As with all sports, the future of the snowsports industry lies in today’s youth embracing skiing and snowboarding. And, if this past season is any indicator, juniors are not only embracing snowsports, they are also accounting for a hefty chunk of purchases at the cash register.

According to SnowSports Industries America’s (SIA) most recent Retail Audit (which tracked snowsports sales from August 2005 through January 2006) $128 million in junior equipment, apparel and accessories has sold-through at snowsport specialty retail stores — a 14% increase over the same period last season. In fact, junior products accounted for 10% of all snowsports dollars sold this season.

These retail sales trends dovetail nicely with current consumer trends. According to the national 2005 Skier/Boarder Opinion Survey, more parents who have children under the age of 16 are bringing them to the slopes; from 57% in 1993/94 compared to 82% in 2004/2005.

Less concerned with highly technical fabrics, taped seams and waterproofing – juniors are very image-conscience and demand fashion-forward elements in their snowsports equipment and outerwear.

“They know what’s in and what’s not and they want to stand out. Kids don’t want to wear baby clothes; they want to look good and fashionable like teens and young adults,” says Coalision International Talent designer Isabel Lafortune.

“Some kids buy based on brand, but aesthetics matter a ton. Riders are taking more risks with looks. More daring styles are selling because kids are stoked on the looks, like Nitro’s team boot that’s bright green with a gum sole,” said Ryan Terwilliger, manager of MiloSport in Salt Lake City, Utah.