(Editor's Note: OnTheSnow.com Associate Editor Jill Adler is in Las Vegas this week at the huge Snow Industries America trade show. She's got a handle on all the new toys and you can read about them here first. But, get the boyfriend away from the craps table, OK? She's got work to do.)
One more day to go before it's "Adios, Vegas, Hola Denver." Appropriately, the whole convention floor is reeling in music as they party the house down. Every other booth has a live DJ spinning from start to finish. The sounds get louder as you approach the snowboard area and become more subdued by the time you get to alpine apparel. It was fun to see one company inviting attendees to play Rock Band.
Time to talk hardgoods. There are a few boutique brands showing like Sterling (a fully loaded pair will rob you of $3,500), Liberty, Fatypus, Scotty Bob, and Icelantic Designs. But , it's the big boys who are the ones rolling out an army of twin tips, fat skis, and smart skis. While mid-fat ski sales tanked (down 45 percent for 2007-08), last year's huge snow totals stimulated the need for girth. Sales of fat and rockered planks soared and we're seeing more models than ever for 2009-10.
Companies like Rossignol also are testing the interest in wide-waisted carving skis. The ski/binding systems that we've grown to expect are now transitioning back to flat skis that will take most bindings. Volkl's Geoff Curtis told me skiers want to be able to put an AT or Tele-binding of their choice on a frontside ski. That ski may not necessarily ‘know' where it's going, but several companies are trying to make them smarter. Head's Chip Monster SW is said to adapt to a skier's ability, the terrain, and snow conditions.
Skis aren't the only things getting smarter next season. Swany has a glove you can talk into. With integrated Bluetooth technology, just speak into your index finger without ever having to expose it to cold. Bergen's top of the line jacket brings iPod controls to your forearm without costing you an arm the way Spyder's wired suit did when it first debuted. The war is on between Merino wool and synthetics. Smartwool's campaign insists you'll get the most out of your layers if they all are made from the same material. But after feeling the Run Don't Walk fleece boxers from Cloudveil, I would rather sacrifice a little efficiency to have my butt caressed by these sweeties.
As Day 3 closes, everyone's buzzing about the Ellis Snowboards "Wasted Space" lounge at the Hard Rock. I have my own wasted space going on at the moment. My boyfriend has totalled $500 in losses at the casino. Vegas is not his friend. Denver may be a good call after all.