Two weeks ago, the snowsports industry celebrated it’s 60th year working together to improve the sport.
Whether it was the feet of snow falling in the mountains, Colorado skier visits up in the double digits, record sales numbers, the Broncos in the Super Bowl, freshly legalized marijuana in Denver, or a combination of all of the above, the annual Snow Show in the Mile High City was full of optimism.
The show moved from Vegas to Denver in 2010 after 37 years as organizers hoped to put the “snow” back in “Snow Show.” This year marks SIA’s 60th anniversary.
The 2014 SIA Snow Show took place January 30-February 2, 2014 at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver; followed by the On-Snow Demo/Ski-Ride Fest at Copper Mountain Resort February 3-4.
Copper Mountain welcomed the demo days with open arms as it moved from Winter Park Resort with two days of alpine-oriented gear testing and one day of Nordic demos. Coinciding SIA-sponsored demo days took place in other regions around the country during the same time span. The event was sold-out. Copper is home to the U.S. Ski, U.S. Snowboarding, and U.S. Freeskiing Teams and the U.S. Ski Team Speed Center — the only full-length training venue of its kind in the world available early season.
The show follows the momentum of Outdoor Retailer Winter Market, the ISPO trade show in Munich, the X-Games in Aspen, and also served as a send-off to Sochi.
“It’s been fabulous this year; we’ve had a lot of cold weather, a lot of snow,” said retailer Bob Thomas of Skier’s Peak, Bloomfield Hills, MI. “We’re considerably up from last year. As long as we keep the cold weather coming we’ll be in good shape.”
Recent SIA data for August-December indicated $2.2 billion in snow sports retail sales. And a record holiday sales season was tempered only by severe drought in the Sierra and Cascade mountains.
The Show kicked off with a “Sendoff to Sochi” opening ceremony led by Doug Lewis (1984 and1988 Olympian and Alpine Analyst for Universal Sports), where Lewis named team members and revealed official uniforms for the U.S. Alpine, Freestyle, Freeski and Snowboarding teams developed by Spyder, Columbia, The North Face and Burton. “The relationship between SIA and USSA is really pivotal to the success of our athletes,” said Tom Kelly, Vice President Communications, USSA.
The ceremony also included video thank you messages from athletes to the industry, and officials from the city of Denver, USSA, SIA Board Members and industry leaders. Klaus Obermeyer added his signature yodel, which he’s done at the end of the Snow Show for 30 years.
“This is an exciting moment for everyone in snow sports,” said David Ingemie, SIA president. “Walking the Show this year, you couldn’t help but appreciate the huge amount of time and talent required to forge innovation on this scale. And there isn’t one ski or snowboard athlete going to Sochi that hasn’t benefited from our industry’s collective determination to innovate.”
SIA hosted a special screening of the critically acclaimed documentary The Crash Reel on the first night of the show, with Kevin Pearce and his brother Adam on hand to take questions from the audience.
The annual SIA/SOS Outreach Hockey Shootout went down again at the Pepsi Center following the Colorado Avalanche/Minnesota Wild game Thursday night. The game benefits Save Our Snow with snowboard/ski industry members from U.S. and Canada squaring off against NHL alumni.
Day Two began with a breakfast co-hosted by Protect Our Winters (POW), SIA and Aspen Skiing Company’s Environment Foundation where Rolling Stone contributing editor Jeff Goodell spoke about “Field Notes From The Climate Wars” to a full house. “We’ve hit several milestones in the last six months for Protect Our Winters and today is one of them, where we officially have this climate discussion at the SIA Snow Show,” said Jeremy Jones, founder and CEO of Protect Our Winters.
Jones screened the trailer of “Higher,” the third movie in his trilogy, in the Backcountry Experience — an exhibit that drew enthusiasts across the industry to safety seminars, expert appearances, panel discussions and happy hours. Featuring backcountry products from more than 50 brands, Backcountry Experience connects suppliers, retailers, reps and the media invested in cultivating the backcountry category. “We’re trying to affect human behavior and some basic understanding in newcomers to the backcountry – trying to make people aware – and consistency is very important,” said Kim Miller of SCARPA.
“The main reason I wanted to come to the SIA Snow Show was to visit Rental World,” said Adrian Spiker of Deep Creek Marina, McHenry, MD. “I’ve sent other people to check out the Show in other years, but Rental World is what pushed me over the edge to come this year.”
“We’ve got friends from different companies that we catch up with while we’re here and we look forward to that, but so far we’ve kind of been going with the flow,” said Kara Gabriel and Agatha Lugowski, buyers for Big White Ski Resort in Colona, BC.
Sponsored by TransWorld Business, the BlueBird Social Zone hosted seminars to help retailers in their day-to-day social marketing efforts. Also prominent were celebrations like The Assembly, a convention where snow sports stakeholders presented on the importance of year-round mountain tourism.
Trend forecasters predicted that fashion is finally settling down in snowsports apparel, with hues and patterns inspired by arctic landscapes and by academia. Heritage and native patterns continue to affect apparel and accessories; along with more blended wools, blended down, and increasingly technical fabric technologies. Just like in outdoors and in run, color continues to be an important story.
