30 Years of Outdoor Sports Guide


A Look Back (and Forward)

In the summer of 1982, a few friends who loved skiing, climbing, and everything else about the great outdoors decided to take a chance. They knew Utah’s Wasatch Range was hitting its stride as a mecca for outdoor athletes. They knew Salt Lake City was drawing young people eager to get outside and play. And they knew there was a need for information: the best spots, the best gear, the best new trends in the sports they loved.

The way ahead would not be easy. There were business decisions to make, ad spaces to sell, products both amazing and less-than-stellar to review. And of course, there were articles to write, photos to shoot, page layouts to design. All this, while balancing family life, the growing pains associated with any new business, and the constant pull of the unscheduled day off.

Thirty years later, what began as the Wasatch Skiers Guide has evolved into a year-round publication distributed to 40,000 readers all over the state. Our focus has grown to encompass all the outdoor activities that make Utah great: from snowboarding to mountain climbing, paddle boarding to winter camping. We’ve opened both the pages of our magazine and our website sportsguidemag.com to organizers of events from 5K fun runs to ultra-triathlons. Throughout this process, we’ve maintained our commitment to bringing our readers the freshest and best stories about getting fit, staying strong, and enjoying all the outdoor opportunities Utah has to offer.

Meet the Originals

Dan Miller Dan Miller, Publisher

“We started out as a ski magazine; then, as our first ski season drew to a close, we asked each other, ‘What do we do now?’ We were having so much fun, we thought we might as well keep going. There was nothing else like the magazine on the market. We decided to cover what we were interested in: self-propelled sports and fitness. No hunting, no team sports. Pretty soon, we thought we’d discovered a good niche for ourselves.

“Over the years, our readers have grown up along with us. We started with a very young audience—and there are still plenty of young people in our readership—but we have readers who have been with us since the early days and know the magazine well. Many of them have families of their own now, and the magazine has broadened its focus to include more family-friendly articles in response to our changing readership.”

What’s changed the most in outdoor sports over the last 30 years?

“Of all the things that have changed the most in this industry over time, what stands out to me most is the development of equipment. Manufacturers have done an an amazing job developing better materials and bringing safer, better products to market.”

Where is he now? Still serving as publisher and president of Mills Publishing.

Chris Noble, Photo Credit: Claudia Lopez Chris Noble, Editor

“I started out in the world of professional freestyle skiing, but I left when I saw too many good friends get terrible injuries, too many sponsors deciding to leave the sport. Then I began writing for ski magazines and ultimately taking the photos to illustrate my own stories. Ultimately, when I was asked to come on board and edit the magazine, it gave me the chance to experience life on the other side of the desk.”

What’s changed the most in outdoor sports over the last 30 years?

“The Wasatch area, and Utah in general, has become a huge draw for people interested in all outdoor sports. People are moving here from all over the world for skiing, climbing, mountain biking. And as more people have gotten involved in outdoor sports, more opportunities have become available. For example, gyms have completely changed the climbing sport—they’ve made it more accessible and allowed people who might not have attempted a climb otherwise to develop their skills in a safe environment.

“Additionally, more companies are putting more money into research and development. We’re seeing more choices in gear and much more information available about what makes equipment perform better. With Utah’s reputation as a great place for outdoor sports, more companies in the industry are starting up or relocating here. We’re really on the front lines for product development.”

Where is he now? Operating his own photography business, Noble Foto, and editing a book on women rock climbers.

Paul Nicholas Paul Nicholas, Advertising Sales

Paul helped establish the magazine in 1982 when it began as Wasatch Skiers Guide. For 30 years he worked as an International world-class freestyle ski judge and judged the 1988 Calgary Olympics and the 1994 Lillehammer Olympics.

“What makes Utah great is that we have all the places to play with all the toys. Where else could you theoretically host the Summer and Winter Olympics in the same place at the same time? We’ve come up with our own version: the Gentlemen’s Triathlon. Start with a morning of skiing, follow it up with a round of golf, and cap things off with a good barbecue.”

What’s changed the most in outdoor sports in the last 30 years?

“Trying to keep up with changes in sports is like judges trying to keep up with skiers—things just keep getting better almost faster than you can see. When we started the magazine, molded plastic ski boots were the new thing, and people were still using wooden skis. Now gear is getting lighter, stronger, and safer every year.”

Where is he now? Working with businesses throughout Northern Utah to design and place ads in the pages of Outdoor Sports Guide and Mills Publishing’s 25 other publications.

Then and Now

In the 30 years that Outdoor Sports Guide’s been covering the newest, coolest, and greatest innovations in outdoor recreation, just about everything has changed—from the fashions to the hottest destinations. One thing that’s remained the same all these years? The passion and dedication our contributors (and our readers) bring to their sports. Take a look at how outdoor sports in Utah have evolved since 1982 with a look back at these articles and ads from yesteryear.

Hottest Ski Fashions

Then: Eye-popping neon colors and bold geometric patterns took inspiration from “Miami Vice” to the ski slope. Contrast trim, bulky jackets, and pants up to the ribs were all must-haves for the well-dressed skier. To accessorize, oversized Vuarnet sunglasses and snazzy headbands jazzed up any outfit.

Now: Blocks of strong color, slimmed-down silhouettes, and high-performance materials are today’s ski fashion statements. No more unisex look, either. As more women assert their presence on the slopes, trimmed waists, tailored jackets, and pants that actually fit fill the racks at outdoor stores. Freshen your winter wardrobe with a warm fashion-statement vest from Obermeyer or faux-fur collared boots from Sorel (both at winterwomen.com). Blasts from the Past

Digging through our archives, we’ve found plenty of trends we’re glad went by the wayside…and a few we think are ripe for a revival. What do you think?

