The story behind Slide With Respect

Ron LeMaster's tragic death and a subsequent conversation at a coffee shop in Durango, CO, was the catalyst for the project. Since then, two groups of students at Fort Lewis College have conducted foundational work that sets up the project for even a big impact in the  future.

Three individuals with skis walking
Two students (with one holding a snowboard)
Skier with sun glasses smiling
Two skiers holding skis walking with mountains in the background
Four skiers with skins walking uphill
Skier putting skins on skis
Individual walking with snow around them

With Ron LeMaster's tragic death as the catalyst, Marty Grabijas, an outdoor industry veteran, contacted the Marketing group at Fort Lewis College. A subsequent conversation with Tom Miaskiewicz, an Associate Professor of Marketing and an avid snowboarder, led to the first two classes at Fort Lewis College that conducted foundational work on what ended up being named the Slide with Respect project.

During the Fall 2022 semester, the Marketing Research class conducted both qualitative and quantitative research regarding perceptions of ski areas, the impact of safety when making key snowsliding decisions, collisions at ski areas, and other related topics. At the crux of the research was a survey that was completed by over 4,000 snowsliders. The class had the support of several industry mentors that provided feedback on the survey and other components of the research project.

A follow-up class during the Spring 2023 semester started to put our research into action. Students were divided into groups, each tasked with developing messaging for specific segments of snowsliders. Based on the data for their specific segment and foundational research on effective messaging, social marketing, and other key concepts, the students developed targeted messaging that aims to get snowsliders to slide with more respect for each other. The students were again supported by a group of experienced industry mentors that attended specific feedback sessions and helped the students make refinements to their messaging ideas.

We are now plotting a path forward to maximize our impact. During the Fall 2023 semester, we will conduct additional, more focused research. We are also looking for outlets to distribute our messaging and potentially have other classes work on specific campaigns.