ski gear with a retro look, vintage feel, die hard attitude.

The Chronicles

10 (more) Reasons Why Skiing Is Better Than Snowboarding

One of the first blogs I wrote back in 2010 was 10 Reasons Why Skiing Is Better Than Snowboarding… honestly didn’t think much of it and for whatever reason that has been one of the most read and commented on posts I’ve written.

Which isn’t saying much.

Anyway, we’re here 4 years later (this time with a website!) and people are STILL commenting on it… not to mention that the world seems to be obsessed with lists lately… I decided to update it with 10 more reasons skiing rules!

10. Unofficial Networks has a list of reasons why snowboarding is better… they could only come up with 8. Math.

9. Instead of facing front you have to go down the hill sideways. The only animal I could think of that walks sideways is a crab. Crabs get dominated by other animals ALL the time.

crabs

8. Carrying your skis on one shoulder and your boots on the other just looks cooler than dragging your board across the parking lot.

7. If you’re going to crash, you might as well do it the right way. Yardsale with all your $hit flying all over the hill. Go big or go home.

6. Pond skimming is way too easy on a snowboard. Challenge yourself bro.

5. With all due respect to Art Of Flight… there’s no such thing as 80’s snowboard movies. Here is the trailer for Aspen extreme… “Top Gun On The Slopes”

4. More on the 80’s… it’s a privilege to rock a onsie, not a right.

3. Nails on a chalkboard, an ’89 Toyota Camry with shitty brakes, a snowboard scraping the mountain.

2. WTF is a shot-board? Exactly.

1.SKI BUNNIES!

You  can never have too many snow bunnies hopping around.

You can never have too many snow bunnies hopping around.


The Top 5 Best (And Worst) Dating Apps To Use Skiing

We’ve all been there… “Hey! Let’s go on a ski weekend with a bunch of cool people!”… and BOOM… you find yourself surrounded by 18 other people of the same sex, in a cabin for the weekend, playing endless rounds of flip cup. So why not try out some random dating app and search for some friendly opposite sex company?? Works. Every. Time.

If by works you mean finds you the creepiest person you can think of and by every time meaning you already had it downloaded on your phone in the first place. Then yea, 50% of the time it works every time.

unnamed

Oh, you like shotskis? So do these girls.

So here is a list of the best and worst dating apps to use skiing. *Disclaimer* NO research was done on ANY of these sites prior to this article being published. Also, our website has nothing to do with online dating but you should check it out anyway! 

THE WORST:

5) eHarmony.com – Really?? REALLY?! Are you looking for love on  a ski weekend?? Plus there is a 90% chance the weird guy from the commercials is going to pop out from behind a tree while you’re skiing glades and scare the absolute shit out of you.

4) JDate – Nothing wrong with Jewish people looking for other Jewish love. But really, you’re limiting yourself here… to probably about 11% of the whole mountain. Not to mention you’ll probably have to end up meeting that persons mom on Sunday before you drive home.

3) CraigsList – Ever been on the CraigsList personals?? Me either…

craigslist

2) Chat Roulette – Not sure this even qualifies as a dating site but to describe it as an “experience” is an understatement. Plus, whatever naked person (98% of the time it will be a guy) you get matched with probably isn’t in your time zone let alone zip code.

1) Friend Finder – Can anything make you sound more desperate than Friend Finder?? I didnt think so. Maybe just “Im Desperately Looking To Find Friends, Lets Hang Out Now!”? Cant wait to meet your creepy self…

THE BEST:

5) Farmers Only – This is probably the most brilliant website ever. And no, you don’t technically have to be a farmer to log on.

4) Match.com – Only putting this on here because they give you options for what you’re looking for ranging from “Casual Sex” to “Lets Get Married IMMEDIATELY”. But lets be realistic, you’re looking for the former.

3) Plenty Of Fish – Plenty of fish in the sea… plenty of guys on the mountain. Have fun girls, it’s a meat market out there.

2) OK Cupid – Better than POF in that a) you can search keywords like, “ski / skier / skiing” and b) this is what I used to turn my profile into an ad for the ski house and found all the single girls who ski within a 50 mile radius to fill it up with. BOOM.

1) Tinder – I mean c’mon… did you really expect anything else?! You can literally swipe until your thumbs hurt, you’re only talking to people who actually want to talk to you back, and Ke$ha wrote a song about it. Tinder is the gold standard for online dating on the mountain.

swimwear-bunnies

These girls DEFINITELY use Tinder

Choose wisely my friend… there are lots of different paths down the mountain, out of your ski gear, and into the hot tub. And you’re one swipe away from the apres of your life!


27 Reasons Why Ski Season Is Better Than Beach Season

Even this guy is waiting for winter.

Even this guy is waiting for winter.

Everyone seems to be obsessed with lists lately. 13 reasons your boyfriend left you… 20 movie stars from the 80’s you wish you slept with before the 90’s… a list of the worst buzzfeed lists. Without even searching that I swear to God one exists.

 

So as summer is coming into the home stretch I started thinking about my own list. What makes winter so much better than summer… and (with the help of my intern Grace – (yes, you read that correctly – Ski Till I Die has an intern) here are the 27 reasons we came up with. Also, we finally have a website so you better go buy a shirt!

 

27. Summer only lasts for 3 months… ski season lasts for 6.

26. GNARNIA doesnt exist on the beach.

25. There is no such thing as “apres beach”.

24. Sand gets EVERYWHERE. And it sucks.

23. Goggle tans > Bathing suit tans

22. Seagulls dont ski. They fly south for the winter. That means during the entire summer they annoy the absolute $HIT out of you.

