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AST WINTER DEW TOUR MEDIA CONFERENCE
July 14, 2008
TOBY ZWIKEL: Good day, everyone. Thank you for taking time out of your schedules to be with us for what we feel is a very exciting day. We have with us Wade Martin, the president of AST, along with athletes Simon Dumont, Hannah Teter, and representatives from the three event resorts. We're here to discuss the dates and the locations for the inaugural 2008/2009 AST Winter Dew Tour. We'll hear from six different speakers actually. They'll each have an opportunity to tell you a little bit about the Winter Tour and then we will open it up to media questions at the conclusion of their remarks.
Thank you again for being with us. Wade, please open things up and let us know what's going to happen with the inaugural AST Winter Dew Tour.
WADE MARTIN: Thanks, Toby. Thanks, everyone, for joining the call today. This is a big day for us and an exciting day for us as we're announcing both the winter sites for the tour, for the Winter Dew Tour, and our dates, which we're launching in December, January and February of next year.
But overall this is something we've had on our radar for a while. Really since we launched the AST Dew Tour, moving into winter is something we've been wanting to do. Today marks making that real, I think.
We've got some amazing athletes on the call with us in Hannah and Simon and three resorts we're really proud to call our partners moving forward. With that, I'll announce the sites and the dates.
We'll be kicking things off at Northstar Ski Resort in Colorado on December 18th to the 21st. From there we move to Mount Snow, Vermont, for the second stop on the tour, January 8th through 11th. And then we finish things up in Northstar-at-Tahoe in California, February 19th through the 22nd, where our first ever Dew Cup champions will be crowned on the winter side.
So really three extraordinary resorts. Again, we're really pleased to be announcing them today as our partners. There probably are no other resorts equipped either to handle what we think is going to be a big event, some big media exposure, and Breckenridge, Mount Snow and Northstar are three resorts that bring tremendous credibility and expertise. We will lean on them heavily over the next few months as we launch our first Winter Tour. We're very excited to call all three of these resorts or inaugural host sites and look forward to some great events this year.
Just a little bit more about the Winter Tour in general. As many of you now know, NBC Sports has been the owner of AST since its inception, but just a few months ago we announced MTV as our owner in the tour, as well. So now NBC and MTV are co-owners in the tour, which brings a very powerful media lineup to the mix, especially on the winter side. There will be over 10 hours of coverage on NBC, another six hours on USA Network, then another 12 to 15 hours on MTV and MTV2. A lot of live programming coming out of the events, which I think is unique to the winter event landscape. I think it will be a powerful statement for winter sports and for these resorts that are on the phone to have this kind of live media programming packaging coming out of each event.
In many ways, the Winter Tour will follow that of our summer model from our distribution partners to our sponsorship model and to the season-long points standings which we think is a critical component of the series in developing meaning and context to these amazing events and amazing athletes.
So, again, we're thrilled to be here. We're thrilled to be entering the winter landscape. We've got a lot to learn and that's why we've got some great partners on the phone with us on the resort side and we're ready to get things kicked off.
So I will turn it over from here.
TOBY ZWIKEL: Thank you very much. I think the next person we're going to hear from is one of the folks from the resorts, Ryan Whaley. Ryan is the communications director for Northstar Ski Resort in Colorado.
RYAN WHALEY: Thanks, Wade, you guys, for having us, taking some time out of the day to kind of introduce this. We're really excited at Breck, really excited. AST has picked just some great resorts to host this event. And I do think that Breck is going to be a great place to kind of kick it off. Very close to Denver. Only 90 minutes away from a major international airport, which should make the intro event fun and easy to get to.
One of the things we're excited about, just a few years ago we build a great gondola called the Breck Connect, and it connects downtown to peak seven and peak eight. Of course, peak eight is where these events will be at, the main snow events, so it's going to make things real easy to get between the two spots.
The other thing we're excited about is we've really been over the years on the cutting edge of snow sports, early adapters of snowboarding, big events there. Of course, last year we hosted the North American Freeski Open with Simon. Excited to have him back here. That event was a blast and things went well.
