WINTER 2019: WHAT OUR BUYERS ARE EXCITED ABOUT
As winter approaches, we caught up with our buyers Sam and Phil to get an inside look at what to expect on the slopes this ski season.
This is a new category for us, with its roots in the piste ski side of the market. It’s exciting because it takes the performance of a piste ski, and builds on it with more width in key areas, so it can comfortably ski all over the piste in all conditions throughout the day – not just on the freshly-groomed trails that we all love!
Skis such as the Salomon Force 11, Rossignol React 8 and the X9 WB from Atomic offer outstanding carving ability, making them the perfect ski for the piste skier looking for a bit of versatility.
This is the second incarnation of the electric Jetforce pack from Black Diamond. The original set the standard for electric packs, and this one builds on its tech and functionality. Not only does the handle provide an easy-to-read battery level indicator, but it’s also easy to grab and activate in an emergency. The Pro version also has the option to change the capacity of the pack; zip-on and zip-off attachment makes for better versatility. This is really exciting because it brings more to the airbag market than the canister systems that have been around for years, and makes travel so much simpler.
Though we pride ourselves on our knowledge and experience of boot fitting in-store, there is some amazing technology out there which can help us give our customers the best possible experience. Enter the Sidas 3D Feetbox scanning system! We currently have two machines in our Chertsey store which will help our customers select the best boot for them. We do this by scanning the customer’s lower leg and foot, which creates a 3D model, and we then can virtually “try on” ski boots in our range and explore how the foot fits inside the boot – without having to physically put the boot on! Our staff can then work with the customer to narrow down the options and get to selections which we can then actually try on and tune the fit. We’re really excited to bring this new experience to our customers and streamline the boot fitting process.
This year’s launch of the PistenBully 600 E+ is the first all-electric, full-sized snow grooming machine, and is a big step to helping reduce the environmental impact of snow slope maintenance. If resorts are able to combine this machine’s charging with local hydroelectric facilities, it will massively diminish the impact on the surrounding natural setting, which we all enjoy.
By its nature, flying around the world to slide down mountains is never going to be the most environmentally friendly thing to do. However, for the last 4 years we’ve been trying to negate some of the impact by buying into brands that are pushing sustainability to offset this.
Burton have huge sustainability goals and are leading by example in the snowboarding world. They have been using 100% FSC-certified and sustainably sourced woodcores on much of their line for years, were one of the first companies to use paper packaging rather than plastic to ship their boards and even created a fully recyclable snowboard which you can buy. For 2020 they are committed to reducing their carbon emissions on hardgoods (board, boots, bindings, helmets) by 20%, and their Austrian factory runs on 100% renewable energy and recycles most scrap material.
Capita built a brand new factory around 3/4 years ago called THE MOTHERSHIP, which runs on 100% hydropower, has no CO2 emissions, uses all locally sourced wood from and 98% of all materials in their snowboards are locally sourced. The hot water from the generators is even used to heat up the presses to form the boards. I was lucky enough to visit - it’s an incredible place and so CLEAN!
Arbor have also had a long running initiative called “returning roots” – a Hawaiian reforestation programme. They also use real wood veneers for their topsheets which not only look beautiful and add great snap to the boards, but reduce the reliance on fibreglasses and so many resins.
Our company and industry still have a long way to go to reduce their impact on the environment, but if the products we sell have as small an impact on the environment as possible and the companies behind these products are actively working towards climate goals, that’s a huge step in the right direction for us.
Snowboarding has changed a lot over the past couple of years. In response to changing snow conditions and the beyond amazing tricks seen in contests, carving is cool now! What was long the preserve of skiers has been grasped by the wider community and created a new way for everyone to have fun on the pistes. This has really been taken on by brands, and as a result of this change, more interesting, directional shapes that were previously looked at as “powder boards” are coming through into the mainstream snowboard line up that are ridable all over the mountain. This season, Burton have boards like the Deep Thinker and One Hitter, and my personal favourite is the Korua Shapes Dart with a huge swallow tail.
Over the last few years we’ve also really noticed a return in boarders wanting camber-based snowboards. The camber between or under the feet adds pop and edge hold to the board, making it grippier on hard snow and ice, and more playful when jumping off things and snapping from one edge to the next in and out of turns.
Whilst the safest helmet for you is ultimately the one you are comfortable in and the one you will wear, we are doing our utmost to make sure our range of helmets exceed safety standards as much as possible. We’ve long been advocates of MIPS, which we now have in the range down to £90 (and almost all out helmets over £130). We’ve also brought MIPS and KOROYD to our entire range of Smith helmets, and crazy safety tech in the Sweet helmets.
We’ve designed two boots in collaboration with 32 snowboard boots, in awesome colourways specifically for our customers. They’re both sleek black and grey, with pop colours of lime and orange to bring them to life and match really well with outerwear ranges from Picture and Burton.
We’ve also got two UK-exclusive colourways of Oakley’s Flight Deck XM goggles: the red/black version with PRIZM torch lenses, and a super-exciting Mikela Schiffrin Pro model which I can’t wait to bring to our customers.