Hot Sheet: smokin’ big ski sales, Bode’s break, left on the lift and more

Steady snowfall across the country isn't only pushing up ski sales, it's helping spur an increase in the waist width of the skis that are sold. That, plus Bode Miller's possible retirement, being left on the gondola, and much more...

Alpine ski sales have continued to explode as the snowsports retail season heads toward the finish line. SnowSports Industries America (SIA) reports that the category is up 25 percent in dollars and 14 percent in units through January, and adds that, “the snow sports market is enjoying excellent sales and is on track to set a new sales record this season.”

Whether it’s because of all the powder or because of all the designs trending wider, the largest leaps in growth have expanded with the waist widths of the skis. SIA reports that while flat skis with a 80-95mm waist saw a 29.8 percent increase in units and a 49.36 percent increase in dollars, the 95-110 waist width category absolutely ballooned with a 93.89 percent increase in units and a 96.5 percent increase in dollars sold. The two categories combined are up 60 percent in dollars on sales of 50,000 units compared to 24,000 units through January 2010.

In ski-binding systems, the relatively wide 80-95mm waist category is up 30.84 percent in units and 45.15 percent in dollars. But the ever-hot at retail 70-79mm waist category hit more than 131,000 units sold, and 54 percent of those were women’s specific ski systems. Rockered skis are up 150 percent in units with 40,000 pair sold through January.

Has Bode Miller retired?

Alpine skiing superstar Bode Miller left the World Cup season early to spend the spring with his young daughter. And for the third straight season, that has many in skiing wondering if America's winningest male skier has also retired.

The five-time Olympic medalist left the circuit early with four stops left on the tour, but apparently didn’t notify the team he was not returning until missing races in Bulgaria and Slovenia. After grabbing a gold, silver and bronze in the 2010 Winter Olympics, Miller failed to ski to a win this year. In what may be a sign that Miller has lost interest, he told the Associated Press that, “If the conditions are good and everything comes together then I’m pretty into it, but sometimes it’s too hard to get really fired up for it.”

In other news…

A 25-year-old woman spent the night in the Excalibur Gondola at Blackcomb after the employee who loaded her identified the section of the lift as “cleared.” The woman “appeared to be in good health,” the next morning according to media reports…Olympic gold medalist Hannah Kearney clinched her second World Cup moguls title with a win Friday, March 11, 2011 in Are, Sweden. It was Kearney’s seventh win of the season…Jason Gibbs has been named the director of marketing for the Vermont Ski Areas Association, the trade group representing most of Vermont's ski areas. Gibbs served as commissioner of the Vermont Department of Forest Parks and Recreation …Greg “Chopper” Randolph has left Smith to become general manager and director or pr/media relations for the Sun Valley Marketing Alliance

--Peter Kray

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