Live from the SIA On-Snow!

Fresh snow combined with incredible new product and lots of hard-riding retailers to make this year's On-Snow Demo an instant success. SNEWS was there for the fun, and for this report.
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The hits keep coming for the SIA Snow Show. With a record sales year on tap, and an avalanche of new snow technology hitting the slopes, the On-Snow Demo/Ski-Ride Fest opened at Winter Park on Monday, January 31st, to steady flurries of fresh falling snow.

“I feel like I’m on vacation right now--I just happen to be working,” said Rick Holliday, owner of Texas-based Ski Frisco Sports.

Holliday was just one of dozens of retailers who went from the tradeshow to the slopes. Now in its second year, the demo has already become a great event for reminding the entire industry of just how much fun it is to be in snowsports.

“The snow has made it even more fun for everybody,” said SIA President David Ingemie as the first day wound to a close. “This whole event is a great way to bring everybody together to celebrate this business that we love.”

While Ingemie said that he would not have exact attendee numbers until tomorrow, he felt safe saying that, “the numbers are definitely up.”

Exhibitors get the gear out

From the packed booths sending out new gear, to the continuous crowds at the base chairs, to the number of testers running hot laps from the Hughes Run to the Derailer Terrain Park, it was easy to see that a significant number of showgoers had stayed to actually ride all of the gear they had spent the last week talking about.

“There are a lot more dealers here than there were last year, and it’s great that they’re all so interested in trying out the product,” said Anthony Scaturro, president and CEO of Flow Sports. “This event is also great for building team spirit at the end of the tradeshow. Actually living it is a lot more fun than just talking about it.”

In the ski booths, just as many new rockered fat skis were hitting the snow, as were new systems that seemed to be custom built for the impeccably groomed hardpack. Dennis Gaspari of Dynastar/Lange echoed Scaturro’s comment when he said, “It’s good for everyone here that after all the presentations on all of the product, we can then get out on the snow and immediately experience it.”

What the retailers are saying

From snowboard to telemark to alpine, retailers and media alike were looking to see how rocker technology performed from the groomed to the fresh layer of snow that the new weather built.

“There is so much good stuff being introduced right now, that you really have to get out on the snow and test it for yourself,” said Steve Rogers, President of the Sports Specialists Limited specialty retailer buying group.

Rogers, who said he was especially looking forward to trying the new “doctor” and “lawyer” type skis in the New Volkl RTM and Rossignol Experience lines, added that, “so many manufacturers are bringing out such great new gear right now, it’s going to be easier to find the bad stuff than it will to be to differentiate between what’s at the top.”

Two buyers from Canada’s Saskatchewan province told SNEWS they were busy putting skis from the boutique brands through their paces, while Kevin Kearney of the Ski Shop in Colorado Springs said that he was getting himself educated on the new gear so that when his customers came in, he could explain it.

“Well of course you have to test the product,” Kearney said. “How else do you know what to recommend?”

Uphill/Downhill -- the lungbusters

As much of a test fest as it is, the on-snow is also quickly becoming the place to host events. Nearly 60 attendees joined in the second year of the randonee rally, which has already become so popular that it is attracting more technical racers than industry folks.

“We want to keep it fun, and maybe work on separating the really competitive people who come to race and those who just want to try a rally for the first time,” said Scarpa North America CEO Kim Miller.

Miller also talked about how the industry is cautiously energized about its new sales success, and offered his own ski metaphor to explain it. “It’s like skiing the trees,” Miller said. “For too long we’ve been looking at the obstacles, and now it feels like we’re in position to look at the opportunities. It feels like we are looking for the open spaces.”

Also on the snow, Chad Mihalick of Malakye.com, the active industry job site, hosted his office Office Booyz contest, where more than 30 participants raced in single elimination heats through the terrain park.

“I am already committed to doing this again next year,” said Mihalick, who was dressed as an over-sized glaze donut. “It makes me happy to hold an event like this ? the kind that I can call a success if it reminds people how much fun it is to be in this business.”

Heard on the chair -- a couple of quotes and notes from the chairlift

“It’s a no-brainer to come up here and let retailers test our boards. You can’t do that in Vegas.” -- Jay Quintin, Smokin Snowboards.

"There are some good skiers testing here," said sales rep Al Safrata. "And there are also not."

“It’s snowing. We’re skiing. What else do you want?” -- Matt Hansen, Powder Magazine

“There’s no way I’m going to ever be able to test all of this stuff.” -- Stu Rempel, senior vice president of marketing, Whistler/Blackcomb.--Peter Kray

On Oct. 6, 2010, veteran journalist Peter Kray joined the SNEWS team and is now editor of the new SNEWS WinterSports channel. We trust you are enjoying the full offering of WinterSports news. Be sure to email your friends and let them know the best WinterSports news has arrived -- just in time for the winter season. Got WinterSports news? Send your WinterSports news to Kray at pkray@snewsnet.com. Subscribers can also post WinterSports news releases directly to the SNEWS website. Email us at snewsbox@snewsnet.com to learn about posting your own news releases, or for any other questions or comments. We love to hear from our readers!

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