Snowboarding, winter's latest feel-good sport, isn't just for the young and the restless. According to Leisure Trends Group's 1996/97 National Skier/Snowboarder Opinion Survey, 43 percent of adult snowboarders are 35 or older. As baby boomers take to the powder alongside their children and grandchildren, snowboarding's expanding demographics bode well for winter-minded entrepreneurs. After the sport's Olympic debut last spring, entrepreneurs began pumping up for a winter of hot sales--from shops hawking high-tech outerwear and step-in bindings to snowboard training camps, avalanche preparedness courses and wilderness safety clinics.
Richard Mobley, owner of Ski/Surf Shop in Manhattan Beach, California, sees the trend mushrooming on the manufacturing level. "Quality ski companies are [no longer hesitant] to put their names on a snowboard," says Mobley. Even Nike is entering the competition, set to launch its first snowboard design next fall.
"When snowboarding started becoming mainstream, it attracted a lot of surfers and skateboarders," says Ali Zacaroli of SnowSports Industries America, a McLean, Virginia, trade association, "[but] it's no longer the domain of teenage males. Today, the snowboarder coming down the slope could very well be somebody's dad--or mom."