If you're a gear geek and recovering ski bum like myself (and, I presume that you are, since you're here) the prospect of unlimited free stickers is enough to drive cross country, call in sick to work, and lie about your profession in order to get access to the biggest ski and snowboard tradeshow in America, the Snowsports Industries America trade show in Denver, CO.
Thankfully, you don't have to claim to be a Bosnian journalist to get in - Colorado Ski Country's got all the goods, right here, free.
My goal today is to take the pulse and gain access to the heartbeat of the snowsports industry: Colorado-based companies. I've got my press credentials, my camera and a full cup of coffee. Game on.
First stop is FlyLow Gear. The good folks at FlyLow keep me looking, uh, fly on the slopes. Founded by Colorado skiers looking for gear rugged enough to hold up to their demands, they put a different spin on nature vs. nurture success story; nature did the nurturing, and the result is a very cool and fast-growing company.
Another company based in CO is Native Eyewear. They're so busy today that their PR person can't talk to me. I snap some photos, marvel at their shade(s) tree, and move along.
A distant corner of the tradeshow thumps with bass. Music blares, beers are cracked open at 2pm, and the amount of stickers increases exponentially. I've wandered in to the snowboarding zone.
Venture Snowboards is a proud mom-and-pop shop from Silverton. They're globally revered for the quality and aesthetics of their boards, all of which come in a split board option. I've had the pleasure of riding handcrafted wagons, drinking bizarre Indian beers, and taking bellydance lessons alongside the folks from Venture, and can personally verify that these are pure Coloradans, producing a pure Colorado product.
The last stop I make before heading to Winter Park to ski bumps is at the Icelantic booth. Here is another company taking the passion, culture, and geography of Colorado and producing an amazing product. I've been riding the Nomads all year, and have found them to be pretty close to a one-ski-quiver.
Ben, Icelantic's founder, tells me he took a community-focused approach when he started the company, and it's been fun to stay in Colorado, build skis, and watch the company grow. He's not the only one.
-John Trousdale, Mountain Correspondent, Colorado Ski Country USA