21. It’s impossible to be eaten by Jaws on the mountain. Unless you’ve seen Avalanche Sharks… in that case, you’re just F’d. Either way I would rather be eaten by wolves or bears.

20. You cant eat sand. Snow is delicious.

19. Snow men > Sand castles

18. You know that song ‘Summertime Sadness’…

17. Speaking of songs… all the girls you hear about in summer music, for whatever reason, always turn out to be huge whores. Notice a trend there??

16. I’d rather be on top of the mountain than under the board walk.

15. Bonfires in the snow are cooler than bonfires on the beach.

14. You can still hike a mountain in the summer. If you decide to jump in the ocean in the winter you will die.

13. Talking to girls on the mountain is way less creepy than trying to talk to girls on the beach.

12. Ferris wheels are gross. And sticky. Id rather have sex in a gondola.

11. Christmas in July is cool… Actual Christmas is cooler.

10. Tailgating on the mountain is 1,000 times more fun than sweating in the parking lot.

9. You are less likely to have someone blow a whistle at you for skiing out of bounds. And as a grown man, there is nothing I can think of that is more embarrassing than having a 16 year old tell you to get out of the water.

8. There is no Gaper day at the beach.

7. There is skiing and then there is spring skiing.

6. Have you ever ridden a snow mobile before??

5. You dont need an excuse for everyone to jump into the hot tub. Depending on how apres skiing went there is also a good chance that you can convince everyone topless is the way to go.

4. Nude beaches are full of disgusting people 9 out of 10 times.

3. You can’t catch crabs on the mountain. Plus, when you catch a wave you’ve usually been floating out in the middle of the ocean for :45 minutes and at that point most definitely lost your buzz.

2. Kids, fish, and whales pee in the ocean. We all learned early on to avoid yellow snow.

1. Without ski season you wouldn’t have anything to look forward to all summer.


The View From Above: Perspective From 10,000 Feet

The last blog I wrote was February 1 of last season. Since then I’ve probably started about a dozen or so posts but haven’t been inspired enough to finish them. I like to take pride in what I write, finding meaning in what I have to say, and relevance in how it relates back to skiing.

Right now I am sitting at 40,000 feet on my way to Boston from Memphis as no flights were headed back to NYC today
and everything leaving the south, headed north, was canceled last night. A good ski buddy of mine from college is renting a car as we speak, on his way to pick me up from Rhode Island and then on our way to Killington to take advantage of this epic pre-New Year’s Eve blizzard.

I was privileged enough to be able to spend Christmas with my family. My brothers were in town from Ohio, Noni & Papa J arriving from Florida, and mom and dad just as I left them. I’m blessed…

But last night, after getting back home from the first canceled flight, my folks had a talk with me about priorities.

See, I was breaking my neck to do anything in my power to get back east and in whatever capacity available- trying to figure out a way to get to the mountain. Not even questioning my motives; their discussion got me thinking even more.

I didn’t sleep last night. It could have been a combination of just getting over the flu, that giddy feeling you get when you know a powder day is waiting for you in the AM, or just not being able to comprehend that I might be wrong…

See, this is the 5th straight year that I have welcomed a new year and a new beginning in Vermont. An annual trip I organize with 20 of my nearest and dearest friends to celebrate the year that was and the season that will be.

And after half a day of reflection I realized… Neither one of us is right or wrong- not me or my parents. That I have a responsibility to my ski family to make this trip happen. Whether you realize it or not, if you are as passionate about skiing as I hope you are… Your skiing companions, your friends, want to share moments like this together the way you want to spend Christmas with your family. But when you’re an outsider looking in, sometimes it’s hard to understand that concept.

When I look back at what it took and the support I needed for Ski Till I Die- my ski family was just as important as my parents, and grandparents, and brothers- to give it a shot. It was guidance and motivation from both sides that made me think it could even happen in the first place.

But even I had almost given up with this whole Ski Till I Die thing… too much time and money and effort- and for what?? And maybe Mom and Dad were right; my priorities werent where they needed to be aligned… But for what??

And that brings this story back full circle. Because in the last 6 weeks I have gotten more emails, and messages, and phone calls from people who want this, from my ski family who keeps pushing me along, to ever let it go!

It brought a whole new meaning back to making IT happen; whether its getting back to your roots, or your passion, or your life! It’s skiing!

And trust me when I tell you that Ski Till I Die isn’t going anywhere, it’s here to stay, and it’s about time we got back on this band wagon and started getting to it!

So lets rip this and make it happen!!!

Happy New Year everyone- see you on the mountain!!!


The Chronicles: What It Means To Get Away

Everyone deserves a second chance. At work, in relationships, in life.

The saying goes; fool me once, shame on me , fool me twice, I’m an @sshole. But in this case the second chance happens to be a ski house. And that house happens to be a sanctuary to call home.

When I was growing up my family had a house on Mt. Cranmore in New Hampshire. In the summertime we would head up there and catch tree frogs in the pool. Hike up to Diana’s Bath, and catch lightning bugs at night. When my grandparents passed away we were already living in Ohio and just couldn’t keep it. I never realized how much I missed, or took it for granted, until this season.

My one goal when I walked off the beach after Labor Day was to make this winter ski season better than summer. I was single, Ski Till I Die was starting to get big, and life was about as wonderful as it gets. What better way to perpetuate that than by getting a ski house with 10 friends for 6 months.

