Industry Conference Day 3 Hits All-Time Highs And Lows

Day 3 of the 13th annual TransWorld Snowboarding Industry Conference at Whistler, B.C. was filled with emotional highs and lows at a level never seen before at this gathering over the years.

Things started off on an epic note, as the Whistler Blackcomb mountains received another foot and a half of fresh snow, with great lines taken by conference goers all day long. A few (Atomic’s Luke Edgar, SIA’s Dave Wray, 686’s Doug Sumi and Brice McTague, Jack Turner, Brenner Adams and a few others–me included) got the Blackcomb back bowl right after opening around noon, and had a powder run that rivaled heli-boarding, except the cat track out.

After a great day of riding, things moved into the Chateau Whistler for an evening of fascinating seminars and an emotional Tranny Awards ceremony. The first seminar, Snowboarding’s Growth Initiatives, featured four speakers talking about different programs aimed at growing snow sports. Each could have taken up an entire hour by themselves explaining their various organizations’ initiatives and goals. Jack Turner, creator of Snow Monsters, talked about how his program is now being run at 73 different U.S. resorts, has distributed 80,000 videos and 190,000 coloring books to kids, all giving young kids characters to relate to when on the snow and remember after they’ve left the slopes.

Laura Menozzi, director of finance/controller of the National Ski Areas Association followed, talking about her organizations Model For Growth, which was conceived after the resort industry realized it hadn’t seen growth for more than 20 years, and 85 percent of all people who try snow sports don’t continue. So the organization has studied and begun to implement more programs to help grow the sport. Results of those first programs will be revealed at the NSAA National Convention in San Diego this May.

Mark Dorsey, marketing director for the Professional Ski Instructors Association and Association of American Snowboard Instructors, talked about the impact snowboard instructors have across the industry and how their initiatives are tying into the NSAA’s program.

Scott Melin, SIA director of sales and marketing, ended the seminar with an explanation of the SIA’s new program The Snow Lab, which is focused on growing the sport by focusing on getting kids and their moms excited about the snow sports industries. This was the first time The Snow Lab had been announced to any group in the snow world, and most seemed impressed by the aggressive focus to grow the sport, and definitely wanted more information about it.

The Keynote address was delivered by Cameron Ferroni, general manager of Microsoft’s Xbox Live. He discussed the overall video game market and its similarities to the snowboard market. Both are focused on a similar demographic, male in the late teens and early 20s. He said that six of the top 15 best-selling sports video games were action-sports games, and that two were snowboarding games. A snowboarding game even was the best selling extreme sports title on the Xbox. Ferroni says Xbox’s goal is to redefine social entertainment, comparing an age when people would sit around and play Monopoly with each other, to a time when people will sit around and play interactive video games. He says the highest usage time for video games is Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights from 8 to 11 p.m., dispelling the idea that people are sitting around playing video games instead of going snowboarding.

The evening ended with several awards and tributes. First was the naming of Jay Moore and his shop World Boards in Bozeman, Montana, as the snowboard retailer of the y ear. Then came a moving slideshow tribute to three fallen snowboarders this year—Craig Kelly, Tristan Picot, and Jeff Anderson.

Picking the mood back up was the introduction of the Tranny Award winners, Mike Hatchett of Standard Films, and Mack Dawg, for their lifetime achievement and influence on the snowboarding industry. Both were graciious and thanked all their influences and helpers, but Mack Dawg’s was more emotional, insisting that this was a bad year for snowboarding because of the deaths of great pro riders. He pleaded the audience to not forget the fallen ones. “The only thing that will help keep these people alive are the stories we’ll tell about them,” he said. With that, he played a moody film of Jeff Anderson that left the crowd touched, speechless, and some in tears.

All in all, this year’s Transworld Snowboarding Industry Conference was a great success both in the powder and seminar departments. Definitely one that shouldn’t have been missed and will be remembered forever by those who attended. With so much going on in the outside world, it was important for the tribe to get together and focus on itself and its business, and not worry about other things.

Log back on for more complete coverage of the TransWorld Snowboarding Industry Conference and a video slide show later this week.