Which is more important to a pro freeskier's career: film appearances or competition wins?

Ask Dr. Flake

We should reexamine the cliché "everybody loves a winner," because ski company reps often yawn when winners beg for sponsorship. The biggest names in freeskiing haven't competed in years. They film all winter long, though, because their sponsors know the number of spectators at a contest is dwarfed by the masses who attend ski flicks and watch the DVDs. Sure, competitions can be a stepping stone toward sponsorship, but would owners of the K2 Seth Vicious (Seth Morrison's signature model) spend $750 on skis named after Peter Velisek, Ben Wheeler, or Manu Gaidet? No, because they'd have to ask, "Who?" And Flake would have to explain that said athletes are last season's winners of the biggest freeskiing comps in Canada, the U.S., and France, respectively, and everyone would get sleepy, very sleepy.

October 2005