Spring Break, formerly known as the UK Board Test, is the annual gathering of the UK snowboard industry in Kaunertal, Austria where shop staff have the chance to try, on-snow, the products they will be selling next season. Over the past couple of years the event has opened its doors to consumers meaning larger visitor numbers and more bang for exhibiting brands’ bucks. Report and images by Harry Mitchell Thompson.
The UK snowboard market profited from a decent winter with the weaker pound against the Euro providing favourable domestic shopping conditions and even attracted foreign consumers to shop from British boardsport stores’ web shops. Despite a decent winter, price rises are inevitable for next winter and having shop staff out on-snow to demo product they will be selling next season gives a huge advantage to retailers and their staff, empowering them with sales stories and firsthand product knowledge.
Taking place in the first week of May usually provides extreme spring conditions, but this year felt like winter proper with a number of healthy size dumps of snow and colder-than-average temperatures. The test village sits half way up the ski resort of Kaunertal, directly at the top of one lift and the bottom of two drag lifts and a gondola, allowing for rapid test laps.
Spring Break’s not all just about testing snowboards though and event organisers partner with a number of brands to showcase innovative snowboard comps and fringe events including Dragon’s Rhythmical Radness (formerly known as Methodical Madness), the High Ollie comp, the Monster * DC Happy Hour rail jam, the World Carving Champs and the Reason Snowboard Magazine’s Rider of the Year ceremony.
Spring Break’s format works perfectly for the UK market, who without a guaranteed snow season of their own, travel en masse to shred, party and celebrate British snowboarding. It falls at an ideal time of year where in-store footfall is low and retailers can kill two birds with one stone by ensuring shop staff are primed with knowhow for next season’s product while rewarding their hard work with an end of season blow out.
Event Director, Ian Sansom: “We were blessed with the best spring conditions we’ve ever had! The weather gods smiled on us with snow almost every night and blue skies almost every day, in fact we were still riding powder on May 5! Snowboard Spring Break is the most popular event of the UK snowboarding calendar and with more than 350 attendees including 50+ shop staff, six media outlets and in excess of 35 brands it’s the ‘must go’ event to the season.”
Toby Mclagan, Absolute Snow
“Spring break is important for us as our staff can test the products they will be recommending & we can work with our brands to produce our video reviews. All of this helps us ensure our customers always find the perfect product to fit their needs.”
Jake Loughlin, FreestyleXtreme Trading Ltd
“Spring Break 2017 was awesome! It’s really important for me to attend as it gives me the opportunity to try out product I’ve bought, discuss new opportunities and shred some pow at the same time! Big thanks to all the brands and organisers, roll on 2018.”
Darren Williams, The Snowboard Shop
“Spring Break is a super important event in our calendar as it gives us the opportunity to test a wide range of hardware over varied terrain whilst shredding with industry friends.”
Dan Crichton, Burton
“Snowboard Spring Break gives us the chance to get those important shop staff on the boards they have coming into their stores for the upcoming winter in a resort that has something to offer for all levels of rider. And a chance to let your hair down a bit. With the increased number of end consumers now coming we also have an opportunity to get them on their perfect set-up and direct them to one of our UK stores to make that purchase.”
Craig Smith & Sam Nelson, Dragon Europe
Craig: “Spring Break gives shop staff the opportunity to sell from experience. It’s a great value event, also now attracting more and more consumers each year. Thank you to Ian and the resort for making it happen again.”
Sam: “Spring Break is a great opportunity to support the industry and our retailers and also the snowboard community with our annual event (Methodical Madness/Rhythmical Radness).”
Sam Noble, Noble Custom (Endeavor, West, Ortovox, Airhole)
“A great chance to get the UK snowboard collective together at the end of the season and give retailers the opportunity to get what they have pre-bought under their feet. With product knowledge being a key sales argument for buying in store or at least in country it is an opportunity that all serious retailers should grab by the horns in the future.“
Ryan Scardigli, Bataleon
“Spring Break is important for us because the U.K. is a strong market and it gives us the chance to socialize and unwind with shops and end consumers in an area where so much of the scene is represented in one place.”
Will Radula-Scott, The Riders Lounge (CAPiTA & Union)
“It’s so good to see all the retailers out there getting a closer look at the products they’ve bought. Having potential customers there to test out the gear and give their feedback on the products with detailed reviews is really important. It’s also just a great and important opportunity for the UK snowboard industry to spend time catching up, shredding together and keeping the people that hold the industry together stoked!”
Exhibiting brands: Adidas Snowboarding, DC, Electric, Lib Tech, Gnu, Bent Metal, Roxy, Dragon, Never Summer, Sims, Endeavor, Flow, West, Oakley, Thirty Two, Lobster, Flux, Switchback, Ride, K2, Capita, Union, Rome, Salomon, Jones, Yes, Nidecker, Dinosaurs Will Die, Slash, Now, Vans, Volcom, Bataleon, Nobile.
Shops in attendance: TSA, Absolute Snow, Sputnik, The Board Basement, ATB Shop, The Snowboard Shop, Snowtrax, Revolutionz