SIA Newsletter


Annie_Fast_1When freelance journalist Annie Fast got the call from Outside Online to write an article rebutting the recent news that ‘snowboarding is dead,’ she called on SIA Research Director Kelly Davis for help with the data. Her February 7 article, “Snowboarding Lives! (Long Live Snowboarding!) How Reports of the Sport’s Demise Have Been Greatly Exaggerated,” draws on the most recent SIA data as well as National Ski Areas Association (NSAA) participation data, and was published as a counterpoint to Marc Peruzzi’s January 27 Outside Online article, “Can Snowboarding Be Saved?

As a lifelong snowboarder, journalist, and former Editor-In-Chief of TransWorld SNOWboarding magazine, Fast was well suited to write the rebuttal piece that finally got the facts out. “My main goal was to be sure the information was rock solid in my article,” she said. “I worked very hard to verify everything and I really appreciate the help of Kelly Davis at SIA and Nate Fristoe at NSAA. Their help was invaluable in being sure I was presenting a strong argument.”

Regarding the original piece by Peruzzi, and how Fast came to write the rebuttal, Nick Heil, Outside Online’s chief editor, said, “We knew Marc’s article was forceful and strongly positioned, but it’s an issue that a lot of people thought needed to be addressed. We ran it through our standard fact checking process and we felt confident he had done his due diligence. We’re OK with writers having a strong op-ed perspective as long as they have the evidence to back their claims. We had talked about doing a response piece and Annie seemed like the perfect person to do it, with her strong snowboarding background. She’s a great journalist, a great writer and we felt she could produce a rebuttal as strong as Marc’s piece. We look at it as a point-counterpoint, and we felt like we dealt with both sides fairly—even if it did rankle on both sides.”

Fast said she’s been surprised Annie_Fast_2by all of the recent articles that have come out sounding the death knell for snowboarding, and none have been more surprising than the one she was called on to rebut. “It all started with the New York Times article (“Has Snowboarding Lost Its Edge?”), which I thought dealt with the data pretty fairly,” she said. “But the most influential was the one in the Durango Herald (“Whither the Snowboarders?”), which was picked up by AP and was reprinted everywhere. When I dug into the statistics, I couldn’t find where they’d gotten some of these numbers. Nate Fristoe couldn’t verify the participation stats; they were completely false. From there, people started making subjective leaps about how snowboarding participation was in steep decline, how it was now uncool, how snowboarders were turning into skiers. It got to be annoying because there were no studies showing that any of this data was supported. After that, the Outside Online article was the last straw for me.”

Davis shares Fast’s surprise at the way this ‘snowboarding is dead’ drumbeat has gained traction, as well as her assertion that Peruzzi’s article was inaccurate. “Here at SIA, we supply extremely detailed data and we are always here to help people understand the numbers,” she said. “It is our hope that the data is understood and used correctly. Writing an opinionated piece while discounting the facts is problematic because it may introduce a bias into market data.”

Dan Sullivan, CEO of Rome Snowboards and an SIA Board Member, agrees with Fast’s assessment that the situation has gotten out of control. “The thing that frustrates me the most is the people it reaches,” he said. “These are people who aren’t involved in the sport every day, and who can’t see the reality out on the mountain. They have no reason not to believe that snowboarding is done, and they’re calling me with condolences. The Outside article specifically was so subjective, but it wasn’t presented as an op-ed. It was simply not based in fact at all. I can’t understand why they printed it. Thankfully Annie’s article was tremendously well written, and it’s the best rebuttal for all the libeling articles that have been coming out lately. SIA, in my opinion, has the best data out there, and kudos to Annie for working with Kelly and setting the record straight.”

In her interview with SIA, Fast concluded: “Thanks to Nate and Kelly, I feel I presented a really strong argument that shows the state of snowboarding is nowhere near as dire as people are saying it is. This article is solid and I’m glad I got the opportunity to speak on behalf of snowboarding.”