Photo Gallery: 2012 Ski & Snowboard Gear Tradeshow Wrap-Up

By TRAVIS GOODKIND

Every year, the ski industry gathers in Denver for the Snowsports Industry of America (SIA) tradeshow.

It’s the biggest winter tradeshow in North America dedicated to ski and snowboard gear. Ski shop employees, sponsored athletes, media types, bloggers, product reps, manufacturers, and magazine publishers make up the bulk of the attendees.

The show is always the last week of January, which is right in the middle of the current winter season. Yet, somehow, we switch gears and focus on gear for the upcoming 2012-13 season. It’s a tricky mix, as we don’t fully even know what the best sellers are for this season, much less next season.

We loaded up the Subaru Outback early Friday morning for the 13+ hour drive to Denver. Fueled by Red Bull, Mountain Dew, and gas station corn dogs, we arrived at our hotel late. We knew Saturday was going to be super busy and we were drained.

Saturday and Sunday were spent running from appointment to appointment all over the giant convention center. We talked about skis, grabbed catalogs, and took photos. Our backpacks got heavier with each appointment.

Thankfully, at the end of each day, beers are cracked and it was time to relax. We got to talk with friends about skiing, and not just skis.

It’s after SIA, that the real fun begins. On Sunday afternoon, all of the vendors tear down their booths and displays and pack it up to Winter Park ski resort for two days of on-snow testing.

This is the single most important part of the trip. Everything looks good on paper, but does it translate to the mountain? We were about to find out.

The snow looked grim as we pull into Winter Park. WP is known for two things: Groomers and moguls. While both can be fun, neither are ideal for our testing purposes.

The next two days yielded no new snow and very little sun. But we made the best of it, laying out the biggest turns we could on the biggest skis we could find. WP kept us fed with breakfast burritos, brats, and Coors Light (we are in Colorado after all). No complaints from this crowd.

The drive back to Missoula was spent looking over catalogs and making notes. We have some big decisions to make for the ski wall next season. We also have to make those decisions in March, so the manufacturers can set their production levels. Boring stuff, I know.

Some highlights:

  • Moment added a 187cm length to both the Belafonte and Jaguar Shark.
  • Moment introduced the Death Wish, a wide ski with multiple cambers.
  • Liberty introduced the Variant, a charging, big mountain ski.
  • 4FRNT introduced the Hoji, a more versatile version of the Renegade.
  • 4FRNT introduced the Cody, a lightweight backcountry ski with rocker.
  • 4FRNT introduced an adjustable backcountry ski pole and climbing skins with silicone instead of glue.
  • Tyrolia introduced the Adrenalin, an alpine touring binding.
  • Line added a 192cm length to the Opus and Influence 115.
  • MFD introduced a touring plate that is compatible with Marker bindings.
  • Mammut introduced a whole line of avalanche airbag packs.

Some low lights:

  • Moment discontinued the Comi and Donner Party.
  • 4FRNT discontinued the EHP.
  • Marker increased the price of the Jester Pro.

Final impressions: If you continue to shy away from a “wide” pair of skis because you think they can’t carve, get over it. Big skis have as much sidecut as skinny skis, and they rip! We were able to ski every ski from Moment, 4FRNT, Line, Liberty, and Faction that was on our radar. We can safely say that we have skied every ski that will make it into the shop next fall. I don’t think most ski shops can say that.

We will also renew our dedication to the backountry with some lighter skis and more touring bindings next season.

We always come away from the show with some funny stories (like paying $8 for a Subway $5 footlong), a couple freebies, and 50 pounds of catalogs. We love attending SIA, skiing new gear, and seeing familiar faces.

Can’t wait to do it again next year!

 

Modeling the new Von Zipper goggles.
Modeling the new Von...
2012-13 Liberty Double Helix (left) and Helix
2012-13 Liberty Doub...
2012-13 Liberty Variant – tip rock w/ bamboo AND metal
2012-13 Liberty Vari...
New Tyrolia Adrenalin alpine touring binding
New Tyrolia Adrenali...
2012-13 4FRNT Renegade (left) and Hoji
2012-13 4FRNT Renega...
2012-13 4FRNT Aretha women’s ski
2012-13 4FRNT Aretha...
MFD All Time touring plate is now compatible with Marker bindings
MFD All Time touring...
2012-13 Faction Agent 100 (left) and Agent 90
2012-13 Faction Agen...
Mammut Airbag Pack
Mammut Airbag Pack
2012-13 Moment Outerwear
2012-13 Moment Outer...
2012-13 Moment Bibby (left) and Governor
2012-13 Moment Bibby...
2012-13 Line Opus (left) and Sir Francis Bacon
2012-13 Line Opus (l...
2012-13 Moment Deathwish
2012-13 Moment Death...
2012-13 4FRNT Hoji
2012-13 4FRNT Hoji
2012-13 4FRNT Cody
2012-13 4FRNT Cody

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Travis Goodkind is the owner of the Missoula business Backcountry Racks & Skis. The Vermont native moved out west after college 10 years ago in pursuit of bigger mountains and has never left. He spends his free time exploring Montana’s mountains, trails, and rivers with wife Julie, son Asher, and black lab Pika. Check out his blog, Backcountry Freeskier, for more powdery goodness.