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Rippin Riders

  • Children's cold and snow clothing and gear. Hats, mittens, long underwear, snow suits, helmets, snowshoes, snowtubes.

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  • New Junior Snow Sports Equipment Features Kid-Specific Fits, Sidecuts and Designs Rather than Downsized Adult Gear

    2002/2003

    Rippin' Rider Aspen tests Boeri helmet and Rossignol boots Kids' gear is no longer treated as an afterthought and new designs are now engineered specifically for the younger set, rather than just the usual pint-sized versions of adult equipment. Growing attention toward the youth market also has equipment manufacturers focusing big-time on improving equipment for teens, juniors and even toddlers.

    Much of the change in attitude comes from two directions: families coming back to winter sports, creating a bigger market for junior gear, and snow imagery as a general marketing tool. Marketers increasingly use snow sports images to sell all kinds of products to youths and teens. Many of the things kids are buying -- clothes, electronic gadgets, video games -- all reference snow sports as an up-and-coming, hip activity.

    One company that has been at the forefront of this trend is Line Skis, makers of skis and skiboards. "We're youth oriented," said Line's president Jason Levinthal. "We're bringing youth back to the sport of skiing. We have to stay dedicated to kids. Traditional ski companies aim at the doctors and lawyers -- adults. We don't. We market to the end-users, the youth consumer." After all, he asks, "If you don't market to kids today, who is going to be buying skis in 10 years?"

    Products specifically made for kids are becoming ever-more sophisticated, just like adult gear. In alpine ski equipment, there are junior skis for every occasion: racing skis for competitions, freeride models for all-mountain playing, twin-tips for halfpipe and terrain park use, and midfat skis for powder. Snowboard technology is also growing more specialized with new aggressive board designs for females, all-mountain freeriding boards, pro models and designs for kids just starting out. Kid friendly sidecuts, scaled-down highbacks on bindings and room-to-grow footbeds are also making news in the junior ride world.

    Snowshoeing is growing in popularity among teens and younger kids, and there are more junior snowshoe designs than ever before to choose from. Kid friendly bindings offer easy-on/easy-off features and mitten friendly operation. Most snowshoes fit a variety of winter footwear, so there's no need for an extra boot purchase. Lightweight designs are geared to fit specific weight groups and there are even versions for kids under five so the whole family can get out and play in the snow. In the cross-country world, skis come in a variety of designs, geared for children interested in racing, skating or just recreational touring.

    Kids are blurring the differences between alpine skiers and snowboarders. Young skiers are frequenting terrain parks and halfpipes -- areas where snowboarders once reigned exclusively. Short, light, wide, twin-tip skis allow skiers to challenge their snowboarding peers in the parks and pipes. "There's no snowboard culture versus skiing culture," said Levinthal.

    All this means is that there are more options than ever for teens and kids to get out and enjoy snow sports, without worrying about boots that don't fit right, or not being able to keep up because they don't have the proper gear. Now, families can enjoy winter sports with gear for every member of the family, even for the tiny tots.

    For a huge selection of junior and kids’ Obermeyer, Spyder, Burton, The North Face, and more see www.winterkids.com. Buy online!

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