(Editor's Note: The Ski Industries America trade show is over and out as far as Las Vegas is concerned. Our own Cinderella, Jill Adler, OnTheSnow.com Associate Editor, has been on the floor (and at the parties, of course) all week. Here's her final report from the last hurrah in Vegas before the Big Top opens its flaps next year in Denver.)
Four days of walking the floor. After three, I was done - at least emotionally - but then I get to cruising and realize I am so not done. With 348,000 net square feet and 800-plus brands exhibiting in 3,479 booths, you can't possibly see everything and talk with everyone. SIA.09 is over and I feel like Cinderella at midnight. I even have the missing shoe to prove it. I had to grab a spare pair from the bags I stashed in the press room after my Velcro strap disintegrated.
I added my signature to the hundreds dotting the 100-foot-long "Memory Wall" - a tapestry of news clippings, vintage photos, and mementos from the past 38 show years that will be hauled to Denver. I gazed around before taking my final spin at Vegas SIA. It was bit slower in the morning after three late nights. Reps seemed bleary-eyed and eager for home - a reminder that Denver, with its dearth of all-night entertainment, might not be such a bad thing after all. The night that did the most damage left attendees pouring into cabs between 2 and 3 a.m.
Snoop Dogg, though brief, took to the stage at Rain in the Palms followed by some stellar DJ action. The club was filled but not to capacity despite the three-hour line to get in. Snoop was there to help promote Skullcandy and their limited edition Skullcrusher headphones. Though company's like Red and Bula have their own proprietary sound systems, Skullcandy still owns the action sports industry when it comes to headphones.
Spyder showcased its partnership with Skullcandy by displaying their new Diode Switch System jackets and pants. They come wired with an external control pad for an extra $30 so you can leave your iPod or Zune in your pocket and dial up your tunes and volume. You'll also find this kind of technology in Kombi's iRip gloves. The soft shell glove also has a handy pocket for your cell or player.
Most helmet companies now have at least one lid with Bluetooth compatible technology for wireless use of cells and mp3s. On the heels of Outdoor Research's recall of their heated glove (they burned people's hands), Therm-ic is introducing their own version and it feels pretty solid. The company split the battery so that you have one on top of and one under the wrist rather than one big block sitting on top of your hand. They go into production this fall and will retail for around $400.
Wondering if your gadgets will even last all day to take advantage of the new systems? Mountain Hardwear is coming out with a line of heated, high performance jackets run on a rechargeable battery that comes with an USB port to recharge your "tools." One of my favorite innovations that doesn't include electronics, 180s has a new glove that has dual zippers on the back of the hand that you can unzip and tuck the flap back for venting. The waterproof liner keeps your hands dry. No more sweaty hands in gloves.
If you're wondering about baselayer fabrics, cotton, poly, and merino wool are neck and neck. Eco fabrics are still prevalent in all of the lines, but Green Technology has been trumped by green friendly practices like fewer hangtags and less wasteful packaging.
Guess we should talk snowboard gear although I truly believe these guys deserve their own show - or at least room. It's a whole other world when you enter their zone. I would often get turned around, and find myself smack in the middle of booths like Ride and Spy and feel my body literally tense up. Litter everywhere, music so loud you can't hear your thoughts and skinny dudes with dirty hair and chicks with skimpy skirts and face piercings haplessly bump into you with every step. Boards are fatter and come with more rocker. You'll also spot more split boards on the hill like those from Venture.
As I mentioned yesterday, rocker/reverse camber skis are hot. The terms, by the way are used interchangeably but do have different meanings: Rockered skis and boards are designed to flatten out when you step on them. The rocker part for 2009-10 usually will be found just in the tip. Reverse cambered boards should not flatten out when you pressure them. Picture a banana if you will. Product designers will be recommending rockered for most skiers as you can still maintain edge contact and grip throughout most of the ski when you're turning while the tip floats for easy exit/entry into the new turn. K2 has even built a rocker for beginners - the Apache Force.
I looked at my watch and panicked. All of a sudden it was 5:45 p.m. With a 7:15 p.m. flight to catch and that horrendous security line you might encounter at Las Vegas McCarran Airport, I scooped up my bags and raced for the taxi line at the Mandalay Bay. I didn't even have time to wistfully wave goodbye before I was escorted into a cab with two other gentlemen, also heading to the airport.
"Thank God, this is our last time in Vegas," said the gray-haired man. "I've had enough of this place." When asked if he'd be going to Denver, he said definitely. It gets lonely up in Banff running Canadian Mountain Holidays. He has to get his city fix one way or the other. I wish I had his problem. But, hey, I can't complain about living in Park City. It's good to be heading home. Thanks for reading my Vegas blog. -- Jill