The first signal that, perhaps, we should prepare for a less-than-normal winter season in New England, dropped on Thursday.
Due to the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 virus, Snowsports Industries of America cancelled the annual Boston ski expo.
Recently re-branded as the “Snowbound Festival” under SIA’s new ownership, the show was scheduled for Nov. 19-22 at the downtown Hynes Convention Center.
Formerly known the Boston Ski and Snowboard Expo, the ski show has always been seen as the unofficial kickoff to ski season in New England, a way to generate the stoke for the winter, and an opportunity to score some notable preseason deals.
SIA also canceled the Snowbound Festival scheduled for Denver.
“At Snowbound Festival, the health and safety of our attendees, exhibitors, guests, friends and staff is always our number one priority,” SIA said in a statement. “In speaking with local and state authorities on the latest public health guidelines, we feel that cancelling the events is the best and safest decision for this season.”
According to the statement, SIA is planning on ways to digitally deliver the sorts of deals and sneak-peeks at new equipment that were normally part of the physical experience.
It’s no big surprise that there won’t be a ski show in downtown Boston for the first time in decades. The expo was always well-attended, and it promised to be the sort of crowded, indoor event we are trying to shy away from in an era of social distancing. The big challenge now is going to be to see how local resorts can digitally present the ski and lodging packages that are always big sellers at the show.
There’s no doubt that the bigwig resorts can sell to their audiences online, but the expo was also a profitable way for smaller ski areas to market themselves to an audience they might not have otherwise reached.
It’s a bummer, but not necessarily the beginning of the end of the 2020-21 ski season. It won’t be normal, with reservation systems for daily availabilities likely in place, not to mention the lack of a cafeteria setting to get that midday slice or pizza. The après scene will likely be tempered, if prevalent at all, and ski school and other hands-on instruction could be a challenge.
How the ski industry is going to prepare is going to be fascinating, if not unnerving as well.