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Edwards ski gear supplier goes global

Ian CroppVail, CO Colorado
Ski Racing Development SM 1-16-08
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EDWARDS, Colorado Whether its through being the fastest or the flashiest, ski racers love to stand out.Just ask Barry Levinson at Ski Racing Development.Our philosophy for the company, which we started a year ago, was to bring in all the European World Cup team product that you cant buy in the Untied States or Canada, said Levinson, whose Edwards-based company ships gear to ski racers all around the globe. Not that there is anything wrong with products like Spyder … but you can get it anywhere. We bring in national team products that nobody else has. Its created a niche for us.Ski Racing Development, which does most of its sales through its yearly catalogue and the Internet, is the sole distributor for several top-line products and has its own label for products like ski suits and poles. Levinson, who has been plugged into the industry since college, decided to start the company with a high school friend.We put out the catalogue last year and had a very good response to it, Levinson said. This year weve had twice as much volume. The ski racing market in the grand scheme of things is small, but there are over 500 clubs in the United States, each one with between 30 to 500 members, and thats just at the junior level. Thats a huge market especially for uniforms. If I get 30 team programs, Im dancing in the street, and thats just the U.S. Now, the Canadian dollar is on par, weve getting a ton of orders from there, too.And, ironically enough, Levinson is shipping back to Europe.Even though most of these brand are from Europe, Europeans cant buy them in their own country, he said. We are shipping Halti (a Finnish company) back to Finland because most race shops dont carry product any longer.The catalogue, which Levinson said shipped to about 65,000 homes in the United States and Canada, features just about anything a ski racer needs aside from boots and skis. From the Austrian ski teams hat to the POC helmets and race suits that the U.S. Ski Teams Steven Nyman and Julia Mancuso wear, and yes, even the new CD from U.S. Skier Bryon Friedman, Ski Racing Development has it.A lot of our customers dont buy (the gear) because its better, which it is, but because its different. If you are going to pay $800 for a ski jacket you dont want a spider on it.

As much as Levinson wants his company to be known for its unique products, he wants Ski Racing Development to be associated with the crop of World Cup skiers. This year, Ski Racing Development sponsored a group of young skiers, most of whom are either J3s or J2s (born between 1991-1994).Were focusing on the junior level, Levinson said. We have some of the top skiers in the country on the SRD team. Thats where we want to try to get our reputation built: at the grass roots level with the kids.Cooper Cartmill, a Vail-based J2 skier on team Iced Out Racing, is part of the Ski Racing Development team and appreciates that hes getting some free gear.Its a good feeling to know you are saving your parents some money, he said.Cartimill doesnt mind that Ski Racing Developments product is flashy, either.The speed suits are some of the brightest colors out there, he said. I have one I thats red and blue and I call it the spiderman suit they have imprints of a net on it, so it looks like spiderman.Jessica Delacenserie, a J3 skier with Ski & Snowboard Club Vail who also a member of the Ski Racing Development Team, likes getting the gear, and the recognition the comes from being sponsored.They want you on their product, Delacenserie said.Ski Racing Development has a blog on its Web site tracking the progress of its racers.Its actually really interesting, Delacenserie said. I wasnt aware of it until a couple of weeks ago. People can look at it and see how we are feeling and how we are racing.Levinson hopes to expand the team, which currently has racers from Utah and Maine, to all regions next year. Were going to try to make a national team, he said. We have some great skiers now. We try to get kids who are not only great skiers, but great ambassadors for the sport.For more on Ski Racing Development, and to see the athletes blog, check out http://www.skiracingdevelopment.comSports Writer Ian Cropp can be reached at 748-2935 or icropp@vaildaily.com.


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