Backcountry Stakeholders Convene to Address Opportunities for the Category

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SnowSports Industries America (SIA), the snow sports industry’s member-owned trade association, convened its Backcountry Committee in Denver, Colo. this month for the second time since October 2012 to discuss best practices for communicating with the industry and consumers about the opportunities and risks in the backcountry.

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Members of the Backcountry Committee include Mike Adams of Salomon, Jerome Boulay and Klemens Branner of Venture Snowboards, Mike Hattrup of K2, Charlie Lozner of Outdoor Research, Tom Murphy of American Institute for Avalanche Research and Education, Ian Reid of Avalanche Ski Company, Johan Sauer of Recco Systems, Bruce Tremper of Utah Avalanche Center, Greg Grip of Marker USA, Jon Howard of Backcountry Magazine, Ryan Guess of Black Diamond, Drew Saunders of Dynafit, Jonathan Lantz and JD Degenhardt of LaSportiva, Tom Mason of Deuter USA and Ortovox, Colleen Nipkow, Shunnie Chen and Kim Miller of Scarpa North America, Bruce Edgerly of Backcountry Access, Kristin Carpenter-Ogden of Verde PR and Consulting, Dale Atkins of American Avalanche Association, Patrick O'Winter of Christy Sports, Jon Frederick and Greg Floyd of Bentgate and Dave Byrd of National Ski Areas Association and David Ingemie of SIA.

 The Backcountry Committee met for an afternoon to consider statistics on backcountry participation and gear sales through various channels, resort uphill access policies, a comprehensive list of guides and avalanche organizations and an industry-wide glossary of backcountry vocabulary and verbiage.

“It is inspiring to see the broader snow sports industry, including manufacturers, retailers, resorts, and avalanche education providers, pull together to develop a unified approach to eliminate avalanche fatalities,” said Charles Lozner, director of marketing at Outdoor Research.

Backcountry education was an important point of discussion at the spring meeting. “Everyone has a responsibility when they walk in the backcountry,” said Ian Reed, director sportif for Avalanche Ski Company. “I think our message is working to the general public and I think we need to continue promoting education to our own industry and consumers.”

“Having forty key players from the world of backcountry skiing and riding was invaluable, this was a very fruitful exchange and candid discussion on important issues,” said Dave Byrd, director of risk and regulatory affairs at the National Ski Areas Association. “The next step is to engage the U.S. Forest Service in the broader discussion and efforts on a unified educational effort. If 98 percent of all backcountry fatalities occur on public lands, they have to be deeply involved in expanding backcountry opportunities and safety messaging.”

In response to the group’s first meeting last fall, SIA published the Backcountry Retail Kit, developed the Backcountry Experience area at the 2013 SIA Snow Show with educational seminars and a focus on the consumer experience, and hosted a Verde PR panel on state of the category.

“The SIA Backcountry Committee, with its diverse perspectives, is a group uniquely positioned to refine industry and consumer-focused messages about the backcountry,” said Dave Wray, SIA western regional sales and marketing manager and Backcountry Committee organizer. “The discussions at the May meeting will propel industry-wide efforts to improve awareness of backcountry issues.”

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SnowSports Industries America (SIA) is a non-profit member-owned trade association that works year-round with North American snow sports suppliers, retailers, reports, reps and service providers to develop products and programs that support their individual and collective business needs. With member support and industry participation, SIA annually hosts the industry’s largest core winter sports trade show, the SIA Snow Show, along with the On-Snow Demo/Ski-Ride Fest and the Sourcing Snow supplier show. SIA also helps retailers and resorts connect with snow sports participants around the country through Snowlink.com and Wintertrails.org.

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