Day Two culminated with recognition of specialty retailers and reps from the United States and Canada who received 2013 SnowSports Rep and Retailer of the Year awards. Shops from seven regions in the U.S. and six regions in Canada were honored and nine U.S. reps and six Canadian reps were also honored.
At the 15th annual TransWorld SNOWboarding Riders’ Poll Awards at the Odgen Theatre, the best riders, video parts and performances of the year were voted on and honored. With Emcee’s Preston Strout and Jack Mitrani at the helm, top riders were recognized for the best in individual progression and style and filmmakers were awarded for excellence. This year’s TransWorld SNOWboarding Legend Award went to Bryan Iguchi, recognizing his lifetime of commitment and contribution to snowboarding.
OIWC kicked off Day Three by announcing the winners of the 2014 Pioneering Woman and First Ascent Awards and a panel discussion on the economic future of the snow. During the breakfast, OIWC announced Laura Fergusson, Arc’teryx as the recipient of the First Ascent award and Kathy MGuire, K2 the Pioneering award winner. Following the awards, Kelly Davis of SIA hosted a panel discussion entitled The Money Stash: Uncovering the Economic Future of the Snow. One of panelist, Anne-Marie Dacyshyn, VP of marketing for Burton Snowboards, joked with the audience: “The secret to capturing a woman’s heart is three more hours of sleep.”
The panel discussion focused on the women’s market – being called the most significant and profitable opportunity in the snow industry today. Industry veterans discussed data showing growth and potential, advertising messages and ways to empower women in the snow sports. “We need to mentor and invest in female employees and help them see all their career opportunities,” said Krista Parry, founder of Snowmamas.com.
With relatively non-existent logistical problems in Denver and good attendance on the first day of the show, exhibitors were upbeat. However Saturday was a little more casual than vendors might have liked after more than two feet of snow fell in the mountains and many people were out late Friday at Icelantic Skis’ Winter on the Rocks featuring the Jurassic 5 and Ghostland Observatory. Said Annelise Loevlie of Icelantic: “People were pumped, the music was great and Mother Nature reminded us all how good a wintery night with friends can be.”
“Where else can you have hundreds, if not thousands, of your favorite people in a single building? Knowing we’re all slammed during the day, early evening receptions are the way to go,” said Robert Yturri, SVP of global sales, product and brand management, Obermeyer, on Saturday’s traffic.
At the 5th Annual Youth Summit, Social Impact Awards were presented to Chaos Hats and Nicky DeFord of the Vail Echo program, with remarks from SOS Outreach, SIA President David Ingemie and Kevin Pearce (former pro-snowboarder and founder of Love Your Brain). Malakye.com also held another successful “Shmooz fest” snow sports job fair. The new exhibit CRAFT @ SIA, which spotlights craft brands (independent, smaller ski/snowboard manufacturers), saw decent action with craft-brewed beer happy hours each afternoon.
At SIA’s Annual Meeting — and after two, two-year terms as board chairman — K2 Sports Sales and Marketing President Tim Petrick handed the gavel to Bob Gundram, co-founder of Capita Snowboards, Union Bindings and Coal Headwear. With the addition of four female board members during the same meeting, a third of Board of Directors positions are now filled by women: Lisa Branner of Venture Snowboards, Wendy Carey of Seirus Innovation, Patty Duke of Point6, Julie Garry of Outdoor Gear, Erin Snow of Erin Isakov, Annelise Loevlie of Icelantic Skis and Rhonda Swenson of Krimson Klover.
SIA provided the following data coming into the last quarter of ski season:
Alpine Touring/Randonee equipment continues to enjoy significant increases in sales, through December AT equipment sales increased 23% in dollars sold and 20% in units sold.
Sales of Alpine/AT boots defined as alpine DIN boots that can be converted to an AT/Touring sole for Backcountry use may be one of hottest items in the alpine market.
Sales of alpine/AT boots are up 28% in units sold to 53,000 units sold, and up 21% in dollars sold to $20 million. Alpine/AT boots make up nearly 15% of dollars sold and 10% of units sold in the alpine boot market so far this season.
Women are getting prepped to hit the trails. Sales of women’s specific cross country equipment increased 50% in units sold and 43% in dollars sold to over $4 million through December.
Overall, sales of cross country equipment were up 16% in dollars sold this season.
More girls are getting snowboard equipment this year. Junior girls snowboarding equipment sales grew 17% in units sold and 18% in dollars sold through December.
Overall snowboard equipment sales are up 2% in dollars sold to $167 million.
Backcountry accessories sales including beacons, probes and shovels increased 17% in dollars sold and 14% in units sold through December. Beacons led the way with a 20% increase in units sold to 13,500 units through December.
Sales of protective gear including pads, wrist guards and general impact gear increased 28% in units sold and 34% in dollars sold through December.
Sales of action cameras were up 19% in units sold to 81,000 cameras and up 36% in dollars sold to $27 million through December.
Alpine insulated tops sales were up 20% in dollars sold to $362 million and up 15% in units to more than 2 million units sold.
Apparel accessories that include gloves, baselayers, headwear and neck gaiters increased 12% in units sold and 15% in dollars sold to $402 million through December.