Aerobics Cover

Aerobics. Leotards! Feathered hair! Clapping! What’s not to love? Pilates classes are great, but sometimes we’d love to drop the cool facade and just “get physical.”

Leather ski boots. Not for the slopes, of course, but these durable classics maintain their rugged good looks so well we think they should start showing up at more aprés-ski affairs.

The Natural Light Half Marathon Well, we wouldn’t object if it were sponsored by a local microbrewery instead, but the combination of cold beer and a thirteen-mile run sounds inspiring.

Old Sundance Resort Ad

$10 lift tickets. No explanation needed.

Must-Have Equipment

Then: Cold, soggy, and miserable at the end of the day? Not with Gore-Tex fabric, which finally combined waterproofing and breathability in one weather-defying package. Patented in 1976, this revolutionary material kept skiers, hikers, and backpackers dry…for a price. A Golden Mantle Gore-Tex parka would run you $372—that’s $892 in 2012 dollars.

Avalanche Beacon Now: Expect the best, but prepare for the worst. An avalanche beacon is one piece of equipment you’ll pray you’ll never have to use, but which can mean the difference between life and death. Starting at around $225, avalanche beacons auto-trigger in an emergency and help rescue crews home in on a buried skier’s location. Learn more about choosing and using avalanche safety gear at utahavalanchecenter.com.

Most Extreme Sport

Freestyle Skiing Then: Freestyle skiing. Paul Nicholas, a staff member since the first issue of Wasatch Skiers Guide, is a former freestyle skiing judge. He reminisces: “We used to be impressed when we saw single spread-eagles and double daffies. Now it takes something like a quadruple backflip to catch our eyes.” Improvements in gear design and materials, as well as skiers’ constant double-daring each other to try new tricks, have raised the bar for the entire sport.

Ice Climbing, Photo Credit: James Tucker Now: Ice climbing. Rock climbing no longer providing enough of a thrill? How about translating many of the same techniques to a colder, more slippery, even less forgiving surface? Shimmy up a frozen waterfall armed with crampons and ice axe, and you’re sure to feel the adrenaline rush. Get started with classes and gear rental from Utah Mountain Adventures (utahmountainadventures.com), or get the skinny on all the state’s best climbing spots from Ice Climbing Utah by local author David Black.

Ritziest Ski Spot

Then: Deer Valley Resort, 29 miles from Salt Lake City, offered lift tickets for a then-astronomical $28 per day. In return, valets assisted you with your skis, the snow was as manicured as a golf course green, and the restaurants offered food good enough to bring non-skiers in for dinner.

Skiing Deer Valley Resort, Photo Courtesy of Deer Valley Ski Resort Now: Deer Valley still pampers skiers with well-groomed runs, limited crowds, and valet service. (Of course, the price has gone up over the years­—you’ll now pay $102 for an adult one-day lift ticket.) For an ultimate splurge, the Stein Eriksen Lodge (steinlodge.com) offers the only AAA Five-Diamond lodging in Utah. Its Forbes Five Star spa is sure to relax away any post-ski soreness (or pre-ski stress).

New Kid on the Block

Burton Snowboards ad Then: Snowboarding! Just a few years before Wasatch Skiers Guide hit the market, Burton opened the first snowboard (then called “snow surfing”) factory in the world. From this ad’s restrained tone, you’d never know snowboarders were considered edgy, dangerous, and disruptive. (The more things change…) For just $125, you, too, could strap on a sweet plank of wood with a urethane-finished bottom and go irritate the serious skiers at your nearest resort.

Now: Snowkiting! Once you’ve mastered the snow, the next logical step is to master the air. Add a parachute-like kite to your ski or snowboard gear, and you’re ready to take dizzying flight. Check out the new documentary “Another Way” for dazzling first-person footage of this fast-growing new sport. To try it for yourself, see Utah Snow Kite for gear, guides, and everything else you’ll need to get started.

Biggest Splurge

Salomon Ski Boot Ad Then: The Salomon SX91 Equipe boot revolutionized the ski industry. With rear entry fit and the first-ever forward flex control, these bright red chunks of rigid plastic immediately became status symbols among serious skiers. Thirty years later, many skiers still describe them as the best boots ever made. At $300 in 1984 (that’s $668 in 2012 dollars), they carried a daunting price tag—but for serious skiers, the investment was worthwhile.

Helly Hansen Enigma Jacket Now: Keep the warmth, lose the bulk with a streamlined Helly Hansen Enigma jacket ($700, hellyhansen.com). Its integrated Flow venting system provides ultimate breathability, while its high-performance fabric is designed to withstand the nastiest weather conditions. With a slim, tailored silhouette and on-trend colors like Imperial Purple and Racer Blue, it looks good enough to wear even off the slopes.

B.S. the Boss contest

“I’ve developed an allergy to my keyboard.” “My doggy daycare provider called in sick.” “Someone stole the tires off my car.” Tragic misfortunes—or great excuses to skip a day of work and spend time on the slopes instead?

In 1986, Sports Guide challenged readers to submit their best sick-day excuses for powder days for the “B.S. the Boss” contest. An avalanche of letters poured in, offering work-skipping ideas from the almost-serious to the profoundly silly. Top responses were printed in the magazine, and who knows? Maybe a few of these clever excuses even got someone an extra day of playtime.

We think this tradition deserves to be revived and given a 21st-century spin. Invent your best excuse for calling in to work to ski, then post it to our Facebook page or tweet it with the hashtag #bstheboss before January 30, 2013. We’ll retweet our favorite responses and pick a few to publish in a future issue. Our favorite response will win two lift tickets the Canyons!


About Author

Molly writes about fitness and nutrition from her home in Portland, Oregon. When she’s not at her desk, you can find her teaching history, hiking the Gorge, or hitting the archery range.

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