Aspen, CO – March 17, 2004 – Four visionary snowboarders, all with a proven track record for success both on and off the mountain, have joined forces to found The Collection – a rider-driven team model unlike anything the snowboarding world has seen before. Comprised of world-class riders Ross Powers, Kelly Clark, Gretchen Bleiler and Andy Finch, The Collection will debut at the 22nd Annual Philips U.S. Open Snowboarding Championships at Stratton Mountain, VT, from March 19-21, 2004.
“We’ve been talking about making this happen for some time,” says 2002 Winter Olympic Halfpipe Gold Medalist and 2003 U.S. Open Halfpipe Champ Ross Powers. “The Collection is a group of riders that will succeed and contribute to the sport based on the power of the united whole, while simultaneously increasing our ability to thrive as individuals.”
The Collection was formed out of a sense of necessity, and the mission of this innovative union is simple – to establish a cohesive, defined platform that will support current and future leaders in the sport. The Collection will provide the necessary resources, services and leverage critical to athletic and professional success, including career guidance, increased strategic sponsorship and promotional opportunities, access to event venue facilities, athletic trainers, coaching at major competitions and a true sense of “team.” In essence, The Collection will strive to implement programs that its members deem beneficial to not only their own professional development, but that of future champions as well.
“We’ve all had great careers and won huge events, but this is something totally different,” comments Powers. “Our sport has grown dramatically over the past few years thanks in part to events like the U.S. Open and X Games, but mostly because the athletes have become more involved in the decision making process. A different type of team environment – for the riders, by the riders – is something that’s been missing, and The Collection will fill that gap to provide customized support to team members and developing riders.”
Although The Collection’s debut roster only features four athletes, the team will grow in the coming year as additional riders will be added to the squad during the 2004/2005 season. Employing a team selection process controlled by existing member nomination, The Collection will continually evolve thereby always representing the sport’s top professional and up-and-coming stars from both a performance and influence standpoint. The Collection’s camaraderie and sense of “team” shall afford its members a faction in a sport individual by nature. While snowboarding has always maintained a tremendous sense of community among riders, The Collection goes one step further by providing a formalized, supportive team dynamic that will foster rider development.
“This is really about supporting each other and the sport,” proclaims 2003 U.S. Open Halfpipe Champion Gretchen Bleiler. “By establishing The Collection, we’ve added structure to our support system. It will be cool to have other riders cheering for me during contests, knowing that we’re all on the same team.”
Another beneficial aspect of The Collection is coaching and event support. Historically, top professional riders often participated in major competitions without the benefit of having their coach on hand to offer advice and counsel. To remedy this, The Collection has enlisted the talents of former World Champion Rick Bower to act as team coach, and in this role he will attend events throughout the country to assist team members and affiliate riders.
In an effort to extend the supportive nature of The Collection deep into the community, team members are developing a grassroots program that will reach young riders across the country. The Collection will provide its valued supporters with the means and experience to help illustrate how satisfying and responsible the sport, and its participants, can be.
“Alll four of us have reaped the benefits of being professional snowboarders,” says Powers, “and we feel a strong sense of responsibility to give back to not only the snowboarding world, but to everyone that has stood behind us over the years.”
In true grassroots form, The Collection’s U.S. base of operations will be a custom-designed team motor home that will serve as a gathering spot for riders and fans to interact, as well as a board tuning station and physical therapy facility.