So I think this is just kind to kind of continue -- just kind of continue how successful everybody has been at Breck and I think it's going to kick off a great tour. The other thing we're excited about is certainly that TV coverage is exciting. We are very excited to show off our parks and pipes. They constantly rate high in the mags and everything as the No. 1, No. 2. So they're always up there. We're excited to show it off again this year.
I think it's going to be a great tour. And I think Greg Fisher is up next for Mount Snow. I'd like to turn it over to him.
GREG FISHER: Thanks, Ryan. I just want to say, Mount Snow, we're extremely excited to host the second stop along the Winter Dew Tour. This couldn't come at a more perfect time for Mount Snow. About three weeks prior to learning we were picked to host the second stop, we announced the New Corinthia Park Project in which we are going to take our entire Corinthia mountain face, which is where the Dew Tour will be housed out of. That's 95 acres of freestyle terrain. We're going to have 12 terrain parks. The Corinthia based area is such a nice place to watch these venues because the superpipe sits right in front of our deck. The major slopestyle competition for the event will also sit and finish right in front of our Corinthia deck.
A few years ago we hosted a little event called the X Games back in 2000 and 2001. I think we're really excited to get back into having these major competitions here at Mount Snow. Working alongside with NBC and MTV is extremely exciting. It will be fun to have our own Olympic girl Kelly Clark back home on our home turf competing in front of her friends and family here at Mount Snow.
You know, the tour that you have with Breckenridge and Northstar, we're extremely excited to be a part of them. Mount Snow, as you know, is only two and a half hours from Boston, another three and a half hours from New York City. We're really looking forward to having some big crowds here at Mount Snow. We're so stoked to have you guys here. We can't wait.
I think Chris Gunnarson is going to be next from Northstar.
TOBY ZWIKEL: Just to clarify, Greg is director of events for Mount Snow Resort. As Greg said, our next speaker is Chris Gunnarson. Chris is vice president of youth market development for Booth Creek Ski Holdings, which represents Northstar-at-Tahoe, California. Go ahead, Chris.
CHRIS GUNNARSON: Thanks, Toby. Thanks, Greg. So both Breckenridge and Mount Snow are perfect partners with Northstar to host such a prestigious tour. I think like the other two guys have said, I think we're all so excited about what this tour means to each of us individually and also just kind of the health of the resort industry to see these kind of great on-snow events continue to appear. I know with what NBC has done with the Summer Dew Tour, this one's going to be just huge.
Kind of on the Northstar side, in recent history, Northstar has been heavily committed to terrain parks, to half pipes, and of course the youth market that appreciates those kinds of amenities, especially when they're done well.
Additionally, we have a brand-new village that complements all of the on-mountain improvements and expansions that's been happening over the past five years and that will continue over the next five to 10 years. Some pretty major developments there.
Most importantly to the Winter Dew Tour, Northstar has an incredible staff who are all dedicated to making every aspect of this resort top-notch and memorable. I know that's going to show in the venue here. You kind of put all those things together, and Northstar is the ideal mountain host for the final stop of the Winter Dew Tour.
Previously we've hosted such events as the Vans Cup, the TransWorld Team Challenge, the USA Nationals, and now we're all extremely excited about hosting the final stop of the inaugural Winter Dew Tour.
With that, I believe I now get the pleasure of turning the call over to one of the best, if not the best, in the world, Olympic medalist Hannah Teter.
HANNAH TETER: Whoa. Hey, everybody. Right now I'm snowboarding, as usual, getting my tricks ready for this Dew Tour. But first I wanted to thank AST for including me on this announcement. Kind of a big deal.
I feel like the Dew Tour is gonna be huge and I'm really looking forward to riding on the entire series this year, competing in both the halfpipe and slopestyle, which I haven't done since a year before the Olympics. Being an all-around rider is super important, and I don't want to be the pipe jock anymore, so I'm stoked it's halfpipe and slopestyle.
The resorts that have been chosen are some of the best in the world. I'm a bit biased because I was born in Vermont and currently live in Tahoe, so two of them will feel like home to me.
