Heading to the start in Oslo

You thought I was going to pitch an investment of cash in Caldwell Sport – right? Nope. This is about our investment in all the factors that contribute to excellence. Something we take seriously.

Investing in Experience
It helps to start with experience. A lifetime of skiing and racing isn’t a prerequisite to doing good work on skis, but it sure helps. Experience is ongoing, and you don’t get much of it staying at home and looking at ski bases. Both Amy and Zach have continued to be involved with coaching and service work at high levels. Each of the past four years we’ve both been on trips to national and international events, including the Olympics, World Championships, Tour de Ski, and World Junior/U23 Championships. These trips have associated costs (not least the time on the road), but these are costs associated with maintaining contact with the top end of the performance spectrum.

Investing in Understanding
It’s not enough to take the marketing that a ski company puts out and pass it along. It’s not enough to believe that all skis are potentially great if they’re just “fit right”. It’s not enough to pass along a grind developed 15 years ago in Austria and call it state of the art. To add value to our product we work hard in the pursuit of understanding. Part of this involves being consumers, ourselves. The picture to the right is of a selection of the Fischer skis that Amy and Zach own. These are the ones that we had at the shop at the end of the season, not the ones that are in storage back home in the shed. This means that these are the skis we used this past winter. They’re the ones that have “made it” – haven’t been rejected, or sold off as redundant. We don’t need this many skis to enjoy skiing, but we do need to understand skis; how they work, when they work and why they work. It’s equally important, or even more important, to learn how, why and when the skis don’t work.

Investing in Suffering
Keeping in touch with racing and testing our product in a race environment is important. Most of our customers are average skiers – not the National Team skiers that we like to use to hype our services. We get feedback from a wide variety of sources, and many of our very best testers are customers. The suffering is Amy’s department. Zach is too out of shape and too embarrassed about it to race much anymore, but Amy puts on a bib with regularity, and she is our strongest critic. At Spring Series this past year Amy was racing, but she wasn’t getting the attention that Kris, Noah and Morgan Arritola were getting. Her skis were pretty bad in a couple of instances, because we (the service staff) didn’t give her the information she needed to get everything right on her own – and worse, we sort of half-helped her, applying wax, but not telling her why, or how much. This is a stark reminder for us of the importance of supporting the process that an average racer encounters every time they’re at a race. We designed our new color-coded conditions system in part because of the realization that we didn’t have any red classic skis for Amy in Sun Valley. We brought good blue,violet and yellow skis, but the red skis were at home in the front entry. Any guesses what conditions we saw?