Gear, games draw people to ski expo
DENVER, Colorado – Let’s be honest here: If you live in the mountains, you probably won’t go to the Colorado Ski & Snowboard Expo next weekend in Denver. But it’s still an important event – think of it as helping load the pipeline to the mountains with Front Range skiers.The expo, now in its 20th year, used to be mostly a one-stop shop for ski passes. Passes are still important – there are long lines at those booths every year – but these days, the expo is about a lot more.Vail’s Colorado Ski & Snowboard Museum has a booth every year at the expo. That might seem unusual for an event that focuses on the here and now, but museum director Susie Tjossem said it’s important to take ski heritage on the road for events such as this one.”We’re the glue that holds the past and present together,” Tjossem said. And, she added, being at the expo fits right into the museum’s mission of exposing Colorado residents to the state’s place in the world of skiing.With 20,000 to 25,000 people per year attending the event and a prominent spot in the middle of the Colorado Convention Center floor, Tjossem said the museum booth gets a lot of attention. A lot of people walk right by, but many stop to look at the exhibits.Those who do also get a subtle sales pitch for Vail.”We invite people to stop in the next time they’re here,” Tjossem said.That invitation to the mountains – and to a new season on the snow – brings every ski resort company in the state to the event.”It’s really the kick-off to the season,” Vail Resorts spokeswoman Kelly Ladyga said. “It’s a great reminder for pass or gear buyers that it’s time to think about winter.”Vail Resorts has a big presence at the event – the company sells passes, gear and lodging and also pushes its “School of Shred” for youngsters.Other resort companies bring their specials, too. And that might be a good reason for mountain-dwellers to make the trip.”It’s fun to ski other mountains, and this is a way to get some deals for that,” said Joan Christensen, who handles public relations for the expo.And it’s deals that are the ultimate draw for those who go to the expo – although the brewfest is a nice bonus. Name a piece of winter gear, and you can find it there – often at deep, deep discounts.”The Colorado Ski and Golf booth (a Vail Resorts subsidiary) has a huge sale there,” Ladyga said. “I’m actually going to go to get gear for my kids.”Christensen said there’s going to be plenty of kids’ gear available, a good way to get still-growing youngsters into new stuff at discount prices, which could be a good reason for mountain folks to head down the hill.But, like everything else about Colorado in the fall, who goes to the expo largely depends on the weather.Nearly 25,000 people attended last year, Christensen said, despite temperatures in the 80s. A year or two earlier, though, Front Range roads were coated in black ice.”We just got crushed on Sunday that year,” Christensen said. “We’d just had a segment on a Denver TV station, and then the anchor came back on and said, ‘Don’t leave your house unless you absolutely have to.'”This year’s forecast for Denver might just be perfect for a ski show – sunny with temperatures in the low 50s.”It’ll be nice but a little too cold for golf – it should be great,” she said.Business Editor Scott N. Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930 or email@example.com.