This is a pitch that turned into the Boost Get Schooled. It's a bit long for the subject, but
Jeff 1) demonstrates a definite expertise on the topic, 2) suggests an angle, 3) and says
how he'll do the research—those are things I look for. It's also very clean,
grammatically, etc, which speaks volumes.
I caught up with your boy Scott at the X Games last weekend. Good times but
I wish I could have laid down a few more turns. Mono-Skier X is retardedly
scary to watch.
Anyway I had an idea for a story that I wanted to lob your way while I'm
thinking about it. It would be called "The Gift of Grab" or something along
those lines and basically it would be the evolution of - you guessed it -
This would take a little research but I could figure out who did (or claims
to have done) the first grab and go from there, talking to pros about which
grabs stabilize, which grabs enable different corks and rotations, etc etc.
I imagine I could trace it all the way back to some skateboarder in the 70s
if we wanted to, but maybe for brevity's sake I'd just touch on that, move
onto snowboarding, and then get into the meaty ski stuff.
It could also include a "Gratuitous Grab Guide" that gets into the
nitty-gritty of all the grabs you see in comps with pics or illos depicting
what's what. A lot of these guys get really, really technical about where
you have to grab on your ski for different things to qualify, and Josh
Loubek (the head X Games judge) can spot and differentiate grabs like a
hawk, so he'd be a good authority there.
Anyway I know you guys just wrapped up the last issue so you might be out of
the office skiing for a while but when you get the chance, let me know what
Hope all is well, talk to you later -
This pitch is written in the same style the story might be—with a provocative lead and all.
So you're standing at the top of Corbett's Couloir with you buddy, Glenn Plake. You opt
for the easiest launch in, while Plake hunts for the gnarliest line. Sure you don't ski quite
as well as Plake, but there may be more at work than that. A Canadian researching is
trying to find out if there is a thrill-seeking gene. In other words, is Plake preprogrammed
to go bigger than you?
Since the 1970s psychologists have recognized that thrill seeking runs in families.
Researchers have even found an "adventure gene." But in all these studies general groups
of people have been used, not athletes. Cynthia Thomson, a grad student at the University
of British Columbia, plans to change that. She's using skiers at Lake Louise, Whislter and
other Canadian mountain towns to compare their skiing habits with the DNA. If she find
a link, the information could be used to link outdoor programs with thrill seeking kids.
"Forget basketball Johnny. You should be a big mountain skier."
I could give you a few hundred words on Thomson's research and what it might mean for
skiers. At the very least it's one more excuse for wussing-out on that hospital air.
Note: Any reference to your skiing ability compared to Glenn Plake's is fictional. I'm sure
you're a much ballsier skier.
This pitch shows that the writer knows the magazines department (“It’d work great for a
First Tracks story”), which is key. It’s also obviously a timely news hook.
Skiers wishing they‟d skied with Doug Coombs while he was still alive can do
the next best thing: learn from those who worked and skied with Coombs. Liz
Oakes and Miles Smart announced they‟ll continue to offer Doug Coombs‟ Steep
Skiing Camp in La Grave, France.
Apparently, before Coombs died he‟d chosen the two ski mountaineers to carry
on the camps. Now that Coombs himself won‟t be offering his famous ski
clinics, Smart and Oakes intend to perpetuate them in his name.
The continuation of Coombs‟ camps would make a great “First Tracks” story,
either for this year (if space remains) or for 07/08, when the article could
report on how the camp without Coombs came off. The story would include
quotes from Liz Oakes and Emily Coombs, who supports the event‟s
continuation and feels it‟s an appropriate tribute to her late husband.
You may already be on top of this story, but if not, I‟d love to write it up
for your department. Thanks for your time and consideration!
See the pitch below for a good example of voice. Also, see Marc’s note on what he liked
------ Forwarded Message
Date: Mon, 8 May 2006 18:52:17 -0400
Conversation: The heli boat...
Subject: Re: The heli boat...
Wow. That‟s incredible. We have to have it.
Scott, see below from Les. Can you get him going on a First Tracks piece?
350 words with photos.
Les, thanks for thinking of us with this one. It‟s a riot. I like the way you
presented it below. Let‟s try to go for that same blend of absurdity-played-
straight and wild-natural-science in the piece.
OK then, how about a new meaning for the phrase “snow snakes.” Really.
