Snowboarding is one of the greatest things that ever happened to the sport of skiing. It inspired fat skis, terrain parks, and a whole new genre of freestyle riding.
It also enticed a new generation of snowsports enthusiasts to
hit the slopes, swelling the liftlines with the kind of energy and
innovation that, frankly, hadn’t been seen for years on the two-plank side of the equation. (And, of course, some riders would
insist that snowboarding is one of the greatest things that ever
But now, after nearly three decades of explosive growth, the
sport is in steady decline. According to the Kottke National End
of Season Survey (produced by the National Ski Areas Association
and RRC Associates, and released in July 2013), snowboarding
trended down for the third consecutive season last year, declining
to 29. 6 percent of total visits in 2012-13, down from 30.3
percent in 2011-12, 31.0 percent in 2010-11, and 32.0 percent
The drop-off has been greatest in the Pacific Southwest and
Midwest, where snowboarding visits declined by 3 percentage
points (in terms of share of total visits). Snowboarding
participation also dipped in the Rocky Mountain and Pacific
Northwest regions, while holding relatively steady in the
Southeast and Northeast.
The Pacific Southwest still has the highest rate of snowboarding participation of any region ( 42. 5 percent of total visits
last season), followed by the Pacific Northwest ( 36. 7 percent),
Midwest ( 35. 5 percent), and Southeast ( 34. 5 percent). A lower
share of total visits from snowboarding is seen in the Northeast
( 26. 4 percent) and Rocky Mountain region ( 23. 7 percent).
STAKEHOLDERS TAKE AIM
The hardgoods industry is taking notice. SnowSports Industries
America created a Snowboard Committee comprised of manufacturers, resorts, and specialty retailers to address the issue. At
a meeting in November, the group discussed how to involve all
stakeholders in the snowboard market to review and expand current
snowboard research, focus on inspired programs and messaging,
and reinvigorate the snowboard community.
“The Snowboard Committee meetings this year have proven
that the industry is committed to work together to address the
issues affecting snowboard participation and sales,” said SIA
President David Ingemie.
THE SNOWBOARD SOLUTION
BY PETER KRAY
How Snow Pros Can Stop Snowboarding’s Drop in Participation
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