Powderquest Misses, But Conference Still Delivers

Powderquest Misses, But Conference Still Delivers

The Ninth Annual Snowboard Industry Conference And Powderquest

There was something a bit wild and carefree about this year’s TransWorld Snowboarding Industry Conference And Powderquest in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. Maybe it was the lack of snow. People usually don’t stay up too late or get too drunk (including myself) when they know there’ll be powder in the morning. Maybe it was the fact that the 300 attendees were survivors. These people were among the group who still had jobs in the quickly consolidating industry.

Yes, things have changed. Some friends have moved on. But we’re still plugging away. And hey, survivors are being rewarded. Like those survivors of Chuck Barfoot’s slide show last year who received T-shirts that let them drink for free the first night of this year’s conference.

That’s the way things are at the annual event. People look after each other. We’re all in this together. When people were at the top of the mountain talking about the lack of snow, someone would come by and mention an untracked part of the mountain. Sure, it was under a rope, but as long as you weren’t caught by the ski patrol …

One group that included some female snowboarding magazine editors and a resort representative from Wyoming (we’re not naming names here, but we know who they were) were caught, but somehow talked themselves out of trouble. Another group, including a large Southern California snowboard factory boss, snowboard supplier, and some others, actually got their passes pulled and had to apologize to the ski patrol to come back for a third day of riding. Don’t get me wrong–cutting ropes is bad. Very bad.

We did receive some praise from the resort community though. Les Otten, president of the American Skiing Company (which owns Steamboat), actually praised the snowboarding industry in his opening-night welcome. “Thank you for saving our collective butts,” he said.

“You’re among the smartest, outwardly thinking people in this country. You could do anything you want, but you choose to live outside. Our profession is noble.” Though the evening’s presentations were just getting underway, Otten disappeared after his remarks.

Most did stick around, packed each evening’s workshops, attended the Snowboard Resort Guide fireside chat hosted by Kevin Kinnear, participated in the different events, and hung out late into the morning at the Jackpot Junction Party or the Inferno bar. Haz Mat’s Owner Donald Cassel won the Steamboat Willy Contest, while Killington’s Snowboard Program Manager Eric Webster and LXD’s Liz Weiss took top places in the Sedentary Office Jockey Race. Hasco’s John Hildeburn was awarded the annual Eager Beaver award for being the first to register for the event, while the furthest-traveled award went to Windsurfing Chiemsee’s José Fernandes, who, incidentally, also was awarded the unofficial longest-board-ridden award.

Thanks to Atlas Snow Shoes Owner Oliver Olin, one lucky group chosen through a lottery took a backcountry snowcat and snowshoe hike. Word was that the group scored powder, but they weren’t saying much–maybe because they had reservations on the cat the next day and didn’t want too many people on it.

Though this year’s Industry Conference And Powderquest was light on both conferences and powder, in the end, the original goal for the event is to get everyone together and ride early season. We are all in the snowboarding industry, and damn it’s fun to ride, especially with good friends. And thhat’s the main reason we all still do this.

–John Stouffer