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Beyond the Bale : June 2017
Britteny Cox of Australia, who wears XTM Merino wool base-layers, winning the Women's Moguls at the FIS Freestyle Ski & Snowboard 2017 World Championships in March in Sierra Nevada, Spain. PHOTO: David Ramos/ Getty Images EXTRA PERFORMANCE WITH XTM The annual Burton US Open Snowboarding Championships is undoubtedly one of the world’s most prestigious snowboard tournaments across the world. Attracting the likes of two-time Winter Olympic Gold Medalist Shaun White, who bagged his seventh win for the Burton US Open Halfpipe event, and Aussie rider Scotty James who came in second. But for Australian woolgrowers, it’s Merino wool which really brought home the gold. In a new partnership with Burton, AWI’s subsidiary The Woolmark Company sponsored this year’s competition in March, in Vail, Colorado, giving riders and spectators the opportunity to preview an upcoming collection of 100% Australian Merino wool base-layers, shirts, bottoms and accessories co-developed with Burton. The apparel is due to hit the stores in October, just in time for the northern hemisphere’s ski season. “Our company founder, Jake Burton, requested Merino wool base-layers in our product lineup as the pinnacle offering,” said Burton Category Manager for Innovation, Sourcing and Raw Materials, Colin Alger. “Following both Jake’s lead and the current trend in wool, we implemented the fibre into our range. “Wool by nature is inherently technical in so many ways, with attributes including thermoregulation, anti-odour, moisture- transport, stain resistance, easy care, soft, stretch and recovery. At the same time, wool is an all-natural, renewable fire that we sustainably source through our supply chain. This, matched with Burton’s positioning in the market as a premium alternative mountain lifestyle brand, found wool perfectly complement and successfully transition across our on-snow performance-based products into our year-round lifestyle products. “With the success of our sell in year one with just a small offering of Merino wool products, we have increased our product footprint for the next season, and plan to double our volume. With wool, Mother Nature got it right and we want more of it.” At The Woolmark Company’s booth in Vail in March, visitors not only got up close with Burton’s forthcoming Merino wool collection, but were also educated on the natural benefits of wool, were able to take a photo with a life-sized photo of AWI’s ram-bassador Fred, and could attend an autograph signing with Austrian snowboarder, Anna Gasser, who won first place in the slopestyle event. The Woolmark logo was visible across the mountain, shown on the side of the halfpipe, on the Woolmark booth in the sponsors’ village at the mountain’s base, and seen on a sheep mascot who hit the slopes in style. The sheep mascot also promoted the social hashtag #RideWithMerino and was so popular that he was often spotted on Fox Sports riding around the halfpipe. On social media, hundreds of people uploaded images with #RideWithMerino and close to 50,000 people saw our Snapchat geofilter promoting the Woolmark brand. At the Winter Olympics in South Korea, Australian Olympic athletes will be wearing 100% Australian Merino wool 230gsm base-layers and Merino wool blend socks supplied by XTM, which is confident the garments will help facilitate peak performance during the Games. XTM has a long connection with the Olympic team with founding partner Pete Forras representing Australia in the 1988 Olympics as a downhill skier. Pete started XTM in 1999 with his two mates Bill Dalton and Gary Rae. They have an abundance of ski industry knowledge between them and were determined to create a brand that focuses on high quality ski and outdoor wear at an accessible price point. From humble beginnings with a few carefully created pieces, the brand expanded into Merino wool in 2007 and launched its Woolmark-certified Australian Merino wool range in 2009. General Manager Paul Manders drove this move recognising the “strong sense of credibility” and quality assurance the Woolmark logo delivers to an expanding company. While the brand is better known overseas, it still enjoys a loyal local fan base in Australia and in the Australian Olympic team. Not only have competitors like Britteny Cox (see picture above) noticed the lightweight warmth and comfort that Merino wool delivers, but during long hard training sessions the thermal regulation and odour resistance properties are appreciated by all. Paul says a highlight of working with wool is the fact it is a natural and renewable fibre, which increasingly appeals to modern consumers. “Our customers value knowing where the wool is grown, the story of how it was shorn and following manufacture through to the final product,” he said. “In addition, technical innovations and clever blends have revolutionised the use of Merino wool performance wear in the sports industry.” XTM are constantly on the lookout for new technologies and innovations and are keen to expand the Australian Merino wool range. The brand mainly focuses on 100 per cent Merino wool, a collection Paul assures us is here to stay. The core base-layers and accessories are made from 230gsm fabric of 20 micron, with a lightweight active range of 170gsm and 17.5 micron. The newest product to hit the market is a 100 per cent Australian Merino wool sleeping bag liner designed for any adventurer wanting to sleep in luxury. There are more exciting products in the pipeline, with a focus on waterproofing and incorporating Merino wool into gloves and jackets. With the 2018 Winter Olympics just eight months away, the prospective members of the Australian team are staying warm on the slopes thanks to Merino wool base-layers from Australian ski and outdoor brand XTM, which is a proud sponsor of the Australian team. OFF FARM 11