Putting ‘em to bed.

As much as it pains me, I’ve been ever so slowly getting my skis ready for the off season. So far I’ve taken three pair to my local ski tech so he can get them ready for their summer hibernation. One pair I’m leaving alone — at least for now. Even though my home mountain is closing, I still hope to get in a day or two here or there.

I’m not prepared to end it just yet.

I hate the end of ski season. You know how some people get depressed when winter rolls around? I think it’s called “Seasonal Affective Disorder.” I have that in reverse. Sure, I love the sun. And I actually enjoy warm weather. But I mourn the loss of ski days, and the end of winter leaves me feeling a bit blue.

Nonetheless, I have to face facts. The season is coming to a close. And since ski equipment ain’t cheap, it’s important to take care of it so it’s in good shape when the season rolls around again. Which (cheer up, everyone) it inevitably will.

So here’s what you need to do to before you put your skis to bed:

1) Clean off the bases and top sheets. This is particularly important if you’ve been skiing in dirty spring conditions. You can do this by spraying them with a garden hose outdoors. Once they’re thoroughly doused, rub them dry with a clean cloth and let them air dry.

2) Coat the bases with wax to protect them from air and moisture. Moisture can lead to rust, and exposure to air can dry out the bases. If you’re going to do this yourself, use at least twice as much wax as you do when you normally wax your skis. Don’t scrape at all. The idea is to leave it there all summer.

3) Put a protectant on the edges to keep them from rusting. A dab of oil, vaseline, or even WD-40 on a rag (don’t spray it on) can do the trick.

4) Some people say you should turn down the DIN on your bindings to ease the tension on the springs. Others say it doesn’t matter. I’ve never turned mine down and haven’t had a problem yet. So it’s up to you. If you do adjust them, however, don’t forget to set them back before heading out next season.

5) Secure your skis with a strap base to base and store them in a cool, dry environment, away from sunlight. This means keeping them off a concrete floor, which can hold moisture and cause the edges to rust.

6) Don’t forget your boots. Clean the outsides, then remove the liners and make sure they’re completely dry. Remember, plastic has a memory, so buckle your boots loosely so they retain their shape.

Of course, if you want to give your skis a hug, or a kiss, or even tell them a bed time story, well, that’s up to you. I understand the impulse, though.

Whatever you decide, just remember: Take care of your equipment and it’ll take care of you.

 



Read full story · Comments { 3 }

Am I just keeping track, or am I being obsessive?

Do you keep track of your ski days?

Not to sound obsessive-compulsive about this, but I do. Each year I try to get in more ski days than I did the year before, which isn’t always easy. The vagaries of health, weather, personal commitments, and just life in general seem to get in the way.

Not that I’m complaining. I know I ski far more than a lot of  people, though there are many who ski a lot more than me. This year I’ve put in 82 days (so far), which matches my personal record from 2012. In 2013 I skied 79 days, in 2011, somewhere in the mid-50′s (it was a pretty bad snow year, ). This is public knowledge. Anyone who follows me on Facebook sees when I log in my days. I use Slopesquad to keep track, and I make it a point to shout about it from the top of a digital mountain: “I just logged a day on the snow at [fill in mountain here].”  I figure I’ll post at least five more of these before I’m done for the season, maybe even 6 or 7, so I hope I’m not annoying the hell out of all my friends.

Screen Shot

This is not my screenshot, though it shows the things you can track using Ski Tracks.

All in all, not bad for someone who doesn’t ski weekends or holidays, and whose skiing is mostly limited to the northeast.

Keeping track requires setting some parameters. What constitutes a ski day, anyway? Does one run count as a day? One hour? Four hours? Five? You also have to decide if it’s only days you’re going to count. There are apps that keep track of all sorts of things: vertical skied, distance, max speed, average speed, ascent, duration, and more. It can make your head swim. No, I haven’t gone down that dark path yet, though I know plenty of people who have.

Skiing isn’t the only thing I monitor. I track the miles I bike in the summer, as well as my speed and distance traveled. Same with swimming — miles, distance, speed.

So what is it about this compulsion to count, to quantify something we’re doing, supposedly for fun? Why do I keep track, anyway? To be honest, I’m not sure. It’s not like I get a certificate or a medal at the end of the season. And I’m certain no one but me even cares. Maybe I just like having a goal. Something to aspire to. And the idea of breaking your own personal record is somehow very appealing.

Setting fitness goals can be a good thing. It can keep you motivated to keep working out. But there’s no doubt that numbers leave out a lot. Whether or not I was having fun, for example, or the way I felt when I stood at the top of a mountain and looked out on a particularly clear day. And maybe it’s silly to even keep track.

But silly or not, I’m sure it’s something I’ll continue to do next year. Who knows — maybe I’ll crack 90.

 

 

 



Read full story · Comments { 3 }

2014 Mountain Top Picks: TheSkiDiva’s Third Annual Best-Of Awards

MTP-14

The Ski Divas are a passionate group. When it comes to skiing, we don’t hold back. Anyone who goes to our forum knows they can find lively discussions about ski gear, apparel, resorts, and any number of things related to skiing. And while there are as many opinions as there are Divas (we’re more than 4,000 strong), we can usually find a lot of common ground.

