Icer Air ScandalSan Francisco's Icer Air had a good run, had being the operative word. Icer Air is, for all intents and purposes, out of business. As yet another major contest bites the dust, Icer Air has managed to rile up a controversy in its wake that has the 28 invite-only athletes fired up. The athletes will not be paid the $2,000 agreed upon fee for competing in the October 2008 event. ($5,000 each for winners of Best Trick in skiing and snowboarding.) Now more than four months after the October 19th event, none of the athletes had seen payment. Several riders have confirmed with ESPN they have attempted to obtain payment via email with event organizer and co-founder Glen Griffin. In more than one case the rider received this email on February 26th from Griffin. "Esurance is pulling out of their contract which means we lose our funding and most likely are out of business. I am trying to find a way forward and will keep you posted on progress. I am really sorry for any trouble this has caused." On March 23rd athlete Ian Thorley received a final email from Griffin that solely stated, "We are out of business. Sorry." By the time ESPN tried to call the Icer Air offices on March 27th the phones and emails had been shut down.
"It sucks to fly halfway around the world to compete in this one contest, spend a lot of time and money, and in the end they can't even pay out the prize money. I don't know who to blame, but it for sure sucks."
Chris Sorman, winner 2008 Icer Air Snowboard Big Air Contest.
However, representatives from Esurance, the event's title sponsor and butt of the blame for the non-payment of the athletes, told us they were shocked and saddened by this information. "We are really sad to hear that the riders haven't been paid. This is news to us. Esurance was the title sponsor for the Icer Air event from 2005 through 2008 and fulfilled obligations and made all payments to Icer for those events, including the 2008 event." "Its heinous, its lame." Says Jonny Moseley, a legendary professional skier who was heavily involved in the inaugural year of Icer Air and has played host the past three years. "Athletes need to get paid first, ahead of anything else. They've already taken the risk and put on a show and to not get paid is terrible. No matter what the excuse is business-wise you have got to take care of the athletes. I'm bummed that I'm associated to this." Moseley has not received payment for hosting the 2008 event either. "I just want to want to expose the truth." Icer Air contestant Pat Milbery explains. "This event is an example of what, as a rider, you dread with contests--the disorganization. We put ourselves on the line to make these events happen. I can't understand how the event organizers can't appreciate that. They have straight up lied to our faces. I wish they could have told us the truth about the situation as it was unfolding instead of placing the blame on the sponsors." The question still begs, if the title sponsor paid their part of the deal for the 2008 event, where did all the money for the riders go? Though, to Chipotle's credit, the athletes have received their 52 free Burritos as part of their event contract. Icer Air Timeline: •September, 29th 2005, Inaugural year held on Fillmore Street with 15,000 spectators. Ski and Snowboard Big Air only.
•November 4th, 2006. Icer Air moves to the AT&T Stadium and is turned into a one day action sports event with music and lifestyle experience featuring BMX, Skate, and Wakeboard on top of the Skiing and Snowboarding. Jurassic 5 and Ladytron perform. 28,000 spectators.
•November 2nd and 3rd, 2007, Icer Air is a two day event at AT&T with multi-venue series of events, action sports, concerts and parties. Icer Air announces they intend to grow into other cities and will announce future plans soon. Mos Def and Talib Kweli perform. 33,000 fans attend.
•May 6th, 2008, Esurance and Icer Air Re-sign title sponsorship three year deal.
•October 18th, 2008. The event is moved out to McCovey Cove (Parking Lot A) outside of the stadium. The big air is reduced to a small hip style jump with a foreign pulley system. Cool Kids and 3Oh!3 perform.
•End of year 2008. Esurance exercised their right to opt out of the three year contract per the contract terms not being fulfilled but did pay for 2008 in full.