National Ski & Snowboard

Retailers Association

Member Update
July 27, 2012

NSSRA Member Update
is transmitted via e-mail and contains news of interest to members of the National Ski & Snowboard Retailers Association.


Those of you who are not NSSRA members are encouraged to join and take advantage of the exclusive member benefits and to add your voice to those who advocate for all specialty snowsports retailers.


Larry Weindruch

NSSRA President
(888) 257-1168, Ext. 129


Please feel free to share this newsletter with your colleagues. 
In This Issue
A Conversation with Mary Jo Tarallo, Executive Director of Learn To Ski and Snowboard Month
Why We Don't Have a Common Measure of Boot Stiffness
NSSRA's Cost of Doing Business Survey Needs Your Help

A Conversation with Mary Jo Tarallo, Executive Director of Learn to Ski

and Snowboard Month

Brad Nelson: Mary Jo, you've been involved in the ski and snowboard industry for many years. Tell us about your background.


Mary Jo Tarallo: I've been in the snowsports industry for more than 30 years. I started as president of the Baltimore Ski Club and then the Blue Ridge Ski Council in the Mid-Atlantic region. I served as ski editor for the Baltimore Sun for 12 years and was the southeastern editor for the Snow Industry Letter.


I worked with SIA as director of Public Relations and Communications and director of Education and Special Projects. I managed PR for SIA for several years, created Winter Feels Good, managed Winter Trails, developed a multi-purpose education program and worked with leaders of resort associations to lay the groundwork for the first Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month (LSSM) in January, 2009.


In 2010 I was hired as a consultant and executive director for LSSM by the National Ski Areas Association.


BN: Help us understand LSSM, what is it and how does it work?


MJ: Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month is a theme, a website and a tool kit of materials that areas and retailers can use to create their own promotions to promote and grow snowsports. The objective is to create promotions that encourage children and adults to take ski and/or snowboard lessons from professional instructors - rather than trying to learn on their own or from friends.


BN: LSSM isn't an actual promotion to promote snowsports?


MJ: No, participating areas and retailers use the tools and materials on the LSSM sponsors website to create their own programs, then they list their programs on the LSSM consumer website


BN: So on the LSSM website there will be many different kinds of promotions sponsored by areas and retailers from around the country.


MJ: Yes, areas might offer a basic beginner package of lift, lesson and rentals. Retailers on the other hand, might create never-ever beginner classes in their store then bring these students to local areas for a lesson, lift and rental package. The sky's the limit in terms of what kind of promotions can be created. Many retailers and areas have worked together to create interesting programs.


BN: LSSM is a month long program that is run during the month of January. Why just the month of January?


MJ: There are a number of reasons. First off, January is usually a slower month for retailers and areas; it gives them a chance to focus on this effort during a little bit slower time of the season. Second, after the first of the year the general news media typically slows down a bit and they're looking for new and interesting topics for news stories. This is the reason why LSSM has been able to get such great media coverage by non-industry specific media.


BN: LSSM has been around for a couple of years. What is the new program we're hearing about -- Bring A Friend?


MJ: Bring a Friend is a companion program to LSSM. It is new for the 2012/13 season. The concept is simple. Like LSSM, partners create their own programs to encourage current skiers and snowboarders to bring their friends skiing and riding and to get them to take a lesson. Bring a Friend 2013 evolved from the SKI magazine/Ski Utah promotion last year and also from a "Take a Friend" promotion from several years ago. BAF programs are not confined to the month of January. They can take place all season long.


NOTE: Industry research indicates that most people are introduced to skiing and snowboarding through a friend or family member already involved. BAF is an opportunity to leverage current participants to help grow the market.


BN: If a retailer becomes a supporter of LSSM, are they also part of the BAF program?


MJ: Yes!


BN: Is there anything else that is unique to the BAF program?


MJ: Yes. The new micro site is targeted to current skiers and snowboarders. It encourages them to introduce newcomers to skiing and snowboarding via professionals. The Bring a Friend Challenge, hosted on the site, is a friendly competition that rewards participants for doing so at any partner location.


