Two-time Olympian and Colorado Ski & Snowboard Hall of Fame inductee Chad Fleischer may have never medaled in the Olympics, but he’s struck gold with the latest addition to his ski shop, Fleischer Sports, in Steamboat Springs, Colorado.
While Fleischer might be know for his horrific biff after landing in the back seat off a jump in the 1999 World Championships on the Hahnenkamm, his clients can now have a front seat at his new bar while waiting for their skis to get tuned.
Facing today’s challenging retail environment, Fleischer has expanded his offerings to include a state-of-the-art CSA tuning machine from Austria, and a way for patrons to tune their attitudes while waiting: a three-tap bar directly in front of the machine’s window.
“People can have a beer while watching their skis get tuned,” says Fleischer, who’s in his ninth season operating the store. “Retail has gotten tough with everyone buying online these days, so you have to improvise.”
He’s good at that. Four years before clocking in just 0.29 of a second off the super-G gold at the 1999 world championships, his crash in the Hahnenkamm downhill in Kitzbuehel, the sport’s most prestigious race, became legend. In one of the most epic mishaps in ski racing history, he seemingly had victory sewn up just seconds from the finish when he tipped over backward coming off a jump at 100 mph, landing on his back. After tumbling down the slope, he came to a stop, stood and bowed to the crowd before sipping schnapps with fans and hobbling down the mountain.
To ensure his company doesn’t suffer such a stumble, he invested in a 9,000-lb., 19-foot-long CSA tuning machine built into the back of his new eight-person Tune-Up bar.
Above the machine, which can tune 20 pairs of skis per hour, are two 55-inch televisions, so customers can tune into the Olympics as well. “It’s cool because the back of my bar is an actual tuning machine,” he says, adding that with his customary three passes skis come out better than they do from the factory.
On tap, he sells Stella and Steamboat-based Storm Peak Brewing Company’s Maestro IPA. Fleischer also offers beer in bottles, 14 different wines, and sandwiches and snacks. “As far as I know, this concept has never been done anywhere, even in Europe,” Fleischer says. “It’s an entirely new direction.
“We wanted to create an environment that was conducive to the skiing/riding lifestyle: the après ski and social vibe that is unlike any other sport in the world,” he adds. “It’s a place to share stories of the day, talk about gear and watch skis and snowboards get tuned while learning a little bit about that side of things.”
He also adds that it’s a way to make a statement promoting smaller ski shops.
“Most people don’t realize that in Colorado alone a VC firm and a conglomerate control 70 percent of the ski stores,” he says. “That’s sad, and stinks for the end user. As one of the few independent ski shops left, my goal is to do it like I’d want it done as a skier, husband and a dad. Hopefully that comes through to our clients. We work hard, love the snow and want to share that feeling with everyone who comes through our doors.”