Honestly, I feel like the Dew Tour is all the industry has been talking about from a comp perspective ever since it was announced earlier in the year because the prize purse is huge, the TV hours are super huge. So many hours on TV, we're gonna be famous. And the whole series is just gonna be incredible.
Now since I donate all my prize money to charity, I'll be getting super groovy out there. So, yeah, should be a good time. Pretty stoked.
TOBY ZWIKEL: Thank you, Hannah. I know you said you are in Oregon right now where it's 90 degrees.
HANNAH TETER: It was 98 yesterday. But it was 60 on the mountain, so...
TOBY ZWIKEL: Thank you very much. Appreciate your comments.
Our final speaker, before we head to the media questions, is Simon Dumont, who is the world superpipe champion in freeskiing. Simon, can you give us your thoughts on the inaugural Winter Dew Tour.
SIMON DUMONT: I'm just really excited for it. I feel like we have a lot of TV coverage, 30 hours over a three-month period. It's going to put a lot of exposure on skiing. We've been trying to grow our sport from the beginning and I think the Dew Tour, we have halfpipe and slopestyle, I think it's going to broadcast our sport to a whole new series of people that haven't seen it yet.
Yeah, I don't know, I feel like all the riders are going to step up their game with the prize purse and the amount of coverage. I feel like everything's going to go to a higher level. And I think that's what we're going to need. Also, you know, with skate, BMX, FMX, this whole summer edition of Dew Tour, I talked to all those athletes, they're saying it's run so well, they're so excited for it every year, I glad you're jumping into winter and giving us a chance to show the whole crowd what we have.
And, of course, the $1.5 million prize purse, who doesn't like taking home a little money, I hope I can. Last of all, I'm psyched to be, you know, Breckenridge, Colorado, right next door to me, and then go to Vermont, back to the East Coast where I'm from, then Northstar is the first big contest I ever entered in my whole career. It's going to be nice to go back there and see what's going on.
I'm really happy for the Dew Tour to happen and come to winter sports.
WADE MARTIN: Thank God for Hannah and Simon, who filled in all the blanks that I forgot to mention. The disciplines which we didn't cover was freeskiing and snowboarding, men and women in both slopestyle and superpipe, which those guys filled in for me. And then, as Simon mentioned, the $1.5 million prize purse.
Then it's become sort of a cornerstone of the Summer Dew Tour, the whole festival village and music scene that accompanies the tour, will be a big part of the winter series as well.
TOBY ZWIKEL: Thanks, Wade.
At this time t if we can open it up to media questions, please.
Q. What is the pipe size going to be or the superpipe?
WADE MARTIN: You're asking the wrong guy that question. But I believe we're talking about it will be 21-foot pipes. Actually, Gunny is the person to ask that question to. Chris, what is the right answer?
CHRIS GUNNARSON: I think at this time it's still going to be an 18-foot pipe at each stop with the possibility for a 22 potentially at the last stop.
WADE MARTIN: There you go.
Q. Will there be any junior jam events throughout the weekend?
WADE MARTIN: At this point we haven't contemplated that. With the Summer Tour, we have the Free Flow Tour, which is our am series that goes throughout the summer and qualifies people in the end into the Dew Tour. And it's been a huge success. It's something we're big believers in because it really helps identify the next stars, grows the sports at a grassroots level. It's been a terrific component of the Dew Tour. It's something we want to add into winter and we're still exploring exactly when and how we're going to do that. It's something we'd like to see happen for sure.
Q. To qualify for the event, is there going to be a qualifying for amateurs to show up for qualify or is it just going to be ranked pros who are allowed to compete?
WADE MARTIN: The way it will work is, first stop of the first year will have a predetermined qualification criteria that will qualify a certain number of athletes in. And then additionally we'll have an open qualifying system, similar to what we've done on the Summer Dew Tour side, which again is a huge piece of the tour because this isn't about, you know, just providing opportunities through invitations, it's about creating real context and infrastructure for these sports. And the open qualifying is a big part of that.
And so after we move through that first stop over time, you know, the qualification will be based on your standings in the series. But obviously we don't have something to base that off of at the first stop. It will be a combination of open qualifying with a predetermined qualification criteria.
