The Storm Spring Sale: No NFTs, No Blockchain, No BS – Just Skiing, All the Time, All Year Long
Plus a new benefit for paid subscribers
TL/DR: Starting next week, paid subscribers will receive podcasts three days before free subscribers. Since this is a major change to free-tier content, I want to provide free subscribers an opportunity to upgrade at a discount rate. An annual Storm subscription will return to the introductory rate of $50 through Monday, May 30, 2022.
You may have seen, early last month, this impenetrable pile of garbage published on Outside’s website, promoting “the launch of [Outside Inc.’s] first NFT and Web3 initiative, the Outerverse.”
What is the “Outerverse?” Outside is so glad you asked:
“The initiative will roll out this year and consist of three parts: an NFT marketplace, housed on the just launched website Outside.io; a community-oriented creator platform; and an Outside-branded token. All will run on the Solana blockchain.”
If you’re thinking, “Wow, there’s a list of things I couldn’t possibly care less about,” then you probably just don’t understand what a fabulous development this is. As the article explains:
The first Outside-branded NFT, called the Outerverse Passport, will drop in early June. This limited-edition NFT will grant owners three-year access to Outside+, the company’s core membership product, as well as early access to all upcoming NFT mintings from Outside and its partners.
The home of the company’s Outerverse marketplace also launched Monday at Outside.io; this is where fans can buy a Passport and find future NFT collectibles from a select group of artists, influencers, nonprofits, and other partners celebrating the Outside audience’s “favorite athletes, destinations, and races,” according to the company.
Still not interested? Me neither. In fact, I haven’t the remotest idea what any of this even means. It may as well be written in Dolphin. I don’t understand what an NFT is, or a “token,” or blockchain. And I don’t care. And I never will. And The Storm will never become anything other than it is right now: a newsletter and podcast focused always and only on the world of lift-served skiing, 303 articles, including 97 podcasts, in the two years and seven months since launch. The Storm will be, by turns, serious, angry, droll, absurd, pedantic, wistful, melodramatic, and self-referential. But The Storm will always be about skiing and skiing alone. There will be more charts. More Bros. More 7,000-word breakdowns on the minutia of reciprocal pass deals. At some point, I will add Canada. But I will never be like, “surprise, here’s why you should care about doxy infrared cycladone microchips.” Hell, I will never even start talking about MTB or ski racing or the Olympics or politics. No “some things are more important than skiing” posts about current events, however urgent they are. Downhill. Lift-served. Skiing.
There are fewer and fewer places to find this kind of focused content these days. I wrote about the continued degradation of the traditional ski media in a subscribers-only post last week:
In the last five years, the print ski media, my formative medium, has all but collapsed in the United States. Skiing is gone. Powder is mostly gone (the website lives on). And last week, Ski Editor-in-Chief Sierra Shafer sent the following email to the magazine’s contributors (she re-posted the email in a since-deleted tweet):
“hope you’ll forgive the mass email; we have some news we want to share with all of our valued contributors as quickly and efficiently as possible.
“Yesterday, Outside Inc. made the difficult decision to reduce print by 80 percent across the company. In addition to our unified Winter Gear Guide, we will only produce one additional print magazine this year and for the foreseeable future. We are just beginning the process of determining what this SKI annual is will look like and what we will be able to include in its pages.
“If you have completed any work for print for us this year, please know we will be paying you in full for that at the assigned rate, regardless of if we are able to run your piece in print. Any remaining work will likely find a home on SKI’s website.
“With a renewed focus on our digital content, we are still actively assigning and publishing work for the web. In fact, digital assignments will now receive more of our resources going forward. Please continue to pitch us your most brilliant ideas.
“This is a big shift for us all, but far from the end of SKI as a home for the most essential stories in skiing. Change is hard/scary/essential and I hope in time we can all look at the possibilities in the digital and social spaces with optimism and creativity.
“It’s also worth noting, that there were a number of layoffs at all levels of the company in connection with this change and others. Thankfully, SKI’s editorial staff was not affected. Unfortunately, we no longer get to work with Elyse Schrieber as our art director.
“Please feel free to reach out with any questions, knowing that this news is fresh to us too and it may take some time for us to get all of the answers. We appreciate, so deeply, your support and understanding.
“Thank you for trusting us with your work.”
So there you go. The news follows Outside’s idiotic strategy shift to something it calls the Outerverse. The company laid out its plans in a mostly incomprehensible post that babbled on about NFTs and “tokens” and blockchain. It’s unclear whether the shift away from print and mass layoffs are directly related to this strategy shift, but it seems likely that they are.
