This year’s SIA show featured two different snowboard-specific seminars aimed at the retail audience, in addition to retailing seminars on merchandising, loss control, point-of-sale signs, and others.

The first snowboarding seminar was titled Snowboard Evolution: Low to High Tech, and was presented by Jeff Krueger of Krueger Snowboard Designs. The seminar gave an overview of the history of the snowboard, presented the proper terminology for snowboard parts, and reviewed the different snowboard construction techniques. A basic 101 course, the seminar attracted a crowd of more than 70 retailers eager to learn more about the growing sport and the equipment needed to participate.

If the first snowboard seminar was a freshman intro class, the second, titled Standards and Liability: Where We Stand Today, was an honors thesis program. Led by Andy Barrett, chairman of the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) snowboard subcommittee, the seminar also featured Roger Neiley, who presented a snowboard injury report conducted by Dr. Jasper Shealy, and attorneys D. Michael Rust and Mark Seiger, who discussed the importance of proper liability coverage and how critical it is that the industry begin to protect itself legally against possible lawsuits.

As chairman of the ASTM subcommittee, Barrett encouraged the industry to become more involved with the ASTM and to establish more standards, such as uniform screw sizes.

Citing Dr. Shealy’s preliminary report, Neiley remarked that snowboarding is about as safe as skiing, but that many of the injuries were different from those encountered in skiing. Some of the findings show snowboarding as safer, such as snowboarders experience 40 percent less lower-leg injuries than Alpine skiers (even though they have non-releasable bindings), and snowboarders hit other skiers and fixed objects less than half as often as Alpine skiers.

On the legal front, Seiger and Rust noted that the American Trial Lawyers Association is beginning to target snowboarding as a possible area of increased lawsuits. They noted that the biggest problem in the retail end of the sport is a failure to warn consumers. They encouraged retailers to get product liability insurance, and felt that a risk-retention group will be set up for manufacturers soon, helping to ease some of the burden on retailers.