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 September 1, 1999

Freeskier shoots down critics, launches publishing house

BOULDER — Just when it seemed snowboarding had captured all the rage, glamour and market driving 20- and 30-something hipsters to the slopes, a group of young skiing entrepreneurs from Boulder decided to give new-school skiing a voice all its own.

Last winter, Publisher/Editor-in-Chief Brad Fayfield and a few other former U.S. Ski Team cohorts launched a magazine that rivals any other winter sporting magazine on the market today: Skier.

“We want to be the new, fresh blood that makes skiing hip, young, trendy and exciting again,” Fayfield said from Skier’s digs above the Walrus bar at Walnut and 11th streets. Skier hit newsstands with a bold cover on its premiere issue — combining skiing icon Jonny Mosely wearing only his Olympic gold medal, a pair of ski boots and the American flag with Cindy Crawford pulling the hot-dogger toward her.

“The other mags out there are stale and a token read,” Fayfield said, adding, “We’re playing with the big boys, and we’re lighting fires everywhere we go.”

Skier’s competitors — Freez, Powder, Ski and Skiing magazines — are probably feeling the heat from these newcomers, especially since Skier is the only upscale magazine that is independently owned and therefore can afford to push the envelope of taste and sex appeal.

In fact, Skier’s October 1999 issue features Victoria Silvstedt, Playboy’s “1997 Playmate of the Year” and a former Swedish Ski Team member baring plenty of cleavage and flanked by world-class downhill skier Chad Fleischer and extreme skiing glam-boy Josh Loubek on the cover.

“With this cover we did stick our necks out,” Fayfield admitted.

Despite competitors and critics smacking Skier with accusations of being “posers” and “buying people with (their) big bucks,” Fayfield says instead of being insulted he feels complimented.

“We’re an independent that took a big risk,” he said. “Our end goal isn’t to sell the magazine … our goal now is to become a publishing company that will have several titles.”

Estimating that Skier will go into the black perhaps in 2000 and with a current circulation of 65,000 in the United States, Fayfield says he is confident Skier will land at the top of market.

Skier is the embodiment of the so-called “free-skiing movement” now afoot, in which skiing manufacturers are rushing to beat each other to market with newly designed twin tip skis. The free skis themselves are wider and stiffer than normal, allowing for front and backside maneuvering on moguls or in the halfpipe.

If the cover doesn’t grab new readers, Freeskiers’ writers and sections will. For instance, Jonny Mosely edits a humor section dubbed “Bumps and Grind.” Then there’s the mohawked Glen Plake, who’s “Plake’s Picks” section features the newest rave of rising rippers who share their vital statistics, film credits, competitive backgrounds and scariest or most embarrassing moments.

Knowing the athletes and timing the market contributed to Skier’s instant success, but without Fayfield’s publication background and his supporting cast, Skier never would have launched.

Between Fayfield, a U.S. Ski Team member from 1989 to 1992, and Editorial Director Chris Tamborini, a U.S. Ski Team member on-and-off from 1993 to 1997, the two have had over 11 knee surgeries related to skiing. Marketing Manager Jessica Ochs was also on the team from 1993 to 1994.

“We’re all so in love with it, we don’t want to leave here.” Tamborini said of working at Skier. “Sometimes we’re here 20 hours a day.”

And after refurnishing the 2,000-square-foot headquarters with a new bar, complete with Lava Lamp and a “crashy” couch, who could blame them.

“Chris and I use to compete together,´ said Fayfield reminiscently.

Luckily, Fayfield kept studying while he was also on the U.S. Ski Team and received his undergraduate degree from Boston College in Massachusetts. Fayfield went on to study in the accelerated graduate program at the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University in Illinois.

As part of the program, Fayfield and a group of students were required to put together a

magazine from scratch in six months.

“It was called “Raising Teens,” he said. “We were the only consumer magazine from that program for over 10 years that actually sold to a publishing company.”

His first job after college took him to Vail, where he was associate editor for the now defunct Snow Country magazine. After a short stint there, Fayfield knew all he needed was the right amount of capital, a sound staff and a little luck to pull off his dream of starting his own magazine.

Fortunately, Fayfield knew Crawford’s cousin Lauren Dick, a nationally ranked mogul skier, who made it possible for him to set up a meeting to see if the model would do the first cover.

“She usually costs about $10,000 an hour, so it would have been $100,000 for the day,” he said, adding “We got a deal.”

BOULDER — Just when it seemed snowboarding had captured all the rage, glamour and market driving 20- and 30-something hipsters to the slopes, a group of young skiing entrepreneurs from Boulder decided to give new-school skiing a voice all its own.

Last winter, Publisher/Editor-in-Chief Brad Fayfield and a few other former U.S. Ski Team cohorts launched a magazine that rivals any other winter sporting magazine on the market today: Skier.

“We want to be the new, fresh blood that makes skiing hip, young, trendy and exciting again,” Fayfield said from Skier’s…

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