Steamboat heads to annual SIA tradeshow in Denver

Eugene Buchanan
Len Zanni, Nate Bird and Chris Daniels, of Big Agnes, hang out at the Snowsports Industries America Snow Show in Denver this weekend.
Eugene Buchanan

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Coming Sunday: A roundup of freeride gear from the ski show trenches

The migration is here again. Not geese heading back to town early due to our mild weather, but local ski industry personnel heading to the annual Snowsports Industries America Snow Show in Denver, held this year from Thursday to Sunday at the Colorado Convention Center.

The movement takes place every year from Ski Town USA to Denver, where the annual tradeshow lets retailers show off what’s new for the upcoming season and gives manufacturers a chance to showcase their latest wares, which this year includes everything from air-insulated jackets (yes, you pump them up) to inflatable snow shoes and Nobel Prize winning Graphene-laced skis.

Heading there this week are buyers from such local ski and snowboard shops as Ski Haus, Steamboat Ski & Bike Kare, Christy Sports, Sports Stalker, One Stop Ski Shop, Powder Pursuits, Fleischer Sport and more. A handful of locally based exhibitors also will be attending to showcase their new products, including SmartWool, Point6, Big Agnes, Honey Stinger and Chaos Hats as well as reps and other industry personnel.

“We sent about 10 people there this year between Big Agnes and Honey Stinger,” said Big Agnes founder Bill Gamber, who recently inked a deal to manufacture tents for snowboard giant Burton, which displayed them at its booth. “We love the corefulness of the ski industry for both of our brands. With Big Agnes’ new apparel launch and our growing Stinger ski business, it’s essential for us to be there.”

Lone eagle workers representing other brands also made the pilgrimage.

“There’s no better stage for Under Armour to tell its complete story,” said Under Armour Marketing Director Steve Metcalf, whose office is in Steamboat. “The show also serves as a rallying point for our staff and reps to work together and uncover opportunity. Seeing a product line manager talking directly with a rep about what is working in this region or that — in real time — is invaluable.”

The show’s real audience, however, is retailers, there to sniff around and even buy for the upcoming season. “It’s a really important show for us,” Ski & Bike Kare owner Harry Martin said. “We use it to finish up ordering clothes and accessories and get a sneak peak at new hard goods coming out. A lot of our staff goes to the tradeshow as well as the on-snow demo afterward so we can find the best skis for our customers.”

He added that so far this year, sidecountry ski boots with walk modes are selling well, as are new designs in AT bindings.

Offering four days of networking with anyone who’s anyone in the ski and snowboard industry, this year’s show will see nearly 20,000 attendees from 1,000 snow sports brands exhibiting their wares in more than 332,000 square feet of exhibit hall space at the Colorado Convention Center. Afterwards, many attendees will head to Copper Mountain for two days for an on-snow demo event letting them test the new products on the slopes.

“It’s where the whole industry gathers together once a year,” said SIA president David Ingemie, who moved the show from Las Vegas to Denver five years ago. “Retailers and reps from Colorado ski towns are a very important part of the industry and the show is an important part of their business.”

For locals, it’s all about bettering their businesses in Ski Town USA.

“It’s a chance for us to catch up with all the top brass in the ski industry,” said Chad Fleischer, owner of Fleischer Sport and Fleischer Ride who returned from a World Cup reunion event in Kitzbuhel, Austria, just in time to attend the show for the weekend. “It helps us find the new ‘it’ in the industry.”

Longtime local and 25-year ski industry veteran Marty Carrigan, owner of Steamboat’s Global Sales Guys sales, which represents several marquee soft and hardgoods brands, said it’s as vital to business as snowfall. “It’s the only place we can meet all of our specialty retail partners and show them all the brands we represent,” he said. “It allows us to create a multi-brand presentation under one booth.”

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