January 20, 2013

Snowboarding craze cools

The once-hip, ultra-extreme sport declines as older riders shift to new, easier-to-ride skis.

By HUGO MARTIN Los Angeles Times

(Continued from page 1)

Snowboarding craze cools
click image to enlarge

Squaw Valley ski demo shop manager Josh Holm pulls a pair of wide skis off a rack at the shop in Truckee, Calif. In the same four-year period, sales of skis climbed 3 percent, while sales of snowboards and snowboard equipment slipped 21 percent.

Los Angeles Times photo

click image to enlarge


"It's interesting where the industry is going now," said Josh Holm, who manages the ski rental shop at Squaw Valley Ski Resort. "You can ski on a half pipe and land backward just like a snowboarder."

Modern snowboarding was invented in the 1960s, but most ski resorts refused to let riders on their slopes until the 1990s, when the sport's popularity began to boom. Snowboarders made their debut in the Winter Olympics in 1998, and by 2004 they outnumbered skiers on U.S. slopes.

From 1990 to 2004, the number of Americans who participated in snowboarding jumped about 340 percent, from 1.5 million to 6.6 million, according to the National Sporting Goods Association. In the same period, the number of skiers dropped 48 percent, from 11.4 million to 5.9 million, the trade group said.

Since 2004, however, snowboard participation has dropped 22 percent while skiing has climbed 16 percent, according to the trade group.

Another factor in the decline of snowboard sales may be that many new riders are beating themselves up trying to perform the stunts and tricks executed by snowboard superstars.

A 2012 study by the University of Vermont College of Medicine concluded that snowboarders have a higher injury rate than skiers. Snowboarders tend to suffer more injuries to their wrists, shoulders and ankles as well as concussions, while skiers had more knee and lower leg injuries, according to the study.


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