Paradise.

Things suck at work? Your significant other isn’t what you had hoped? Life in general, wherever you are, just sucks huh? Well… on the mountain, everything is alright. It’s your getaway. Time to think. Time to relax.

The skiing has been awful this season. Really. terrible. I can’t even tell you about a memorable dump so far this season. Oh, there has been some? Yea, not anywhere I’ve been so far. Don’t let that disappoint you. Find yourself a mountain cabin somewhere – someplace – because what’s made it alright has been this house.

Everyone gives me a lot of flack; and deservingly so. I own a ski company and I don’t ski. So what?! I ski when it means something. When there is a foot of fresh pow on the ground, believe I make first tracks. But right now? I’ve been to the house… Le Bon Apres as we call it… probably 10 times since November. And I’ve been on snow 3 days. That’s right, 3. And I’ll still ski circles around you. I find that when I get up to the cabin I am just as happy lounging in the hot tub, Apres-ing it at the bar, and relaxing by the fire as I am on the mountain.

Ski Till I Die is an idea. It’s a lifestyle. So if you cant live the life, then what’s the point? The point is… enjoy yourself. You have a chance to get away? Do it. You have an opportunity to relax and forget about all the bullsh*t that’s waiting for you back in Manhattan? Then do it! You want to shred some gnar in the meantime… then click in and put down those tracks.

Every single time I’m up there I think about my family house in Conway. It brings me back to the glory days with Grandma and Grandpa “O”. It helps me forget about anything that matters besides how many snowflakes are gonna fall through the ski and land on my face and get me cold again. Then I dunk in the hot tub and come back up with the smile on my face that says – yea, this is my home… I’ll be here until the snow melts and nothing else matters.

Getting away is important. Enjoying what you do is even more relevant. But doing both? Now that’s finding paradise. Away from anything else that matters. Because on the mountain, everything’s alright.

I’ll shred the gnar this season… but getting away to Le Bon Apres is just as important.

 


How To Make It In America, On Skis: Season 2

WE’RE BACK BABY!

I love the HBO series How To Make It In America. Obsessed. When I watch the show I feel like the plot follows the last year of my life almost to a T. But that’s not what really turns me on to it. Besides the theme song; no matter what they deal with, in the end it always works out. Look past the Hollywood / Entourage / fairy tale BS and it’s still there.

I haven’t updated the blog since we failed to hit our goal with the Kickstarter Project. At that point I had kind of given up… I wasn’t inspired the same way I had been prior to the summer. No job, playing Sherlock Homeless at the beach, betrayed by friends… I wasn’t in the best place 6 months ago.

But now I’m here. Back on top might be presumptuous, but here is the rundown. Thanks to true friends I got back on track and got a job. Moved into Manhattan with a buddy of mine, and really started to push Ski Till I Die back in the right direction. Got in the shops, made our buy and we were off. Then life got in the way.

Work. Dating. Work. New York. Work.

Bottom line is I didn’t have any time, I needed an investor badly, and I hadn’t heard from any of the shops since they got the first delivery… bleak outlook, but we decided to follow up before Thanksgiving.

First shop – High Country Ski & Sport in NJ… great selling, wanted to collaborate on a lifestyle website, wanted a reorder.

Second shop – Skier Shop in Stowe VT… almost sold out, loved our gear, wanted a reorder.

Third shop – Outdoor Gear Exchange in Burlington… 100% SOLD OUT, WANTING A REORDER.

I was floored. Couldn’t believe it. After all the ups, downs, forwards, and backwards… it finally felt like we made it. Shortly after that I got an email from a friend of mine from New York City:

“Hey Boner-

My little sister (don’t get any pervey thoughts) came home from college in one of your Ski Till I Die shirts! I asked her about it and she says all the kids at her college (St. Michaels in VT) LOVE the brand. She was really excited when I told her you had started it. She said she’d be happy to sell them for you in her student center, I don’t know if you guys do that kind of thing but her school is a big skiing school. Hope you’re doing well- Kate”

Validation. We’re back… and we aren’t going anywhere. And it feels good. SKI TILL I DIE BABY!!!


Chapter 7 & 8 – Heartbreak, Homelessness, and Ocean Front Property

Ups and downs are the theme for this part of the story – ups, downs, and extremes. I don’t think that I deserve any type of credit for doing what I am doing – it’s what I love and believe in. But I like to think that being able to overcome adversity as it is presented to you not only defines you as a person but leads to success in the end.

March started off with the EWSRA Expo in Edison, NJ. It was nice to finally have something close to home and mid-week to occupy our time. Before we got there I’m not going to lie, I was a bit intimidated. All the major players where there presenting their lines for next season – North Face, Mountain Hardware, Shred – all had something to offer… just not anything like what we were putting on the market. We walked out with a new sense of – we can really do this – we were up.

We still had events to sponsor too with the entire month being booked up in Pennsylvania and Vermont. We started out up at the second mogul comp at Blue Mountain. It was a good test because Blue saw us before we really had a collection. This time around we had our catalog and tshirts to present and it was well received, very well received. After that we took a road trip up through Vermont and hit every ski shop we could find along the way. We came home gas poor (literally ran out of gas on the Mass Pike on the way back to NJ – thank you AAA) and with 5 new shops – bitter sweet.

After that though we started to tumble, well – I started to tumble.

