An industry on the rebound

The dust has barely settled at the 2011 SIA ski and snowboard trade show in Denver, which wrapped up Sunday, but the verdict is in: This is a great, if not record-breaking year for the snowports industry. The buzz was palpable. SIA recently reported over $1 billion in total snowsports equipment and accessories sales for December. It seems like the snowsports industry is recovering faster than the rest of the economy, and aside from great snow conditions so far this winter and a cleaner marketplace, it's tough to pinpoint exactly why.

Inside the convention center, we combed the aisles for the latest and greatest in tech and trends in skiing and snowboarding. One apparent snow trend: Rocker snowboards now constitute over 50 percent of snowboards sold. Here are some other highlights from the floor, gear that you'll see on shelves next fall.


Gnu Impossible Series
More tech wizardry from Mike Olson, Gnu's new Impossible Series features Magnesium Fiber technology and glow in the dark UHMW sidewalls. "When alloyed with aluminum as we use it in our boards, Magensium Fiber is prized for its lightness and strength," says Pete Saari. The Impossible Series features a bio polymer topsheet, Columbian gold core, and EC2 Attack Banana tech. According to Saari, this board has more tech than any other Gnu in history and is their lightest and liveliest board to date.

Venture Snowboards Odin
For 2011/12, Johan Olofsson and Venture Snowboards teamed up to build a big mountain board for the ages. It comes in both a splitboard and solid version. Olofsson says he likes collaborating with a boardmaker that gives him the ability to design a board and get it on snow in mere days, rather than months. It doesn't hurt that Venture's based in Silverton, Colo., and is a perfect testing ground for Olofsson-inspired decks.

Deeluxe Spark Snowboard Boot
Deeluxe is back in the U.S. for 2011/12 after a brief hiatus, and they return with a new pro model, the Spark boot designed by and for Xavier de le Rue. It's the first snowboard boot built for the backcountry, features a mountaineer boot-style Vibram sole and just the right flex for splitboarding, bootpacking and downhill shredding.


Armada TST skis
The new all mountain sticks from Armada pay tribute to skier Travis Steeger, who was the victim of a hit-and-run in Fernie, BC and passed away at the age of 19. The TST features progressive tip rocker and camber at the tail, which provides full-throttle float without losing control on big lines and hard snow. A portion of the proceeds from this ski is donated to Steeger's Memorial Fund and the Avalanche Awareness Beyond the Boundaries Society.

Salomon BBR skis
At first glance, the all mountain BBR's look like someone grabbed them by the waist and squeezed ... hard. At 89 millimeters underfoot, these skis boast an oversize tip and pin tail, a design culled from the surf industry, according to Salomon. The brand calls it a "technology of fun." We'll have to ski on them to confirm that.

MFD Alltime binding
Machined in Montana, MFD's answer to alpine touring allows skiers to mount their traditional alpine bindings to a plate system that is compatible with brands across the board. Switch plates can be mounted to multiple sets of skis so you can switch it up depending on the conditions.


Contour HD GPS Cam
The new GPS-enabled helmet cam from Contour records in full HD (1080p), and captures your location, speed and elevation, which can then be mapped out on-screen after the day is done.

Frends 'Phones plus Dragon Collab
Frends flashed its headphones and earbuds at SIA for the first time this year, delivering premium sound with aesthetic designs that mix wires and drivers with natural materials. Models include the Classic, Alli, and the new Classic Light that is tuned for on-snow amplification. Also fresh for 2011/12, Frends and Dragon are collaborating on a Danny Davis Rogue Signature Series goggle and matching headphones.

Smith Helmets plus Boa
Boa Technology offers maximum micro-adjustability with the spin of a reel. All Smith helmets over $120 now come with Boa Tech for cinching down your brain bucket.