BN: Do retailers have to be a part of the Bring a Friend Challenge to partner with BAF?


MJ: No


BN: LSSM is a fairly new program, how is it doing?


MJ: The first organized LSSM effort took place in January 2009 at ski/snowboard areas in 22 states. About 20,000 children and adults took lessons via LSSM programs.


The following year, ski and snowboard areas in 33 states offered programs. Glen Plake became the first LSSM Ambassador. His appearance on The Today Show with Hoda Kotb attracted widespread attention for LSSM inside and outside the industry. Participation increased to 30,000.


In 2011 participation more than doubled to 75,000.


Despite a poor 2012 season, participation in LSSM programs increased to nearly 100,000.


BN: Whoa, this thing is really rockin'. I know from some of our conversations that there are far more areas than retailers involved in LSSM. Should retailers be part of this effort?


MJ: Retailers play an important role in the overall process that helps turn first-timers into life-timers. Newcomers may have their first on-snow experience at a resort but retailers have a unique opportunity to educate newcomers before and after with information about apparel and equipment needed for meaningful results.


LSSM and BAF offer retailers opportunities to create special promotions aimed at generating new customers either by collaborating with a local resort learning program or by working with their own customers under the banner of Bring a Friend.


Retailers can prepare newcomers for their first experience in ways that resort learning centers cannot -- especially in regard to apparel and equipment. Newcomers who have a positive learning experience -- on snow and off -- will more likely return and become lifetime enthusiasts. Retailers will be joining with industry colleagues in this effort to attract more customers.


LSSM is supported by NSSRA, NSAA, SIA, PSIA-AASI, NSP, USSA, state and regional resort associations, SMC, SSL, NBS and Sports Inc. buying groups, rep associations and the trade media.


BN: How does a retailer become part of LSSM?


MJ: Retailers who are not NSSRA members  or of one of the supporting buying groups, can sign up to be a part of LSSM/BAF by contacting me at The partner registration fee is $50 per store front. That will get them access to all promotional materials as well as a listing on the learn to ski and snowboard consumer site and a listing on the retailer locator map on


NSSRA members will not have to pay the $50 per storefront fee. In the next issue of the NSSRA newsletter we'll explore some ideas that you can use to create LSSM/BAF promotions in your stores.


Why We Don't Have a Common Measure

of Boot Stiffness

EDITOR'S NOTE: Last week, NSSRA President Larry Weindruch attended the ASTM F27 Snow Skiing Committee meetings in Burlington, Vt. One of the issues he raised was a growing frustration on the part of some specialty snowsports retailers regarding a standard or consistent system of measuring boot stiffness values across all brands. Several long-time members of the committee acknowledged that there has been conversation on this topic for nearly 40 years but that there were many reasons why a standard has not been established. One of the committee leaders, Dr. Jasper Shealy, a biomechanical engineer, agreed to contribute the following article, which outlines some of the scientific challenges to establishing such a standard.


By Jasper Shealy, Ph.D., C.P.E.

We have all faced the situation of trying to compare various boot manufacturers' ski boot stated stiffness values and wondered, "why isn't there a consistent system?"


Ski boot stiffness is a bit like obscenity, where Supreme Court Justice Stewart Potter famously said "I know it when I see it." If 10 different people tried on 10 different ski boots, there is a very good chance that we would rank them in pretty much the same order; in other words, we think we know stiffness when we see it.


If that is true, then why can't the manufacturers, or ASTM, or ISO come up with some system that would rank order boots on a stiffness scale? Sounds simple, but ASTM F27, the ISO and various boots manufacturers have struggled with this issue since the early 1970s without success.


Let me very briefly touch on some of the issues that make this a challenging problem. Part of the problem lies with the way standards work. There must be a definition of various terms, there must be a test method, and finally a set of specifications. Take the test method as a starting point. Would you test it with a human leg, or a lower leg prosthesis? Human legs sound good, but not all legs and feet are the same, so we can't get consistency with a human.


