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Looking for cool at the Snow Show

Scott Miller | smiller@vaildaily.com
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DENVER, Colorado – Headed to a big-city convention hall packed with thousands of product exhibits and even more buyers, how do you find the coolest stuff in the room? Ask around.

Using that random, unscientific method led to a Friday-afternoon search for some of the coolest gear, clothing and gadgets at this year’s Snowsports Industries America Snow Show at the Denver Convention Center. The show isn’t open to the public – instead it brings together buyers and sellers who collectively figure out what’s going to be on store racks and shelves next ski season.

Asking around for “the coolest thing in the room” brought answers from “Glenn Plake” to recommendations to check out several booths.



When asked, Jay Couder at the YakTrax booth pointed across the aisle to the SkiLogik booth, which was lined with skis that should be both ridden and displayed.

Gary Fondl, an extreme skier with more than a decade of competition under his belt, is one of the company’s representatives. He said the SkiLogik boards are as fun to ride as to look at.



Moving along to the Tecnica booth exhibit, company rep Ivar Dahl showed off one of the company’s newest boots, the Bushwacker, which can be used for both backcountry and downhill skiing. The boots feature any number of adjustments for fit, including an air bladder in the upper ankle area.

Very trick.

While there’s plenty of new stuff, the key word for this year – and next year, apparently – is “rocker.”



“They just give you an ease of use in varied conditions,” Save Patterson, of Vertical Skis, said of the relatively new rocker style of skis and snowboards. “You can really get a broad-based ski experience with them.”

Patterson, a 30-year veteran of the Snow Show, said the biggest thing he noticed this year is the growing number of “boutique” ski makers.

“There used to be one or two (small companies) here – now there must be 30,” Patterson said. “It’s the most I’ve ever seen, and not everybody’s here.”

At the SKEA booth, company owner Diane Boyer said buyers at this show seem to be attracted to bright colors. But SKEA also was taking orders for clothes with Nepalese calligraphy patterns.

But the most high-tech gear might have been at the Recon Instruments booth. The company right now has a goggle that puts a small GPS screen in the lower corner of the right lens. That gadget is controlled by buttons on the goggle, and users can get information ranging from their speed to their location to the ambient temperature.

But shoppers will soon have access to upgraded technology from Recon that allows the gadgets to be used in other companies’ goggles. The new gear has a wrist controller that will run any Bluetooth-enabled gadget, from smart phones to music players and more. Users also will be able to download their runs to Recon HQ, a new app that lets users record a history of their runs on a Google Maps template, among other things.

Using electronic gadgets is becoming more important on the slopes, which means there are now products that let users take their sensitive gear into cold, and sometimes wet, environments. One gadget is basically a waterproof envelope with a window through which users can run their smart phones.

But the loudest booth at the Snow Show belonged to headphone maker Skull Candy, which is rolling out several new models of gear.

“The brand really sells itself,” said company rep Trevor Rometta. “We’re just immersed in action-sports culture.”

The company has focused on looks with some new models, including one modeled after aviator-style sunglasses. It doesn’t hurt that the phones sound great, too.

Ultimately, looking for the coolest thing at the show depends on what you’re looking for (except Glenn Plake, who remains the coolest thing in just about any room he enters). One thing’s for sure – it’s probably smart to start saving now. There’s some really neat gear on the near horizon.


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