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Old 11-22-2005   #11
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 305
I posted a reply on the other thread but will add some thing here to,

All venues will get some level of non boaters involved whether it's Slalom, Rodeo or Big Water.
There are few on river venues that a non boater no matter what age they are can be exposed to whitewater kayaking. Remember I am talking from the non boaters standpoint that I talked to over the summer.

One is slalom, where people can see boaters using skills and tenique to move thru whitewater in a somewhat non threating manner, think the Golden Slalom series.
The next is a Rodeo, Where non boaters might/do think that looks hard, traped in a hole/rapid flipping over and over. To most non boaters that is their biggest fear stuck in a boat getting flipped, I heard this many times from the people watching the playboaters at Golden.
Another is somewhere like Gorefest or Pine Creek race, what I would refer as a video venue due to the size of the water and the possiable carnage factor, not a good place to get a non boater convinced that boating might be for them, unless that is the type of "sport" they enjoy.

About kayaking not growing due to no resorts, that was brought up at the WW symposium in Glenwood and I think that is not a real valid point. First kayaking doesn't lend it's self to a resort setting like skiing does unless its from a playpark stand point.
Or it can be looked at like this, Colorado does have 3-4 kayaking resorts already in place. Durango, Buena Vista/Salida and Glenwood Springs, you can include Golden in this too.
The Golden playpark could very easily be marketed/modeled as a kayaking resort with hotels in walking distance and several different features and somewhat long enough to enjoy running the length,but not to intimidating to the new boater unless it is running very high and playfull enough for most experienced boaters other than the "run the shit" crowd.
A "run the shit" resort would be very hard to market as that is a small share of the whitewater world.
Now don't bring up the fact that Golden does need some work as some of the features are degrading.
Salida could very easily due this to by adding more wave/features to make the park run from the ball diamonds to where it is.

The Industry just needs to realize this and market it this way. Rivers already in place and hotels in place resturants there too, even camping, sounds like a resort to me. And it seems to be working for the Rafting company's.
The problem there seems to lie with the lack of a support structure, ie: getting shuttle service to and from the river, in places that you can't walk.

Don't do anything, just stand there.
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Old 11-22-2005   #12
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Eagle County, Colorado
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I think it depends if you are at the event or watching on TV. Watching on TV, it would have to be something really eye catching to capture John Q Public's attention, like extreme boating competitions.

In person, Rodeo is pretty cool, but more from the standpoint that the athletes are wandering around in the crowd, and that it looks like fun, rather than scary to a non-boater to see someone play on a wave or in a hole. In reality, once you see 1 pro throw down, it all starts to look the same after standing around for an hour watching different guys ride the feature.

Part of how I got excited about it was my first season was starting up about when I was working at the mountain games in Vail.

I think what would be ideal is if there were an extreme race or something featured in front of a big-time national audience (Like X Games) to have a segment of how to get started, what "normal" entry white water is like, gear required, etc. They could show me getting thrashed in class III even for a more accurate depiction of what they would experience. :P

Anyways, you heard it first here, kayaking on X games. I want royalties for that if it ever happens.

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Old 11-22-2005   #13
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I have to agree with BoSE comments. Rivers are a finite resource, why do you want to sell out the rivers and the sport you love for all out growth, so a few paddlers can make a living at their hobby? Not me, if you can't find your niche and make a living in the paddling industry as it is, go get a job outside the industry and enjoy your hobby in your off time.

Two years ago, I took my non paddling, huck off cliffs expert skiing newphew to the Teva games and we watched the pro rodeo, what a yawner. This is not to take away anything from the athletes, the difficulty of the tricks and how fun kayaking is to do versus watch. I mean a loop here, cart wheel there, same thing over and over by each competitor. I was hoping it might have interested him in the sport, not a chance. Yes, there were a lot of people watching, but I think it was more out of something for the tourists to do or out of curosity then really thinking this is a cool sport, maybe I should get into it, how do I get started. Face it, Kayak Rodeo, as well as Slalom, sucks as a spectator sport. Now, as mentioned, Boater cross is a different story, everybody likes carniage! Maybe, that is your X game ticket.

Reasonable growth is understandable and required to protect the rivers from the water thiefs and polluters. However, I would hate to see a ski industry resort type Mtn Dew growth explosion, with such limited resources. You guys are scaring me with talk of resorts, organized shuttles etc.! Before you know it, you will be paying for a ticket to paddle a public river and asking whatever happened to the river rat relaxed environment. As Mike B. mentioned, I would rather see the sport grow slowly through mentoring and clubs versus mass X game commercialization and resort tourist industrialization. I also think this is in the best interest of protecting the resource from an environmental perspective.
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Old 11-22-2005   #14
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As for kayaking resorts... The only way to make it totally something like skiing, it would have to be like some big corporation buys an entire river or something where they could manipulate the features, and offer beginner through advanced rapids, with instruction, shuttles, day care, and stuff like that. Maybe Vail Resorts could buy the Arkansas River and put Gondolas on it, have river patrollers and charge $90 a day for access.... Hmmm not sure if that sounds that good.
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Old 11-22-2005   #15
Preacher of the Profit Paddling Since: 1990
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Kayak marketing

Mark, I think you nailed it on the head and are right on track with the current marketing from the kayaking industry. If you were trying to hook in 16-24 yr old males- you have the right approach. But, if you were trying to grow the sport you just missed every other major catagory of paddlers. It's the current approach that is not working.