So what about an artificial leg? A prosthesis will be consistent and can be standardized, but among other things, the articulation of the human ankle is not simple. The human ankle is not a simple pivot. The articulation of the ankle joint involves not only the tibia/fibula rotating about the talus, but it also involved the flattening of the foot and various degrees of rotation of the bones in the foot and ankle. There is no fixed point of rotation for the ankle. So how faithful would a prosthesis be in the end?


Not only that, but what about the interaction between the boot and the foot? Ski boot stiffness is to a degree driven by how well the boot fits, and how snugly the buckles are adjusted. What would be the standard tightness and fit? A human is pretty good at saying that it is a good fit or not and how tight it is relatively speaking. Now how do we get the prosthesis to speak to us?


Depending on the last that the boot manufacturer uses, any given boot may work for a narrow foot but not a broad one, and obviously vice versa. What about the degree of instep arch; same issue? Women tend to have fatter and lower calves than men, so that matters. European feet are different from Asian feet, and American feet tend to be different from both European and Asian, and so it goes.


In other words, it is not as simple as it might seem at first blush. The bottom line seems to be that a good experienced boot fitter is your best bet. A really good boot fitter can size up a customer and let him or her try a few boots using an educated guess and generally do a good job. It is more art than science at this point. For many feet, it may require modification of the boot shell, or foot-bed, or arch supports, or canting, or, or, or....


NSSRA's Cost of Doing Business Survey Needs Your Help

If you are among the first responders to participate in NSSRA's biennial Cost of Doing Business Survey, please accept our thanks.


For the rest of you, what at you waiting for?


The Cost of Doing Business Survey is quite possibly the most important work NSSRA produces. This benchmarking report is requested by financial institutions, vendors and other outside sources because it is the only survey of its kind in the country that is specific to the snowsports industry. Bankers use this survey to analyze their customers' metrics.


If you paid a CPA to prepare this survey for your shop, it would cost hundreds - perhaps thousands - of dollars. As a member of NSSRA, you receive it for free.


The CODB survey is compiled by an independent audit firm, Industry Insights, hired to compile data from specialty snowsports retailers across the country. Industry Insights is not connected with, nor does it report to, any entity within or outside the snowsports industry. The survey is 100% anonymous and shows only average margins, expenses and financial ratios for similar sized area and non-area storefronts.


NSSRA members who participate in the survey also are entitled to a free personalized copy that compares your store's results to those of the entire industry.

How to Use the Survey

-- How to Get Your Free Personalized Copy of the CODB Survey:


Option 1: Go to the secure portal for the NSSRA Cost of Doing Business survey at Complete the brief survey. (It takes 4 minutes.) Then fax -- (614) 389-3816 -- or mail a copy of your P & L and Balance Sheet to Industry Insights, P.O. Box 5440, Dublin, OH 43016-9957. They will take the data from your statements and enter it anonymously into the survey. This is the quickest, easiest option.


Option 2: Download the survey from the NSSRA portal Print out, complete and mail or fax the survey and your financial statement to Industry Insights Inc. Instructions and options are included in the survey.


Option 3: Contact NSSRA President Larry Weindruch at (888) 257-1168, ext. 129 or lweindruch@, and he will walk you through the steps.


Don't wait till tomorrow. Send in your information today and know that you'll be part of an important tool for all specialty snowsports retailers.


NSSRA Thanks Our Supporting Members

3M Trade Show Management Services

Aegis Insurance Markets

Boa Technology, Inc.

Alpina Sports

Amer Sports

Dalbello Sports

Descente North America, Inc.

Dryguy, LLC

Dynacraft BSC, Inc.


Fischer Skis US

Horizon Agency, Inc.

Hotronic USA, Inc.

K2 Sports

Leisure Trends Group

M. Miller Luxury Outerwear

Marker-Volkl USA

Newberry Knitting

Nils, Inc.

Nordica USA



Smith Optics

Snowsports Industries America (SIA)

Tecnica Group USA

Turtle Fur Group


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