The North American Snowsports Journalists Association is a professional group of more than 250 writers, authors, photographers, videographers and broadcasters. Members report on ski, snowboard and Nordic related news, information and features via various media outlets. Over 100 corporate members include media contacts or employees of ski resorts, convention and visitor associations, manufacturers and others who have a commercial interest in the journalistic coverage of winter sports.
by NASJA member Risa Wyatt, photos by Dino Vournas
Face shots one day, goggle tans the next… That’s what NASJA members and their guests experienced at the annual meeting held April 11 to 15 at Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows in North Lake Tahoe.
The conference marked new beginnings for NASJA. It was the initial meeting after the restructuring of NASJA into a single national organization. And for the first time, NASJA held its annual get-together in conjunction with the Snowsport History Celebration by the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame, offering the opportunity to mingle with ski icons, including long-time NASJA member Doug Pfeiffer and his wife, Ginny.
“Something wonderful happens when you have people who love skiing together in one place,” summed up Richie Silver of Connecticut.
Good omens—in the form of fat snowflakes—descended from the skies starting from the opening reception at The Loft Bar at Le Chamois. By the next morning, six- to eight inches of freshies blanketed the slopes, shifting to bluebird skies for four days of explorations at Squaw and Alpine.
NASJA-ites made the most of spring-skiing conditions thanks to the insiders’ knowledge of the Squaw Alpine hosts: Liesl Hepburn, public relations director; and Sam Kieckhefer, public relations coordinator. They knew exactly the right lines to take down the Sun Bowl off of Headwall, or when snow had softened enough to lap Alpine Bowl. Complimentary ski rentals gave everyone the right gear for playing in both powder and afternoon meltdown.
Check out the NASJA member clipbook--it's currently a work in progress. NASJA invites all members to submit their latest work and help spread the word about snowsports journalism.
Interested in joining NASJA? We’d love to have you! Our membership is open to those who are employed by accredited journalistic properties or who work as freelancers for a variety of media outlets.
NASJA provides the opportunity to network with over 250 press and corporate members. We are the largest snowsports communication group in North America. Our goal is to drive awareness and participation in snow sports.
Jessie Diggins is the winner of the Paul Robbins Outstanding Competitor Award. The 26-year-old spirit leader of the U.S. cross-country ski team — she encourages teammates to emulate her and wear face paint and glitter during competition—had the best-ever Olympics showing for an American female cross-country skier, winning the team sprint relay gold and recording five other top-10 finishes at Pyeongchang.
Diggins, of Afton, Minnesota and the Stratton Mountain School Elite Team, was also second in the season-long overall World Cup standings.
Klaus Obermeyer is the 2018 Carson White Snowsports Achievement Award. Mr. Obermeyer, of Aspen, Colorado, enhances a group of winners that includes Lowell Thomas, Averell Harriman, Warren Miller, Stein Eriksen, Pete Siebert, Nancy Greene, Dick Durrance and many other winter sports luminaries.
Klaus Obermeyer is the epitome of what the award, named after our organization’s first president, is all about. Born in Oberstaufen, Bavaria, Germany in 1919, he soon fabricated his own skis from an orange crate at the age of 3, beginning his lifetime love of the sport. In 1947, he emigrated to Aspen becoming a ski instructor at Aspen Mountain.
The Bob Gillen Memorial Award, named after the late and well respected Crested Butte and Sugarbush ski areas marketing director, singles out a media representative who exemplifies professionalism and dedication to public relations and communication in the ski industry. This year’s honoree is Jeff Wise, Stowe Mountain Resort marketing/communications director.
Jeff began his career at the resort in 1993 as a snowboarding instructor and then as snowboard school director. In May of 2001, he became Stowe’s marketing manager and later communications director, a position, which he enjoys to this day.
The Mitch Kaplan Award has a special meaning to members of NASJA. The award honors a journalist who best embodies NASJA’s late colleague and friend, emulating Mitch’s unwavering commitment to bring the joy of skiing to all and to give back to the sport that he loved so much. This year’s winner is ski journalist Heather Burke of Kennebunkport, Maine.
Heather, who learned to ski at the age of three, worked at her parents’ Smugglers Notch ski lodge, and as a ski instructor before embarking on her writing career. She has been a ski journalist for over two decades, sampling some 170 ski areas and gathering many awards along the way including three NASJA Harold Hirsch Excellence in Journalism Awards. Freeskier Magazine bestowed a “Top 100 ski industry people to follow” honor and she has been named a Skea clothing ambassador.
NASJA has introduced me to fellow ski writers from around the country, many of whom I may not have met otherwise. It’s inspiring to hear about their deep experience in the snowsports industry. It’s also been a great way to get to know resort PR people from other regions than my own. I’ve called on other NASJA members when I needed information for stories I was writing that included ski areas I wasn’t as familiar with. And it’s been fun to get to know colleagues of all ages.
Early in my career, deep in the last century, I had the good fortune to win the Harold Hirsch Award a couple of times. It did a lot for my credibility within the industry and helped me score some freelance assignments.
As a relatively new member to the ski and snowboard industry, NASJA has provided me with an invaluable network of writers, resorts and ultimately, resources. In my first year with Ski Vermont I was fortunate enough to travel to Colorado for NASJA’s annual conference where I was given the opportunity to learn more about industry trends and influencers from a panel of industry professionals. The experience was not only informative but also incredibly fun.
As a long term member of NASJA, Deer Valley Resort has benefited from the opportunity to create lasting relationships with both press and corporate members. The annual conferences have provided us with an invaluable opportunity to connect with key players in the ski industry. NASJA has provided us with a way to keep informed about trends and personal updates among the snow media.
With NASJA, I've skied New Hampshire,Vermont, Colorado, California, British Columbia. Because of NASJA, I've also skied France, Italy, Scotland, Montana, Idaho, Maine, Alberta and maybe a dozen or so other snowy places.
When I joined NASJA as a snowsports blogger, my contacts in the ski industry were limited. After one meeting, my network exploded, as did my opportunities. Not only that, but now I call many of these contacts my friends.
By Alex Silgalis, NASJA member, originally published online at localfreshies.com, April 17, 2018
I still vividly remember visiting Alpine Meadows Resort for the first time. The year was 1998 and not just my first time… it was also the first-time snowboarding was allowed at the resort. A good enough reason to visit Lake Tahoe for me! Memories of the topography were burned into my brain. It rode like a wave with gullies, cliff bands and fall-line terrain that begged to be slashed. For whatever reason, it had been two decades since I last visited. Getting a call from a friend at NASJA to join them for a day at Alpine Meadows, I thought “Why not?”
Morning Dawns Cold, Clear and Brisk
The next day dawns cold, clear and not a wisp of wind. The thermometer barely hit 20 degrees at 7 am. But, the forecast was for the temps to rise rapidly into the upper 50’s. Just classic Tahoe spring weather, conducive for producing the perfect corn snow. Zooming out of South Lake Tahoe, I head over Emerald Bay and the views as usual take my breath away.
Pineapple Express Leads to Empty Roads
Bumping down the road on the West Shore, I only pass a car or two. A rarity for mid-April but after last week’s Pineapple Express, the snowpack was left battered causing most people to lose their interest in skiing and snowboarding. For me, it’s all about getting as many turns in until the snow is fully gone.
Squaw Valley Meetup
Pulling into Squaw around 8:30 am, I get front row parking. It never ceases to amaze me how beautiful Squaw Valley is. The massive peaks of the resort shoot up from the flat valley floor making it feel like a European resort. From there, we all meet up and jump on a shuttle to Alpine Meadows.