With the 31st annual Burton US Open kicking off at Vail Mountain in just a few days, Burton Snowboards has some good news to share on a hot topic in the media: snowboarding's future.
"As someone who's been a part of snowboarding since the beginning, I wanted to give some perspective on all the talk about 'snowboarding losing its edge'," said Jake Burton, Founder & CEO of Burton Snowboards. "We always knew that mainstream acceptance, along with making our sport a big business would have its perils, and the recent anecdotal accounts and questionable statistical info about our sport are just another chapter of naysayers trying to put a negative spin on our evolution. Snowboarding has taken hits like this before and come out way ahead, and looking at our sales numbers this winter, we have plenty of reasons to be optimistic."
Key stats from Burton's internal sales crew further explain why Jake is feeling confident about snowboarding's future. Although Burton is privately held and doesn't release specific financial data, there are a few critical internal stats that show a very positive upswing in the North American snowboard market. Once the snow started falling in late December, for example, sales at Burton-owned flagship stores and Burton.com soared. The month of January was one of the best on record for Burton flagship stores, with sales up 33% (over last year) in North America.
"We don't want to come off as defensive, and we're not trying to say that snowboarding wasn't challenged last year, which was brutal for the entire snow sports industry – from resorts to ski and snowboard manufacturers to towns that depend on snow for business," said Jake. "But I'm here to say that from our perspective, retail sales are trending up, and this is good news for our sport as a whole. And most importantly, we're continuing to do everything in our power to address the growth of participation in our sport, so that snowboarding continues to thrive for generations to come."
When it comes to creating programs to grow the sport, Burton does more than any other snow sports company to get people of all ages out riding. One example is Burton's enormous investment in youth products and Burton Riglet Park programs focused on teaching 3-6 year olds how to snowboard. A few years ago, this market didn't exist, but it's thriving now for resorts that have chosen to embrace the second generation of snowboarders. Burton was also the first company to invest in Learn To Ride (LTR) equipment and programs, and now Burton Learn To Ride centers exist in 190 partner resorts around the world. Finally, Burton also invests in resort programs like the Burton Snowboard Academy, The Stash and Progression Parks, which all share the goal of getting more people out riding.
In addition to resort programs, Burton also makes a huge contribution to competitive snowboard events, which build tremendous awareness and excitement about the sport. And next week, Burton is elevating its commitment to creating world-class snowboard events by hosting the 31st Burton US Open at Vail for the first time in the event's long history.
"The competitive side of snowboarding is in an incredible place, and with record viewership and attendance at the 2013 X Games, it appears the sport's popularity is only growing," said Jake. "And next week when everyone watches riders like Shaun White, Mark McMorris, Ayumu Hirano, Arielle Gold and Kelly Clark push snowboarding to new levels at the Burton US Open, I know that the excitement around our sport will only build."
For more information on the Burton US Open presented by MINI, taking place from February 25-March 2 at Vail, head to www.burton.com and follow the hashtag #BurtonUSOpen.