I just came back from a trip to Finland. I was largely in Lapland, up to 300
km north of the Arctic Circle. I was skiing at a place called Levi when a
girl told me she loved skiing this time of year except for the fact that there
were so many “snakes” around. Assuming, of course, she was referring to
hazards in the snow North American style, I mentioned that I, too, had run
into some stray tree branches off-piste the day before. “No, no,” she said.
“I mean real snakes. At Yllas ski area they are everywhere.”
Long story short, being the herpetologist at heart that I am, I go to Yllas
and find, no shit, hundreds of vipers emerging from hibernacula in the
middle of the mountain, in the frickin‟ arctic, with a metre of snow on the
ground, some of them bolting down the T-bar line and scattering skiers
like bowling pins.
They are an incredibly cold-tolerant species called the European Adder
(Vipera bereus), and are the most widely distributed snake species in the
world ranging from Britain to China and everywhere in between; in the
north of their range they breach the arctic circle and in the south they live
on mountain tops. But the bottom line is there are venemous frickin‟
snakes belting across the snow at some of Finland‟s most popular ski
areas, on a busy holiday weekend.
I have photos. I believe this is the prototypical funny/absurd news hit.
This pitch includes what other press the subject matter has already received – which is
important. If we know Powder’s already done a feature on it, we’ll probably not go for it.
Always good to do a quick search to see if both the magazine you’re pitching it to has
already covered it — or one of their competing magazines has.
The Girl with the Six Dollar Shoes
When I first met Grete Eliassen, I was waiting at the baggage claim of the Reno
International Airport, trying to find the 21-year-old freestyle skiing phenom who I was
supposed to picking up for a photo shoot. I was worried I might not be able to spot her.
Turns out, she naturally separated from the casino-going crowd. She was wearing skinny
leg jeans, a tight white t-shirt, and fluorescent pink Nike skate shoes, and she was
schlepping a large, plaid Dakine ski bag. She had the distinguished blond-haired-blue-
eyed look of Norwegian ancestry (her parents are from Lillehammer) mixed with iPod-
toting American newschooler.
“Do you like my kicks?” she asked me after I introduced myself. “I bought them in China
for six bucks.”
For the next three days, I would get to know Grete (pronounced “Greta”), a feisty
sophomore at the University of Utah who grew up ski racing in Minnesota until the age
of 13, when her parents moved the family back to Norway. In addition to numerous
Winter X Games gold medals in superpipe and appearances in various ski porns, Grete
also won last April’s If Ullr Was a Girl contest at Whistler, an American Idol-style talent
show where online voters picked their favorite female contestant. Greta beat over 100
girls for the title and collected a cash prize of $25,000—which she promptly donated to a
sports charity for women. She owns a townhouse in Salt Lake City, where she hosts
dinner parties (“I’m over the college party scene,” she says) and “just for fun” she took a
summertime job working at a golf course, where she quickly climbed the ranks to
manager. She designs women’s skis for her sponsor, Armada, and her goal, once she’s
done stomping her competition in the half pipe, is to join the business side of the ski
Powder magazine did a feature-length profile on Grete, but otherwise, she’s only been
covered in smaller ways in the ski mags. I think a profile on her would focus on the fact
that unlike the Lindsay Lohan-inspired young skiers on the freestyle circuit these days,
Grete is smart, driven, and well beyond her years.
This write has done literally no research on the subject. Instead, he’s providing links with
his comments on the story (very bad idea). The story idea is a good one, it’s just too bad
he executed his pitch like this.
SLC is discussing (again) an interconnect of all 7
resorts via a road over Guardsmans Pass and from LCC
to BCC...could make a good newsy item...let me know.
the first question is do your constituents really want
http://www.sltrib.com/news/ci_4514650--Op-ed piece, I
like this one...the author is a little bit saucy!
your boss is an oilman, for christ sake!
7-resort Megaplex."...oh, for fucks sake! This article
is full of unsourced 'facts & figures'.
The structure and presentation are good, but the idea’s weak. Whoa, white kids (who by
now have grown up listening to rap) like rap. Stop the presses.
Rap is showing up on skiers‟ iPods and on ski movie soundtracks, but white
kids surfing the snow in non-urban mountain towns aren‟t exactly rap‟s core
audience. Yet KRS-One, one of the first inductees into the Hip-Hop Hall of
Fame and a rap legend who‟s been big on the hip-hop scene from the very
beginning, has been playing lots of ski-town shows: Steamboat, Breckenridge,
Tahoe, Aspen. In fact, it was in Steamboat that he met DJ Cocheze, a local
opening act who so impressed the Blastmaster that he invited the young
„boater to tour with him. So are ski towns an unlikely pool of rap talent?