I had been living with my girlfriend at the time and thought things were great. She obviously did not. I guess I didn’t see it. I’m sorry for the cliche but love is blind isn’t it? And I was unable to see what was right in front of me. She came home one night from work – and after a fight we had over dinner she told me she wanted me to move out. I was too exhausted to fight for it anymore. I guess she got tired of me, tired of my dream, and tired of waiting for my bank account to have more than a 3 digit sum in it – just tired.

I moved my stuff out the next day before she got home. It was over, and I was once again houseless. My lack of an address or key to an apartment was overshadowed by the fact that I had just lost the girl I loved. I moved onto my best friends couch, again, and proceeded to go on a 2 week bender paying no attention to anything else other than my bar tab and trying to forget about her.

Why is it that whenever you go through a break up everyone wants to take you out and feed you shots? Maybe the next one will take the hurt away? In my case the next one only made it hurt worse.

I was at a cross roads. My parents wanted me to move home to Memphis, I did not want to leave my business back in New Jersey, overseeing operations from 1,000 miles away. I booked a ticket to Cleveland to stay with my brother. Half way home and back to some normalcy. Then out of the blue I got a phone call from my buddy Mike: “Hey Ryan, I was talking about it with Christina and we wanted to know if you wanted to move in with us for the summer. We know how much this business means to you and we don’t want to see all the work you’ve put in go to waste.”

It was done – 3 days later I had all my stuff in the back of the truck and I was off to live on a beach for the next 4 months. It was the first time since September that I could settle in, sit on a bed that was mine, take a deep breath, and just experience a sense of relief.

Back to stability, back to focus, back to business… I had left a career, lost a girlfriend I loved, and had $27 to my name. But I had gained new perspective on friendship, sacrifice, and life in general.

I was ready to get back to the Ryan who started Ski Till I Die with the passion and energy and intensity that makes even the most pessimistic individuals believe. Losing my girlfriend hurt more than anything else – everything up to that point was easy for me, That wasn’t. But sometimes you have to define the moment before it defines you… this was one of those circumstances and that’s exactly what I did.

See: Journey – Don’t Stop Believing – The summer chapters come next week just in time for the 4th of July weekend. Until then, cheers!

Ryan


Chapter 6 – February Made Me Shiver

We were in the meat of the season. The snow never stopped falling and storm after storm kept pounding the East Coast like it was Mother Nature’s prerogative – and she was doing a really  good job at it.

The month started at Winter Jam NYC with me literally looking for cover. It was supposed to be a huge event held in Prospect Park, BK with ski companies from all over the place looking to have a good time and give away $5,000 worth of free tees. I was just happy that it was close to home and I could sleep in my own bed for the weekend.

We sure did give away a lot – and I have never been so miserable standing under a tent for 6 hours in my life. It was 30 degrees and POURING. Everything was soaked, no one bought a thing, and when people came to the booth looking for free stuff they actually got angry at us for not having any tees left. Hey man, they were FREE in the FIRST place… and you don’t even ski! I am the last person in the world to get mad when someone decides we aren’t for them, but instead of looking for a hand out how about you buy a hat and help me pay rent this month – then we can talk.

But I digress… I probably stayed in the shower for a good 40 minutes when I got home praying that I didn’t end up with ammonia.

The line up after that was significantly more pleasant. We had the Telefest at Hickory Ski Center (favorite mountain of the year, no question), the Big Air event back at Tuxedo, and my favorite weekend of the season – the alumni race for McBrine. It was nice to get to the mountain and have everyone know who we were that weekend. Not to mention that Brandeis was there sporting their custom hoodies we had done up for them – hey Jaimee & Erica, I love you guys.

My recently signed pro skier, Bridgette, entered her first extreme skiing competition & did great! “Now skiing, bib #42, Bridgette LeBear, sponsored by Ski Till I Die”… it was sweet to hear. We had new stickers, new designs thanks to Steve, and had begun work on our 2011 / 2012 catalog. All was well with the world.

We started having weekly meetings at a local spot in Hoboken, Duffys – $2 beers, cheese balls, and no one ever went there so it was a perfect dive for us to get down to business.

I keep looking for some turmoil during February because every good story has a triumph from tragedy plot line (or is you’re a Bill Shakespeare fan – a tragedy to tragedy one) but everything seemed to be going according to plan. Little did I know that this was the calm before the storm and the ephemeral sense of security I was engaged in would soon come to an end.

March & April come next… and if you’re looking for the triumph from tragedy storyline, that’s where you can find it.

Until next week- Cheers!

Ryan


The Chronicles: Chapter 5 – January

January was an interesting month. A lot of ‘it’s my first times’, some close calls, but for the most part – smooth sailing and open roads.

First stop was Bozeman, MT for a Montana State Rail Jam. Then 2 days before the trip I got a phone call telling me the event had been canceled. With the flight already booked I didn’t have much choice; plus there were worse places I could have been flying to (see: Bridger Bowl Mountain Review). I’m not going to lie, I definitely made the most of it and don’t regret spending $$$ on airfare to get there. Not to mention that I found our first sponsored skier in Ms. Bridgette LeBer.

Our first real even was the following weekend at Blue for the mogul comp. After a close call at the airport I made it just in time Friday to start packing the car and getting ready to head to PA. It was the first time we had seen the tent actually set up- not only did it look amazing, but it was an absolute in legitimizing the brand.

Every sale we made had a personal accomplishment attached to it and we actually saw our stuff start to sell! We were officially in business.