Did you know that in most households in the US it's the mother that make almost all desisions for the family purchases? It's something like 80% of the time. What often impresses argo little kids, tends to scare mothers. Moms won't sign kids up for classes unless they feel totally safe. It's a fact. It's mostly our own fault for not making them feel like anyone can become a paddler. The current ww kayaking enviroment has a very solid fundation of young argo males, that tells you right there that we're missing 2/3's of the world's population.

The resort side of the ski industry is what pushes the snow sports. Did you know that if you were to be staying in Aspen for your ski vacation: it is cheaper to rent gear, take a lesson, and get on the mountain- than it is to step into the ticket line and buy an all day lift ticket? Why? Because they want you to try the sport- they want to get you on the mountain. If you don't believe me just pick-up any ski magazine and any kayaking magazine. The ski mag will consist mostly of resort adds, and the kayaking mag will mostly consist of product adds. One approach is to get people into the sport and the other is to sell stuff to them.
I love to dance, but who needs the music- It throws me off.
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Old 11-22-2005   #16
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A couple thoughts...

I think slalom has failed over the years for a couple of reasons.
A)image, but that goes for the entire sport. The difference is slalom paddlers are still wearing the same thing. No, I don't know why.
B)technique. Slalom is and looks like a technically demanding sport, which makes it look difficult. Yeah, its not scary, but it looks like it takes forever to become good at it. It reminds me of telemark skiing. It looks twice as hard to do the same shit that everyone else is doing, which to the outsider is going down the hill. In kayaking, most outsiders think it would be cool to float on a river or go down a gentle rapid, but why make it harder? Doesn't an innertube look like as much fun and less energy being perfect? NOTE:Yes, some of the best paddlers ever have slalom backgrounds; EJ, Steve Fisher (I think), Corran Addison, Eric Southwick, Ed Lucero, and if I messed up the list it doesn't really matter. Point is slalom is great for your technique, which is why creek boaters invented the damn sport.
C)rules. Most outdoor sports thrive on the fact that their are no rules, no boundaries, limits, etc. So why focus on the one aspect of kayaking that does have rules.

Freestyle has also failed...
A) Lack of good features. If industry numbers were better and more targeted I bet you would see a larger impact of the Golden WWP when it was good enough to allow the biggest tricks to be thrown, compared to now when it is a shallow spin fest. Yes, kayaking is fun at all levels, but people don't understand cartwheels as much as they understand loops, and most of the popular parks are horrible for loops, or any aerial move for that matter. Bottom line, the features aren't good enough to let people see what is possible in a kayak, only the bottom level of freestyle.
B) Lack or good paddlers at the park. Yeah, I'm sure I'll get flamed for this. But, poor features keep the best paddlers away. Think about it, there are a ton of pros that live in Colorado, and more moving here everyday (this summer: Jed Selby, Katie Selby, Andre Spino-Smith, Jon Myers, Brad Ludden, Yonton, Spencer Cook, Dave Fusilli and recently Nick Turner and Tommey Hilleke to name a few). How many times did you see those people at Golden, or any of the most visible parks to the masses? Not nearly as often as they were in Durango and the Ark valley, where they received more attention from each other when they killed it on the best features in the state. Why weren't they at Golden? Because they have been throwing cartwheels since 1997, and frankly are sick and tired of throwing cartwheels in a mediocre feature, especially when massive aerials are available to them elsewhere.

Yes, I think wwp's are a great thing, but we could do a lot better in there design and their effect on non-paddlers. (I know, I wasn't supposed to say anything)

Creek events... I think there is potential here because they are exciting to watch. I kayak and I get very board watching freestyle, yet Pine Creek Boater X was amazing to see. It was finally an event on a venue that had the competitors scared. At the start you could see competitors talking to each other, wishing each other a good line, and hopeing that none of them swam (which many did). Tons of passing, and people understood the concept, bomb through the big fluffy waves and holes faster than anyone else.
As to whether it will get the attention of the rest of the world, I don't know, and I doubt it without a couple other things happening.

Those other things fall on the retail, instructional, manufacturer, and club side of things, and largely involve marketing, but thats another conversation, and everyone has mentioned great things about those potential changes. My hats off to you.

Again, just some overly opionated thoughts.

BSOE, you are the biggest smart ass on this site. I like it.
Kyle McCutchen
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Old 11-22-2005   #17
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Thanks, Cutch, it's hard work.

