After wrapping up its annual convention in Denver Sunday, the 2014 SnowSports Industries America (SIA) Snow Show took to the slopes at Copper Mountain Resort Monday for the on-snow demo portion of the convention. More than 4,000 members of the ski industry — including media, company reps, suppliers and buyers — took over Center Village at Copper to get a sneak peak at next year’s lines of ski and snowboard gear.
“We’re proud to host the newest technologies in the winter sports industry,” Copper spokeswoman Austyn Williams said. “Conditions are primed to hit the snow.”
Now celebrating its 60th year, this is the first time that Copper has hosted the on-snow portion of the snow show. The convention has been in Denver each of the last five years with the on-snow demo at Winter Park.
“Copper has really progressive terrain to make it perfect for demoing a variety of products,” SIA communications manager Elizabeth Hurst said. “It’s a new location which we’re really excited about.”
For retailers like Kristopher Carlstead of Podium Sports in Frisco, it’s an opportunity to test gear and make decisions on what they may choose to stock in their stores next season. He said that next season Podium will shift its focus away from apparel to more hard goods and higher-end demo skis and snowboards for their rental fleet, making this demo opportunity especially important for them.
As to trends, Carlstead echoed comments heard at the Denver Convention Center.
“There’s not a lot of stuff that’s brand-new,” he said. “Everything’s been revised.”
Unlike years past, the trend now is toward refining existing technologies rather than introducing new ones.
“Five years ago it was bigger, bigger, bigger,” he said regarding companies continuing to make wider and longer skis designed for powder skiing.
While that trend has slowed to where companies have narrowed their focus to a certain ranges of ski widths — designed for specific types of sking — rockered skis and board technologies continue to be a major focus among industry designers as their popularity continues to grow. Developed in recent years, rocker or reverse-cambered skis and snowboards have more of a curve from front to back in order to better float in deeper snow.
Carlstead said companies have shifted toward revising how side cut and rocker work together.
The other major trend is the push toward Alpine Touring (AT) gear designed for back or sidecountry skiing.
“We’re seeing strong growth in that category,” Tom Winter of Colorado-based Liberty Skis said.
That means we can expect more companies entering the market next season, with everything from specialized skis and bindings to climbing skins and avalanche gear.
SIA reported that AT equipment sales increased 23 percent in the last year, making it the largest growth market in the industry.
A big focus with AT skis and boards is lighter core materials — everything from carbon fiber to bamboo.
Hurst said we can also expect more companies to expand into the touring boot market — lighter boots with heel release walking features.
SIA’s on-snow demo continues at Copper though Tuesday. It is limited to credentialed members of the media and ski industry and not open to the public.