Yeti Cycles principals establish Bigfoot Productions, purchase Mountain States Cup

This is a huge deal, and I’ll explore it in detail. In the meantime, here’s the press release.

Golden, CO – May 24, 2006
Bigfoot Productions (BFP), a newly formed event production and promotional company founded by industry veterans and Yeti Cycles principals Chris Conroy and Steve Hoogendoorn, today announces the acquisition of the assets of Cycle Cyndicate, owner and operator of the Mountain States Cup (MSC), one of the premier mountain bike (XC, STXC, DH, MX, DS, SD) race series in the United States. Mike McCormack, bicycle and ski industry veteran and co-founder of Breckenridge, Colorado-based Maverick Sports Promotions will serve as managing director of the new venture. Series originators Eric and Pamela Jean will oversee the transition from Cycle Cyndicate to Bigfoot Productions, continue to be active in the business through this season and assume advisory roles in successive years.

– To ensure the long-term viability of racing in the Rocky Mountain Region
– To create an environment that produces top-flight athletes who are prepared to compete and win on the international stage.
– To enhance the culture of Colorado cycling for the Rocky Mountain athlete.

Contrary to what many may think, it’s not all about promoting the Yeti brand, it’s more important for us that the rest of the industry, including competing brands come out, support racing, and help grow the sport.

PART 1: Racing – Series improvements
The Mountain States Cup is one of the most successful race series in the country, but we realize that we need to continually and objectively assess our efforts to improve the series. We have identified several areas we feel would grow the series and mountain bike participation in the Rocky Mountains.
– More money for pros – Bigger purses means better athletes at our events. The MSC has paid prize purses for the past 3 years but we would like to make them bigger. In return, our expectation is that pros give back and help to grow the sport.
– Better venues via increased participation. The bigger the circus the greater the economic impact on the host community. Room nights and local economic impact are ultimately what will open doors for the sport in key resort areas and by raising our numbers we strengthen our bargaining position. As is evidenced by the difficulty in finding a replacement venue for National Championships, good venues are hard to pin down.
– Promote growth in Junior and Women’s categories. These areas represent the greatest opportunity for growth and continued health of the industry. The good news is that there have been some local success stories already. Taking these local strategies and programs to the regional level will insure cycling’s long-term health by increasing participation in traditionally under-represented categories.

PART 2: Racing – Bike industry involvement
The bike industry has enthusiastically supported mountain bike racing for many years because they believe in racing as a legitimate promotional tool. This commitment has come despite having very little involvement in the final outcome of the event. We would like to change that. Since we own and manage a professional racing team we understand some of the issues that teams and athletes face at the races. We propose making the industry an active partner in our series. By placing event promotion under industry control we expect to give it more value as a promotional tool for the cycling industry. We want to earn the industry’s interest, input and commitment. The following initiatives are on the list and should be considered open topics for discussion:

– Create the environment and provide the tools for industry to want to play an active role in shaping the series. Designate representatives from all segments and facilitate the discussion, moderate the feedback and implement the direction via Bigfoot Productions and the Mountain States Cup
– Maintain consistent flow of PR dialogue with horizontal and vertical media – spearhead expansion into televised media
– Push the agenda of creating race specific products for juniors. We know that this is a bit of ‘the-chicken-or-the-egg’ argument, but successful junior programs have already made their needs known and the onus is now upon us to devote increased energy to serving this customer. Yeti has already committed to making junior specific products.
– Facilitate less expensive participation for the industry – eliminate obstacles to participation for dealers, trade teams and manufacturers. Make it easy for the industry to say ‘yes’ by providing great value and measurable results. The one-on-one interaction with a large customer base is invaluable for both the industry and the consumer.

PART 3: Racing – Athletic achievement
Create a culture designed to produce the best athletes in the world. Colorado has the ideal training environment – high altitude, mountains, great trail access, resort infrastructure (lift served access) and an active lifestyle. Gains in venues, prize money, and course design combined with more effective outreach programs and PR efforts should provide the necessary elements for not only increasing participation, but raising the bar of competition. Both of these accomplishments prepare our athletes for winning at the international level.

PART 4: Lifestyle and Culture
While placed last in line, this initiative should in no way be considered an afterthought. Too often ‘riders’ don’t get catered to by many of the bike industry’s promotional efforts. Strange considering that ‘riders’ outnumber ‘racers’ by at least 100 to 1. Filter that down to core enthusiasts (OK, take out recumbents, your great-great-uncle Earl and assorted posers) and it’s still 50-1.

Some of the most successful cycling events aren’t competitive in nature – RAGBRAI, The Triple Bypass or Ride the Rockies to name a few. At this point counterparts to those events don’t exist on the mountain bike side, but year-over-year increases in organized group ride participation suggests that the time is ripe to look for mountain bike equivalents of these events

The MSC infrastructure allows Bigfoot to invest in and create events, not just races. We see more “tribe” type events – large gatherings of like-minded MTB’ers for get-togethers that step outside the formal boundaries of competition. We plan on embracing and celebrating riders, not just racers. Tapping into this market will provide Bigfoot with the diversification necessary to serve more of mountain biking’s interests than those involving a number plate and a start line.

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