Nike pulls out of snow-sports program
Nike confirmed Thursday that it is getting out of the snowboarding and freeskiing industry, just as its 2014-15 line of boots and outerwear is arriving in stores.
"Nike SB will focus its innovation, design and marketing resources on its biggest brand driver and growth opportunity, skateboarding," Nike spokeswoman Jenna Golden told XGames.com. "The current Holiday '14 Nike Snowboarding collection will be the final at retail."
Rumors about the move had been circulating since the company's fiscal year 2014 results statement in June -- when Nike reported growth in every key area except its action sports division -- and began escalating last week.
"It's been a pretty open secret," said Steve Ruff, vice president of the Action Sports and Olympics division at Wasserman Media Group, whose clients include Nike athletes such as Olympic Snowboard Slopestyle gold medalist Sage Kotsenburg. "They're going to honor and pay out everyone's contracts that are in place. Sage is already getting some interest from other sponsors, and we're certainly going to be taking some of those conversations."
Nike had made substantial investments in its snowboarding program over the last decade, first through its Nike 6.0 brand and then with Nike Snowboarding and Nike Ski under its Nike SB action sports brand. Nike declined to provide specifics on sales figures or growth for those lines.
In addition to Kotsenburg, the Nike snow teams were stacked with heavy hitters, including numerous X Games medalists such as Louie Vito, Danny Kass, Scotty Lago, Nicolas Müller, Silje Norendal, Halldor Helgason, Greg Bretz and Spencer O'Brien on the snowboard side, and Sammy Carlson, Gus Kenworthy, Kevin Rolland, Andreas Håtveit, Jossi Wells, TJ Schiller and Kaya Turski on the ski side, among others.
"We will continue to support Nike-sponsored snowboarders and skiers with promotional and competition gear through the end of their current contracts," Golden said.