Update 6 October: Powder has posted an announcement on their website with more details about the current situation.
Powder Editor-in-Chief Sierra Schafer also sent Downdays the following statement: “The absence of POWDER is a massive hit against the soul of skiing. It’s one less place for stories by and for skiers to be told, for the photos you want to rip out and hang on your wall to be printed. POWDER is something good and pure and tangible in a world that is increasingly not those things. From the writers, editors, and photographers who contributed over the past 49 years to every single person who’s picked up a copy of the magazine—we all lose. I’m heartbroken the future is uncertain for POWDER. It has been the joy of a lifetime to be part of it all.”
It’s a sad day for skiing and print media.
Industry insiders, social media and multiple outlets including the Adventure Journal, Snowbrains and Unofficial Networks have reported that Powder Magazine, the storied American skiing title, is shutting its doors. The shutdown of Powder comes as a part of a larger closure of Bike, Snowboarder and Surfer magazines by their conglomerate owner, American Media Inc. The news comes just a few days after the release of Powder‘s first issue of Volume 45.
Powder has been a staple of ski media for close to 50 years. Founded in Sun Valley, Idaho in 1972, “The Skier’s Magazine” has steadfastly churned out beautiful, impactful stories and images that showcased our strange little subculture to the greater world. Some of the best words and images about skiing, or by skiers, have graced the pages of the magazine over the years. The cover of their 2016 photo annual stands as one of the greatest ski images ever shot, and in my opinion, one of the best images ever to be distributed in print media. From tributes to Shane McConkey to shredding powder in Russia, Powder Magazine had it all.
American Media is a news media conglomerate helmed by David Pecker. It owns a number of US-based publications, such as Men’s Journal and American tabloids. Pecker, meanwhile, is notable for his involvement in unethical journalistic practices in the US political arena.
While not the first major ski-oriented print media to close recently (Skiing Magazine, where I got my first real paycheck in ski media, shut down in 2017) the loss of Powder Magazine represents a blow to the spirit of freestyle skiing. It’s easy to blame the oversaturation of free, online content for the struggles of ski media in the modern era. But the truth is, the loss of Powder—if no one is found to keep running the title—is another grim milestone in the slow erosion of the soul of skiing. Nowadays, more Audis than grungy Subarus fill the parking lots at resorts. Locals and ski bums are priced out of resort towns, ski shops sell more carving skis than freeride boards, and don’t even get me started on the price of food at lodges. While skiing has never been a particularly affordable sport, freeskiing offered a rebellious counterculture to the stuffy lodges filled with 18-dollar-hot-chocolate sipping, Moncler-clad, Porsche-driving vacationers. Powder was the megaphone for that counterculture, broadcasting from Vermont to Verbier that there was another side to the sport: creative crazy skiers out there trying to go fast, do flips and push the boundaries.
So pour one out for Powder Magazine tonight, and get ready to let the weird, wild counterculture spirit of skiing that Powder represented burn throughout your season this year.
*If you want to see print media, or even ski media survive, make sure to support the titles you love by buying an issue, a book or some apparel. Especially in these socially distant times when we’re all starved for snow and content. The money goes straight into the pockets of passionate skiers, snowboarders, photographers, and writers so we can keep creating the high-quality content you love. A new Downdays book will be available in November in our webshop, and other ski media can be purchased here, here, here, here and here.