As the SIA.05 SnowSports Show culminated on Thursday, January 27th, overall reaction in the aisles was the SnowSports Industries America (SIA) Show is the only place to go if you truly want to see the industry in its entirety. Returning to Mandalay Bay for the third year, the SIA SnowSports Show, boasting a sold-out space status since March 2004, hosted over 16,000 attendees including winter sports suppliers, retailers, reps, resorts, athletes, media personalities and other industry luminaries. Exhibitors displaying new product lines for the 2005-06 season represented over 95% of the market share for the ski and snowboard sectors and a significant percentage of the Nordic, telemark, and snowshoe market.

Attendees were exposed to the latest color craze for next season, the latest in technological innovations for both apparel, accessories and equipment, the best parties in town, educational seminars, industry luminaries and more. Immediate comments in the aisles “user-friendly equipment”, technical outerwear incorporating the latest fashion, bold colors and “women and juniors products are where it’s at”. Jason Howlett, hardgoods buyer with Fernie Sports, LTD, in Fernie BC, Canada, stated that he was “pleased to see manufacturers work out keeping their prices low and making it affordable for the retail shop and ultimately the consumer.” He also added that “existing brands have added great technology enhancements and his favorite product at the Show this year was the Atomic Triplet. ”

SIA reports a nearly 1% increase in buyer attendance from last year with 4,831 buyers and a 6.9% increase in buyers per shop with a 3.05 average. These buyers represent 18,055 storefronts worldwide, underscoring the fact that the SIA SnowSports Show is truly an international winter sports show. Most important, the buying power index for this year’s show also indicated a 1.5% increase with 89.58% of the U.S. retail buying power represented at SIA.05.

According to the most recent SIA Retail Audit, women’s insulated parkas are selling like rapid fire with dollar increases of 43% and unit increases of 64%. Other women product areas continue to show significant increases as well. Manufacturers are making great strides in producing equipment specific to women’s body types and needs. As buyers perused the show floor, one certainly found a majority of exhibitors showcasing women-specific product. Alan Davis owner of Princeton Ski Shop (Columbia, MD) said it best, “If manufacturers aren’t producing women’s specific equipment and apparel, they aren’t getting it.”

Over 95 companies joined the ranks as new exhibitors to the SIA.05 SnowSports Show with a variety of product offerings. Don Tashman, owner of Loaded Boards stated emphatically that, “The show went really well for us. Response to our boards was phenomenal and the overall ambience of the show was professional, engaging and fun. Due to both the quality of the relationships we made and the good times, we have every intention of coming back next year.”

New this year to the SIA SnowSports Show was the introduction of Super Wednesday. Included in the format were seminars, conducted by industry experts, educating retailers on the children’s market, women’s products, and the booming telemark industry. In addition, exhibitors promoted special events throughout the day and extended evening hours to invite retailers to learn about their products in a non-business environment. “Basically Super Wednesday offered everyone a great opportunity to catch up and visit with industry friends, meet new people and enjoy the sense of community that seems to separate our industry from the norm,” said Bob Gundram, SIA trade show committee chairman and president of C3 Worldwide

The overall vibe projected throughout the show was energy and excitement. There were nearly 100 special events that took place far surpassing last year’s records including: two live concerts with Galactic and with 80’s phenom Berlin and Bow Wow Wow, athlete appearances and autograph sessions, live TV broadcasts, giveaway and design contests, live bands, press conferences, breakfast and lunch seminars, alumni breakfast, a Rail Jam and more.

In addition, several major announcements were made during the SIA show. Diane Boyer-Irwin, president of SKEA, was named the first woman chairperson of the SIA Board of Directors as announced at the SIA annual meeting. SKI Magazine senior editor Joe Cutts announced that Hickory & Tweed of Armonk, NY, was named National Ski Shop of the Year. SKIING announced they will debut a finely tuned new design next season beginning with the September 2005 issue. Atomic Ski USA was recognized by SIA and the U.S. Ski Team as the recipient of the Doc DesRoches Award which recognizes an SIA member and U.S. Ski Team official supplier for its integration of Team athletes into its marketing campaign. It is named in honor of the late DesRoches, a pioneer in the formation of SIA and instrumental in the development of the Ski Team’s early national fundraising efforts.

Several companies also used the SIA Show as an excellent platform to raise funds for charitable organizations such as Boarding for Breast Cancer, Breast Cancer Research Foundation, the Jeff Anderson Memorial Fund and other worthy causes.

On hand to capture the excitement and product innovation were over 400 media personnel along with major television outlets including Resort Sports Network (RSN), Outdoor Life Network (OLN), local Las Vegas network affiliates and a local film crew that packaged a seven-minute video feed distributed to over 600 news stations across the US.

With the prediction of six more weeks of winter weather by Punxsutawney Phil coupled with the excitement of great new products on the horizon, the winter sports industry is plenty stoked about the immediate and long-term future.

Next up, SIA will join Mountain Sports Media and TransWorld Snowboarding in hosting the second annual Snow Industry Summit at Copper Mountain, March 29-April 1, 2005. This event will feature work group sessions, seminars, keynote speakers and more to help educate and inform the industry and move forward in a collective, progressive direction.