Blustery, Blind, and Belated—three “B”s that could describe the WWSRA Nor Cal demo that took place this week at Squaw Valley, California. Blustery for the 80 mile an hour winds that shook day two, Blind for the serious amount of low-level visibility, and Belated because of the show’s timing. Either way everyone’s usually down for a few day’s of riding in Tahoe.
Held on February 24—26th near the base of the Red Dog chair, the demo was fun but it was up against a lot of factors—my three B’s included. While 180 pre-registered and 210 on-site people had checked into the demo by the end of day one, overall this year’s attendance was down. According to WWSRA’s Cami Garrison the weather and timing had a lot to do with it. “The weather just kind of killed us,” she said. “People were barely setting up tents today and yesterday (day 2) many people broke down early. Plus when you figure that a lot of the snowboard reps are already done with their orders—it was a tough demo.”
Tuesday, the first day of the demo ended up being one of the better days for traffic. And even though echoes of “Thursday’s going to be the day” could be heard throughout the tent city, as the storm started raging it was quickly evident that this demo was going to be an uphill battle.
The casualties came hard, tents started flying away early. As a result fewer and fewer companies were standing by day three. Capita lost its covering early on day one, along with the cute little plushy ponies that were guarding the brand’s entrance. Fourstar also had an early drop, its tent’s carcass could be seen stacked up in the corner of the parking lot. On day one Nitro was rocking with music blaring, banners flying, and steady traffic, but early in the morning Wednesday the crew lost the war against the wind and packed up the tent.
And, even though many brands called it early and packed up, there were a few who toughed out the blizzard. Looking down from the lift on day three there was still a good dozen companies fighting it out. Burton was one brand that held strong through day three and many people were seen walking away with the company’s powder boards, the Fish and Mahlalo. “We’re always here, first to set up and last to pull down ‘ laughed Burton’s Trevor Patterson.
However for the reps that did stick through the storm, retailer attendance was slim and at best tents had three to five boards out at a time. The conditions were tough not only for the tents but for riding.
The storm was building over the days of the demo, road conditions were bad for shops making a drive in, and gusting winds kept the top of Squaw on wind hold for the entire time. While the snow was wet and heavy on Wednesday, by Thursday morning it had cooled down a bit and the riding was epic where you could get enough visibility to see. Overall the storm had dropped about two feet of snow by Thursday AM, and it was still coming down.
One rep (who shall remain nameless) summed it up when he looked back at the parking lot from the lift. Counting the tents that had set up on Thursday morning he said, ” I’m so glad I’m not down there. After that, he cruised off the lift into an open spot in the trees and threw a huge bucket of snow on a frontside slash through the fresh.
Even if the weather didn’t really cooperate with the WWSRA’s demo schedule, many snowboard reps didn’t seem to mind. With final order deadlines that occur on the first of March, and many of the discounted dates already past, along with a writing show that occurred a week before the on-snow—most Nor Cal reps are finished with the majority of their orders. “We’re here to support snowboarding, says Rome SDS rep John Graham. ‘But I’d say on average only 40 percent of my retailers even show up to this demo, and that’s not factoring in the bad weather.
Its still up in the air for next year’s Nor Cal demo, and WWSRA’s Garrison knows a lot could change in that time frame. “There are a lot of things to look at when it comes to the schedule for next year, she says. Either way, Mother Nature will always be an unpredictable factor.