Marko, you're absolutely right, I have nothing to do with the industry. As an unfortunate weekend warrior, I view the river as a much needed escape. And although I enjoy more difficult water, I also like to float some easy shit on occasion to relax and maybe share with friends that don't boat (in a raft), etc. One of the things that drew me to the sport a few years back was the lack of too much company on the river, even in southern New England where it's almost impossible to get away from crowds. Even at the most popular play spot for a hundred miles I often found myself alone. Perhaps it's selfish of me, but I would hate to see that change. I appreciate your desire to make a living doing what you love to do...lord knows I'd like to...but sometimes that's just not practical. I, like open boater, am scared by all this crazy talk about resorts and the like.

Just one smartass's opinion...or is it? If the sport grew as quickly as you'd like, how many boaters would you lose?
I hope in the future Americans are thought of as a warlike, vicious people, because I bet a lot of high schools would pick "Americans" as their mascot. -Jack Handy
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Old 11-22-2005   #18
Denver, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1999
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Okay look.

I am not trying to spout that the kayaking needs a Vail. I am saying that if the kayak industry had an entity(resort) that understood demographics, and marketed to NEW consumers about vacations, and so forth it would help positive growth. I am not saying that Vail should buy a river and put a lift next to the river. You made that up! Try sticking to the points being made.

And Openboater--I see possibilites instead of settling for a crappy 9-5 job! Sometimes possibilities take motivation, sweat, and tears to accomplish. If everybody gave up on a lifestyle they would most likely not have your kayak, and gear, among other was the people who saw possibilities and gave it their all to accomplish a goal and as a result have helped to create a very cool sport. If you talk to any kayaker that created a company (Stohlquist, EJ, etc) you would see that they have struggled to provide this gear for YOU to enjoy. It was their visions that helped to create the possibility of your passion...DO NOT FORGET THAT as YOU enjoy kayaking! You seem to have missed my point all together. I did not state that I am looking to sell out the made that up. What part of reasonable-positive growth don't you understand!
You are right about Rodeo being BORING. I pointed this out about the types of events that might be more attractable to a mainstream consumer.

A sustainable industry can protect itself. The kayak industry is far from sustainable. It is a very immature industry, and (HYPOTHETICALLY) if Bush decided to close all river access, we would not have the politics or money to fight that battle.

AND RASDOGGY- You are a rookie, and you are very naive! I replied to your comments on the "teaching" thread. You need to actually experience something before you go spewing opinions.

Thanks Don, I totally agree with you about moms, and creating a safe image. You definitely get what needs to improvement.

And Cutch--You are just a punk Just kidding! You are very accurate about events. Your marketing degree will take you places young grasshopper.
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Old 11-22-2005   #19
Join Date: Jun 2004
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I think the many comments about "resorts" in kayaking have mutated from the original context in which resorts were mentioned. At the Whitewater Symposium in Glenwood Springs this past October the keynote speaker was John Norton, the former CEO of Crested Butte, and a long-time paddler. John's topic was a comparison of the ski industry, where he is an insider, to the kayak industry where he is an avid consumer.

John made a several observations that left the roomful of paddling industry folks a bit taken aback. First he drew the comparison that while skiing and paddling each had manufacturers and retailers, where they differ was skiing also has resorts. He went on to explain how that difference impacts the two industries. He characterized skiing as a mature industry in that they know their customers well, maintain databases with individual customer data, and have multiple means of interacting with them and maintaining detailed demographic and contact information that allows them to effectively target products and services to best service them. By contrast, John illustrated with personal experience how the paddling industry has no effective means to keep in contact with their customers or even really know much about them that is not anecdotal. John’s point was that the ski resorts play a large role in maintaining the close customer relationships that characterize a mature industry and that the paddling industry has no similar structure that addresses this need. There was little disagreement in the room from the paddling industry professionals that paddling as an industry has a gap that resorts fill for skiing. There was exactly zero discussion about developing paddling resorts.

A predominant theme throughout the symposium was how to attract and retain paddlers in the sport. That is why the keynote address hit home so strongly, and I can tell you, John did not have to buy any of his own drinks at the party after the dinner. He hit the nail on the head and the people in the room paid attention.

There are differing views as to whether paddling growth is good for the average paddler. My own, from my perspective as a paddling customer is growth is both good and necessary. While no one wants the rivers to be too crowded, we need to protect what we have and gain more access to rivers. Our best opportunity is with political leverage gained through effective use of the voice of the people impacted by access. The more the merrier especially when the paddling population supports the organizations that spearhead river access and conservation. We like to see manufacturers producing new designs in sizes that help all of us paddle boats that fit. We expect our retailers to carry wide inventories of many low margin products and make them available in every model for us to demo. All this happens only when the customer base is of sufficient size and grows at an acceptable and sustainable pace. I like me some LVM, so I hope they have enough customers to sustain the business and expand it. And by the way, let’s enjoy and support the opportunity to see them at Paddle Fest in Buena Vista this year. So yes, as a paddler I’m in favor of helping get more people into the sport.

This has been a very cool and active topic. I’ve meant for a while to write about the Whitewater Symposium, and this discussion spurred me to finally do it. Thanks all for that kick in the pants.

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Old 11-23-2005   #20
Join Date: Jan 2005
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Feel free to reply to my post on the other thread that started this topic.

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