Sia.08 Snowsports Trade Show

Some attendees may have endured delays traveling to the 37th Annual SIA.08 SnowSports Trade Show earlier this week, but few were complaining. The delays could be blamed on a series of intense snowstorms that hit many parts of the country prior to the SIA.08 SnowSports Trade Show (Jan 28-Feb 1) at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas, Nevada. For the estimated 20,000 snow sport enthusiasts gathered in Vegas, extreme winter weather is to be celebrated, not cursed.

"Snow is like gold for this industry. It helps with innovation, with marketing - with everything. It's gold, " said Jean-Yves Couput, director of marketing, Salomon USA.

"We introduced a beautiful line of clothes here last year, but it looks twice as good this year because everyone has great snow, " Dave Ellingson, Powderhorn.

More good news for snow sports came during the tradeshow as details from the most recent SIA Retail Audit indicated the snow sports market had grown 13 percent in dollar sales this season compared to sales figures from last season. At a time when economists are talking recession, the snow sports industry is enjoying strong growth across the board.

The SIA Show floor had a great energy with new products and trends found down every aisle. From a fashion perspective, snow sports designers were anything but shy with their designs. Attention-getting colors, crazy prints, Asian-influenced graphics and patterns were found throughout the show.

"Fashion has become a vital part of the industry and the bar is being raised every season. The days of everything being stuck in the same designs and colors are over. Fabric development and prints are pushing style and function to levels unseen before. Everyone should be able to find something that says - this is who I am, " said Philip May, manager of Throe Clothing.

"Bright pop colors will be in all over prints, solid jackets and pants and used throughout the line from detailed trims to more unexpected details now having a splash of color. Prints this year will have a strong range and variety, " says Danielle Arnao, ROXY SNOW, designer.

For those attendees looking for hard goods and technical advances - smart skis or adaptive skis were getting a lot of attention. Smart/adaptive skis were developed to adapt to snow conditions, terrain and skier ability. Despite all the technology behind this new breed of ski the bottom line is that these models make for a better on-hill experience. The challenge was to develop skis that were more sophisticated - providing the versatility to go from varying conditions from light powder to moguls to crust.

"Adaptive skis like the Head Chip, Rossignol Mutix and Volkl Tigershark do real well for us, " says Dan Bader, sales tech at Jan's Mountain Outfitter in Park City, Utah.

Another hard goods trend that's growing every season is twin tip skis. Adult twin tip skis now dominate the snow sports ski market with more units sold than any other flat ski category in any sales channel. Sales results from this winter season indicate twin tip flat skis were up 32% in units and dollars in specialty and an incredible 167% in units and 170% in dollars online.

Visually, the snowboard section of the SIA Show was alive with plenty of self-expression in art, color and design. Snowboard companies have also been pushing their R&D departments for better performing boards. Major trends found at the SIA Show included lighter boards with eco-friendly materials incorporating recycled, natural and less toxic materials. There was also a noticeable increase in the number of female-specific board options on the floor.

"I think the trend is moving in the same direction it has been for a couple years now and women are finally getting the necessary products for everywhere they want to ride, " commented Danielle Hambleton, K2 International marketing manager.

Accessories remain an area that snow sports junkies inject a bit of personality and self-expression– tattoo prints in base layers, hats with eco-friendly fibers, goggles with a bit of bling. Also found throughout the SIA Show - chunky knit hats, collegiate stripes, brims, earflaps and pompoms. While prints and colors for accessories were sharing the same themes within apparel lines.

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