#DigitalSkeptic: Winter Tech With Olympic-Sized Business Ambitions
NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- The Winter Olympics are not like other sports: There is no Michael Jordan or Peyton Manning that can turns the technologies that drive skiing, skating and generally messing about in the frigid outdoors into money.
"My business is running sophisticated adventure tours for a specific clientele," Craig Pattee said to me in the phone as he surveyed a potential trip out in remote Idaho. The former Washington, D.C., outdoor industry lobbyist, now the CEO and founder of EpicQuest, a Jackson, Wyo., global adventure guiding service, explained to me that for all its cool factor, winter sports remain a cold business. "The customers who want me to arrange heli-skiing in Antarctica never go away. But the recession has been hard on a lot of the rest of the outdoor recreation industry."
At least numerically, it is easy to see what Pattee is talking about. Statista, the New York online stats and research service, estimates that the U.S. ski industry stayed flat over the past decade or so: 57 million hit the slopes in 2000; 56.6 million did it in 2013.
No matter how you slice it, that's a tough marketing hill to climb.The trick to survival, Pattee said, is simple: Innovate and provide awesome services to a unique clientele. And at least based on the two big winter industry trade events, the Outdoor Retailer Winter Market in Salt Lake City and Snowsports Industries of America SnowShow, which just wrapped in Denver, innovation is indeed running deep in winter sports. Though I did not attend either meet-up, according to the dozen or so folks I spoke with who did, there's real business upside looming in winter outdoor gear -- if you know where to look. So as you kick back and watch the world's elite winter athletes battle for glory, here are my top winter sports tech products to own ... and bet on.
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