The “kid in a candy store” cliché gets tossed around a lot at the annual SnowSports Industries America (SIA) Snow Show at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver. Unfortunately for the general public, the “kids” are limited to about 20,000 industry professionals and some fortunate journalists. This “candy store” is really the trade show that helps determine what ski and snowboard gear will show up in retail outlets next ski season.
Held Jan. 30- Feb. 2, the 2014 show featured more than 1,000 brands, showcasing the unique flavor of the ski and snowboard business. With 94-year-old ski-apparel icon, Klaus Obermeyer, holding court at his company’s booth just inside the main front door, attendees immediately knew they were in for a treat.
The real stars of the show, however, were the products. Big brands with impressive displays such as Spyder, Burton and Rossignol coexisted with small booths hosted by startups with wonderful entrepreneurial stories.
For instance, BearTek Gloves with built-in electronic-device controls were originally created by a motorcycle enthusiast. His snow-skiing cousin helped bring the concept over to snowsports. Another exhibitor, Snowmule, was started by an English couple with kids who saw a need for a specially-designed backpack to make skiing with children easier.
The convention also included a “Sourcing Snow” section of suppliers that make the components for the consumer brands found on the rest of the show floor. Long known for insulation used in apparel, Primaloft, for example, has rebranded and broadened its product line to include performance fabrics and fleece.
Concentrated in the front-right quarter of the show floor, the section for skiing hardgoods- skis, boots and bindings- tended to have a fairly serious atmosphere (except for DJ Mullet of course). The same held true for the ski-apparel area with high-end labels such as Kjus and Bergans of Norway in the front-left of the show layout.
The snowboarding booths in the back left, however, brought a distinctly different vibe. Serious business was certainly conducted at some point, but especially near the end of each show day, plenty of loud music and beer filled those aisles.
Following the four days in Denver, about 120 of the brands moved 80 miles west to Copper Mountain Resort for the On-Snow Demo Ski-Ride Fest on Feb. 3-4. Retailers could try skis, snowboards, boots, poles, helmets and goggles on the slopes.
2014 SIA Snow Show Product Highlights:
- K2: The Route helmet will be the lightest helmet on the market next season at 0.7 pounds. The brand is also introducing the Potion series of skis for women.
- Fischer: The Watea name for freeride skis is gone, but the new Ranger line of skis will fill that niche next season with 88-mm, 96-mm, and 106-mm waist options.
- Smith Optics: Chroma-pop lenses for sunglasses make the world’s colors more vibrant. They work by filtering out points where color wavelengths cross each other. The only downside is that taking them off is a little like going from high-definition TV back to standard-def. For next season, Smith also introduced its new I/O 7 goggle.
- Dare2b: The English ski-apparel company is making a push here on this side of the pond with solid design and performance that is reasonably priced.
- Darn Tough Vermont: These snowsports socks made in Northfield, VT, have always been as tough as their name, but for 2014-15, they are stepping out with bolder colors and patterns.
- Watson’s: The base-layer maker has a new line of merino wool tops and bottoms priced well below other brands.