportunities for corporate and consumer engagement. Layer on the results of a recent study that revealed 93% of Canadians are fans of the winter Olympic movement (Repucom 2015) – with freestyle athletes being the darlings of that movement, these developments are music to the ears of corporate partners.
From a corporate investment perspective the stars appear to be approaching alignment for the CFSA with the perfect blend of opportunity, results and timing. A team of record setting, medal winning young athletes who piled up 30 World Cup medals last season while all other snow sport disciplines combined tallied 27 (already this season the team’s World Cup medal haul is at 14), combined with a growing base of domestic events engaging a younger demographic of cultural influencers and an uncluttered commercial landscape representing an authentic and ownable Canadian story. Innovation and creativity is translating into opportunities to drive the CFSA and partner brands forward. This is a property that is producing on-snow results at an historical rate and now matching those results with a new marketing strategy built to deliver results for their brand and partner brands.
The mountains are an open landscape for corporate investment and as Olympic fandemonium grows in the ramp-up to Rio this August, this team will be patiently training, performing and setting records with their eyes on glory in Korea in just 24 months’ time. Who wants to join them?