The Rich Get Richer
by Jackson Hogen
Looking at the big picture, model turnover among men’s (aka unisex) models is relatively modest. Bucking this trend are major collection introductions at Rossignol and Dynastar, where popular series—7 and Cham, respectively—have been supplanted by all-new designs. Blizzard, Nordica, Head and Kästle have introduced significant product modifications to key models with well-established followings. Völkl boosts the performance profile of its second-price-point models, the Kanjo 84 for men and the Yumi 84 for women, and adds a value tier to its freeride (and BC) collections with the Blaze 94 and 106 in both men’s and women’s versions. Head has reinforced its market-leading position in carving tools with a revamped Supershape series.
In the women’s market, most of the new model action is in the overcrowded All-Mountain East category (waists 85-94mm), where almost every major brand has at least one new and/or improved model. Because the All-Mountain East category is a crossroads of in-resort and off-trail designs, most brands offer at least two models in this battleground genre. The struggle for the hearts, minds and credit cards of American women will be fiercely contested in what will remain the go-to genre in the women’s market for years to come.
What a snapshot of the 2021 market reveals is a trend for the entrenched category leaders to hold or enhance their positions. Once the severity of the coronavirus pandemic became evident, the ski trade was bound to get shaky as conservative buying, if any, became the order of the day. The specialty shop community isn’t interested in assuming any greater risks than it’s already facing.
As of this writing, no one has a clue exactly what the 20/21 ski season will look like, so predictions about market direction aren’t tethered to a stable reality. If we make the unwarranted assumption that access to resort skiing will be quasi-normal, and therefore orders for new models aren’t cancelled en masse, the American skiing public will continue to be overserved by an enormous breadth of selection.
New & Renewed Model Collections Include
Blizzard All-Mountain Freeride
Dynastar M-Pro & M-Free
Nordica Enforcer & Santa Ana