Saturday brought snowsports fans out in force to the Colorado Convention Center for Day 3 of the SIA show, while Sunday had a much more relaxed atmosphere. Plenty of cool toys were on display, and buzzwords abounded throughout the weekend.
Since my colleague Colin Bane is much more on top of thesnowboard
portion of the market, I decided to concentrate on skis and apparel. However, it is apparent that the snowboarding contingent has had some influence on the more traditional segment of the ski market.
The big theme seemed to be color. While I still feel that Colorado's own Icelantic had the prettiest skis of the show, several other companies challenged them with eye-catching graphics. Liberty, who uses a bamboo core to shave weight, showcased their Genome, which, with a 141 waist, is the widest ski on the market and resembles a water ski more than anything else, but is supposed to be awesome for epic powder dumps. Even traditional companies like Atomic, Rossignol, and Head showed off flashy topsheets that resembled a deranged Alice in Wonderland acid trip.
Rocker seemed to be on everyone's minds when it came to skis. Early tip rise and some tail rise, which simplifies skiing switch, has infected the market. While the banana shape might be nice for epic powder days, camber still is useful for carving on the groomers.
Another facet of the market people were talking about is so-called "sidecountry" skiing, essentially leaving through the gates at ski areas to explore backcountry-type stuff just on the outside of the boundary. I'm not sure I buy the buzzwords too much, and the "sidecountry" is just as potentially gnarly as the backcountry, as skiers at Revelstoke learned recently, but I'm all for traditional alpine companies expanding into the AT segment of the market.
Salomon just launched a new series of AT boots, the Quest, which quite frankly looks awesome, and promises traditional downhill boot performance in a boot that still tours well. Scarpa showed off their new green Pebax boots, made with a plant-based Pebax. Scarpa is using the material in both their AT line and telemark line.
Clothing lines ranged the gamut from flashy fashion pieces to hard-core mountaineering type offerings from companies like Marmot, Arc'Terxy, and Patagonia. Even those companies are looking at more eye-catching colors however, and Marmot said they were even considering a print pattern as they move back towards their ski business.
Grand Junction-based Loki had pretty intriguing designs, as their jackets have flip over mittens so that if you ever lose a glove, you won't freeze. The jackets also have built-in neck gaiters. Company founder Seth Anderson came up with idea on a trip in the Colorado backcountry where his partner dropped a glove.
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Many of the companies will be showcasing their products at the demo day Monday at Winter Park; look for a write up on that Tuesday morning.