Q. So amateurs aren't going to be just able to show up for a qualifying and make it into the big event?
WADE MARTIN: No.
Q. Will there be any concerts or parties along with the festivities?
WADE MARTIN: Yeah. We'll be doing specialty comps at each events. We'll probably be doing a rail jam at some of the stops along with music. Verizon Wireless is actually the sponsor of our music series for the Summer Dew Tour and will be doing the same for the winter. We haven't started planning the parties yet, but there will definitely be some.
Q. Hannah, I'm hoping you're going to have a pancake benefit with Hannah's Gold at Mount Snow. Any possibilities of that?
HANNAH TETER: Yeah. I was thinking about that, bringing it all back to Vermont, getting my family and me together to raise some money and raise some awareness, sell some more syrup for the town we sponsor in Kenya. But, yeah, I'll try. I'll probably try to introduce -- I'm going to come out with a new shot-size travel bottle. So maybe we can launch that there. So bring your appetite.
Q. I'm not sure who can answer this. I know this is getting a little political. Mountain Dew had kind of cut some of its money in action sports because a lot of energy drinks have really started to dominate. I'm sort of glad to see that Mountain Dew is adding in action sports rather than backing off. Can anybody comment on that.
WADE MARTIN: I'm not sure they ever backed off. But I do think we've seen a lot more players get into the mix, particularly the energy drinks when it comes to athlete endorsements.
I think everyone is excited to have Mountain Dew in this space in a big way. They've been here for the last 14 years supporting everything from athletes to amateurs to big pro competitions like this.
So, you know, I'm as excited that you are that Mountain Dew is stepping up in a big way on the winter side. I don't want to speak for them, but I think their focus is shifting to really support and putting their resources behind the Dew Tour and creating the series both on the summer and winter side.
And they still sponsor select number of athletes, but they're focusing on both the athlete and event side, where a lot of the energy drinks are really focused squarely on the athletes, which is great, because we need both for the whole industry to go around.
Q. Simon and Hannah, other than the X Games, this is going to be the only tour that's going to have skiing and snowboarding combined in a professional arena. Tell me what your feelings are about that. Is this sort of the lead-up to the Olympics? I believe the skiing is going to be in the superpipe in the next Olympics in Whistler.
HANNAH TETER: Well, I'm excited. I don't know about you, Simon.
SIMON DUMONT: Yeah, I'm just as excited. It's cool to go out there and watch all the snowboarders do their thing, you know. I feel like I can relate with all the pressure and, you know, with how much media there's going to be and how much the prize purse is. And then, you know, at the end they're going to be crowning a champ. I think it's going to be cool to see how everybody, you know, comes together and how snowboarding does and see who takes it there.
Hopefully they're going to be watching us and we can get a little respect and vice versa. I think it will just be good for both sports.
HANNAH TETER: Yeah, yeah. You guys go really big, so it's inspiring.
SIMON DUMONT: I think it will be huge for both sports on a media basis. We're both going to get a lot of exposure. Super excited to be part of it.
HANNAH TETER: Me, too.
Q. I'm wondering if we have any media embargoes on results or live coverage from a standpoint of us trying to cover on freeskier.com and the other zillions of websites?
WADE MARTIN: No. I think that's one of the nice things you're going to see. With live coverage, you know, I think it's live coverage for a reason: because it's hard to make a sport important if your results are held for a month or two while you're waiting for your show to come on the air.
I think, no, there's going to be media results, there's going to be media programming coming out of this. I think it's going to be a huge part of the benefit this provides to the athletes, to the resorts, and to the sports overall. Because, again, I think it's one of the things that makes sport great, is the emotion and passion that comes out of it at that moment. It's hard to capture those kind of things and put them on tape for a month.
TOBY ZWIKEL: We'll let everyone go. Thank you again for joining us. We're excited about the 2008/2009 AST Winter Dew Tour. Again, looking forward to the balance of the season on the summer tour. We have our next event, the second event in Cleveland this week. We'll be heading on to Portland, Salt Lake City, and Orlando in the ensuing three months. Hopefully you'll be able to follow us with those, as well. Thanks again, everyone.
End of FastScripts