At least it wasn’t icy. Conditions for the annual EWSRA/NEWSR Stratton On Snow Demo were wet, with a mixture of rain and freezing rain for the opening day, but at least it wasn’t cold and hard. The soggy conditions allowed for great testing on the slopes, if your clothes actually kept you dry. Some attendees commented the conditions were actually better to demo snowboard apparel to find out just how waterproof it is than to test boards, but no companies seemed to bring extra clothing along.

Retailers remained positive and knew they came to the demo for a reason. “Even though the conditions suck today, I’m sure over the three days we’ll get some good conditions to get a good feel for all this stuff,” says Jami Godfrey of Cool Runnings in Pennsylvania. “It’s soft, but you’re miserable in the rain.”

“These are pretty shitty conditions,” says Eric Mitchell from Mountain Side Ski and Sports in Massachusetts. “The snow is fast, though.” And despite the conditions, he and coworker Matt Gregoire were still out riding boards. He was checking out Sims, Burton, Ride, and M3 boards. “We’re eliminating lines that did crappy this year and replacing them with some new lines.” Overall, he says the shop at Wachusett Mountain had a great year and he had to reorder bindings three times. “We’re definitely buying more bindings this season.”

Preregistered attendance for the show was about even with last year. This year 213 shops (and 902 people) from the NEWSR and 167 shops (737 people) from the EWSRA preregistered for the event. There were 111 vans and 59 booths signed up to exhibit, just a few over last year. Of those, a total of 56 snowboard vans and 33 snowboard booths were preregistered and both of those numbers were up just slightly over last year as well. K2′s Luke Edgar pointed out that the numbers were significant when you realize that the East Coast represents at least 20 to 25 percent of most companies business.

The layout of the demo was similar to years past, with tents taking up most area outside the main base lodge. A special room inside the lodge was reserved for boot fitting. Thanks to the weather, the boot room was more of a dry room where retailers fled the rain to at least check out what they could demo in the boot and binding categories once it cleared up.

Despite the poor conditions for the demo, there were some happy faces among the dripping wet tents. Nitro brought in its new women’s battalion to ride with retailers and just stoke them out. One of the battalion riders, Carla Simcox, had a big smile and would talk and ride with retailers. “I’m here to provide extreme customer service,” she said with a big grin.

Some realized that there was still business to be done. “Brands we carry have expanded their lines, so we’re trying to demo as much new stuff as possible,” says Godfrey. “People are getting more specific on women’s, freeriding, halfpipe, and park boards. Now we have to bring a woman specifically to demo all that’s out there for them. We were going to bring only three people, but when I read the new TransWorld Snowboarding Business I said, ‘Holy smokes, there’s a lot of new gear from every company,’ so I brought four.”

Despite the poor conditions, the overall vibe from the East Coast is great. Many claimed that this was the first rainy weekend all winter long, and it’s been one with great snow, and great sell-through of products. Retailers don’t have much left on the shelves and manufacturers don’t have much for closeouts either. One retailer looked at his coworker and asked, “What are we going to do for next season’s preseason board sale since we don’t have anything left over?”

Now if everyone can stay tight and conservative, hopefully the industry won’t get stuck with extra product next year.

¿John Stouffer