The Martini Bar at the Curtis Hotel's Corner Office Bar in Denver was a-buzz. Colorado Ski Country had invited members of the press to a welcome reception in the swanky lounge. "Did you see anything cool?" was the most-asked question of the night as we all tried to determine what's hot, different and news worthy from this year's SIA show. This is the annual event for retailers to taste and order their stock for next season.
"White, purple and jade," uttered one gal almost distressed. Those are some of the ‘it' colors for 2010/11. Spotted at Obermeyer, however, a shimmery copper in the Kassidy Down Sweater that stood out as a top seller. Patterns are still popular but color-blocking (blocks of bold colors placed strategically like patches on jackets, pants, and sweaters) which started peeking out this season, is even bigger for next. Prints also take on a futurist look with barcodes, swirls, and streaks of eye-popping colors. For women, pink is the new black.
Rocker (where tip and tail of a ski bends up dramatically) has taken over every model at K2 and they categorized them to make it more understandable for consumers - Speed Rocker, Catch-Free Rocker (elevated tip and tail makes it easier for beginners to turn at slow speeds without catching an edge), Jib Rocker, All Terrain Rocker, and Powder Rocker (this is your big banana ski).
Only two models in their line are traditional, meaning no rocker and full camber: a beginning women's ski and a touring ski. Even K2s kids' skis have rocker. They've also gotten more aggressive with flashy graphics and waists up to 100 cm under foot.
Armada's making a lightweight, foam-core park ski for kids 5-7. Kastle's back with three models featuring "early rise" (their version of rocker). This is the company's first SIA show since purchasing the name and design rights back from Benetton. Pro-athlete Chris Davenport has hopped on them to promote the company.
Thirty percent of snowboards will have rocker next season and you'll also see more splitboards than ever thanks to the trend toward the backcountry experience. Atomic, Burton, Venture, Jones, Voile and more will offer freeriders high-performance options for climbing. Lib-Tech has a convertible mono ski where you can reposition the bindings to ride surf-style like a snowboard if you don't have those mono skills. ABS
The North Face has entered the kids market with buntings, vests and jackets for infants and toddlers. Thorlos also beefed up their kids end with six colors and Thor-Wick - "green" yarn made from post-consumer plastic bottles that's just as warm as their other fibers but twice as friendly. Smartwool's graduated compression socks promise faster recovery from muscle fatigue. They're primarily for Nordic skiers because of the last of cushion but I look forward to testing them after a day on the slopes.
One of the coolest products I saw at the show isn't necessarily new, but it's more functional for next season. ABS- The Avalanche Airbag- is introducing a new carbon cartridge that's half the weight of their steel ones. Once you pull the handle, one cartridge inflates two airbags attached to the sides of their backpack. The balloons keep a rider horizontal and close to the surface during an avalanche to minimize the risk of injury and burial. They actually have studies that show 98 percent of victims survive with the ABS. New this year is a wireless activation handle so your guide or partner can set off your airbags from a distance of up to 300 meters if h sees you're in trouble.
Well, it's time to get back on the floor. More to come from SIA 2010 in Denver Sunday. -- Jill