If gear is your thing, then SIA is Heaven.
The annual SnowSports Industries America (SIA) Snow Show is also a circus. Almost every manufacturer of snow sports-related products shows up at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver, sets up a booth, and shows off their product line for next year. There are more than 19,000 attendees here and 800+ journalists.
Everything at SIA is about next season. Look around, see the future.
It’s a lot of fun, and it’s utterly exhausting. From Thursday through Sunday, everyone is hopped up on coffee by 10am when the day officially begins, and they stay hopped up till about 4pm, at which point kegs begin to appear in various booths. By 7pm, the convention center is fairly empty, though some of us keep the conversations going till around 8:30, when the need for real food becomes too great to put off any longer.
By day four at SIA, everything starts to blend together. You can’t remember whether it’s the Fat-ypus or the Faction booth that’s over by the free coffee stand. You meet hundreds of people and exchange hundreds of business cards (business cards are pouring out of every jean and messenger bag pocket).
The Colorado Convention Center is enormous. There was one company, TREW, that I literally didn’t find in four days – couldn’t find them on the floor map, couldn’t find them in the convention center. (I believe they were supposed to be in booth #1613, wherever the hell that was. There appeared to be little rhyme or reason to the booth #s on the floor map.) So TREW, if you’re reading this, (1) you should get your money back from SIA, since nobody I spoke to knew where you were, and (2) I’ll be in touch.
Speaking of messenger bags, THAT was the worst mistake I made at SIA. I should have gone with the backpack for sure. At SIA, you walk and stand all day, accumulating business cards and dozens of HEAVY company product catalogues. My back is still in shambles. Lesson learned.
TWO OTHER THINGS:
1) Next year I am definitely coming with another reporter from BLISTER to handle the snowboard side of SIA. There were just way too many companies to cover, and I would have done justice to neither the ski side nor the snowboard side if I had tried to review both. So I stuck to what I know better. And next year, we promise to cover the snowboard side, too. Besides, as you will read below, that’s where 90% of the good times were happening.
2) There is an “On Snow” demo event attached to SIA, where you can go demo next year’s stuff. I chose not to go. In general, you are only able to get a couple of runs on a given ski or board before you’ve got to give it back to the vendor and move on to the next one. But at BLISTER, we aren’t into making up our minds after just a couple of runs. It’s a bad model, and one we don’t want to perpetuate.
Instead, we do a ton of reading and research, see what each company is coming out with, read their descriptions, ask which skis the manufacturers themselves are most proud of, go to SIA, see the skis, flex the skis, study tip and tail profiles, examine the overall construction of a given ski (when you press the bases of the skis flat together, do you see any gaps / ripples occurring between the base edges?), and we begin to create a list of the skis we are most eager to test. But if you quickly decide over two runs that a ski isn’t very good, you may just be disliking the tune job, or the mount position of the binding, or the applied wax. These are all things we consider at BLISTER before passing judgment.
Ok, so, after four days of too little sleep, too much caffeine, and a huge bout of sensory overload, I’d like to present the 1st Annual BLISTER Awards from SIA.
(These are, of course, my own terribly subjective and grossly unscientific musings.)