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The week before last, more than a thousand manufacturers and marketers of every conceivable product related to winter outdoor sports gathered at Denver’s Colorado Convention Center for the annual OR/SIA Snow Show.  

The three-day marketplace is where orders for next season’s merchandise are written.

The big name brands generally occupy large sections of real estate. Lesser known brands and products have smaller exhibits, some limited to an 8’x10’ table. For the most part, exhibits for similar products are clustered in the same areas of the exhibition hall.

One of the more innovative exhibits

Most of the attendees were under 50. The oldest person in the room was the venerable Klaus Obermeyer who turned 100 in December. Klaus is the founder of ski clothing brand, Sport Obermeyer.

Klaus and Jon and the SeniorsSkiing.com sticker

There was an abundance of swag in the form of product samples, advertising promotional items, and other tchotchkes. A long time ago, I learned that most of it is useless, and everything adds to the weight being carried.

Two relatively new categories caught my interest. One, battery-warmed gloves and garments; the other, CBD products touted to reduce pain, help sleep, boost energy, etc., etc. 

Of the battery-warmed things, glove liners seemed to make good sense because they cost less and can be used with existing gloves. The downside is that each model I saw uses a relatively bulky battery pack. Of the lot, the ones from FIRedup seemed most interesting. They utilize Far Infrared (FIR) technology which heats only the surfaces it contacts. It uses less power than wire-heated technology and there are no wires to break.

Lightweight, battery-warmed layers also look like a practical way to stay toasty. Fieldsheer has been manufacturing electric clothing for years, primarily for garments for construction workers and motorcyclists. The company is now entering the outdoor recreation market with a variety of good-looking items with strategically placed heated panels. 

Each afternoon, exhibitors broke out beer and bands, and the show morphed from sales to party atmosphere. I wandered into the snowboard section where the feeling was rowdier and the air more infused with cannabis.

Friday afternoon, the circus packed its tents and that part of the annual spectacle came to an end.

On Monday, a smaller version popped up at the base of Winter Park Ski Resort. This annual post-show on-snow event gives attendees the opportunity to demo skis, boots, and accessories. Several miles away, at Devil’s Thumb Ranch, a similar event catered to the cross country and snow shoe markets. 

I was at Winter Park and tried several different skis. Day One started sunny and got darker and colder as it progressed. Day Two, morning temperatures hovered around -7°F. I overcame second thoughts about taking a few runs and was rewarded with a few inches of fresh snow.

The skis that left the best impression were the Head Kore 93 and the Black Crows Camox. Both have soft shovels and tails and skied beautifully on packed and in the few inches of fresh. 

As I drove away, it occurred to me that, ultimately, all of the time and effort that goes into keeping the gears of the industry turning will be for naught if governments and their leaders don’t cooperate on the planet’s environmental and climate issues. 

One Comment

  1. Avatar Paula Hamada Summit says:

    Sorry I missed you at the show, Jon. I looked for you!

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