Thanks to this year’s fickle El Niño, it hadn’t snowed significantly at Mammoth Mountain, California for almost six weeks—through the entire month of January and into February. But never fear, come time for the WWSRA Mammoth On-snow demo, the snows arrived just in time.

It’s been a tradition for years—the Mammoth On-snow demo always has deep powder. Always. And it’s great for snowboard shops to test out the newest equipment. Well, it’s good for them to test out big, freeriding powder boards. And this year was no different.

Snow started falling right at the beginning of the demo, and by the end of the first day, almost six inches had accumulated on the hill. Not that snowboard companies or retailers want powder to test products, because you really can’t test products in powder, but with all the hard work shops do, being out of the store for two days, riding powder is a good thing.

The demo area was located at the bottom of Stump Alley in the parking lot, and about 50 demo tents were set up in a big rectangle so shop employees could easily roam from tent to tent and check out almost any brand’s new offerings.

But it wasn’t all about snow and riding. The WWSRA held a cocktail party the first evening of the show at the Mammoth main lodge, then the action switched to Wave Rave Snowboard Shop, which hosted a Burton party for the retailers. “I want the other retailers to see what a good snowboard shop looks like,” says Laurent Vrignaud, Burton West Coast Sales Manager.

But he had other reasons to throw the party as well. “I want everybody to get really drunk tonight, then sleep in so I can ride all the powder by myself in the morning,” he adds.

A stroke of genius, but the crowd wasn’t fooled by the ploy. They did enjoy the DJ and dancing in the shop until a couple of boards got knocked over and Wave Rave Owner Steve Klassen shut things down about midnight.

The second morning of the demo began with even deeper snow and retailers hitting up demo tents looking for the longest boards available. Total accumulation was almost a foot over night. The snow kept falling during the day, and the tales of which part of the mountain had the deepest powder trickled in with each returned demo board.

Overall, snowboard retailers seemed psyched with the demo. Gary Paske, owner of 101 Sports in Luecadia, California, said he found plenty of boards he liked, but if he liked them, he’d probably not be able to sell them. But he brought along several employees to also try stuff out so they could tell customers more about the boards.

For the staff at ZJ Boarding House in Santa Monica, California, the demo was serious business. Each had to fill out specific evaluation forms for every board ridden. And they were directed to check out specific companies and boards.

Reps felt the turnout was solid, if not so busy. “The demo’s been really good for us,” says Nidecker’s West Coast Sales Manager Courtney Mercier. “We had a lot of bindings flying out the door the first day, and today people are trying more boards. Because of the snow, people are looking for the freeriding boards. The longer stuff like the Megalight, Platinum, and the Freeride went first. I’m stoked on the turnout, but definitely had some shops dis me as well.”

Others felt having the show shortened to two days was a bonus. “The turnout yesterday was better than today,” says Never Summer Sales Manager Sean MacAllister. “We did about 40 boards yesterday. That’s good. Last season we did 40 the whole show instead of in one day, so it was a very good day. We’ve only done about fourteen today, but it’s a powder day, so people who took them in the morning won’t come back for a while.”

“I like that this show is now two days instead of three. Even on the second day it’s much slower than the first day. So you definitely don’t need three days.”

However, he wasn’t stoked that the demo was held at the same time as the Northern California show at Squaw. “I’m don’t like that thee show overlapped with the Squaw event. I don’t like any of the shows overlapping. You get a lot of people from the Squaw and Tahoe area who come down here to try stuff out.”

But overall, Never Summer’s participation was beneficial. “We probably picked up five new accounts who wanted to order stuff.”

And that’s the point to the whole “See It, Try It, Buy It” cycle. If retailers see good stuff at Vegas, they can then try it at the on-snow demos to see if it works. Then, if they like how it rides, they can go into the local rep shows and order the product. SNOWboarding Business will have complete coverage of the So Cal rep show next week.