By Livi Nichols
Step onto the Deer Valley resort in Utah with a snowboard, and the staff and skiers there will not welcome you.
While the long-lasting rivalry between skiers and snowboarders has lessened over the past 40 years, the conflict is still evident in some resorts and in many irritated elderly skiers. The key differentiation between the two sports is culture and attitude.
But with a recent decline in snowboard sales, many people are asking, “Is snowboarding losing its edge?” The New York Times asks this question in an article with the same name. A small decrease in sales may be enough to convince a few critics, but snowboarding is not just a trend that will go out of style.
In January of 2013, Christopher Solomon from the New York Times addressed the many reasons that “snowboarding is now sputtering in the United States.” One argument is that snowboarding’s most influential moguls are getting older, and the sport is losing its supposed badboy image.
Jake Burton, founder and CEO of Burton Snowboards, had a smooth response for all the hearsay. “We always knew that mainstream acceptance, along with making our sport a big business would have its perils, and the recent anecdotal accounts and questionable statistical info about our sport are just another chapter of naysayers trying to put a negative spin on our evolution.”
Because of the wild attitude and culture associated with snowboarding, originally the sport only appealed to a certain selection of people. People have become attracted to the idea of riding with both feet on one board versus riding down a run wearing two long skis.
Now that the public has accepted snowboarding as a sport instead of an extreme alpine activity for alternative kids, popularity and overall sales seem to have hit a peak. Snowboarding can no longer be seen as a trendy fad.
The peaks and valleys of sales over the past years reflect a normal lifecycle of any business. The seasonal numbers can be affected by changes in the economy; they do not completely reflect interest in snowboarding as a sport.
Unfortunately, there has been and continues to be a deficit of female riders on the mountain.
According to the 2015 SIA Snow Sports Fact Sheet, 63% of the snowboarders that rode this year are male, compared with only 37% of women. Many women are nervous to try out snowboarding because they feel it is a male-dominated sport and they might not be taken seriously.
So maybe as the bad-boy image begins to fade, more women and former skiers will take up the sport. This would increase overall popularity.
As snowboarding continues to grow and diversify, there will be ups and downs throughout its expansion.
Snowboarding is an expensive sport that one must really commit to physically and financially. This sport is rewarding, so it is more than likely that it will be around for a long time.