2012 Transworld snow conference
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After an evening at Sun Valley's Boiler Room, Thursday morning dawned with sounds of rain peppering our roofs. While a few faint of heart attendees used this as an excuse to silence the alarm, a mob of snowboarders appeared for early ups  of a scope seldom seen at Sun Valley.

The resort is implementing numerous efforts to update its image and get younger visitors, especially snowboarders on its slopes, and partnerships with SPT and other ventures are making significant inroads.

The early risers were greeted with another round of freshies at the top of Baldy, and Backcountry Buyer Colin Edwards worked over time – logging over 40,000 vertical feet, enough to win the SNOCRU Vert Challenge and a free ticket to attend next year's conference.

The day's meetings got under way with a presentation by SIA Director of Research Kelly Davis, who began with a focus on the grim sales numbers from the season, following with the silver linings including increased frequency of core participants, growth in women riders, new young shreds on the slopes, and the growing diversity in the park.

Davis also highlighted the "Urban Woodsman" trend, think full beard and flannel, which was not only prevalent at the meeting, but has apparently taken hold in urban areas amongst former members of a metrosexual ilk. Axe sales (for cutting trees, not the body spray) are up 30%, and Tribeca even boasts a custom axe shop. Davis's advice? Either move away from these co-opters and the trend or make 'em pay to look like us!

Davis's presentation was followed by a panel moderated by TransWorld SNOWboarding Content Director Nick Hamilton titled "The Impact of Parks on Participation and Progression." Joining Hamilton were Director of SPT Parks Mike Bettera, Sun Valley Terrain Park Manager Brian Callahan, and Mountain Creek Marketing & Events Manager Hugh Reynolds. In addition to massive parks playing a  huge part in progressing the sport, beginner parks are increasingly setting the hook for new riders, and Reynolds shared how his mountain's features have saved the resort this season, a year when the has received just six inches of natural snow to date.

The day's keynote speaker was New Belgium Brewing Creative Director Melyssa Glassman. New Belgium Brewing has grown into a global phenomenon based not only on the quality of its beers, but also on its engaging marketing strategies that connect customers on a level that makes them thirsty for some brews, but more importantly passionate about the brand's message.

What began as a small brewery in Fort Collins, Colorado is now the 3rd largest craft brewer in the country. But they keep it local through events, advocacy and sales reps known as Beer Rangers. Glassman discussed the company's marketing strategies and some hilarious lessons for attendees to take back to their brands and build not just customers, but lifelong brand ambassadors.

Each Snow Conference includes a closing round table known as the Snow Conference Challenge – in which cross functional groups from across the industry brainstorm ways to actually make a difference in the sport. This year, 12 groups made up of retailers, diverse brands, resorts, and service providers were tasked with coming up with an innovative, sticky “marketing” campaign, drawing on the discussions from the Conference to create new snowboarders. Using a theoretical budget of just $10,000, the groups came up with an amazing array of initiatives, several of which are actually being implemented already.

Stay tuned for more on the progress of these initiatives from the TransWorld Snow Conference Committee and see you all next year.

A big thank you goes out to our sponsors: SIA, Sun Valley Resort, Visit Sun Valley, HoodieBuddie, SNOCRU, and Pabst. We’d also like to thank Smith Optics, Stance Socks, Skullcandy, HDX, Target, Pop Chips, and ZICO.

Follow the jump for a look at the first two days of the 2012 TransWorld Snow Conference.

2012 TransWorld Snow Conference
2012 TransWorld Snow Conference
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The snowboard industry descended on Sun Valley, Idaho March 13-16 to discuss the biggest issues facing the sport, and to get in some serious chairlift-networking. Over 80 executives representing retailers, brands, resorts, and B2B services came together to take off their company hats and discuss the current health of the industry and how we can all work together for a stronger future.

This year’s theme was “Leading the Charge/Change,” and focused on leadership, strategic thinking, consumer and employee engagement, and sticky marketing, a group of topics that were combined to target ways to get more people on snow and in shop doors.

The event kicked off with an opening dinner at the Sun Valley Inn on Tuesday night followed by a late night bowling session in the basement of the Sun Valley Lodge. The conference started in earnest on Wednesday afternoon after an amazing morning on the hill, led by Sun Valley’s snowboard team and local pros.

While many attendees were beat after hammering 3,000 foot-plus vertical laps down Baldy as part of the SNOCRU vert challenge, whose winner received a return ticket to next year’s conference on the GPS-tracking app company, they were quickly captured by opening speaker and Sector 9 C0-Founder Steve Lake‘s tale of staying focused on his brand’s vision to achieve long lasting success.

Lake was followed by perennial Snow Conference favorite, Dr. Peter Philips, professor of economics at the University of Utah and former department chair, who returned for his third Snow Conference, and spoke about the macro economic landscape and its impacts on snowboarding.

The afternoon continued with a panel focused on the underlying theme for almost everyone this year, how to get through a low-tide snow year when most of North America is getting bitch slapped by Mother Nature. Rome’s Dan Sullivan, Elan’s John Colvin, Royal Boardshop’s Ryan Robertson, and Vail Resorts’ Kristen Petitt Stewart joined Moderator Mike Lewis to discuss strategies that have helped them be successful despite the adversity of warm temperatures and meager bases.

After an engaging discussion, keynote speaker, mountaineer, author, and adventurer Jeff Evans took the stage to share “Lessons Beyond the Summit,” a talk covering over 20 years of mountaineering that has taken Evans to the top of the Seven Summits, including leading his blind climbing partner to the summit of Mt. Everest and guiding Wounded Warriors up peaks across the globe. Evans shared transcending lessons of leadership, communication, and determination.

The day wrapped up with a buzzing dinner, filled with side conversations about the day’s speakers as well as numerous collabs being born on the spot. The crew hit the Boiler Room for drinks and bed for a reset for Thursday…

A big thank you goes out to our sponsors: SIA, Sun Valley Resort, Visit Sun Valley, HoodieBuddie, SNOCRU, and Pabst. We’d also like to thank Smith Optics, Stance Socks, Skullcandy, HDX, Target, Pop Chips, and ZICO.

Stay tuned for more coverage from day two of the conference tomorrow.