With the rest of the season dedicated to the mountains our next stop was just 45 minutes outside of NYC. The rail jam at Tuxedo went even better for us than Blue. Front and center at the base lodge with everyone taking note of who we were and stopping by to check it out the gear.

We started to see more traffic on the site, the blog was gaining notoriety, and I was starting to feel really good about the direction we were headed.

Other than that it was business as usual. I was trying to crank out at least 2 blogs a week, confirming with mountains about our attendance, and desperately looking for ways to spread the word about Ski Till I Die – through cross promoting, partnerships, or selling my body to get more exposure.

We had also begun stepping up our design game. Steve was a local Hoboken kid who I knew through reffing kickball. He had taken note of us when we started and asked if he could jump on board. Initially I was a little reluctant to bring on another person… until I saw the concepts he brought to the table. Truly this was going to redefine who we were – in a good way.

Stay tuned for Chapter 6 next week. Winter gets wild and so do the Ski Till I Die guys. Until next time!

Cheers,

Ryan


The Chronicles: Chapter 1 Through 4

This is how we started. Throughout this whole story you will be able to see one common theme. Without the help of friends and the support of those closest to us, we wouldn’t have had a prayer. From the numerous people who have offered their couch or my skiing network that pushed us along… It is because of our support base that we were able to actually put something together that has the potential to change all our lives, so from the bottom of my heart – thank you.

September:

A lot of you guys know the story. For those of you who don’t, it started back in September 2010. I had enough of my job, I dreaded waking up in the morning. When I got home, if I wasn’t spending another sleepless night worrying about the next day at the office, I was polishing off a bottle of red to help the pain. When I was at work, I wasn’t really at work. I’d stare at the computer screen for hours wondering when it was going to change.

Then one day I had enough. I started watching Ski Patrol, the first smile on my face all week, and then the left side of my brain started cranking out ideas. I started gchatting Paul, he was doing the same thing. One idea led to another let to another and then it came to us. A ski apparel company. Why not?! Nothing like it really existed, not what we were planning on doing. And thats when Ski Till I Die was consummated.

October:

This is when I decided to leave my job. It was time. I could work on Ski Till  I Die full time and I didn’t have to force myself out of bed and onto the train to do it. I moved out of my apartment – everything was going towards this initiative and rent or having a full time address was an afterthought. My girlfriend at the time was headed to Germany for 3 months and it gave me peace of mind to know that I could head to Europe to spend some time with her once she left.

Paul got the LLC taken care of and all of the sudden we were legit. I remember when we got the official paperwork in the mail it came with our own notary. We ran around the bar for hours stamping anything we could get our hands on; napkins, posters, our bar tab.

We found a supplier in Jersey City, local guy who understood what we were trying to put together. Paul had a friend who was a graphic designer who offered to get us off the ground with our initial designs. Once we got our logo straightened out we had the trademark paperwork in to the U.S. Patent Office the next day. We were beginning to look like a real company.

I started working with our supplier. We went through a ton of samples. What was our initial product offering going to look like? We had to put together a collection. We decided to work with 3 initial designs on 3 separate bodies – beanies, zips, and hoodies. Keep things simple, see what would catch on. With the help of our friend Brian – who had 10 years of industry experience starting his own successful t-shirt company Solid Threads – we were getting there.

My parents came to town to check on me and we had just gotten the first samples of what we were going to start selling. It was nice to see the approval written across their expressions. That week Paul and I had bought some foam board to use as a background and borrowed a hi-res camera to shoot the merchandise. We were steps away from launching the site.

Paul had a friend who worked for Goodsie. An online platform that would host our storefront for free. Another key word – free. We had bought stickers from The Office in Hoboken who gave us a great deal as well. The problem, we would find out later, is that they weren’t water proof – a problem when you sell ski apparel. But making mistakes is just another part of the learning process when you decide to go rogue and call yourself an entrepreneur.

November:

We launched the site the day before I left for Germany. A relief since I had already booked the ticket to Frankfurt and a benefit of having a local supplier who was able to work with us instead of against us. The day we launched I sent out an email to my whole ski network to let them know what was going on. We sold 2 hats, but it was a start.

I was excited to start sleeping in a bed again and even though I was 3,000 miles away from our home base – the internet allowed me to be able to run the business from anywhere in the world. That month, between traveling Europe, I had 2 missions: 1) Put out a 2 blogs a week and 2) start looking for events for us to sponsor at mountains up and down the East Coast.

The blog was easy, I had a ton of stories from the mountain. Finding locations who would take a no-name start up was impossible. I probably emailed / called 40-50 mountains that month. One no after the next. I got everything from – who are you guys? To I don’t think that lines up with our image. To flat out no’s. There were a few who wanted to charge us $1,000+ to set up our tent but then we couldn’t sell our merchandise. We didn’t have anywhere near the start up capital to throw it away like that; even if the exposure was clutch.

Then we got our first yes, Tuxedo Ridge. A little mountain :45 minutes north of New York City who said they would love to have us. Then we got our second yes, Blue Mountain. A mountain known for bumps in PA who wanted us to tent up at their annual mogul comp. From there it seemed to start clicking. We had booked up most of the season by the time I got home in December.

December:

The first Ski Till I Die photo shoot. One of my old ski buddies from McBrine, Brent, was a professional photographer. He offered to shoot the line for free. Another buddy of mine from college, Scott, was a talent agent in New York City and found me the perfect model who would do the shoot for her portfolio. Now we had something.

