Talk in the aisles during the 2011 SIA Snow Show, held at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver, Colorado seemed to alternate between two topics – snow and sales. With snow falling in record amounts across the country and snow sports sales at an all-time high, exhibitors and retailers alike were sharing stories of unbelievable amounts of snow falling and customers clearing them out of certain product categories.
“I can’t remember the last time I’ve had snow in my back yard for this long – if people are looking at grass, it just doesn’t put them in the right frame of mind to buy skis and snowboards,” commented Paul Prutzman, Pinnacle Sports, Redding, PA.
“Last year was tough for everyone. This year we are super clean, and we were sold out by December 20th. Snow always helps,” said Flow Snowboarding’s, Sam Herrbach.
“We had a great Show. We saw lots of new changes in hardgoods, keeping things fresh and I can’t wait to get out on the hill and test everything out!” said Tracy Gibbons from Sturtevant’s in Washington state.
During the four-day event, Snow Show attendees were privy to next season’s hottest snow sports trends, innovations, educational seminars, product presentations, personalities, events, concerts, meetings and parties. And while nothing can match experiencing the Show first hand, here’s a quick look at some major trends, highlights and buzz in the aisles during the 2011 SIA Snow Show.
Next year’s slopes will see skiers and riders clad in svelte high-tech gear that could easily fit in at a martini bar or the gondola. Winter white, faux fur and bold colors were seen in booths across the Show. Plaids and all-over prints were not as prevalent as the past few years, but still remain in many lines along with color blocking. The “down sweater” seems to be the work horse for many outerwear lines – providing amazing lightweight warmth and casual comfort that can be worn on the slopes, traveling or just around town.
“Hot items for us have been pieces that transition into street wear. Colors are saturated – dark yet bright. A bonded soft-shell jacket with the look and feel of a flannel was huge for us at the Show – for those spring riding days, layering or just parking the car,” Cindi Busenhart of SESSIONS.
“When people walk into the shop, they are attracted to color and drawn to the rack. They put the bright jacket or pant on and say ‘this is fun’ and it makes them feel good,” commented Sue Booker of Patagonia.
Apparel designed for “sidecountry” use or accessing nearby out-of-bounds territory at resorts continues to be a major trend in outerwear. These pieces have a combination of fabrics and insulation that provide weather protection, breathability as well as stylish elements that make the pieces great for the less extreme aspects of life.
“Sidecountry users can’t afford for their gear to fail, but they like features that they get from jackets they wear inbounds,” said Melanie Sirirot from Outdoor Research.
A major trend carried over from last year in snowboards is the development and refinement of rocker shapes. Backcountry snowboarding – and splitboards in particular – continue to develop as a small but relatively high profile category. Freestyle snowboarding continues to grow in popularity, thanks to super stars like Shaun White, snowboard companies are developing more all-terrain freestyle boards.
Eco-friendly technologies were seen in areas of snowboards – boots, bindings and boards. And specific for boots, teched-out lacing systems and reduced bulk and weight are the three main stories heard on the floor.
“For us, caring for the environment isn’t just hippy love sauce and tie-dye – our materials maximize the potential of our shredsticks, while minimizing the effect on the environment,” said Dustin Morrell from Niche Snowboards.
ALPINE & NORDIC
Ski manufacturers unveiled some groundbreaking concepts in rocker and sidecut during the Snow Show. Fun — and versatility — are going to be the name of the game in 2011-12 as many ski manufacturers focus their apex technology on all-mountain models, which now also fit under the “sidecountry” category. Rocker comes in many new iterations and will be found everywhere, resulting in an amazing new crop of must-see boards.
“What we’re seeing is that rocker is becoming a general term – much like shaped ski was – that refers to a ski that makes it easier to get into the turn,” commented Alan Davis of Princeton Sports in Maryland.
Riding the wave of Team USA’s successful run at last year’s Winter Games plus plenty of snow on the trails, the Nordic category is seeing a surge in sales and participation. In equipment, the result of this revival can be seen in innovation, with skis, boots and bindings designed to be lighter and stronger – bridges are also being created between categories with rocker elements and metal-edges.
“It seems a bit of a perfect storm scenario with skiers motivated by the economy and snowfall. We’re seeing strong sales with first-time skiers purchasing skate packages and touring equipment,” said Curtis Graves of Salomon Nordic.
With mandatory helmet legislation making headlines and people of all ages making the smart choice on their own, helmet use and purchase continue to grow and styles are evolving with new colors and features. A record number of 57% of skiers and riders now don them on the slopes, helmets have become the essential accessory. Bright colors, print and features that increase effectiveness, comfort and ease-of-use were found in this growing category. “There was a lot of buzz around our use of bright colors in the line and the new adjustment fit system,” said Jarka Duba of POC USA.
Big trends in hats were versatility and customization. Bright colors are still gaining and the faux fur styles have taken off. Plenty of trapper designs with a twist plus more color and texture with chucky knitting and faux fur. Hats are becoming more about unexpected combinations, color, texture and fun. “We have oversized pom poms that are exchangeable – they’ve been super popular — you can snap on a new color and switch your pom,” said Gary Supple from Chaos Headwear.
Waterproof, high-tech insulations and touchscreen functionality are just some of the features that glove and mitten manufacturers brought to the Snow Show.
“We’re seeing strong bookings in low profile, under-the-cuff leather gloves as consumers are looking for
the perfect combo of function, comfort and a high level of dexterity. The girls’ products are gaining a lot of momentum, too, and snowboarder Annie Boulanger’s Signature Team products were a big hit, said Serene Pelletier at DAKINE.
Baselayers seem to becoming closer and closer to streetwear with several companies offering shirt-styling, patterns and color blocking that is normally featured in fashion pieces.
Representing 31% of all equipment accessory sales – goggles continue to lead the accessory charge. With fashion statement bright colors and prints, speedometers and GPS capabilities to seamless compatibility with your helmet, manufacturers are continuing to give retailers more goggle options.
Next up – Snow Show attendees will head up to the On-Snow Demo/Ski-Ride Fest for two days at Winter Park Resort and Devil’s Thumb Ranch, where the industry will get together to demo the gear they’ve just seen at the Show and to ski, ride and slide together. Over 150 brands will be involved in this industry only, two-day event filled with demos, races, parties, and catching up with industry friends.