Smiles in the ski industry? |

Smiles in the ski industry?

Summit Daily/Janice Kurbjun

DENVER – Breckenridge Fat-ypus ski company owner Jared Mazlisch said he felt a general air of confidence at the Snowsports Industries of America Snow Show held Thursday through Sunday in Denver.

“Everything is turned around this year. It’s a great show, great sales. Everyone is strutting around without a look of fear on their faces,” he said on Day 2 of the show, which is among the biggest, well-attended trade shows for a global audience.

He said Fat-ypus sales are up 45 percent this year compared to the 25 percent growth he’s seen in typical years in the company’s six-year existence.

That’s compared to a recent Snowsports Industries of America report that says alpine ski systems are up 30 percent in units sold and 35 percent in dollars sold.

According to the report, the industry sold more than $1 billion in equipment, apparel and accessories in December, reaching $2.1 billion so far this season. It’s the first time in history snow sports sales topped a billion dollars in one month. Sales through December were 16 percent higher in dollars sold and 10 percent more in units sold compared to December 2009.

Mazlisch’s skis are designed locally and manufactured in Denver at the Never Summer factory, he said. He was showing off the new L-Toro backcountry jib ski, the D-Sender men’s all-mountain ski, the

E-Motion women’s all-mountain ski and the V-Rock, the women’s version of the men’s I-Rock powder ski.

“Everything came together in perfection, just like I want them,” he said about the new line. “I couldn’t be happier.”

Having presence at the show was also good for Pete Wurster, owner of Silverthorne’s Unity Snowboards, who met with his Korean distributors this time around and showed off the company’s latest and greatest. The line includes two splitboards – a concept dusted off from the shelf it’s been on for about five years when the market hadn’t yet exploded.

SkiLogik, a Breckenridge-based freeski designer that manufactures its inlaid-wood product in Asia, saw significant traffic during the show – a feat for the

1-year-old company that launched into the industry with a bang and is continually working to move the momentum forward.

And coming to Denver from Vail, Rhonda Swenson showed off her new clothing line, Krimson Klover – Knits With a Twist, which hints at apres-ski and outdoor wear but moves more into lifestyle designs mostly made out of washable merino. It launched last January and has had a “phenomenal year,” Swenson said.

“We opened a lot of doors last year,” she said. The trade show moved to Denver in 2010 after 37 years in Las Vegas and has enabled local vendors to attend and to promote products designed and made in Colorado.

It was the first Snowsports Industries of America trade show appearance for Grand Junction-based outerwear company, LOKI, and owner Richard Houghton said it lent a hand in getting word out about the product. He said he spoke to several retailers who had heard about the brand but hadn’t yet met the crew.

“Everything’s new for us because not enough people know about us,” said Houghton, who’s one of four LOKI owners.

The products embody the name, which refers to a Norse god who shape-shifts according to the situation he’s in. Trademarked features of LOKI jackets are mitts that are integrated into the jacket sleeve and a face mask that tucks into the hood – allowing the wearer to accommodate changing weather. Innovations in the 2011 line include a helmet-compatible hood and a face shield that works with the system, women’s versions of popular men’s products and a shell with a stowable hood that also includes the face shield component – a difficult engineering job, Houghton said.

Having the hometown advantage was a leg up for Denver-based Icelantic ski company, sales representative Graham Haywood said. He added that the economic outlook is good for the company, which is producing 1,500 additional pairs of skis for the 2011-12 season.

“We sold out of 10 models this season,” Haywood said. In the past, the company has sold out of the Nomad, but now, “everything else is just flowing out the doors.”

The avalanche airbag system has been employed by backcountry explorers in Europe for years, but Boulder-based Backcountry Access is launching its own version in the new line.

“It’s the biggest, baddest, newest safety device we have,” said the company’s “office ninja,” Matt Greenberg.

He added that the response from trade show participants has been “phenomenal,” particularly when he shares the statistic that out of 226 caught in an avalanche, the survival rate with an airbag system was 97 percent.

Being at the trade show helped the company familiarize the industry with the new airbag system – Float – as well as show off their latest in beacon signal innovation, he said.

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