World sneak peak at best new gear for 2017
Australia may not have the biggest mountains, the most snow or the best facilities but there’s one thing the local ski and snowboard industry can claim – first dibs on plenty of the best new gear that comes out.
The global season release schedule sees a whole raft of stuff shown – and then effectively made available to the consumer – down under first.
I was fortunate enough to get to the Snowsports Industries of Australia trade show held in chilly Canberra (6 degrees and raining as I left – with a foot of snow on the hills for the close of the season thanks very much) and managed to park my peepers on some of the gear before the North Americans and Europeans get their hands on it!
You are Soul
Fat, light and more versatile than a Swiss army knife, Rossignol’s Soul 7s have been a real game-changer in skiing and have ushered in a whole raft or pretenders to the crown.
Undoubtedly one of the most popular planks of the past five years (though in truth they don’t particularly suit Aussie conditions other than on the biggest of snow days or in soft spring snow) – in 2017 they come with a makeover and performance upgrades.
TSG got a good look at the new model and whilst not encouraged to take pics (the Rossi bosses probably wouldn’t have been that happy) I did get a little intel.
“There’s definitely a bit more grunt in the tip and tail,” our snout tells us. “But they are still that great two in one ski”.
Expect to see the new model loitering around pre-Aussie season 2017 (April-ish). The RRP for ski only will stay at $1150.
Other new planks
Head have three models in the Kore range (93/105/117 underfoot) with the former likely the best weapon down under. Elan has four new skis in the Ripstick range while a ski I’ve previously enjoyed in Aussie conditions – the Blizzard Brahma – gets a makeover too, with the women’s version – the Black Pearl – now coming in three widths.
It seems the more popular skis are becoming a little narrower with many wholesalers agreeing the 80-90mm range is the sweet spot.
“I believe the pendulum has swung too far into the wide zone,” Blizzard expert Michael Balfe tells me. “They are definitely getting ratcheted back again”.
Nordica has a bunch of new skis in Enforcer and GT range.
The 90s are back – in more ways than one.
As the demographic of boarders is getting older, their habits are changing and directional boards are becoming increasingly popular.
As such carving boards are picking up in sales from next to nothing a few years back to he reckons maybe 15 per cent of the market. As these boarders get older there also seems to be an interest in quality bespoke brands as the disposable income of purchasers rises with their age.
Kruse reckons GNU’s “The Money” will sell well when released in April/May. It’s a directional twin that’ll go for around $599 with serrated edges and reverse camber.
Admittedly I’m not a huge snowboard tech man so check out this short informative article on directional v twin if you want to know the real difference with boards.
The goggle market continues to get more and more competitive with so many players wanting a piece of the action.
Giro, No.1 in helmets, are making a big push with goggle offerings and Stephen Fisher tells me they expect the turnover for the products to be equal in four years’ time.
They’ll have nine new models on the shelves next year (six men’s, three women’s) and expect their Vivid lenses supplied through Carl Zeiss to be a real clincher – I had a quick look and the definition is amazing. Expect entry to be $159 for the Blok and up to $329 for the top of the line Contact.
The entry to midspace in goggles looks like it could be an armwrestle. Head have entered the market with their Solar FMR ($89) – a sharp looking goggle that is trying to capture that walk-up market interested in something modern and a little better than your $30 disposables.
So too Electric are working in that space quite well (but have much broader offerings). Their lightweight Charger is a cracker!
Not a huge amount in the boot space but Nordica’s infrared heating system for boots (which can mould specific spots for fit on your boot) caught my eye. Tom Langtry said he expects the Speed Machine boot range to do well this year after being re-introduced to the market in 2016.
It’s always a pleasure to have a chat with a guy like Pete Forras from XTM.
Australia’s Olympic and World Cup athletes can be found in their gloves for a reason – because they meet the needs of the best in the business.
They already do a great job marketing so Pete is more than happy to talk shop about the season rather than push product.
After the snow-rain-snow-rain cycles we got this winter I was expecting some negativity but Pete and many retailers were delighted with the way things panned out for sales.
“The numbers rolling around are between 10 and 30 per cent up this year which is amazing given the winter we’ve had,” he said. “Bad weather generally leads to good retail sales”.
Another thing he noticed was the big uptake of Chinese and Indians into the sport in Australia. Obviously many are second generation but there’s also those coming over as tourists. Something to keep an eye on no doubt for savvy tour operators.
“The cool thing about product is that is always improving – whether it is a little more breathable, waterproof or better hand feel. It’s incremental but also the prices are getting better.”
Gaudy colours are out the door in jackets with textual, more muted tones back in. (Don’t worry – if you hold on to something long enough and it will come back into style).
For XTM gear Pete expects the new men’s leisure boot ‘Cambo’ to do well.