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Women's ski gear pitch wins Reno 'Shark Tank'-style contest

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This article was originally published in August 25th, 2015 and written by Michelle Rindels

RENO, Nev. (AP) - The judges included Lt. Gov. Mark Hutchison instead of billionaire investor Mark Cuban, and they took a lighter touch with nervous contestants. But organizers hope a Nevada business pitch competition styled after “Shark Tank” helps give promising entrepreneurs the same kind of boost as the hit reality TV show.

Ten entrepreneurs made the hard sell to Hutchison and a panel of business leaders Tuesday during the Governor’s Conference on Business, fielding skeptical questions about their marketing plans and adding a touch of bravado to their two-minute pitches before the buzzer cut them off.

“We are Coalition Snow, and we make women’s skis and snowboards that don’t suck,” Jen Gurecki said triumphantly, holding a pair of aqua-colored skis decked in a whimsical print. “Our gear isn’t short and soft. It isn’t watered down.”

Judges questioned Gurecki on why her women-run company is focusing on intermediate and advanced female skiers but not casual athletes. That’s because there’s a glut of businesses serving amateurs but little for experienced athletes, she said.

Asked about Coalition Snow’s biggest challenge, Gurecki said it’s a lack of snow in the Sierras. The company is making a concerted effort to expand overseas.