Note: The opinions and thoughts contained within the Editor's Column are the sole property of the author and are not necessarily reflect the opinions of members of the American Cross Country Skiers, organizational sponsors, and/or xcskiworld.com advertisers.
Year Number Eight Begins With A Bang
It is incredible to think that xcskiworld.com is now entering it's eighth year on the Web. Growing from a hobby, to small business, to the world's leading electronic resource on the sport has been a wild roller coaster ride I wouldn't change for all the kick wax in the world.
The cliche "it seems like yesterday" really does apply with this project. I vividly remember describing the genesis of what I shared with anyone that would listen back in the summer of 95...and the often blank smiles on most listeners faces. One particular case stands out in the form of a notable industry personality. This fellow simply could not grasp the concept of the Internet to save his life eight year ago, no matter how hard I tried to describe what was on the horizon. Nowadays, the same fellow trumpets email and web projects like he invented the concept. Ya gotta laugh.
As with almost anything I jump into involving skiing, the question "sounds great but how are you going to make money on this?" really never registered. An impossible idealist, I trusted in the vision and somehow knew eventually the funding would take care of itself.
Starting with $100 and a pizza dinner in the heart of Silicon Valley, xcskiworld.com has grown into an international standard with a half million readers per year. The site is now seen daily by readers from Fiji to Norway, from Maine to Alaska, and from Australia to Andorra to Argentina. An ever-increasing number of advertisers enjoy the most affordable and cost-effective promotional vehicle in the ski industry.
Without question, the transfer in ownership to the non-profit American Cross Country Skiers (Spring, 2000) was the biggest step forward prior to this current redesign. Ownership by the AXCS has given the site the backing of America's premier XC membership organization plus the ability to focus more on education and promotion of the sport than economic survival.
Even with all the impressive growth, the most powerful statement of xcskiworld.com's value to the sport has been the thousands of letters, emails, and comments from skiers just like yourself. For all the social aspects it has to offer, the Net can sometimes be a cold and lonely place that can leave folks wondering if anyone is really out there "listening". Thanks goes out to all those that continue to believe that one central site of information, news and educational materials is a key vehicle in bringing about a XC ski Renaissance to the entire world. As Def Leppard's Joe Elliot is fond of saying...don't you forget about us and we'll never forget about you.
The future? If you thought the first seven years were great...we are just getting started folks.
You are looking at the single greatest investment ever made in xcskiworld.com. A head-to-toe overhaul of the site's graphic and navigation elements as well as a ton of updates to permanent resources. For our regular readers, the changes will (no doubt) take a few days to get used to, but we are confident that you'll find the entire site much easier to move around in and use.
Brand new in this overhaul is the Family section which combines many of the elements of the former XC Junior and XC Ski Library sections with new information specifically geared to children and parents. Although AXCS is a nationwide masters organization, the fact is that an awful lot of adult skiers are also parents, aunts/uncles, grandparents, etc.. Thus, we've created the Family section to be a living, breathing resource filled with practical information as well as some exciting interactive features we hope to expand every year.
All the other site sections have also been updated with new information and "remodeled" content. Over the coming year, xcskiworld.com will be offering up our biggest and best year yet of even more updates with plenty of special surprises along the way.
We are also working on some really cool elements specifically for members of the AXCS which we hope to launch in Summer, 2003 (possibly earlier). Although it's too early to spill all the beans, let's just say that membership will REALLY have it's privileges once these future plans come to light.
On that note, a final thought for all our readers.
Now four years old itself, AXCS has established a worldwide standard for what a major XC ski membership association can accomplish. In addition to providing xcskiworld.com to the world every minute of every day, the AXCS annually produces the Subaru National Masters Championships; organizes U.S. representation to the World Masters Association; provides thousands of dollars in grants for grassroots development of the sport; encourages the development of new clubs and events; and provides the most elaborate (and valuable) benefits package in the history of XC skiing.
But without members, all the good things that AXCS does will go away. And there is no one waiting in the wings to pick up the slack. It's just that simple.
I'd like to personally ask you to take five minutes to join AXCS right now. Membership is just $35 for one year...$90 for three years. Access on-line registration by clicking the logo to the bottom left of this page.
Ladies and gentlemen, rev up those skis. Year number eight is underway!