SNEWS® caught up with Backcountry magazine editor Drew Pogge in late 2011 just before he hit the road to ski volcanoes in Ecuador. On the eve of the SnowSports Industries America (SIA) annual trade show Jan. 27-30, 2011, in Denver, he offered his take on what the free-heel market can expect next.
SNEWS: Where is the BC market going in terms of both consumers and equipment?
Drew Pogge: Over the last few years, the growth in sidecountry skiing and snowboarding has been amazing, and gear has been primarily aimed at those consumers: stiffer, heavier, faster, bigger. But this year, we saw a re-emergence of lighter, more efficient, touring-oriented skis, boots and bindings and the best split-boarding gear yet. It’s a natural re-centering after a period of pretty intense innovation and big changes in how people perceive the backcountry.
SNEWS: Is there a clear delineation between what consumers are being offered at specialty ski and specialty outdoor stores?
DP: Many traditional alpine ski shops seem to have embraced backcountry gear, and they’re right to do so. Skiing and snowboarding gear can’t be divided into categories as easily as it once was. There are lots of people touring on “resort” skis and boots, and lots of resort skiing on “touring” boots and bindings. I saw a guy in a half-pipe last year on a splitboard. That says a lot about how many people have made the backcountry a regular part of their routine -- and how good the gear has gotten.
SNEWS: As far as your target market, who are you writing Backcountry Magazine for?
DP: It’s pretty basic: we make Backcountry for skiers and snowboarders who share our passion for the mountains, untracked snow, and unique, meaningful experiences. We try to entertain and inspire with thoughtful writing and exceptional photos, but we also educate in every issue with gear reviews and skills stories written by pros in the field. We want to provide our readers with a reading experience of lasting value.
SNEWS: What do you forecast as the biggest trends in BC in the next couple years?
DP: I think we’ll continue to see growth in the sidecountry/freeride market as even more resort skiers get fed up with crowds and expensive lift tickets and crappy snow, and lighter gear will continue to gain traction as the current generation of resort-bred backcountry skiers mature and set their sights on bigger, more remote BC objectives.