In the past, many non-endemic companies have sponsored ski films (think Jeep, Subaru) without actually having sponsored athletes in the films. This is somewhat understandable- non-endemic companies don’t necessarily make products that are essential to skiers doing their job. However, Helly Hansen this year set a new precedent, becoming the first endemic company to sponsor a major film, without supporting athletes in the film. This is pretty messed up: you’d expect a company outside the industry to ride on the coattails of a struggling industry, but a company that produces ski-specific outerwear? Come on!
You can make the argument that by paying MSP, the support trickles down to the athletes, but I don’t buy it. If MSP is like any other production company (besides Warren Miller), athletes are likely in a “pay your way” situation, in which athletes come up with the funding for the individual trips- money they get from sponsors (i.e. outerwear sponsors). By not supporting athletes AND the movie, they’re trying to reap the benefits of being associated with MSP’s brand, without actually fully supporting the product.
Helly Hansen use to be in the game fully- having a stacked team including Hugo Harrison, James Heim, etc. However, they cut virtually their entire team a couple of years ago and have shifted to a marketing strategy focused on professionals/uniforms (see above). That’s well and good, but it seems disingenuous to pretend to continue to support the other side of the industry. Those athletes work hard, and for an endemic company to just ride on the coattails of their hard work, and not fully step up to the plate in support, is contradictory to the soul of the ski industry.