Solid snowfall across most of the country has generated strong business at cross-country centers and at retail. “This has been a great start to the season,” reports Chris Frado, executive director of the Cross Country Ski Areas Association. “We are very fortunate right now to be blessed with good snow.” While weather is by far the major contributor, the sport's affordability (trail passes average $16), healthy attributes, easy-to-use gear and outdoor ambience all play a role, she says. “It seems to all be clicking right now in our society,” says Frado, who adds there’s no better way to get a workout and “renew the soul.”
The energy sweeping through all snowsports retail sales has also brought new life to the Nordic category. Still celebrating the most successful Winter Olympics Nordic showing ever by a U.S. Team last season in Vancouver, retailers are increasing their stride in sales as well.
“Overall, the market seems to be up about 20 percent, with most manufacturers being close to sold out of cross-country ski equipment,” says Salomon Nordic Director Curtis Graves. “It seems to be a bit of the perfect storm scenario with skiers motivated by the economy and snowfall. We’re seeing strong sales with first-time skiers purchasing skate packages and touring equipment.”
Other brands are equally encouraged. Rossignol vice-president of marketing Tait Wardlaw says its Nordic business is up as a result of a great snow year and product that makes the experience better for consumers. “Equipment has become better at the same price points, and all of the categories are continuing to grow,” he says, adding that, for Rossignol, racing is leading the skate category. “The Nordic side of the business is delivering better, more appropriate equipment that offers a great experience for everyone.”
On the eve of the SIA Snow Show, look for new skis, boots and bindings designed to be lighter and stronger. Bridges are also being created between categories. Fischer has added rocker it its new 98 and 112 S-Bound skis, and Rossignol debuts the BC125, a metal-edged tourer with a waxless, positrack base, eliminating the need for skins. Alpina Sports is also focusing on touring with completely new ski and boots. From the T5 entry line of entry level boots all the way up to the top touring model in the T20, Alpina will offer new men’s and women’s lasts. And on skis, the brand new Frontier features a new, wider shape for versatility on all forms of snowpack.
Still, the industry is not without its blemishes, most of which stem from supply. “The manufacturers have a problem,” says Jan Guenther, co-owner of Nordic magnate Gear West in Minneapolis. “They’ve been caught by surprise by not having enough product. Later in the season you could take it in stride, but you shouldn’t be out of equipment on Dec. 28. It’s good that the demand is there, but if we have a bad season next year we lost our only window to put money in the bank.”
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Subscribers can also post WinterSports news releases directly to the SNEWS website. Email us at email@example.com to learn about posting your own news releases, or for any other questions or comments. We love to hear from our readers!