News » Whistler

Once radical ski magazine now part of corporate media empire



The magazine world can be quite strange. Especially ski magazines.

Despite being the middle of summer, early August is the unofficial start of ski season in mountain towns across North America.

That’s when the first ski magazines of the year – traditionally known as the buyer’s guides – hit the newsstands and people’s thoughts turn from sun-drenched summer activities to snow-covered mountains.

"Some people get right into it and the ski magazines go fairly quick," says Dan Ellis, manager of Whistler’s Armchair Books.

But there will a couple of changes when the magazines appear next month.

Powder magazine, referred to in the past as the "soul skier’s bible," and its sister publications were sold for the third time in three years to yet another media conglomerate.

New York-based Primedia Inc. purchased a total of 60 magazines – including Snowboarder , Bike , Skateboarder and Surfer – from Emap USA earlier this month as part of a $515-million deal. The company now owns more than 200 different titles.

The deal gave Primedia’s stock a 91-cent boost to $7.70 US after the sale was announced. The company grossed $1.7-billion US last year.

According to Snow Trade News , the deal ends Emap’s "disastrous foray" into the North American magazine market. The British media company paid $1.34 billion to Petersen Publications for the same 60 magazines in 1999.

Petersen had previously purchased the five outdoor titles from the original owner, Surfer Publications, in 1998.

Pundits say the quality has been going downhill like a World Cup racer ever since.

Powder magazine, which is entering its 30 th year of publication, has traditionally battled Ski , Skiing and Ski Canada for readers and advertising dollars.

Powder has also been starting to lose market share to alternative ski magazines such as Freeze and Freeskier .

Newsstands will be even more crowded this fall as another new ski title makes its debut.

The aptly named Skier magazine is, according to a press release, "dedicated to the new energy and lifestyle that is revitalizing skiing in Canada." Skier is owned by Toronto-based SBC Media, publisher of Snowboard Canada .

So there you have it: Powder , Ski , Skiing , Ski Canada , Freeze , Freeskier and Skier , as well as the free-circulation Ski Press , which has launched a U.S. edition to go with its original Canadian publication.

"We carry them all," says Ellis.

But Ellis says Powder is still the most popular ski magazine in his store. It’s getting harder to tell one magazine from another.

In its hey-day, before the appearance of corporations in mountain towns and the advent of so-called freeskiing, Powder ’s battle cry used to be "Powder to the people." Now, the once-radical magazine is part of another media conglomerate.