Or does rapping for privileged white kids feel like a commercial detour
worlds away from hip-hop‟s roots?
A First Tracks Q&A with KRS-One (Kris Parker) would lay out the answers.
I‟ve listened to KRS-One for a few years now, and I was a little surprised
when this artist—who prides himself on producing hard-core hip-hop—came to
Steamboat to do a show. I‟m curious to know how this relatively
non-commercial rapper feels about rap‟s popularity among skiers, and his
take on rapping to mountain audiences. How does Parker, who spent much of
his youth in group homes, feel about performing in enclaves like Aspen?
If there‟s still time to consider it, I think this idea would make an
interesting interview for next year‟s lineup. Thanks for thinking it over,
This person called First Tracks, Cold Front (the old name). That was the first red flag.
Condos VS fractionals (Cold Front Scene)
The latest great in resort real estate are fractionals. This means owning a percentage of a
home, usually country-club style condos with juicy amenities like maid service and
private golf courses. These communities are popping up all over ski resorts, so a smart
skier asks are they a good way to make owning in a ski town happen. I would explore the
cons and pros of fractional ownership for skiers. Could fractionals be a solution to
sprawl and preserving natural areas?
I want powder and mud (Cold Front Scene)
Making a ski spa easy
For many of us the concept of royal treatment after a hard day of skiing comes in the
form of a hot shower and a cold can of beer, but what if you could soothe that recurring
knee pain, fight off fatigue and help your body recovery from a powder day just with one
hour at a spa. This article would be a 101 introduction into spa treatments for skiers. I
would talk to experts in the spa industry and look at what treatments are best for skiers
like hot stone massages and energizing foot therapy. Then explain how a spa works, what
to look for in a facility and highlight specific treatments for ski injuries and muscle
Kit DeLauries -- The first woman to ski all seven summits
Dick Townall- staff organizer for World Cup Beavercreek -300 plus volunteers, long
time Vail local
A few problems with the pitches here. For one, they’re not flushed out at all. Maybe she’s
just assuming that since she’s done work other eds here, that these would get green light.
Not the case. We’d never pull the trigger on a story with such a scanty pitch. You don’t
get a feel for her voice in the pitch. That’s key. Also, she’s pitching these to the wrong
department. They’d work much better as DIYs.
------ Forwarded Message
We haven't had the chance to meet yet (or have we--I
still have some early morning cobwebs going on...) I'm
a Denver-based writer who has worked with Rachel and
Tracy on the women's issue and on a couple of quick
items for the FOB. I have a few undeveloped First
Tracks ideas for you. Let me know what you think and I
can write more in-depth pitches. They are all
self-explanatory how-to stories that could be as
simple as putting together a step-by-step list of
things to do.
-Hitchhike in the backcountry: I'm specifically
thinking of dirtbag-type backcountry goers who park at
the top of a mountain pass, ski down, and hitch back
up to the car.
-Trim your skins
-Ski photography for dummies: a quick tutorial of
F-stops, exposure metering, film speed, etc. for
Thanks; have a good weekend,
This isn't laughably bad or anything, but it's way too isolated and specific and wouldn't
be of any interest to readers stateside. A lot of Swedes live in Andermatt. Well, that's just
How are you? You'll be happy to know that I'm not writing in regard to a payment issue. I
have a pitch for you, below. Not sure what this particular pitch means in light of Skiing's
recent acquisition by a Swedish company, but an interesting parallel nonetheless...
HED: Swedish Invasion
DEK: In Switzerland and throughout the Alps, Swedes are taking over the ski scene
In Switzerland mountain towns, that sing-songy gibberish everyone‟s speaking isn‟t
German or French; it‟s Swedish. What‟s more, Swedes own the Swiss backcountry. The
Swiss are too busy carving up the groomers to realize there‟s a world of bowls and chutes
ready to be tracked up. Testifying to this, Dan Bird, founder of Birdos Skis, a handmade
freeride ski company based in Andermatt, says because he doesn‟t make carving skis his
clientele is almost entirely Scandinavian.
I propose an article describing this phenomenon, its causes, and its effects on the skiing
in Switzerland. I have become friends with group of Swedish ski bums at my local hill,
Engelberg, and have access to competitive Swedish freeskiers, for quotes. I could also put
together a sidebar of other ski destinations that become overwhelmed by foreign ski-
bums during the winter (Aussies and Kiwis in Alberta and BC, Japanese in New Zealand,
Let me know what you think. Hope all's well.