You’ll have noticed that when it comes to ambassadors, we’ve been making a few changes to our set up over the last couple of years. As we move into new categories or look to refocus on existing ones, we usually seek out inspiration from ambassadors as, after all, they are the people using our product day in day out.
The last year though we’ve been focusing on inspiring people who can make us better. In surf that means listening to Craig Anderson, in Snow we’ve worked with Sam Favret for the new Fjäll product and in Photo we’ve long been working with people like Oskar Bakke and Alana Spencer. Of course we also have people like Marcelo Vieira who came to us to work on the Tilläg Organizer - a travel essential that was specifically curated for Marcelo’s needs.. And yes, since you ask, we do seed bags to a few of the F1 drivers.
In the Snow space we really wanted to work with someone at the top of their game so that we could continue exploring backcountry awareness and safety. The natural fit was Sage Kotsenburg. Sage has been at the top of his game for years. He was known as ‘Second-lace Sage’ for a while there but chose to break that habit at the Olympics in 2014. There, at Sochi, he dropped the never-been-done trick, the Holy Crail 1620, and won the first-ever Olympic gold medal for snowboarding. Believe us, if you're American and you win the first gold in the Games, you’re on Jay Leno and Jimmy Kimmel before the champagne dries in your hair.
After that Sage turned his back on competitive snowboarding to go and essentially restart his career in the backcountry; the testing ground for contest-based riders. That's quite a shift as it means relearning so much of what we know as snowboarders. No more days of practice at X Games, instead it's 100ft gaps you have to lay down a 10 or 12 on first try. The room for warming up to tricks is gone. Sage has gone on to win rider of the year and video part of the year twice since the Olympics. With the increased time in the backcountry comes increased potential for the consequences that come with it. So, for the last few years he has been innately focused on learning and honing his craft when it comes to backcountry safety.
This year up in Jackson Hole, Sage took his career into its next step by winning the first stop on the Natural Selection Tour. From first till last, Sage landed nine runs. If you cast your mind back, you’ll remember it being one of the most consistent performances from any athlete. To land nine runs in a row during X Games is quite a feat. To do it on a course you’ve never ridden before with each jump being quite unlike anything you’ve ever hit takes a different kind of rider.
Together with Sage, we’ve been working on a collection for over a year that will drop in December through two key partners - Backcountry and Blue Tomato. We’ve pulled together the products that Sage uses on the daily, reworked them using his own design inspiration and yes, even included a couple of quotes from him. The collection is made up of our award-winning Snowroller, the new Fjäll backcountry pack and the Hytta.
On top of this, we’ve been working with Safe on a completely new take on backcountry safety. The vest will be launching in 2023 and something we have been extensively testing over this last year. For anyone who was at ISPO, you might have had the chance to see this award-winning innovation first hand. For those who weren’t, we can’t wait to show you.
As a brand, people often ask the Marketing team what we look for in an ambassador. Do they have to be the best in their field? Do they have to have a certain number of followers? Do they have to have to be from a specific place?The answer is no. Well, all that certainly helps, but what’s most important is that they understand the relationship between a brand and an athlete. The athlete is there to help the brand through their knowledge, insights and yes, reach. The brand is there to help the athlete's visions become a reality. Both sides need to understand how to work together.
Looking at two of our biggest ambassadors, Sage K and Chris Burkard, they understand that balance exactly each time we text, email or DM them on any channel we know that we’ll get a timely response. Whether it's a product creation opportunity, an upcoming event or a marketing push, these guys just ‘get it’. The days of amazing athletes who can’t answer an email are gone. Nowadays we need to realize the relationship that is being entered into. It’s scale, it’s name, quality of output and ability to work together.
On top of all that, just being a good person and down for the cause really helps. That's Sage. He’s always ready to go ride with anyone, happy to chat product at any time and even loves to hang out in summer (we took him to see Marcelo at the Champions League Semi Final in Madrid in Spring).
Welcome along Sage, we’re happy to have you here. This intro was only supposed to be a few lines but we’ve known you since you were 16, and we’re so proud of the leader within the industry that you’ve become.