Munich, January 28:
The European ski manufacturing industry is gung-ho as snow blankets the continent and people take to Alpine sports in the run-up to the February 10 to 26 Winter Olympics in Turin.
One of the worldâ€™s main trade shows for winter sports equipment and clothing, Ispo Winter, opens in Munich, and the industry is delighted with demand for both the cross-country and downhill variety of ski.
â€œNothing to grumble at,â€ says Alexander Haas of Salomon, one of the big makers. Ispo is the annual show where ski manufacturers reveal the latest trends. The interest this year is cross-country, with huge public interest in Nordic-style skiing.
Not so long ago, Nordic was for nerds. But the spread of Nordic walking and Nordic-style fitness machines has made skiing up and down dale into one of the trendiest things to do for hard-working European professionals. But to do it, one needs a lot of snow.
â€œWe want the snow to come right down to low altitude,â€ says Thomas Drindl of Austrian manufacturer Fischer, â€œAnd weâ€™ve got it.â€
Snow has been falling on central Europe for weeks, the valleys are white and hushed, and the customers are happy and on the move. Haas estimates that good snowfalls can boost ski sales by as much as 40 per cent. But the competition to Salomon, now owned by Amer Sports of Finland after originally being a unit of Adidas, does not rest.
â€œIt snows for them the same as it snows for us,â€ he grins. This winterâ€™s robust demand created a shortage at some manufacturers.