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.”
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.”
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.”
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.