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World's biggest ski trade fair opens in Munich

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Ispo, the huge annual sports show that takes over Munich's trade fair site, runs until Wednesday and competition in the ski sector is particularly fierce. Demand in recent years has been slack, the snowboard and carving markets have softened, and retailers are especially hungry for innovations that will pull punters back through the doors. Many skiers, as we know, have turned to rental and the early 2005 snow drought caused problems in Europe.

Here's a report from Deutsche Welle about what's on show.

As for specifics in new products I hear of Atomic selling skis in triplets instead of pairs (no, not an April fool, a way of catering for people who ski aggressively enough to break skis!), Look changing its commitment to its historic turntable binding (well over 40 years strong), a stunning new ski touring package from Dynafit, and much emphasis on specialised ski equipment for women.

Unofficial photos are being snapped at the trade shows (the Las Vegas event took place a fortnight ago) and placed on the web, so maybe we can link to some of these shortly. In general the ski hardware brands are not overly enthusiastic for you to know what they have in the pipelines for 2006 - they're more keen to shift this winter's gear right now!

Go into the www.ispo.com site to see what the show is presenting, and to catch some photos of 2006 equipment that's won design awards (Volvo SportsDesign Forum).

If you're in the UK and interested in sneaking a peek at next year's gear, produce ski trade or valid professional credentials to enter Gmex in Manchester for the Soltex show, 20-23 February. http://www.soltex.co.uk
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If anyone's particularly keen to know what's in the pipeline for next winter from specific brands, drop a post below and maybe a little espionage can be done!
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
David Goldsmith, unfortunately I was too far north today (Cologne), but I will try to get a verbal report tomorrow from someone who was there yesterday.
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
That's great - looking forward to seeing what he's discovered. One or two snowHeads-connected people have been out there, so let's see what we can find out. I've not been to ispo since they moved the show out of the city to near the airport. The old site was vast as well - in the city centre, just over the road from the space where the beer festival is held every year.

Amazing city, Munich. Thoroughly recommend it. The Olympics site and underground system are tremendously impressive. The Schwabing district is fun in the evenings, and the Marienplatz is big on shopping. Lots of dosh in that part of Germany.
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 You need to Login to know who's really who.
You need to Login to know who's really who.
Here's some stuff about the Atomic skis sold in 3s - Atomic Urban Triplets I think they're called - which were launched at the Las Vegas (SIA) trade show a couple of weeks ago - on the TGR forum.

No doubt the skis will be publicised with the world's first 3-legged skier, or world's first 3-legged ski race.
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Here are some photos of next year's gear, posted on the skipass.com site from the Las Vegas show. Click on the thumbnails to enlarge.
And some illicit photos hosted on the newschoolers.com site.
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 You'll need to Register first of course.
You'll need to Register first of course.
Sorry for the delay in getting the show info. Here's what I've learned:
Rossignol: very little interest in their new gear, seems they have lost any innovation/forward thinking. (can someone tell me have Quicksilver put in a bid for them, or is that just a rumour?)
Salomon: 75% of their products for next year are software. Very few skis. They were pushing their wetsuit line at the ski show. Benetton are looking to get out of skiing, and focus on clothing! (oh, and their wetsuits are overpriced, and poor quality)
K2: The stand was packed. Could hardly move on it, or speak to anyone (even with an appointment). It appears that the Volkl buyout is having a great effect on K2 sales in Europe. You'll be seeing a lot of K2 hardware next year.

Most dealers are reporting poor sales this year in hardware, but good sales in accessories. If this trend continues, some UK based ones are looking at getting out of selling hardware altogether.
High end clothing sales have also been very poor in the UK (some scare stories of shops not selling anything from entire ranges/brands) - I think a lot of us are now shopping online, or buying abroad.

That's about all I got so far.
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