The line outside the WWSRA registration tent at Mt. Bachelor, Oregon at nine a.m. on Wednesday, February 19th was backed up about 20 people deep. Retailers were out in full-force and right on time?25 inches of snow had fallen over the past two days and fresh tracks were on everyone?s mind.
Powder boards were in high demand, and in spite of the early morning rush the tents weren’t backed-up with retailers looking for that next ride. The Northwest reps in attendance planned ahead and were well equipped to handle the 200 or so people in attendance. Most brought tents to keep the snow off the equipment and selves, extra hands to help turn screws, and even propane heaters to warm demo boots and keep the chill out.
Almost all the companies were cranking out equipment on that first day. “Things are going really good, ” says Vans rep Steve Ogden. “We’ve been putting boots out all day, and people seem to be responding to both the boots and the new binding line from Agency.”
Jasen Bowes, Burton’s new managing rep for the Northwest territory, had a system to help speed people through the demo line and get them back into the snow as quickly as possible. “I’ve got a lot of helpers, and check it out?we’ve even got signs,” he laughs, while pointing to the three signs hanging from the tent. Step One: Fill out paperwork, Step Two: Request your Gear: Step Three: Set up?corny as it sounds, the system definitely helped fend off chaos at the continually busy Burton tent.
Retailers were in full-force on day one, testing product from all of the companies present. Salomon, Arbor, Joyride, Palmer, Rossignol, Burton, Vans, Agency, Lib Technologies, Allian, Gnu, Supernatural, Nitro, Forum, Jeenyus, Ride, K2, Option, Never Summer, and many others were there to give retailers a chance to “try-it” in order to narrow down their choices when it comes time to “buy-it”. The only problem seemed to be having enough time to test out everything.
“I wish the demos weren’t just two days,” says Gorio Bustamente, of Olympic Sports in Seattle, Washington. “There isn’t enough time to try everything?especially with the good snow. I try to test at least six boards a day, and that’s pushing it. The most I?ve ever got in was eleven and that was by just making laps on Pine Marten (the short chair just in front of the demo area).”
Even though Bustamante would’ve liked more than two days, judging from Thursday?the second day of the demo?it seemed that many of the retailers were satisfied with one. Day two, was lacking the punch of day one and was visibility slower. However some chalked it up to the preceding night’s antics.
On Wednesday night the WWSRA held a party at The Grove in downtown Bend complete with a DJ and free beer. Gravis had a party and private showroom in the Phoenix Inn hotel, and rumor had it that Burton had a few kegs out in Sunriver. The moral of the story was that hangovers were high on the list Thursday morning. Add to that a wind advisory and only a dusting of snow, and many booths were off to a slow start on day two. “I think a lot of people could only come for one day,” says Bowes. ” Plus we’ve got this wind today, and a lot of hangovers this morning.”
Those testers who didn’t have any stomach issues, were greeted with lots of product choices. “Its a little better today, because some of the smaller companies only have a single size run of product and your chances of getting the board you want are better with less people around,” explains Maxx von Marbod, national sales manager for Option, and testing spy.
The main downside to day two was a complete lack of visibility, and severe wind. Solace could be found in the trees, however, and many riders were spotted off the Outback and Northwest Express chairlifts. Overall though, this years demo was a great success?and if you like to hike?the cinder cone was the place to be.