The Action Just gets Bigger
By Skyler Siljeg
This past January, San Diego, California, was the site of the Action Sports Retailers Show (ASR). The annual event, which celebrates 25 years of Action Sports shows, is a chance to look back on the changes in surfing, skating, and snowboarding, and to see how far action sports have come.
The first ASR shows were nothing more than a bunch of guys with small booths and big ideas. It had the feel of a friendly "get-together" as these small business owners tried to drum up sales.
As surfing, skating, and snowboarding have grown more popular, these shows have gotten bigger and bigger each year. The board, shoe, and clothing industries steadily began growing. A bit of "bling" was added to the huge displays, and soon, booths began to attract buyers from all over the world. The show began to seem like the "Las Vegas" of the extreme sport world.
Part of the fun of going to an ASR show is getting to see all the new stuff. You can learn where the action sports world is headed, and catch fashion shows, displays, and demos from the pros. One thing from the early days hasn't changed, though. These are still guys with big ideas, just having a good time while doing some business.
A couple of my sponsors flew me and my mom to California for this year's show. I had a few goals: meet with sponsors to plan for next year, ride in demos at the mini ramp, interview some early riders in the industry, and research an article on safety.
It didn't take us long after getting our press passes to find a few of our friends. After a while, sponsors feel more like family, so imagine an event like this: a family reunion with work to do.
As I waited for the mini ramp to open for the first session, a few of the other pros started to show up. The ramp filled up fast, so I was stoked to be one of the first to ride. By the end of the day, a few of my friends and I had made the evening news riding at the show. I made my rounds of sponsor booths, just to check in. A quick bite, and it was time to call it a day.
I had several interviews set up and ended up scoring one with Lyn-Z Adams Hawkins. That was a surprise. I was happy to get a chance to talk with her, and glad to see she was doing well after a few bad injuries this year.
I also spoke with Bob Hindrich and his wife about their "skate safe" campaign. They told me about losing one of their close pro-skater friends to a head injury.
Then I decided to look for some of the early riders who were known for inventing tricks. It didn't take me long to find my friend Tom "Wally" Inouye, the creator of both the "wall ride" and the "backside air." I love to hear stories from him about the early days of skating. He is still such a great rider! Then, I lined up phone interviews with a couple of skating greatsLarry Bertlemann and Allan Gelfand.
The last day of the show is always hard because you know your time with friends is almost over. I wanted to show the art for my new "Sky" line of boards that are due out in spring 2007 to a few people and get feedback from my sponsors. I squeezed in some street skating and hit the mini ramp a little more.
It was my mom's birthday that day, so a bunch of us went to lunch to celebrate. Lobster tacos at Rockin' Baja! I surprised her with a Freestyle watch that she really loved. I also got to pay a visit to all the great people at the San Diego Quiksilver store.
San Diego is an amazing city, the perfect backdrop when you're checking out all that is new in skate, surf, and snow. Action sports are growing bigger each year, and it looks like the best is yet to come.