This Turn's for You
By Andrew McLean

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Originally published in Powder Magazine

FThis turnís for you.

Sponsorship is the bane of all expeditions. People will lie, cheat, steal and sell their friends out to try and convince some company to give them money to go skiing. In the Golden Age of Exploration, it took entire nations to reach a goal such as being first to the top of Everest, first to the South Pole or even first to set foot on the moon. Nowadays, there are few places on earth that you canít get to with little more than the magic words ďCharge it.Ē 

I once read that the average cost of a Park City family ski vacation was $15,000. In contrast, a trip to Alaska or South America can be done for about $2,500. You can have a good time in Europe for $3,000. Baffin Island might be a bit pricey at $6,000 and the Himalayas might cause pain at $8,500, but still, itís roughly one half of what an average American spends on a week long vacation. Do you see them pleading for sponsorship with soggy eyes? No. Why? Because they are in it for the skiing and the experience, and know that itís all just the price you pay for having fun. 

Considering the minimal amount of exposure a company gets from sponsoring a ski expedition, Iím always amazed that any of them do it. Most of the time, itís a first and last experiment in marketing. Aside from brief glimpses of products and ending credits, what do they get for their money? Nothing. Iíve never even heard of a descent named after a sponsoring company, although the Trojan Reservoir Couloir does have some potential appeal.

Another good reason to shun sponsorship is that it dulls your focus. When someone else is footing the bill, youíve got a lot less to lose and training, preparation and commitment diminish accordingly. Paying your own way serves the important function of thinning out people that are looking for a paid vacation, versus those that are committed to the gills. Most importantly, when you gain a sponsor, you lose control of your trip. What started out as a dream amongst friends is now a budget-line-item in some Marketeers spreadsheet. Oh, and by the way, Vinnie, the Sale Manager who happens to be ďone heck of a good little skierĒ is now coming with you. Enjoy!

Admittedly, sponsorship can ease some of the pain that is involved with going on a trip, but isnít that really what trips are all about? To me, itís the chance to do something outside of my comfort zone and experience something new. Donít deprive yourself of that feeling of plunging into the unknown, whether itís cranking first turns on a virgin face or signing for a loan that you have no idea how youíll pay off.

Stay focused. Live for your dreams. Donít sell out. To paraphrase Neil Young, ďAinít skiing for Pepsi, ainít skiing for Coke, ainít skiing for no one Ė makes me look like a joke. This turnís for you!Ē

Copyright - Andrew McLean Back to Writings Index