Good news: snowboarding might once again be an outsider sport. According to trade group SIA, sales of snowboard equipment have dropped 21 percent over the last four years, while ski sales grew three percent. Participation in the sport has declined in proportion to sales.
Some are attributing the shift to the recent changes in ski design, which make it easier for beginners to learn and for more advanced skiers to do things only snowboarders used to do. (See: slopestyle and half-pipe skiing in the 2014 Olympics.)
"It's interesting where the industry is going now," Josh Holm, manager of the ski rental shop at Squaw Valley, told the Los Angeles Times. "You can ski on a half pipe and land backward just like a snowboarder." But others see it just as part of a cycle: "Like anything else," said Nick Castagnoli, a spokesman for Rossignol, "you will see the snowboarding trend wax and wane."
From 1990 to 2004, the number of Americans who participated in snowboarding jumped about 340 percent, from 1.5 million to 6.6 million, according to the National Sporting Goods Assn. In the same period, the number of skiers dropped 48 percent, from 11.4 million to 5.9 million, the trade group said.
Since 2004, however, snowboard participation has dropped 22 percent while skiing has climbed 16 percent, according to the trade group.
Maybe it's time for nordic snowboarding to redeem the board. A true outsider sport of an outsider sport.