I continued peddling to mountains, mogul comps, big air, tele fests, Winter Jam in NYC, you name it. I wasn’t going to be picky. By Christmas we were booked. And I was ready to get home and take a break. The online sales were slow, but trickling in. By mid-December we were already on snow. The season looked to be shaping up to be one for the ages… and it would be.

Look for chapter 5 & January next week – that’s when we really start cranking it out. Until then, cheers & keep shredding!


The Chronicles: Here’s To McBrine

Skiing has given me a lot over the years. Good beer, great stories, and most of all – the best friends I have ever had. I attribute most of that to the McBrine Division. On the Facebook page McBrine is described as an intercollegiate ski league in New England, but believe me when I tell you it is much more than just what the words let on.

I have been thinking about how to write this story for quite some time. Putting the memories together in my head to capture McBrine for what it really is; what it means to be a part of this group.

I guess I didn’t really understand fully what skiing was until my freshman year of college came around and I was first introduced to McBrine. I had never seen such a broad spectrum of people all come together with the shared interest – ski or bust – and welcomed complete strangers with open arms to become apart of something bigger.

You had the kids from all over the board: Brandeis, Vassar, Marist, URI, Springfield, Yale, Wesleyan, Wellesley, Castleton, Eastern Nazarene, and a lone ranger from Clarkson.

That was the foundation of what made it so great. Having 150 kids, from literally all walks of life and with the same mission – to shred and have a blast – looking out for one another just doing what we do best.

With McBrine we had our own toast, our own theme song, and most of all our own swagger.

You talk to any of the alumni from McBrine and they will all tell you the same thing… the winter seasons spent on the mountain with everyone were undoubtedly some of the best memories from college. Even if you went 9 months without talking to anyone else – as soon as you clicked in with your long lost ski buddies, you wouldn’t miss a step.

I try to stay in touch with as many McBriners as I can. This year I made it to Montana (thank you Eric), had Anna come all the way back from Abu Dhabi for my birthday, and closed it off with an alumni weekend at Magic Mountain.

Even if there isn’t snow on the ground the beer still stays cold. I have no doubt that once we trade in our roof racks for flip flops McBrine won’t be walking in separate directions. For any of the alumni, we get it. For anyone who is in the league now, I hope you guys are starting to understand what it means to be apart of the group – and based on what I saw from this season, you are well on your way.

Here’s to McBrine!


The Chronicles: Everything Happens For A Reason

This is a true Chronicle of the Ski Till I Die story. One that I hope I can tell and retell for ski seasons to come. It starts out like this…

The past week was tumultuous. On Tuesday we got some terrible family news from one of our team members. On Thursday we got even worse news from another. Truly unfortunate and unprecedented. They both were the drivers of the team and with no other options at that point, I was scrambling.

I live by the mantra that, one way or another, everything will work out in the end. Toss in another metaphor about how everything happens for a reason and we can have Mitch Albom write a book about it.

But seriously, this time around I just didn’t see it.

The Mad River Glen Tele Fest was supposed to be our bread and butter; not only the biggest, most well known mountain we were to ski at this season, but the largest event we had sponsored since our inception. And I was sitting in Hoboken NJ with no ride, no money, and no hope.

I sent out an S.O.S on Facebook, emailed everyone I knew with a car, and tried to get in touch with anyone I could think of with a remote interest in skiing. Nothing.

And then came my saving grace. A friend of mine from the URI ski team sent me a Facebook message:

Ryan, my parents have a house at Mad River and go up every weekend. I just talked to my Dad and he said it wouldn’t be a problem to take you up if he can fit your gear in the car. Let me know what you think and I’ll give you his number to work out the details.

It was too good to be true.

Trust me when I tell you, I am as random as they come. Over the past 4 months I have slept on 3 different couches, had 2 different apartments, considered selling my body parts for cash, and had my parents consider making me come home (to Memphis TN) all in the name of trying to make Ski Till I Die work.

But is my friend Bridget really serious?? Letting her parents, whom I had never met, take me 6 hours into nowheresville VT in the name of my company?? Do they know my nickname is Boner??

You bet your ass. Because at 9:30 last night I had no other options. No one came to the rescue, no one had any great alternatives. And lastly, I had exhausted all the resources I had at my disposal. Except for the love that one McBriner – thank you Bridget – has for another (see: McBrine Division ski team comradery).

So Matt & Mary took me under their wing. We jumped in the car – getting to their house in Bergan County was a field trip in itself – and we headed on our way. They told me about our travels, about how they met in North Africa teaching, and how difficult it was to get over The Gap. The 6 hour trip seemed like an afterthought.

Well, I’m here now, staying at the antelopes bottom. Staring at the mountain out my window, with my own bed, a cold beer, and a fire burning up next to me. I wasn’t the one that made this weekend work. It most certainly was greater forces helping along the ideology that everything works itself out in the end.

Tomorrow when I wake up I’ll have a cup of coffee, Matt will drive me the 300 yards to the mountain, I will be the only one manning the tent for the greater good, and everything will be alright.

Now lets just hope we can sell the car full of merchandise I squeezed up here – because I need a place to stay next week and as hospitable as Matt & Mary are – I think this is a one weekend pass. But that is far more than I could have asked for in the first place.

