By Julien Heon

February is an important month in the snow industry, not only because of the SIA show in Las Vegas, but also because of its Canadian version, the NSIA Snow Shows and Demo Days. The National Snow Industry Association held its Demo Day at Mont-Tremblant on Feb. 12-13, followed by the Snow Show in Montreal on Feb. 15-17.

The demo days are the on-snow version of the interior show. The people of the industry, mostly the shop owners and the people responsible of selecting the products for the stores, can try out most of next year’s skis and snowboards. Some boots are even available for demos. This year, Salomon was noticeably absent; for the first year, they decided not to attend the show, and they had their private demos in Mont-Tremblant, Mont Ste-Anne, and Whistler two weeks before.

The NSIA event is a real party; at the demo days in Tremblant, parties are everywhere on the night of Thursday, from the Aquaclub to the Caribou, and don’t forget the popular snowboard party at the local strip club. At the Montreal show, it’s all about free food for the retailers, nice girls all over the place; add some good Canadian beer, and it’s paradise. If you read Ski Press magazine, the Snow Show is also the place where the annual clothing photo shoot takes place.

I had the chance to try all the 2005 twin tips available. That includes Fischer, Nordica, Rossignol, Dynastar, Head, and Line. Armada, 4Frnt, and Salomon were not present, and Atomic, did not have their twin tips in their demo fleet. The tendency this year in the twin tip industry was to not change anything: Rossignol, Head, Atomic, and Dynastar all decided to keep the same models for this year, some with graphic changes.

Dynastar kept the Troublemaker the same as last year, except that the top sheet is not glossy anymore. A very surprising ski, and the word on them is all about a very interesting pop when taking off.

The most surprising twin tip this year is definitely the Fischer Big Stix 8.0 . This underrated ski is simply awesome all around, from the park, into the pipe, the powder, on the groomed or bumpy track. As Michel Di Tommaso, responsible of race department at Fischer, said, "We only changed the top sheet, and everyone likes the ski now." I was personally not attracted by that ski before, but now that I’ve tried it, its my number one choice for next year twin tips. The new Somatec boot is also very interesting; with a new technology, this is the first boot to really correspond to what the human body needs. Di Tommaso said, “If you notice in the chairlift, when your skis are hanging, they are not straight but they make a V. By changing the position of the feet in the boot, we now give more natural power to the skier."
At the Montreal show, I had the chance to talk with Daniel Gestwick, Project Engineer at Line skis working on the Line bindings. Gestwick said, "We reinforced the bindings by making it twice as resistant than before and fixed the cracking problem. The new plate to mount the Line binding on [other brand] skis is now ready for production." When asked why the Line riders are not riding the Line Bindings, he answered "It is because we don’t have enough bindings yet; we keep them for the people in the office that are here every day to give us feedback on them. Also, some of our riders have a bindings sponsor.�
The on-snow test of the Line did not surprise me, I always thought that Line skis were not stiff enough, and I still think they should work on that a little bit to improve the all-around side of their skis.

The Beast from Nordica is basically the same as last year. They changed the cosmetics, and the ski is supposed to be a little bit less stiff than last year. They decided not to make a regular twin tip, because they realized that last year that the twin tip was not reaching the needs of the market, but they will come back in 2006 with something better.

You guys have problems with bending or breaking poles? I went to the Leki booth and asked them if they had a magic pole for jibbers. The answer, “Of course.� You have the choice between a pole at S250 CDN in carbon-kevlar, or the new Aluminum pole. The secret of that pole is that it is heated in a oven for 24 hour at a high temperatures, which allows the aluminum to fuse, rep David Sabourin said. The result? Incredibly light and resistant poles.

You can admire some pictures from both the snow show and the demo days, the boots of the company, and next year twintips.

Thanks to Michel Di Tommaso at Fischer-Swix, Daniel Gestwick at Line Skis, and David Sabourin at Leki-Alpina for their time.