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The elements of world-class slope style

ANNA BLOOM, Of the Record staff

As world-class riders "bust lip tricks" for the sake of "sick air" at this weekend’s Superpipe World Championship, the world will be watching for not only their acrobatic acuity as they launch Alley Oops and Wheelies and 540-degree tricks, but the way they suit up, too.

Case in point: the bandanna.

He’s won six gold medals at the X Games since 2002, and a gold at Torino for the half-pipe competition in 2006 but, arguably one of Sean White’s most visible influences on snowboarding has been his style. His decision to cover his face like a bandit with a cotton bandanna instead of a fleece gator has nearly become standard for the park and pipe crowd, according to Backcountry.com’s Merchandise Division Manager for accessories David Gauthier name a snowboarding shop, and if they don’t carry bandannas, it’s likely because they’ve sold out.

"Spend a day at Brighton and almost every kid up there is definitely wearing a bandanna of some sort," he claims. "A lot of kids are wearing bandannas around their legs or in their back pockets."

Dogfunk.com, Backcountry.com’s analogue site for the snowboarding crowd, carries the Burton outerwear stamped with the "Sean White" stamp. The company manufactures the "White Collection," and also a jacket designated "Sean White Jacket of the Gods."

The company takes advantage of the pipe fashion personalities by creating "gear compilation" links to pages full of products the X-Games competitors like to wear. They call it "Lifestyles of the Bitchin’ and Famous," and some of the pages on the Web site link Internet visitors to some of the athletes competing at Park City this Saturday: men’s snowboarding competitor Mason Aguirre, and women’s snowboarders Kelly Clark, Torah Bright (World Superpipe ’06 winner).

Vans has made a blood-red snowboarding boot for rider Danny Kass, well-known not only for his invention of the trick the Kasserole (a.k.a. the "Backside Rodeo") but also his own goggles, glove and outerwear clothing line, Grenade Gloves, whose symbol a graphic of a grenade has become a popular sticker to plaster on the top of boards.

Companies who’ve gotten wise, showcase not only the current trends, according to Gauthier, but also future trends for next season.

"Your park and pipe riders are all about looking good while they’re out there," he confirms. "It will be interesting to see what kids will pull off."

Here’s what to expect:

The fit: big vs. small

For hats (also known as "beanies"), glasses and goggles, "the bigger the better," says Gauthier.

This weekend, "you’re definitely going to see the larger, longer-styled beanies so that kids can rock it on the back of their heads a little bit more," he predicts.

According to Park City’s Max Snowboards manager Andy Varner, while riders’ jackets continue to be oversized, pants these days can also be skin tight some kids will even re-sew their own pants to make them tighter at the bottom. Typically the extra fabric allows for extra motion, but he’s observed the street-style trend of tighter-fitting pants has leaked over into the pipe and park pack.

Slope style depends on the climate, the region and the aspect of the sport, he says. While backcountry and big-mountain riders stick to the baggier clothes and technical gear, a sunny day playing on park features allows for some flexibility. Park City riders like Mark Frank Montoya stick to what Varner calls the "gangster baggy" style of Burton’s Ronin line, while others might choose the more clingy "punk rock" pant produced by the company Holden, or full-blown one-piece outfits. He reports Max Snowboards began the season with 30 one-piece suits and the shop only has one more left to sell.

"Colorado ski towns have that cowboy aspect, Vermont has an East-Coast flavor with a lot of dark colors and technical wear and Southern California is very hip hop," Varner says.

Varner sees a lot of variety in Park City, since the town attracts such a diverse population to its mountains.

"Park City, being the Mecca of snowboarding and powder, it’s really a big melting pot," he observes. "Nothing is really not in style, because people come here from all over the country."

Pinstripes, leather and fur

High snowboarding fashion is beginning to lean a little New York runway, integrating rich fabrics into the sport.

Park City snowboard gear hub the Click’s salesperson, Taylor Keyes, says the trendiest duds are made of waterproof tweeds, herringbone, plaid materials and also denim.

Animal or imitation animal fabric has made a comeback even in goggles Anon frames come in a snakeskin-like material.

Backcountry.com’s Merchandise Division Manager for Women’s Soft Goods Kristin Choi reports that the integration of furs into jackets fake and real also continues to be "in" for women’s gear. "Not a ton of real fur," she says, "But there’s still that incorporation."

Local color

"Tourists dress differently than locals," notes Keyes. "A lot of times you can point out a tourist right away based on what they’re wearing."

And a lot of that has to do with color and print, she says, and "every years it seems like it gets more wild."

Snowboard shops this year are flooded with color mint, pink and bright neon anything. It’s also about print: paisley, camouflage and checkered.

Dogfunk.com’s glove selection has additionally moved away from the ubiquitous black and into "loud colors."

"As far as fashion-forward apparel, California and the Rockies are about a year ahead of the East Coast," confirms Choi. "I would say, overall, the East Coast is more traditional and conservative minded they’re not going for the big, bold prints or anything really fashion forward."

And perhaps that’s what separates the riders (and now also free-skiers) from the pack, Varner reflects as he survey’s the spectrums of color and style at his shop at the base of Park City Mountain Resort poised for the world-class event.

"People are bringing back creativity into clothing," he observes. "And that’s extremely important because that’s what snowboarding is all about."


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