TransWorld asks, “What’s Next?”

Boarders took to Dollar's Terrain Park during this week's TransWorld Snow Conference

Boarders took to Dollar's Terrain Park during this week's TransWorld Snow Conference

This week, Sun Valley morphed into Snowboard Town USA with an infusion of energy, ideas and mad riding skills brought to the Valley by participants in the annual TransWorld Snow Conference.

According to the organization’s website: “the theory behind the Snow Conference is to check your brand hat at the door … At the end of the day, our success, or failure, is mutual. Getting enough new participants on the slopes every year, and keeping existing shreds passionate, is no small task … That’s where we come in. We became snowboarders for the love the sport, for the creative connection with nature in its rawest form, for an escape from every day life, and a way to express ourselves on a canvas as grand as our passion for the next run.”

Some snowboard swag for conference attendees, because who doesn't love swag?

Some snowboard swag for conference attendees, because who doesn't love swag?

The four-day conference, based out of the Boiler Room in the Sun Valley Village, has included presentations on: “Sales Trends, Demographic Shifts and the Future” featuring Kelly Davis, Director of Research, SnowSports Industries America (SIA), “The Economic Horizon & Its Impact on Snowboarding,” featuring Peter Philips, PhD, Professor of Economics at the University of Utah, “China Rising: Breaking into Snowboarding’s Next Frontier,” featuring Miriam Deller and a lively debate and discussion on the topic of “Has Snowboarding Really Lost Its Edge?” featuring Nate Fristoe, Director of Operations, RRC Associated and, again, Kelly Davis.

Speaking to more than 70 people on Wednesday afternoon, these presentations generated spirited discussion that focused on the future. Where are the opportunities to grow the sport? How can resorts help to continue to attract snowboarders? In a sport that is maturing, what comes next? Retailers, resort representatives and manufacturers all added their input to the dialogue in a big brainstorming session.

Thursday was dedicated to the topic of “Rolling Up Our Sleeves: The Big Issues & Big Ideas,” featuring panel discussions and featured speakers on topics such as “Increasing Participation,” “Conversion and Retention” and “Adapting to the Changing Market Cycles.”

All eyes were on the featured presenters at the TransWorld Snow Conference on Wednesday

All eyes were on the featured presenters at the TransWorld Snow Conference on Wednesday

But all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, so participants also took the hills. Sun Valley showed off our gorgeous spring conditions by inviting participants to take advantage of Early Ups on the mountain, to freeride on Dollar and Baldy and to challenge colleagues and friends on Dollar’s amazing Boardercross course. Other diversions and pleasures included cocktail receptions, dining at the Resort’s many restaurants, on mountain and in the Village, parties at the Sun Valley Inn Pool and even a friendly get together at the Lodge’s historic Bowling Alley.

Local business owner Jim Slanetz of Ketchum’s Board Bin has attended the conference for the past two years and thinks it is a terrific way to connect with others in the industry and to get a big picture perspective on the world of snowboarding. “It’s always good to see what other people are doing,” he said. “I’ve gone to all the talks and while some apply more to manufacturers than to retailers, I’ve gotten a lot out of it. It’s also nice to get on the mountain with everyone. It’s a great vibe.”

Dollar's Boardercross course -- the scene of some action this week

Dollar's Boardercross course -- the scene of some action this week

Sun Valley is honored that TransWorld again chose Sun Valley as headquarters for their conference. It is very exciting to be at the epicenter of what comes next in snowboarding.

–RES

Graham Wantanabe to compete today!

Months and years of preparation, training, studying, learning, and racing is coming to a head for local Snowboarder, Olympian, and US Snowboard Team-member Graham Wantanabe. The race is on today.

Graham will compete in today’s Olympic BoarderCross in Whistler. He will be racing against teammate Seth Wescott, the reigning Olympic Champion as well as current World Cup Champion, Austrian Markus Schairer. Wantanabe, who finished sixth at the 2009 World Championships, will strap on his board this morning at 10:30 am for the Qualifying Round and again at 2 pm for the Medal Round.

About his second Olympic appearance Wantanabe told reporters last Wednesday it was like a “Pegasus mating with a unicorn and the creature that they birth, I somehow tame it and ride it to the sky and clouds and sunshine and rainbows.” There is no doubt that Wantanabe is excited for today’s races.

Watch Graham on your local NBC station or pick it up at www.nbcolympics.com. And make sure to send Graham all the good vibes, support and luck that our community can!

Good luck to the Valley’s very favorite Pegasus! Go Graham!

Wantanabe taming the Pegasus.

Photo by Adam Finkle, ajfphoto.com

Graham Wantanabe headed to the Olympics!

Local snowboarder and Boardercross competitor, Graham Wantanabe, has officially nabbed a spot in the Vancouver Games! Wantanabe, another SVSEF Olympic Development athlete, Wood River High School graduate, and lifelong Sun Valley resident, will compete in his second Olympic Games in February.

After he did not qualify for the 2006 Winter Games, Graham attended as a Wax Tech for the US Snowboard Team. But when a teammate was unfortunately injured during training, Graham was in the right place at the right time and filled the vacancy on the Olympic squad. But this year, Graham has taken a more traditional route and qualified at last week’s snowboardcross World Cup in Stoneham. Graham’s second place finish concretes his spot on the Olympic Team. Read the entire story: click here.

Don’t miss Graham next month and send him tons of Sun Valley love!