The WWSRA Southern California Demo was held at Mammoth Mountain from February 10-12. The event was blessed with good weather, and it was the first time in years where the demo wasn’t surrounded by windy and dumping snow conditions. This gave retailers a chance to give next year’s equipment a thorough examination before they gear up and make their buying decisions for the upcoming year.

The New Salomon line was a hot item among retailers. Epic Surf/Skate/SnowManager Charlie Triplett says he was most impressed with Salomon’s new ERA series: “Nothing else compares to it. It’s got good consistent flex and sidewall construction. We sold out of our ERA boards last year, and with the addition of these new models we’ve decided to go heavier on carrying Salomon in our store.

Skateboard Buyer Brian Banuelos for Hansen’s Boardroom in Encinitas says he had an awesome time at the demo, but admits to only trying Ride snowboards and bindings. “The Mikey Leblanc board was my favorite, and as far as bindings go I really liked the Ride SPI and EX, says Banuelos.

As far as bringing in new products for next year, Banuelos is not entirely sure of what the store will bring in. “I think we’re bringing Academy in this year, but as far as the Ride stuff goes I really hope we can bring in a few boards like the Mikey LeBlanc, he says.

The staff over at ZJ Boarding House in Santa Monica had a killer time at the demo as well. Senior Employee Victor Shaw tried a whole slew of boards from brands like Salomon, Burton, Nitro, and GNU. Shaw is another one who is a big fan of the new Salomon ERA Series. “I like the sandwich constructed boards, they are very nice, he says. “I also liked the new Daniel Frank Pro-Model and the Nitro Super Team.

As for bindings and boots, Shaw was impressed with the new Burton bindings. “I rode some of the new Burton’s (bindings) and they were pretty killer. ThirtyTwo boots are awesome as well, says Shaw.

Shaw admits that the on-snow demo is a crucial attendance for ZJ Boarding House because of the opportunity to get out of the shop and on the snow trying out new products. “What we ride influences our buying decision a lot because to us it’s like the idea of taking a car to a mechanic who doesn’t know how to drive. Going to the on-snow demo gives us the ability to try the new stuff and go back to our customers and tell them what we think, he says.

So what products did the guys at ZJ Boarding House have their eye on for next season? “Mikey and Todd (owners) went to ISPO in Germany and looked at the Mickey Albin line of snowboards. But we got a green light today with hot-off-the-press information. We have been looking into Steepwater but now it’s for sure. Steepwater is in, according to General Manager Richie Rubincam, exclaims Shaw.

In the So Cal demo’s homeland of Mammoth, P3 General Manager Steve Curran had a blast trying out new gear in the sunny and non-blizzard conditions. “Everybody’s got really good stuff coming out for next season so it’s pretty hard to choose one board, he says. “We tried Nitro, Nidecker, Rossignol, Winterstick, and Never Summer. Nitro has a strong line going for next year and their graphics are really good. Never Summer is pretty solid all around, and Rossignol is doing really well with their marketing, says Curran.

As for bindings, Curran was impressed with the Nidecker Carbon 900 binding. “Those are probably one of the best bindings around right now, Curran states in confidence.

Snow Buyer/Manager Brandon Richards of Val Surf, a three-store chain in Southern California, says he was happy with the conditions for the demo because this was the first year it wasn’t snowy and windy on the mountain. As for boards, Richards tried models from Burton, Rome, Never Summer, Salomon, Capita, Lib Tech, and Option. How did they rank up? “The Rome Artifact and the Option Mendon Hall pro model were my two favorites, says Richards. “”The Burton Unink JP was good too.

Richards admits the demo did not change the store’s buying decision, but was still an important part of the buying process. “After being in Vegas for SIA, the Mammoth on-snow is just a way to try what we already picked from Vegas. It didn’t affect our buying, but solidified what we were backing, says Richards.

While many Southern California shops were in attendance at the on-snow demo, there were many who were not. But for those who were there, the opportunity to try out next season’s new products is one crucial to the selling market, for next year is shaping up to be a hot one.