Squaw Valley Retailer On-Snow Demo

By Holly Anderson

Retailers and Reps welcome WWSRA On-Snow Location Change.

Sunny skies, warm weather, and a new location set the stage for the first WWSRA on-snow demo on February 26, 27, an 28. Although the spring-like conditions at Squaw Valley weren’t ideal for board testing, spirits were high and barbecues were blazing.

“There are a lot of good vibes and a great retailer turn out,” says M3 sales rep David Keagy. “The weather has put everyone in a good mood. Although, some retailers say it’s hard to get a good feel of the boards because either they are sketching on the ice in the morning or they are dealing with slush in the afternoon.”

Kevin Watts of The Shop in San Ramon saw the 50-degree weather as a chance to see how well boards hold up in ever-changing conditions.

“It has been soft and slushy, but icy in parts, so you can really tell if the boards are going to hold an edge or not. I’ve been really impressed with all of the Option boards across the line,” Watts says while rubbing wax on an Option. “It also helps out that the trade shows were all so early this year. It gives me a good idea of what boards I want to try before I get to the on-snows.”

However, the On-Snow Organized Retailer Award has to go to John Chatman of Porters. Chatman sat outside the demo registration office with his price matrix, registration badges, and demo feedback sheet, waiting for his 30 shop employees to show and test out product. As his army filtered in, he shelled out $20 bills for each lift ticket and armed them with all the paperwork and feedback sheets they needed for the day.

“As the buyer, I look at everything at Vegas and I lay out on a piece of paper what I call my price matrix,” he explains, waving a color-coded chart with board models and company names. Chatman buys for Porter’s three shops and outlet.

“Going across the top of the page is everything from pure park boards to pure freeride/backcountry boards with all-mountains in the middle. Then I categorize everything by price so I can really quickly see where my buys are so I don’t miss a whole category of boards. When you get 80 models on the wall, it’s confusing enough for the customer, let alone for my employees. So I try to help them as much as I can. I give them the matrix and they have test forms. They rate how they think the boards ride.”

Overall, most were pleased with the transition to Squaw Valley from the old demo location at Sugar Bowl. Pre-registration numbers were double what they were last year, and WWSRA needed a place to accommodate the growth. Rossignol snowboard rep Ron Craig, who organized the snowboard portion of the trade fair, explained that sizing restrictions and cost were the main reasons for the move.

“Last year all the snowboard guys were spread around the parking lot while the ski guys were on the hill,” says Craig. “It worked, but some spots were defiantly not as good as others. At Squaw we are in a more confined area and we all have relatively equal placement within the fair. We’re growing and growing and as we grow we need to accommodate more shop employees.”

“The ease of entry, hospitality, and accommodations at Squaw have been great,” Keagy says. “Last year there were a lot of things at Sugar Bowl that were nit-picky, like there were no dogs allowed. There were a lot of things that made people come away with a sour taste in their mouth. It wasn’t friendly. But Squaw has been really good.”