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January 27, 2012
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Snow Show brings ski business to Denver

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DENVER - So much show, so little time.

The SIA Snow Show, a giant trade show sponsored by the Snowsports Industries America trade group, is now in its second year in Denver. The show has ride days, sponsored a sold-out winter concert at Red Rocks Amphitheater, and hosts plenty of schmoozing. But the No. 1 job is to bring together makers and buyers of snowsports gear, accessories and clothing for some good, old-fashioned browsing, buying and selling.

Unless you're focused on one part of the business, and know what you're looking for, the show is simply overwhelming. The Colorado Convention Center is a big, big, place, and it's full to the walls with vendors selling any snowsports-related merchandise you can imagine, and some you can't.

Frankly, the sheer volume of new skis, boards, graphic patterns, boot colors and what have you is just too much.

With that in mind, an afternoon of looking around the show ended up focusing on a few new items that will end up in paper and Web catalogs, and, of course, store shelves, in the next few months.

Here's a look at some of the more interesting items:

Function

This is the first SIA Snow Show for Glenn Schmierer and Jamie Marchbank. They're suitably impressed, both by the size of the show and the business they've been able to do.

Marchbank and Schmierer are the co-owners of Function, a Boulder-based company that opened in October of last year. The partners have two products, both of which fall firmly in the realm of "Why hasn't anybody thought of that before?"

Function's products enable snowboarders and skiers to sling their boards over their shoulders. The snowboard Function straps on like a backpack, while the ski carrier slings a pair of skis over one shoulder like a rifle sling.

Marchbank and Schmierer are avid backcountry riders, and both like to travel with little more than what they can get into their pockets. The Function straps do just that. Plus, a base area full of people with Function straps wouldn't be a Three Stooges routine in the making.

"This is the anti-backpack," Marchbank said, holding a Function 1 (the snowboard strap) in a back a bit smaller than a vending-machine bag of chips.

"Next season is really our focus," Marchbank said. "But everyone who's seen it has been really psyched so far."

On the web: www.function-snow.com.

Anomaly Action Sports

The crew at Anomaly Action Sports took a page from motorsports as the inspiration for the Slytech 2nd Skin Backpro, a simple-looking pad to protect a skier or rider's spinal cord in the event of a fall.

Motocross riders have been wearing chest and back protectors for years, but most are hard plastic, a material that doesn't function very well in frigid temperatures. The Backpro uses soft, energy-absorbing polyurethane that flexes even when it's cold.

Company representative Stephen Boeker dropped a ball bearing on a sample of the material, and the small steel sphere dropped to the pad and stopped dead. The material absorbed all the kinetic energy from the bearing.

Boeker said the company is so enthusiastic about the new material that it's starting to put the stuff in its helmets. Those helmets far surpass the energy-absorption requirements recently imposed by FIS, ski racing's governing body.

"This has really caught on in Europe," Boeker said. "Now we need to get it going in America."

On the web: anomalyactionsports.com

Dragon

Frameless goggles look cool. And, during a visit to Dragon's booth, a guy named Flynn - who managed to get his one name even on his show badge - focused on the bling of the Dragon APX's bling-y nature.

Then designer Mike Tobia came along. It turns out there's plenty of function behind the flash.

"These goggles have two U.S. patents - one for the frameless technology and one for the bracket system for the lenses," Tobia said.

Framless goggles still have a frame, of course, but it's all behind the interchangeable lenses. The foam around the lens is ventilated, to prevent fogging, but, more important, Tobia said APX goggles improve a skier or boarder's peripheral vision.

"That way you can concentrate on your riding instead of what might be around you," Tobia said.

On the web: www.dragonalliance.com.

Staff Writer Scott N. Miller can be reached at 970-748-2928 or smiller@vaildaily.com


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The VailDaily Updated Feb 1, 2012 03:52PM Published Jan 27, 2012 11:30PM Copyright 2012 The VailDaily. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.