Paul Oberin

The USA trade show and demo fest.

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The USA trade show and demo fest.

After 36 hours of flights and sitting around airports, it was good to finally get to the Colorado convention centre in Denver, the trade show is a real eye opener for those who are there for the first time, the stands are so spread out and well fitted out with product, the factory reps are in attendance, and there is no better place to find out all you could possibly want to know about any snow related product.
As I import Back country access product direct from the factory into Australia, it was essential I spend some time on the BCA stand, most of the people I speak with almost weekly at BCA were there at the show, and it is always good to meet them in person again, I was most interested in seeing how the newest Tracker 3 beacon was coming along and having a play with 2 working models, I was very interested in the BC Link radio system that is integrated into the latest BCA back packs, BCA tell me they will have to check with the legal aspects of each country before selling the product, so I am not sure we will be getting them in Australia just yet.
Next stand of importance was the Masterfit stand where I met with one of the founders of Masterfit Steve Cohen and got to see the very latest technology in footbeds and boot fitting aids.
Of course visiting the stands that sell the popular brands of skis is exceptionally important, I spent quite some time on the DPS stand getting all the relevant information on the new models about to be released, also the K2 stand as at our Australian trade show they didnt have the actual skis on hand, I had heard so much in recent months about the two Rossignol skis called the HP and the Soul 7, so this was a good chance to see why they might be different.
The next day we moved on to Winter Park ski resort where we were welcomed with a complimentary breakfast and free day tickets, the USA snowsports industry certainly know how to make you feel welcome, pretty well every brand and model of ski and snowboard were there to try out, as well as goggles, helmets, poles and boots for both skiers and board riders.
The demo fest only goes for two days, there are so many items to test in so little time, so I found you have to have a system and be time efficient, to get through a lot of them, what did help me, was to get involved in discussions with other shop testers after the first day, to find out what was really good, then on day two go with the aim of testing those models first, this was not easy for two particular skis, the Rossignol Soul 7 and the new K2 Rictor 90XTi, those two skis were so popular they were never available when I went there, as they were always out, luckily for me there were Aussies working on both stands, so I asked them to help me get hold of them, which they did, and I found out why those two skis were so popular, more on that later.
Winter park again for the 3rd year running offered up Australian type of firm snow and bluebird days for the demo days, as much as I would like to have had deep powder, I was there to test skis for use mainly in Australia.
The skis tested were the Volkl RTM 84, and the new RTM 81, the new Volkl Code SL and GS, the K2 Rictor 82XTi and Rictor 90XTi, the Rossignol HP and Soul 7 as well as the Pursuit 18, the Blizzard magnum 8 in both CA and Ti, also the Blizzard bushwacker, the Nordica fire arrow 84, the Fischer RC4 RC and the Hybrid 8.5Ti as well as the Motive 84 and the DPS wailer 99.
All the skis were new and had not been re tuned in any way, we used the same run for each test, we found all of them were good for what they were designed to do, a couple of skis really surprised me as to how exceptional they really were even though I had been told they were great by the reps, reps always say everything is great.
As an all round ski for mainly on piste the Fischer Hybrid 8.5 and the new Rictor 82Xti, along with the RTM 84 and RTM81 were the stand outs.
For mainly a powder ski that is also suitable for use on firm snow in a resort, the stand out was the Rossignol Soul 7 followed closely by the Rictor 90XTi and then the DPS wailer 99, the Rictor and Soul 7 were so easy to use on firm snow and had such great edge hold, I could see skiers buying them as a one ski quiver, although at over 100mm under foot the Soul 7 may not be ideal in big moguls, the DPS was fairly hard work when it got fairly steep, icy and crowded where the ski patrollers wanted us to check our speed with some short radius turns, the DPS is better suited for powder or uncrowded slopes where you can let them run to their radius.

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