By Dan K.
With morning temperatures hovering near twenty below and memories of last year’s frigid Sun Valley show lingering, the outlook for the WWSRA trade show at Big Sky had nowhere to go but up. Rumors of delayed opening due to the frigid Montana temperatures circulated as frozen reps struggled to complete set up in the demo area. But sunrise, blue sky and warm breakfasts foreshadowed several days of exciting riding in some of the best terrain Montana had to offer.
The timing and location of the Intermountain show provided many snowboard participants with low expectations for a show that has had a hard time taking hold. Dave Graves, the Northwave and Never Summer rep, commented that “the show was on the later side. If it were earlier it might have been a bit busier.”
In addition Ride sales rep Kevin Porterfield commented that the show was tailored toward, “Idaho and Montana dealers that seem to get neglected.”
As a result many snowboard reps skipped the show to focus on the more lucrative and populated portions of their territories. Lorie Wright, owner of Newt and Harold’s in Boise observed, “It seemed like there were many ski representatives, but only about seven or eight snowboard reps there.” She continued that not being able to test boards from some of her bigger vendors was, “kind of a drag.”
Richard Napier, owner of Idaho Mountain Trading in Idaho Falls concurred saying, “It was a good show. I hope it becomes a bigger show. With SIA changing dates we’re a bit lost out here without a strong regional show. It seems like the sales they forgot about us.”
Even though the snowboard turnout was below expectations, the organization of the show was praised by many of the participants. “It was super easy,” says Dave Graves. “Jen at WWSRA did an amazing job at communicating and getting us the information. When I left I even got a nice follow-up packet of all the dealer information.” He also enjoyed the location. “There was plenty of room in the lot. It was close to the lifts. And the mountain had lots of different types of terrain for testing.”
Some reps made a considerable effort to attend the Big Sky show. Catie Wire, Santa Cruz rep in the Northwest, made the 14 hour drive from Seattle in a rented Subaru Outback. She said, “When you only have 700 miles on a car that isn’t yours, the drive doesn’t seem to matter.” She made the trek because, “it gave us a chance to see some of the shops we don’t normally get to ride with.”
In addition, Porterfield and his Ride crew, “drove all the way out there and we weren’t even registered. So we bribed our way into the show by spending two hours spray painting the demo area.”
But by far the biggest effort was made by the Burton demo crew. Driving north on the Interstate, their trailer slid sideways on the black ice Idaho roads. Before they realized, it had swung loose, sending the truck over the median and into the oncoming lane. After landing on a passing car, the demo vehicle was clearly out of commission, but luckily no one in the accident was seriously hurt.
After dealing with all the accident formalities, the Burton crew loaded up their companion van and continued the road trip north to the trade show. Intermountain tech rep Tony Perez summarized, “If it was a consumer demo we probably would have turned around. But for the shops we had to make the effort.” He continued, “We were all a bit dazed. But the show must go on.”
Those that survived the trek and the cold were treated to a productive show. Dave Graves, for whom Montana was a new territory addition, said, “Just getting to know the shop guys was super valuable.”
Lorie Wright said, “I loved the mountain. It had good riding, great snow conditions for testing and it was real easy and quick to get product.”
And Catie Wire summed it up by saying, “The riding was sick. The snow was light. And we got plenty of free coffee to stay warm.”
Wright concluded, “I really enjoyed thee show. I hope they do it again.”