One of the fundamental values of the action sports industry is progression. Without progression, action sports as we know it today would look very different.
Through the years, a new level of normal is established, consequently making the former normal look archaic within months. When Shaun White debuted the McTwist it was revolutionary. Now, it’s a warm up for 14 year olds. A backflip on a dirtbike seemed to be the edge of where a freestyle rider should go. Today, if you don’t have at least a double backflip somewhere in your run as a baseline trick, you should just not show up to the contest.
As X Games returns to Aspen, Colorado this week, progression can be found in the pits where the Snow Bikes are lined up.
In 2017, Snow Bike racing was introduced and this year, Snow Bike Best Trick will be added and leading that progression in the sport is Timbersled.
As the Timbersled has changed through the years, I don’t think that they were ever planning on having to develop and modify the sled to freestyle athletes could backflip the bike.
“In a way, the freestyle or jumping side of Timbersled has come full circle,” said Brett Blaser, Senior Technical Director Timbersled. “In the late 90’s Reagan Sieg would be jumping the Timbersled off snow ramps and cliffs in the backcountry. And now to have athletes like Jacko Strong pushing the limits of the sled to places we never thought has been a journey that will in the end directly affect the consumer model for the better.”
As stated progression is paramount for the sport to survive, but what happens from a business standpoint when the modification needed may only be for one single rider in the sport? Does a company like Timbersled make that modification once, or do they turn it back to the athlete?
“There is a balance,” said Blaser. “The main goal of Timberseld is to bring the outdoor enthusiast to Timbersled. It doesn’t matter if you are a dirt bike or snowmobile enthusiast first, anyone can be a part of the experience. So with that goal in mind we have to balance what the athlete needs to how that may translate into the consumer experience and is it good for the consumer as well as aiding the athlete to push the sport. What is amazing is our ability and speed in which we can innovate at Timbersled since the Polaris acquisition. We have access to the best technology that allows us to take a new idea from athlete communication and within minutes and hours not days or months have a resolution and advancement in the technology. The accelerated performance demands of racers and their feedback drives our research and design that directly brings about a stronger consumer product. But there are times where we look at the request and have to take a step back and ask ourselves is this really the best idea?”
What happens when that point of stepping is reached?
“We have been through this scenario several times with these athletes so far,” said Blaser. “The beauty is that the each push themselves in their own directions and some of those directions are places that we have never thought about going or even planned on going.”
It’s this ability to innovate at a moments notice that will make or break manufactures in the action sports industry. If you cannot change and progress at the speed the athlete pushes the level of the sport, you don’t survive as a company.
“To Polaris’ and Timbersled’s credit, the result of our synergy together and our ability to innovate at such a rapid pace, I don’t know if any one in the industry will be able to catch us. Between the vast resources of Polaris and the knowledge my team has going back into the early 2000’s we are a leader in the industry. Whether we are the best sled on the hill or the best in technology, what we do brings the best product to the consumer. But from a rider standpoint, the elite riders come to us to provide the machine since they want the best performing machine. When riders like Ryan Villopoto, Jacko Strong, Josh Hill and other moto disciplines come to us because we are a leader in performance, it aids the growth of the community because we can use their reach across all racing industries to share the message and growth of Timbersled.”