This is all so dumb. You know what skiers want? Stories about skiing. Pictures of skiing. Thoughtful analysis about skiing. You know how I know that? Because I just built a brand from scratch that does at least one of those things. The shift to a paid-subscription model has gone very well for The Storm. This is now a sustainable enterprise. And I am just getting started. The more that what’s left of the traditional ski media gets subsumed by digital fads and remains at the whims of parent companies that have no understanding of skiing and its culture, the more opportunity The Storm has to build an audience around ski-centric content created explicitly for ski-obsessed readers.
This is not, mind you, what I want, necessarily. I’m not trying to rule the world here. I do not want legacy ski media to go away. I do not want to be the lone voice for the ski-obsessed seeking rational discourse. I want to be part of something big and vigorous and interesting, with competing perspectives and angles caroming about. But I have lost faith in any kind of media conglomerate to deliver this. Skiing needs a truly independent magazine, something like what Powder used to be, something like my long-time partner Mountain Gazette, but focused always and only on skiing. It wouldn’t be easy, necessarily, but it wouldn’t be impossible, either. MG owner Mike Rogge has set the template. He’s making this thing work with just several thousand subscribers. It’s a premium title with a premium price, but the voice is truly independent, with minimal advertising, beholden to no one but its subscribers. And it’s a work of art, compelling, exceptional, worth the $60 per year. A ski-centric version could work. Who’s going to do it?
I have no idea. It won’t be me. I have enough to do. I am obsessed with making The Storm better, and with ensuring that its paid subscribers who have committed to a sustainable product are getting value from that commitment. In the two months since I enabled the paywall, they’ve gotten around 50,000 words – half a novel – of analysis, news, and reporting that no one else has access to.
I want to continue to create value for them. And I want to invite you to join us. Starting next week, paid subscribers will get podcasts three full days before free subscribers. I already have interviews booked through December. While this list is subject to change, here’s what’s coming, and in this order:
Paul Bunyan, Wisconsin owners TJ and Wendy Kerscher (already recorded)
Snow Trails, Ohio GM Scott Crislip
Vail Resorts EVP and COO of the Rocky Mountain Region Bill Rock
Snow Partners (Mountain Creek and Big Snow, New Jersey) CEO Joe Hession
Perfect North, Indiana GM Jonathan M. Davis
Gore Mountain, New York GM Bone Bayse
Bogus Basin, Idaho GM Brad Wilson
Boyne Resorts CEO Stephen Kircher
Pats Peak, New Hampshire GM Kris Blomback
Sun Valley, Idaho GM Pete Sonntag
Brundage, Idaho GM Ken Rider
Nub’s Nob, Michigan GM Ben Doornbos
Bromley, Vermont GM Bill Cairns
Monarch Mountain, Colorado GM Randy Stroud
Sundance, Utah President and GM Chad Linebaugh
Vail Mountain, Colorado VP and COO Beth Howard
Worcester Telegram & Gazette Snowsports columnist Shaun Sutner
I have dozens more podcast interviews in various states of discussions and commitment. They will keep coming. For years. Not every week, but more weeks than not. Lift-served skiing is a rich world, and I am in no danger of running out of people to talk to.
I promised the podcast would always be free, and it will be. But paid subscribers will now get it first. Since this is a pretty major change, I’m bringing back the original annual subscription rate ($50 per year), from today through Memorial Day – Monday, May 30, 2022. A subscription would also get you instant access to all archived paywalled posts, all future subscribers-only posts, the ability to comment on articles, and the satisfaction of knowing you are supporting a publication that will always and only be preoccupied with the world of lift-served skiing.
I am incredibly grateful to anyone who has supported The Storm in any way. That includes everyone on the free email list. Without your attention and – that most valuable of resources – your time, this thing would just be words floating in the internet junkyard. Not everyone can, or will, upgrade to a paid subscription. I get that. Money is a finite resource. Obsession with skiing exists on a continuum. If you are satisfied with the current state of the free offerings, please carry on. I sincerely thank you for your time and attention. Please share the content you enjoy with your ski buddies and social media groups. That network effect is a powerful accelerant to The Storm’s continued growth and evolution.
No matter how you choose to follow The Storm, I promise it will be what you came here to find: a rational oasis to explore the world of lift-served skiing and nothing else. In a time of upheaval, downsizing, and pivoting within the ski media, I am growing and evolving The Storm. I am not trying to gloat. I want, and hope for, strong, clear-eyed competitors. But my mission is clear: everyone’s searching for skiing’s soul. I’m trying to find its brains. That includes, not incidentally, my readers, many of whom come to me with enormous insight and perspective. You make this thing better, so I will continue trying to make it better for you.
Organizations interested in a group subscription should email firstname.lastname@example.org.