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Hartley: Reviewing important stuff at the SIA Snow Show

I got to do something fun last weekend when I attended the SnowSports Industries America Snow Show at the massive Colorado Convention Center in Denver. The annual event brings together all the biggest names in the worlds of skiing and snowboarding, but until this year it was sorely lacking in one critical element, namely me.

Sure, you might think the attendance of a snarky humor columnist isn’t exactly necessary for a trade show, but everything can benefit from an injection of stupid, and I’m just the guy to supply it.

The main room, which seemed to be about the size of three or four football fields, was dominated by huge booths showing off the latest gear and apparel from household names like Salomon, Rossignol, K2 and Patagonia. There also were booths for Roaring Fork Valley favorites like Sport Obermeyer, Strafe Outerwear, Meier Skis and Kastle Ski (which is co-owned by Aspen legend Chris Davenport).



However, since those guys and the other brand-name companies seem to be doing just fine without my help — and because there’s nothing inherently stupid about skis, snowboards and outerwear — I decided to eschew the big boys and focus my attention on the companies and products that are a little less mainstream and a little more suited to my particular milieu. So, naturally, I started with underwear.

I might not have started with underwear, but then I saw a booth for a company called MyPakage, which claims it makes the world’s best boxer shorts, and I thought it was such a great name that I had to go check it out. Just down the row from MyPakage was a more subtly named company called Saxx that makes, in its words, “life-changing underwear,” and when I asked how underwear could change someone’s life, the guy manning the booth gave me a pair of boxer shorts to try out.




Being the thorough investigative journalist that I am, I immediately went to the bathroom and changed into the Saxx underwear to see if the company’s claims were true. So did my life change? Well, no, but I have to say the boxers were pretty dang comfortable.

Right next door to Saxx was a booth for a company named Oneball, which I thought was a bold name for an underwear manufacturer, but it turns out Oneball actually makes snowboard wax and snow tuning tools. The name, I was told, comes from somebody named One-Ball Jay who very nearly lost one of his huevos, it is reportedly still intact and he has a couple of kids to prove it.

Having scratched my underwear itch, I continued on and decided I would focus on the companies that seemed most eager to talk to me. This essentially ruled out any brands you may have heard of, as they were all either too cool or too busy to waste their time on a fat, bald, middle-aged dude.

The first recipient of my attention was a Polish apparel company called 4F that had a thickly accented guy standing out front loudly urging me to come and talk. When I did, his people were so thankful they sent me away with a long-underwear top, but they must have thought I was even fatter than I am because the top they gave me was XXL. (Sadly, it’s still really snug.)

Moving on, I encountered a brand-new company called Chapplicator that makes a lip-balm holder that you stick on your helmet so you can apply lip balm without taking off your gloves. Next was an Australian company called Snoogee Boards that makes a contraption that you can mount on a snowboard to turn it into a sled. Both ideas seemed a little fringe to me, but the people were super-nice, so I urge you to go out and buy both products.

The final noteworthy booth I encountered was for Freezy Freakies gloves, which look at first glance like any other brightly colored gloves. The difference, though, is that when Freezy Freakies get cold, cool patterns and designs emerge on the back of them to freak you out. They were a minor fad back in the ’80s that no one but me seems to remember, and now they’re back for retro hipsters to enjoy.

The gloves were pretty neat, admittedly, but the best part about the booth was that the Freezy Freakies guy was giving away Fun Dip. You can keep your flashy skis and jackets; just give me colored sugar eaten with a sugar stick.

Todd Hartley wore the Saxx underwear for three days and then won the lottery. Coincidence? I think not. To read more or leave a comment, visit http://zerobudget.net.


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