Ill never forget this – thank you –

Ryan


The Chronicles: Reddit Until I’m Blue In The Face

Last weekend was the 2nd Annual Bump & Jump at Blue Mountain. It was an amazing event. I entered, skied it, and bombed my run. Bottom line, I didn’t make it to the elimination round. I will give it to Blue though; the competition was the best I have seen at any of the events we have sponsored all season.

After I was booted from the competition for lack of skill, the mountain still had one more surprise in store for us. Here’s how the story starts…

Back in December I was eager to get my blog out there. I was searching high and low for readers, most of whom at that point were my friends. We had put together a contest called Spread The Mayo in order to generate some viral buzz and get people to like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, and subscribe to the blog. It worked out alright but the best thing that happened as a result of that was the Christmas gift my brother got me.

He was a Redditor, something I had never heard of but would soon learn about.

One day back in December I started getting all these hits on the blog out of no where. They were coming from a site called Reddit, an online community with a skiing subculture everyone should check out, but I digress. Being the computer illiterate individual I am I immediately deferred to Tyler and sure enough there was his post.

“Dear Reddit- My brother left his job, is homeless, and is desperate for some people to take notice of his new company Ski Till I Die. I can think of nothing else he would like better in this world than to see some serious traffic on his blog so please check him out. Merry Christmas Ryan -Tyler”

Not only was that the best gift I could have gotten, but it worked! A bunch of people immediately started responding to it. There were a lot of ‘good lucks’ a few more ‘this is cools’ and one Redditor even recognized me. All they said was ‘Boner?’ (my college nickname) and sure enough it turned out to be my friend Michelle who I skied with at Marist.

A month or so after that I had revisited the post to see if any new responses had been threaded to the message and there was one from Dylan – asking about the Mayo Design we had used for the contest.

Thanks to Dylan’s request and our eagerness to expand we put the tees into production. As soon as we had the first samples I got in touch with him via Reddit and started emailing back and forth about the mock up. The only difference between the initial design and the new one was the ‘Spread It’ quote we added to the back. He loved it that much more.

In the meantime we were busy preparing for the mogul competition at Blue. After Joe and I got back to the tent, post defeat, this younger guy comes up to us and asks for me. He immediately identifies himself as the mayo guy from Reddit. I couldn’t believe it! How cool is that?!

Dylan had read about our event on Facebook and being an hour away decided to come up for the day by surprising us with a t-shirt purchase. It was the last thing in the world I expected and it was the best surprise I could have imagined.

It’s a funny thing when the internet and the real world collide. In this case the result is one more person out there supporting the Ski Till I Die cause and had that been the only thing we sold last weekend I still would have walked off the mountain with a smile of success. BIG UPS to Tyler, Dylan, Blue, and Reddit… we have come a long way and I certainly could not have gotten here without you guys!!

Until next time – cheers & keep shredding!

Ryan

 


The Chronicles: Making The Mountain Yours

This past weekend I had the opportunity to head to Magic Mountain in Southern Vermont for the very first time. This mountain, like so many other storied tales, is one that is trying to get back on its feet and get skiers enjoying its slopes once again. After a short 6 year hiatus in the early 90’s, they came back from the abyss and within the last few seasons Magic has been working on putting together a cooperative ownership structure. That is where the story starts.

Whenever I get to a new mountain I like to talk to the locals, the lifties, and the people who call each mountain home. That is how you get a feel for someplace you’ve never been before. The people I chatted with last weekend took an ownership of their mountain, literally and figuratively.

The kids were either in ski school or training on the race hill, the parents were free to ski whatever they wanted, and everyone I saw wandering around had an expression of pride for the mountain they were skiing that day. That may be because they were skiing a mountain that they had a vested interest in.

Turning the mountain into one that everyone has an opportunity to consider theirs is the best way to create a sense of brand loyalty. If you owned stock in Johnson & Johnson, wouldn’t you be purchasing their products on a regular basis? Not to mention, if there was a chance your local mountain wasn’t going to make it to the next season, wouldn’t you want a chance to save it and have a say in the next glade run they cut out next summer at the same time?

With the investment capital Magic has been able to collect over the past 5 years they have made wonderful improvements to an already legendary mountain. From increased snow making, to the lifts improvements, to the facility upgrades, you can see the difference a rent check can make.

I anticipate Magic being open for some years to come. And if at any point in the near future I can come up with $3,000 to invest, i’d ask where do I sign?!

Good luck Magic!

Cheers,

Ryan


The Chronicles: It Started Before Blue

5 months ago I quit my job, moved out of my apartment & onto my best friends couch, and with one of my buddies put all our life savings into an idea… Ski Till I Die.

This past weekend, the last 5 months of work finally culminated with our first official on-mountain event at the Blue Mountain Mogul Challenge in PA. It was one of the most rewarding days of my life.

We got there early, one of the few times in my life with the exception of Christmas where I couldn’t wait to wake up at 5am to get to the mountain. The lodge was buzzing with skiers, the registration table was busy, and the snowmobiles were ready to go. The course was netted off, the moguls were stepped out perfectly, and it was 6 degrees outside…

I really had no idea what to expect. Would people like the concept, would they trash it, were we even going to sell any merchandise? It was all a blank slate.

We had the tent set up, the merchandise out on the tables, and stickers galore. Now all the was left to do was hold our breath and hope people would actually get the brand and appreciate what we were trying to do.

As the competition started up the skiers started trickling into the tent to check out what we were all about. Different people, same question: so what exactly is this Ski Till I Die business?

