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Denver Snow Show: What's Coming To Ski And Board Shops Next Year

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DENVER (AP) -- At the annual SnowSports Industries America Snow Show this week, gear makers showed off new shapes in skis and snowboards, and more split boards, snowshoes and setups to reach ungroomed slopes in the backcountry.

Recession-weary consumers are starting to spend again, and spurts of heavy snow around the country haven't hurt either.

"When it snows, all of sudden everybody wants new gear," said Joel Handschin, owner of the snowboard shop Jackson Treehouse in Teton Village, Wyo.

Here's a glimpse from the SIA Snow Show of what's coming next season:

NEW SHAPES - The man behind Salomon's popular Pocket Rocket twin tip skis is introducing the BBR - a ski with an exaggerated, fat tip, narrow waist and tapered tail that draws on surf technology. Spearheaded by Bertrand "Beber" Krafft, it tackles both hard snow and powder.

"If I was stuck on a mountain island, that's what I would buy," Salomon rider Rick "Sick Rick" Armstrong quipped.

The traditional camber, or arc, shape in skis is still around, but the rocker or reverse camber "U" shape is here to stay, manufacturers say. New shapes are popping up all the time as companies place rocker and camber in different combinations on the same ski or board.

BACKCOUNTRY GEAR - The new snowboarding movie "Deeper," which showed big mountain rider Jeremy Jones' grueling, real-life treks up remote mountain walls, is fueling more interest in the backcountry and sidecountry outside resort boundaries.

Some people head there to avoid crowds and pricey lift tickets, while some want the workout of hiking uphill. Others just want to drop in on fresh powder like their heroes and ride something no one else has touched that day.

They just need lightweight gear to get to the mountaintop and float through deep snow.

"The pros are out riding backcountry to find steeper terrain. Not everyone can afford to go jump out of a helicopter," said K2 sales representative Ross Welke.

Last winter Jones' company, Jones Snowboards, sold out of its limited production in its inaugural season. It's back this season with snowboards and splitboards, which ride like a snowboard but can be split and worn like skis to hike up.

Handschin said his shop had about 20 Jones boards that sold out by the end of the year, and he hopes to triple his order for next season. "It's probably the quickest I've ever seen a board line sell out in its first season," he said.

Denver's Never Summer Industries has been getting more requests for splitboards and decided to move from making one-offs to introducing them to all retailers this year, said snow sales manager Mike "Gags" Gagliardi.

In snowshoes, Atlas Snow-Shoe Co.'s new Aspect model is designed for backcountry fiends trying to get to their terrain. It has sawtooth traction for a better grip in the snow and bindings that pack flat. And it fits both mountaineering and snowboarding boots.

K2 is offering a kit that turns a ski shovel, skis and poles into a rescue sled. The shovel is the sled "seat," skis serve as the runners, and the poles and shovel handle serve as supports.

RECIPES - Basalt is showing up more often, along with carbon and Kevlar, because they are strong but still have some pop. They're also being placed just where stiffness is needed, not all over.

Trimming excess materials makes gear lighter but also reduces waste, which is becoming more important as companies and consumers pay attention to sustainability.

Lib Tech co-founder Pete Saari said his company has been recycling and reducing waste from the start, even though customers didn't care whether the company was ecofriendly. The reason was simple. "We had no money," he said. "We had to save every bit of material.

"We didn't just jump on the green bandwagon. We've done this since people thought we were (stupid)," he said.

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