It’s not winter in the west. At least it doesn’t feel like it. People in Utah are biking to work and rock climbing outdoors. Then you look at the east and they’re rejoicing in western-like snow conditions (at least in the mountains). The world weather is doing flipflops and snowsports consumers don’t know what to predict for the future.
Regardless, more than 18,000 snow industry professionals will converage on Denver to hype the enthusiasm for winter sports and forecast trends for 2016. Thousands of next season’s products will be on display at the annual Snowsports Industry of America Show this weekend at the Colorado Convention Center.
The massive event is the place for alpine and snowboard buyers, reps and media to get a sneak peak at hardgoods, apparel, and accessories, and to learn about the latest trends in the industry through panel discussions, seminars and face time with those in the know. “All of us at Smith (Optics) look forward to SIA every year,” Cassie Abel told the SIA news team. “It’s a chance for us to reconnect with old friends and partners, see the progression of the snowsports industry, and get plenty of work done.” Josh Roberts, president of Milosport said, “SIA is important to maintain relationships, see complete line offerings from our brands and catch up with old friends.”
The mantra at these events always seems to be about “growing the sport” and this year is no different. The focus for SIA is about engaging backyard (and backcountry) participants- kids that are building jumps in their driveway, sledding in the woods and riding rails in their schoolyard- and selling them goods they can use anywhere.
Considering all the sketchiness attached to playing outside the boundaries it makes sense that we’ll see a lot of innovation and new technology in the accessories and helmet departments while boards and skis themselves will remain relatively the same. One thing we know from last year’s show is that we have pretty much kissed the super fatties goodbye. The popular waist-widths for next season will be between 98-110mm. The demand for alpine touring boots and bindings will continue to climb as both become higher performing without the additional weight.
As for ski design, we last season the way we’ve bid adieu to those epic powder days of the 2010 when we actually needed them. On the snowboarding side, boota and board designs stay simple with relatively little change.
No word yet on colors and styles for 2016 but the fabric technology takes advantage of the backcountry trend by making clothes that can easily morph from in to out of bounds. Helly Hansen has a new FLOW membrane to wick moisture from the skin, Patagonia’s making softshell/hardshell hybrid pants and jackets, and other companies are using four-way stretch in their outerwear for more fluid movement.
We may be hypothesizing but the big question at this year’s Show is going to have to be, “Who’s buying?” Retailers are still trying to sell through product from 2013, and airline baggage fees and $900 pricetags are encouraging those who might have purchased in the past to rent and demo instead. There are even companies like Get Outfitted that will rent you entire head-to-toe outfits for your trip.
The SIA show is a preview of what’s to come as well as an indicator of where we’re going. But no matter what the clime it will continue to spread optimism for the future of the ski industry which, out here in the west, we desperately need.
Follow #SIA15 and @pcskigal on Twitter for next season’s sneakpeak if you can’t make it to the show.