“If it was me in school today,” K2 pro-skier Seth Morrison said, “well, I wouldn’t be here, I’d be out in the mountains.”
Morrison, who has been skiing with K2 for 20 years and has started branching out into mountaineering, wasn’t the only one with a few words for NSS students.
The black-clad Morrison was one of a dozen people from K2, mostly pro skiers known in ski parlance as athletes, that stopped by NSS on Wednesday, October 3. The school tour was part of K2’s journey to Nakusp to convert the Kuskanax Lodge into the CMH K2 Rotor Lodge and forge connections with the community.
The change in signage and appearance at the lodge heralds a new partnership between the ski manufacturer and heli-skiing company. The collaboration is already wreaking change on the winter season in Nakusp.
The assembly of world-class skiers – each to spend a week with guests at the lodge this winter – introduced themselves to the NSS students, each conveying their friendliness and down-to-earth nature through a quick autobiographical sketch.
Pep Fujas started the intros off, beginning by thanking Nakusp for being so welcoming, and bringing a message to follow life’s passions.
“Go out and do what you love,” Fujas told the students. “Life is about finding those opportunities and capitalizing on them.” His thanks and exhortations were closely echoed by the other skiers and reps.
Andy Mahre, who modestly introduced himself as not the best skier of the bunch, was definitely in the running for being the most entertaining speaker. Like most of the other skiers, he told the audience that although they might not know it, Nakusp is a uniquely beautiful part of the world.
“It’s something rare to have the lake and the mountains,” he said, “Take advantage of it.”
K2’s head of Global Marketing Mike Gutt reiterated the sentiment: “It’s an amazing place you live in,” he said, saying it was a treat to find “hidden gems” in the area, and added his thanks to the already long list from the skiers to Nakusp for being so welcoming to K2.
CMH has reason to be grateful too, having more bookings for the upcoming season already than the last one in Nakusp, thanks to K2 and this new venture.
Sitting down with the Arrow Lakes News earlier in the week, pro skiers Mahre and Fujas’ supreme friendliness and easygoing nature instantly shone through. Both skiers enjoy being part of K2 Skis.
“It’s a very human environment,” Mahre said about working with the company. “The social side is huge for K2.” What that means is that K2 skiers are like Mahre and Fujas: approachable, unpretentious and fun.
Fujas got his start being immersed in the ski scene near Ashland, Oregon and with the help of his peers there got connected with K2. His interesting ideas in combination with joining the company at the right time resulted in sponsorship.
Mahre’s K2 history is similar; he found K2’s quest for originality appealing, something Fujas seconded: “We’re not cookie cutter skiers.”
In that spirit, each K2 athlete is focusing on one particular theme for the week spent skiing with guests; Fujas’ is a camera and video week, and Mahre’s is named “Steep shots and pillow drops.”
“It will be interesting to show people what we actually do,” said Fujas, explaining that when they’re filming, they get four or five runs in a day, max, with most time spent setting up and standing around.
Both pros have small town origins (Mahre grew up outside of Naches, WA, population 758), so in a way Nakusp is familiar even though it’s completely new. The struggle of getting people out to the local ski hill is also familiar to Mahre.
“What’s crazy is where I live a small percentage of people take advantage of it,” he said. To help his local mountain near Yakima, WA, Mahre does promotions on the hill during their season.
Strange and yet strangely familiar, coming to the small Canadian mountain town to help revamp the lodge was a fun trip for the two.
“It was cool to see what it was like before all our branding,” said Mahre.
K2 Global Marketing Manager Mike Gutt feels like the company and the town are a “natural fit.”
Nakusp was specifically picked out from all the CMH lodges thanks to its low-key, homey feel, Gutt told the Arrow Lakes News. “We had gone to two other lodges, but they were too high end, which didn’t fit K2’s style. We’re not hoity toity.”
K2 Skis started on Vashon Island off the coast of Washington between Seattle and Tacoma. Nakusp’s relaxed small town culture and extreme natural beauty reminded Gutt of the “little hippy island.”
After spending a down day off the slopes, visiting local businesses and hitting it off with folks in town, the seed was planted for the CMH-K2 lodge to take root in Nakusp.
“We’ve never done anything on this scale, so this is a lot of fun,” said Gutt.
The ski company just shot their 2013 catalogue; this year’s theme was “ski lodge.”
“There’s a different theme each year showcasing new K2 products: biker gang, record store. This year it’s ski lodge, but it’s real, not a joke,” Gutt said, grinning. “We’re an industry leader but we’re also fun-oriented. What we do isn’t serious so we try not to take it too seriously.”
He’s appreciated the genuinely and openly optimistic attitude of people he’s met here, who are enthusiastic about the changes happening at the lodge.
“It’s an awesome opportunity to work with awesome people,” said Gutt, who is looking forward to bringing unique experiences to guests, and K2 to Nakusp.