Answering that question comes as naturally as putting tracks down a first run. It’s a brand that speaks to the love of the mountain, the passion for the snow, and being able to appreciate skiing and everything that encompasses it. Ski Till I Die is more than an idea, it’s a brand about an attitude and a way to live. We aren’t Spyder, we aren’t North Face, we are built by the skiers who get it, for the skiers who get it. And everyone at Blue Mountain got it.

All day we sat at the finish line taking videos, snapping photos, and having a blast. I had never had so much fun at a day in the office in my entire life. I hope the office stays at the mountain because that is where we belong.

The mogul competition basically served as our expo center. There were 60 bumpers ripping up the course all day long. Knees together, quiet upper body, and hucking the air at the bottom – that’s my kind of corporate presentation & Blue did it the right way.

We finished things off properly… in the lodge for the Apres Ski celebration and the ceremony of awards. Win or lose all you saw were smiles all around. Everyone was just happy to have been able to rip a few runs against some healthy competition and that’s how it should be. We were just happy that the skiers, the mountain, and just about everyone else welcomed Ski Till I Die with open arms. The competition was a huge success and so was our inaugural  on-mountain experience.

It started 5 months before we got to Blue, but they confirmed it. I’m not saying we made it to the summit yet, there is still a lot of work to be done. But being at Blue for that competition was a great start and confirmed that we have a chance.

Thank you everyone at Blue for the overwhelming support. If you missed the mogul competition keep looking for Ski Till I Die at a mountain near you and the next competition you enter might have a sponsorship attached to it. If nothing else, we’ll be back at Blue for their Bump & Jump on March 5th for some fun in the sun and perfectly stepped out moguls for all to enjoy.

Cheers & keep shredding!

Ryan


The Chronicles: Skis For Christmas (A Buying Guide)

1996 was a great year. Bill Clinton was President, Michael Johnson set a world record in the 400 meters in Atlanta, and on Christmas morning I got my first set of skis –  and it changed my life. Christmas is more than 2 weeks removed (I know that because today is my birthday… shameless Happy Birthday to me!!) so it was made very apparent to you if you got coal instead of skis on the 25th of December.

Skis can be a very intimidating purchase, particularly for buyers who don’t know a ton about the industry or have much experience on the mountain. My goal with this article is to make it as easy as possible for you to buy a pair of sticks with confidence and without buyers remorse. I want to keep it short and simple.

First of all you need to determine what type of skier you are. When looking at skis they will always specify what type of terrain they are built for AND for what ability level they cater to. Questions you have to answer:

Do I prefer groomers (ofter referred to as corduroy), would I rather be skiing un-groomed, out-of-bounds, type of terrain, or am I generally in the park and consider myself a freestyle skier?

Do I like steeps or do I generally stick to green or blue trails?

Where am I skiing… East coast hard pack -or- West coast powder?

Once you figure all this out it is time to start looking at skis. I always suggest that you purchase a ski that is ahead of your skill level. You always want something you can grow in to and the only way to get better is to challenge yourself with your gear.

Generally every ski you look at will outline its purpose in the description. Example – here is what EpicSki (www.epicski.com) has to say about my Fischer Progressor 9+s:

“The race inspired high-performance ski with a 70 mm waist. Sandwich Sidewall Construction with 0.5 double Titanal shell, wood core and Dual Radius System for perfect turn initiation, versatility and edge grip on all terrain.”

In de-constructing that description it would be 100% true. They are an expert ski that can hold an edge on the East coast hard pack. They essentially offer race stock performance with a bit of all mountain versatility, which is perfect because I was looking for something stable at high speeds I could take anywhere.

As far as sizing goes you want to get something close to your height. All skis are measured in cm – so for my height I should be skiing 170’s. However, I am skiing on 165’s because I wanted a shorter ski I could still take into the bumps. Get a longer ski for more stability or a shorter one for easier turns.

Next step is making the purchase. I recently stopped into an on-mountain ski shop in Killington. They were passionate and knowledgeable, although they didn’t tell me anything you couldn’t figure out for yourself on Google. I was considering making a purchase for a set of bump skis but their prices were RIDICULOUS.

How do you maneuver around this predicament? Avoid this dilemma by simply going online and buying last years stuff. Generally the same gear, only with different graphics. And if you are saving $800 (like I did last year) do you really care what graphics you have on your skis??

The site I have been using for the last 2 seasons is http://www.levelninesports.com. I have found their site to be the most thorough, very reliable, and has the best inventory. Now I just want to let you know I have no affiliation with Level Nine Sports (although I would love to partner with them). They are just the best I have found and were the least expensive for what I was looking for so I am passing the knowledge on to you.

Bottom line… buying your own skis and having your own gear will change your perspective on skiing. One of the happiest days of my life was when my Dad got my my first set of skis. It was on Christmas, 14 years ago.

So do yourself a favor. Treat yourself to an early 2011 birthday present and get yourself a set. I have no doubt your smile will be as big as mine was, Birthday – Christmas – or a random Wednesday.

Cheers & Keep Shredding,

Ryan


The Ski Till I Die Chronicles: What Are You Reading Here?!

What you see is what you get. All skiing, all the time. We will explore all the intracacies that make skiing so great. I will deconstruct everything from the decade old gear I rock, to the best Apres Ski Bars around, and even some non-ski jibber that will make you laugh on and off the hill.

No smoke, no mirrors, just true – in your face, what it really means to ski – content.

That’s my promise to you… so click in, and shred the gnar with me!

Cheers,

Ryan