SIA & OR ... A to Z

A is for Alpine Touring, which continued its ascendancy to the mainstream, helped along by a buzz building new Marker binding (DIN 16!!) as well as new skis from the team at G3 Genuine Guide Gear that are designed to be both AT and Tele friendly.

B is for Bamboo, a.k.a. this year’s organic cotton.

C is for Crocs, which will do an estimated $350 million in sales this year, according to some guy I met on the floor of ORWM. Crocs has also spawned an estimated 350 million knock-off brands, according to my eyeballs at ORWM.

D is for Doug Coombs, who was honored in an incredibly low-key, soulful toast at the K2 Skis booth during SIA. It was a truly cool scene.

E is for El Hombre, who outweighed ski designer Paul Parker by 75 pounds at the official weigh-in party on Sunday night. It would've been more, but Paul wouldn't take his shirt off.

F is for Fashion, which should never be confused with Style. Fashion is what you do. Style is how you do it. And the companies that are rising to the top are the ones who understand this essenital difference.

G is for Goats, as they’ve somehow become the nerd-geek-animal-chic icon of the year, with the support of a major online retailer as well as a Boulder-based apparel brand that designs jackets that look like they’re inside out.

H is for Headhunters who ... in a remarkable sea change ... are now beginning to stalk the rosters of outdoor companies for talented individuals who can bring eco-consciousness and healthy lifestyle brand power to the world of corporate America. Good luck!

I is for Interchangeable Optics from Smith Optics, the biggest leap forward in goggle technology since the dual lens.

J is for Jack and Coke, the new Red Bull-Vodka.

K is for Kootenay Mountain Culture, one of the leaders in the new regional mag resurgence. Mirrored by N'East on the Cold Coast, the Mountain Gazette in Colorado, and Wend in the Pacific Northwest, magazines that are rooted in local culture are finding an audience that stretches far beyond their "official" distribution area.

L is Lifestyle, for Chouinard's sake. This is really a post in its own, but here’s the nickel tour: as outdoor participation is flat (or “not growing” in advocacy parlance), the clear opportunity for growth is to go in a direction not tied to a specific activity. Duh.

M is for M&A boys who have had a staggering effect on both the SIA and OR marketplaces. The big have gotten bigger, the small have gotten smarter, and the next round of massive purchasing is expected to begin in late 2008.

N is for Nau, which apparently is the Maori word for “He who frowns at you.”

O is for Ogden. which opened their arms, their checkbooks, and who knows what else to get the attention of the Amer Sports Group. It's definitely paying off, as the Utah community will reap a massive hiring spree thanks to an estimated 75% no-we-won't-move contingent from Salomon, and a rumored 99.5% Utah-non-merci group at Suunto.

P is for the Piton, which co-hosted one of the most relaxing and least pretentious parties of the entire OR/SIA week. PBRs in the corner. Untouched egg rolls in the center of the room. Funniest moment? When somebody actually said “What Blog do you Work For?” out loud.

S is for Sustainability, which is not a marketing strategy. It's a part of our lives, for the rest of our lives. It's time to drop the idea of sustainability as a "concept" and recognize that it's an essential part of our reality.

T is for Timmy O’Neill, whose Patagonia-Superhero-Underpant-Japan video debuted yesterday on Google video. Sure, it’s about 10 times as long as it needs to be, but it’s got some real soul. Plus, Timmy's a funny bastard.

U is for Under Armour, which had a major presence at SIA, or at least it felt like they did. Never underestimate a brand that's known by a globe full of NFL fans.

V is for Volcom (NASDAQ: VLCM), a brand which does a hell of a job imitating drunk and impoverished snowboard bums during the annual SIA show. On the one hand, they're the guys driving handicap scooters around the floor wearing tie-dye groove wear. On the other hand, they're the guys who racked up $61 million in the third quarter of 2006. Yes. The third quarter.

W is for Who stole the boot from the Head booth during set-up day at SIA? For some reason, I didn't see that in the daily ...

X is for Ex-Salomon employees who have left the mother ship to find their own paths, instead of relocating to a state with the lowest per-capita expenditure on eduction in the universe. Best of luck to you all.

Y is for Yours Truly, who is clearly still trying to figure out what it all means, and Z is for Bond James Bond SchnitZspahn coming soon to a literary festival near you. Yeah, I know it doesn't start with Z. Sue me.

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