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Outdoor products get a snowy test run

Published: Saturday, Aug. 1 2015 12:01 a.m. MDT

Eric Fogg, foreground, and Henry Heiskanen ride on a SnowScoot at Solitude Ski Resort Wednesday.   (Tom Smart, Deseret News) Eric Fogg, foreground, and Henry Heiskanen ride on a SnowScoot at Solitude Ski Resort Wednesday. (Tom Smart, Deseret News)

It's one thing to read about new gear for outdoor enthusiasts.

It's another to actually have the opportunity to try that new gear out on what turned out to be a perfect winter day.

Hundreds of the 18,000 outdoor recreation professionals from suppliers to manufacturers to retailers registered for this week's Outdoor Retailer Winter Market at the Salt Palace got a jump on the action by heading up to Solitude for Mountain Demo Days.

Companies like Columbia, Black Diamond, Maui Jim, Goode, Yaktrax and Yurbuds all had their newest innovations on display for retailers and buyers.

"It helps out quite a bit," said Tom Varoz, CEO of 7 Summits Gear. "You get to see a lot of the new products. You can go out and demo the skis and snowshoes, see how they work and how they function. It helps me decide if I want to carry the products in the store. It really does help a lot."

He was wearing a neck warmer from a Buff Wear and was so impressed with how it kept him warm in the chilly wind that he's looking into selling the product.

"I was actually really impressed with them," he said. "I have a meeting with them tomorrow."

Mountain Demo Days featured some manufacturers who won't be at the show but many who will. Snow shoe tours were available and Columbia and GECKO, a nonprofit that gives scholarships to young people to get involved in outdoor activities, sponsored snowshoe races complete with prizes and food.

Varoz said he currently doesn't sell Columbia products but after seeing the company's new line of base layer clothing, he's considering it.

"They're coming out with some really neat technologies," he said.

In addition to new innovations of well-known products — like skis and snow shoes — the event offered a look at totally new ways to enjoy winter weather.

One of those products was the Snow Scoot. Part snowboard, part BMX bike, part scooter, it's for sale in Utah through an Ogden company. Peter Barrera was looking for something else to do after suffering a shoulder injury last winter. He saw the Snow Scoot and, after a little research, decided to become the U.S. distributor for the product.

He and inventor Franck Petoud were taking the curious out and instructing them on what Petoud called, "tres facille, which means very easy in French. The reviews were unanimous — and concise. Awesome. Fun. Great.

Petoud, a native of France, said he invented the SnowScoot while snowboarding the '80s.

"I was a BMX pro," he said. "And while I was snowboarding, I saw all this natural snow and bumps, and when you BMX a lot, you're crazy; you see bumps on the side of the road and you think, 'I could jump that.' And so I created the SnowScoot so I could jump the snow bumps."

Asked why he didn't just take on the terrain on his board, he answered without hesitation.

"I need handlebars," he said.

The Outdoor Retailer Winter Market begins Thursday at the Salt Palace and runs through Saturday.

The event will have a $16.6 million direct economic impact on Salt Lake City and surrounding areas, according to the University of Utah's Bureau of Economic and Business Research.

e-mail: adonaldson@desnews.com

Copyright 2015, Deseret News Publishing Company