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Talking ski racing with the Race Place

Arctica is proud to have a place in the catalog and store of the Race Place of Bend, Oregon – one of the largest suppliers of alpine ski racing gear in the United States (and maybe even the world!)

The Race Place in Bend Oregon

Getting to know the Race Place 

Recently we were lucky enough to spend some time talking ski racing, family and business with ski race business veteran, Scott Holmer of the Race Place. The conversation flowed easily as we have many common bonds and a mutual love for the sport and the ski racing lifestyle. Scott is an interesting guy, with many stories to tell from his 45+ years in the ski industry.

Q. What made you open a ski shop?

A.  A clear gap in the industry for equipment for ski racers and a family trip to Junior Nationals in Bend, Oregon in 1988. The weather was beautiful, the trip was great, we just fell in love with Bend. I have been in the ski industry since 1968, and I didn’t know what I wanted to do when I grew up – so I didn’t! In August 1989 we moved from Minnesota to Bend and in 1995 we opened a ski shop to “offer a few race products in the Pacific Northwest”. Our love of the sport and our kids participation in ski racing has always kept our focus on assisting ski racers in developing their potential. Now open for over 20 years, the Race Place has been in our current location for last 12 years.

Q.  When did you start selling online?

A.  I like to stay at the forefront of technology. In the early 1990’s I could see that this ”internet thing” was not going to go away.  We put out our first print catalog in 1995 and just 2 years later in 1997 began selling online. We tried to get raceplace.com – but with the dot.com boom of 1996 it was already taken by a running event organizer in San Francisco. So we went with the-raceplace.com. Today internet is 90% of our business.

An early Race Place catalog dated October 1995.

An early Race Place catalog dated October 1995.

Q.  Catalogs seem old school – why do you still do it?

A.  The customers won’t let me stop! People call and email me all the time asking me not to quit the catalog. People clearly still like to look through the pages. The catalog has worked to propel us to the top of search engine ranking too.

beast-tools-at-the-race-place

Q.  What are BEAST Tools?

A.  Once again, while at a junior ski race with my kids, I got an idea. I realized that ski tuning was a bit of a mystery to the average ski racing family. So I set out to fix that problem. I designed a simple ski tool that the average family could use to sharpen their skis like the pros. I called this ski edge sharpening tool BEAST – Best Edge Accuracy Ski Tool. This later expanded to a full line of BEAST tools for ski racers. Our BEAST Tools are made in the USA with local suppliers whenever possible. We have shipped more than 30,000 of the edge tuning tools worldwide.

Q. What makes the Race Place different from other ski shops?

A.  Ski racing is a family lifestyle. Everyone wants to share their love of skiing with their children. Everyone wants to give their children the best they can. We understand that – we raised 3 ski racers ourselves. We have experienced ski racing at all levels from the junior introductory race program at Afton Alps in Minnesota to the Mt Bachelor Sports Education Foundation (MBSEF) ski racing program and USSA racing to Nor-Ams, Collegiate and FIS level ski racing. We have followed our kids from coast to coast for ski racing. Two of my kids, Eric and Kelsey, are now back working at the Race Place. Kelsey is a former FIS/Collegiate level racer and coach and Eric was in charge of Technical Services and Equipment Manager and Coach for the US Ski Team for 5 years and spent 2 years as coach of the Jamaican Ski Cross Team culminating in the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.  We have 4 former FIS level ski racers on staff. We know what ski racers need and we care about matching up products (skis) with customers.

We hope we have helped you get to know the Race Place a little better. If you ‘re taking your kid(s) to summer ski camp at Mt Hood this week or at some point soon, you might want to plan a trip down to Bend to this iconic race ski shop. They’ve got everything a ski racer needs. Including things that can easily be forgotten at home when packing for a big trip -like ski poles, wax and ski tuning tools as well as any incidentals your ski racer might need. It’s just 105 miles from Mt Hood and well worth the trip. If you are not going to be in Oregon with your child you can still order online for delivery to your house or an address at Government Camp.

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