RIP Powder Magazine… Or Will It Comeback From the Dead?

Galen Carrico | | Industry NewsIndustry News
powder magazine
Powder Magazine’s most recent issue. Credit: Powder Magazine

As if 2020 had not brought enough pain, news broke on or about October 2, 2020, that Powder Magazine, “The Skier’s Magazine,” was being discontinued after their parent company A360 Media, LLC ( formerly American Media, LLC), announced that the entire editorial staff would be placed on indefinite furlough, effective November 20, 2020, when operations of the magazine, the website, and all social channels will be paused.

“We do not know if or when this hiatus will end,” said Sierra Shafer, the magazine’s Editor-in-Chief. Fortunately, Ms. Shafer assured subscribers and everyone else that they are still working on two more issues:

“Our biggest undertaking still is this year’s Photo Annual, which will be on newsstands November 16. This Photo Annual has long been the most collectible issue of the magazine each volume. With POWDER’s future unknown, this particular Photo Annual promises to be extra special. Do not miss it.”

Along with Powder, it was reported and confirmed that Surfer, Bike, and Snowboarder magazines would all be suffering the same fate. Although A360 Media has not indicated which closures are permanent, there is no doubt that the decision to halt the production of these four major magazine titles has had an adverse effect on the readers and those employed by these publications.

Early season snowfall at Squaw Valley, CA, in 2017. The first few issues of Powder always arrived in anticipation of early-season snow on the higher peaks. Image: Squaw Valley Facebook Page

Like many subscribers, I have been anxiously waiting for Powder Magazine to arrive in my mailbox since I first picked up the Photo Annual when I could not have been older than 10. I’ve been a subscriber from pretty much that day on. During high school, I ditched class on powder days and had posters ripped from the pages of “The Skier’s Magazine” of skiers like Shane McConkey, Seth Morrison, Glen Plake, Mark Abma, and other legends on my walls. Every season, the first reports of snow have also coincided with the delivery of the first few issues of Powder.

But I’ll be honest: I was blissfully ignorant when the most recent issue arrived: the cover photo had a fully nude Connery Lundin (see above), arcing quick turns through the trees with the headline “As You Are” located where his next turn would be in the next photo. The faces and the big names of the ski industry like Grant Gunderson, Mike Douglas, and others posted Twitter tributes to the publication that had been such a part of their lives.  It was at least comforting to hear the grief of one of the greatest ski photographers of all time and the Godfather of Freeskiing. After all, Powder has been in publication for nearly 50 years, and no magazine could take you straight from your office to the massive alpine in Switzerland or the chilly solitude of the Alta backcountry from the Photo Annuals or the monthly shots composing the Shooting Gallery. Who will take the piss out of the Yuppies at Heavenly and Vail, who are mostly there to be seen in their third home?

Mount Shuksan as viewed from Mt. Baker Ski Area. Photo: Grant Gunderson

Powder is the magazine that lights the fire to the ski stoke each season. It is like the changing leaves and the pictures of white blanketing the highest peaks (or snow guns firing) at Arapahoe Basin or whichever resort is the first to open in Colorado. The gear review is not just focused on which ski company pays them the most. Out of all the winter sports publications I have read, they provide honest reviews while also triggering some of the best ski trip ideas one could imagine. When I look at the other mainstream publications out there, I usually see a huge emphasis on their advertising partners, with little focus on the smaller independent brands, which might actually ski better.

Although this has not been reported, as far as I know, I’m optimistic that a journalistic savior will come along and revive this 49-year-old publication that has always kept the ski stoke alive. This year has forced all of us to be flexible, and us skiers have had to show resilience in the years it has not snowed enough or… or last year when the snow does fall, but all the resorts had to close early to save lives. If you have read this far, then I have no doubt you are just as confident as I am that a collective of the best ski journalism has to offer will be able to bring Powder and these other legendary outdoor publications back from the brink of death. It may not be exactly what we all remember from Powder, but given the creativity and motivation of our tribe, one hopes it will not be long before someone takes the torch or brings Powder back from the dead.

An issue from back in the day…
Image – Powder Magazine

I hope anyone else reading this feels my pain. If you are anything like me, you start looking at weather forecasts and winter predictions in August and September. It’s late October, and I’m already anxious for the first snow to fall on the upper peaks of the Sierra. So far, I have only observed the artificial kind with a two-week dry spell in the way of perhaps some Thanksgiving Day snow. In the meantime, those in need of some ski porn or great outdoor journalism while Powder, Surfer, Bike, and Snowboarder are on hold should support the small, independent publishers of outdoor media, including Adventure Journal, The Ski Journal, and The Surfer’s Journal, among others, as well as Backcountry Magazine.

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