Vail’s Arn Menconi: Snow industry expects record year
Special to the Daily
Vail, CO Colorado
Editor’s note: Arn Menconi, executive director of Avon-based youth nonprofit SOS Outreach, is on the road attending various ski and snowboard industry tradeshows and conferences. He’ll be sending periodic dispatches from the events, telling readers what’s new and interesting in the world of snow sports. This dispatch comes from the Snowsports Industries of America Snow Show in Denver.
DENVER, Colorado – Denver has rolled out the white carpet for the annual snowsports industry tradeshow, and there’s excitement and optimism in the air for the business as a whole – some reports even expect this year’s sales to surpass the hugely successful 2007-2008 numbers.
Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper opened up the show on Thursday, telling attendees that he was proud to see the show thriving in Denver after almost 40 years of being held in Vegas. This is my 15th year attending the show, and in many ways it has the feel of a high school reunion. I’m stoked to be here because year after year I see people who started off as small businesses and snowboard instructors who are now heads of companies and vice-presidents of top brands.
These industry veterans are telling me that both the numbers and the general morale in the business has skyrocketed compared to last year.
As National Ski Area Association President Michael Berry said, people can continue using old skis and jackets year after year, but they have to buy lift tickets every year if they want to ski – and the ski areas are definitely feeling the benefit of that.
The energy is definitely back for this ski season, exhibitors said.
“Everybody’s excited about all the snow. It’s arguably the best winter we’ve had worldwide in the last two decades, so it’s impossible not to be excited,” said Robert Marcovitch, president of K2 Sports. “It’s a great show so far for us.”
Inevitably, part of the SIA tradeshow is the glitz, glamour and parties, and the atmosphere is fun and irreverent. It seems that everybody is trying to outdo the other by throwing a more elaborate, more celebrity studded, and more outlandish evening event. Burton is throwing a party at a downtown cabaret and featuring Big Boi from Outkast. Even inside the show grounds, you can spot baggy pants, hear hip hop music and wander among DJ booths.
Nonprofit SOS Outreach, which I’m representing here, had a party of its own last night at the SIA/SOS Shootout. Never Summer, 686 and several other companies generously hosted the second annual hockey tournament on Wednesday night. Industry representatives, SOS staff and even retired NHL player Joe Sakic got on the ice to support the cause. At the end of the night, nearly $2,000 was raised for SOS.
Tonight the festivities continue with the snow trends fashion show. Stay tuned for a look at the newest technology and what people might be sporting on the hill this coming season.