@BostonGlobe reports on the nationwide shift away from snowboarding and back toward skiing. Contrary to popular belief, the ratio of skiers to snowboarders on the mountain has never been 50-50, but there’s been a steady decline since the mid 2000’s. Why?
"Earlier this year, in a report published in the National Ski Association Journal, RRC Associates director of operations Nate Fristoe warned that the growth of snowboarding was reversing itself.
“Today, there is every indication that the growth of snowboarding we took for granted has stalled,” wrote Fristoe, whose office is based in Boulder, Colo. “Visitation from snowboarding is headed toward a path of substantial decline.”
No one, it seems, is clear on the entire picture, but the numbers add up from every region of the US snow-sports market.
In its ﬁrst decade of popularity, beginning in 1991, snowboarding grew from a 7.7 percent share of the skier market to 32.6 percent in 2000. Since that was a decade when skiing’s growth was at a standstill (or in slight decline), snowboarding has been referred to as having saved the industry.
The snowboard scene bloomed as a kind of counterculture to mainstream skiing, featuring the familiar baggy clothing and any number of bad-boy touches borrowed from the hip-hop world.
And even while some boarders reveled in being the rebellious alternative to mainstream skiing, boarding itself was slowly being co-opted by that mainstream. At the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan, when boarding competition was introduced as a sport, one of the ﬁnest riders in the world, Terje Haakonsen of Norway, boycotted the Games because snowboarding had capitulated to the control of the International Ski Federation.
At that time, boarding was in the midst of its greatest ascent, but a few years later, according to Fristoe’s presentation to the National Ski Areas Association, “Snowboarding lost some of its mojo around 2005 and 2006, and we’ve been running on fumes since then. It’s like any kind of trend — full of all sorts of energy until it isn’t.”
Whether the answer lies in better ski technology to ﬁt the off-piste trend, or simply a maturing process, there’s no question that boarders are older. In the same Fristoe study, the “young grommets” who were teens when they started boarding in the 1996-97 season, are now 30 — an age the youth culture views uneasily. According to Fristoe, “Nearly 38 percent of snowboarders are either part of a couple or have children, up from 23 percent a decade before.”
To Fristoe and others in the industry, that translates into less available cash and, more than likely, steady jobs.
But Murphy said the manufacturers who once produced more rigid high-performance skis now lead the charge with softer quick-turning skis with rocker technology, and that change stalled snowboarding’s ascent.”
Read the full article at The Boston Globe >