That’s where our Mountain Top Picks come in. Each year, we vote on the best of the best from the past season. And though there’s no awards ceremony, no fancy statuette, not even a cheesy certificate, the winners get the honor of being named a Diva favorite (they can even use this neat little logo, if they like). And really, isn’t that enough?

So now, for your reading pleasure, here are TheSkidiva.com’s selections for this year’s Mountain Top Picks.

[Drum roll here]

The winners are as follows:

Ski Gear
Favorite ski for hard snow: Volkl Charisma
Favorite ski for powder: Rossignol Savory 7
Favorite All Mountain Ski: Blizzard Black Pearl*
Favorite Ski Boot Brand: Dalbello
Favorite Ski Goggle: Smith IO/S*
Favorite Helmet Brand: Smith

Ski Apparel
Favorite Brand of Baselayers:  Icebreaker*
Favorite Brand of Socks: Smartwool*
Favorite Jacket Brand: Arcteryx
Favorite Brand of Ski Pants: Mountain Hardwear
Favorite glove or mitten: Hestra Heli Mitt

Ski Resorts
Favorite Eastern Resort: Sunday River
Favorite Western Resort: Powder Mountain
Favorite Midwestern Resort: Nubs Nob*
Favorite Resort, eastern Canada: Le Massif
Favorite Resort, western Canada: Whistler-Blackcomb
Favorite European Resort: Val Gardena
Favorite Women’s Clinic: Rippin’ Chix

*Second year in a row! For a list of our 2013 Mountain Top Picks, go here.

Congratulations to all!

 

 



Read full story · Comments { 0 }

Put Some Spring In Your Skiing.

You can’t tell from the snow on my deck, but according to the calendar, it’s officially spring.

Deck

Pretty scary, ain’t it?

Yes, it’s been an awesome winter here in Vermont. But as Tom Waits says, you can never hold back spring.

YouTube Preview Image

And it’s true. For me, it means ski season is drawing to a close. No, I’m not going to South America or Mount Hood or someplace far away to ski into the summer months. I just don’t have the $$$ for that, though a big thumbs up to those of you who do. For most of us, however, spring brings — surprise, surprise — spring skiing. And here in the northeast, that can mean rock hard, frozen snow in the morning, and snow that’s either soft, slushy, or sticky as the day warms up.

So what advice do I have? I’m not an expert, but there are a few things I’ve learned over time about spring skiing:

1) Wear sunscreen: The sun is higher in the sky than it’s been all winter. So even if you haven’t dipped into the tube of SPF 30 yet, now’s a good time. After all, researchers have discovered that even a little tan isn’t healthy. More than 2.5 million cancers in 3 million people are diagnosed  annually. If you want the look of a goggle tan, try some make-up, instead.

2) Wax your skis: You know that grabby snow that can bring your skis to a stop, while your body continues to travel? Not good. A coat of warm weather wax will fix that right up. Carry some rub-on in your pocket, too, for touch-ups on the mountain.

3) Dress accordingly: Layers are a good idea. It may start out pretty cold and warm up quite a bit, so you may want to peel as the day goes on. Also, no matter how warm it gets, do not wear short sleeves or shorts. Why? If you fall, you’re gonna pay big time. Falling on snow is like falling on sand. The ice crystals will scrape your skin raw, plus you’ll get very, very wet. So protect your skin, stay dry, and wear a shell.

4) Timing is everything: You might want to start your ski day a little bit later than usual. This is practically sacrilege coming from me; I’m always out when the lifts start running. But if you want to avoid rock hard ice, stay in and have another cup of coffee. Then follow the sun around the mountain. Ski the south and east-facing slopes in the morning and the north and west-facing slopes in the afternoon, so you can catch the snow as it softens up.

5) Softer and wider is better: Set aside your narrow waisted carving skis and go for something wider. Powder skis have a bigger surface area that lets them to surf over the heavy stuff  without getting bogged down.  They also have a softer flex, which allows them to bend more, so you don’t have to steer as much.

6) Ski it like you mean it: Keep a balanced, even weight on each foot. Also, steer lightly by tipping the skis on edge ever so slightly to turn. To put it simply, slow moves, long turns. Let the tails follow the tips, and don’t twist your feet too much. Commit to the fall line and don’t spend too much time shopping for good stuff.

7) Enjoy! A lot of people end their ski season when they no longer see snow in their own backyard. This is good for those of us who stick it out.  The mountain is a lot less crowded. Quieter. Just the way I like it.

So what’s your spring skiing tip?

 

 



Read full story · Comments { 1 }

Get The Girls Out

International-women-s-day-8In case you missed it, International Women’s Day was March 8th. I know, I know….there’s a day for just about everything. International Ask A Question Day. International Buzzard Day. Dress Up Your Pet Day. And yes, these are all real. You can look them up on the internet.

But International Women’s Day is more substantive than you might think. First of all, it’s not some calendar-filler trumped up to promote this or that. It’s been around since the early 1900′s, and is actually an official holiday in many countries around the world. And second, anyone who reads my blog knows that I’m a feminist — as I think all women should be. The unfortunate fact is that women’s pay is not equal to that of our male counterparts, women are still not present in equal numbers in business or politics, and globally, women have it far worse than men in terms of education, health, and freedom from violence. It’s true that women are better off now than they’ve ever been before. But it’s also true that a lot more needs to be done, and the more attention we can give this, the better.

So how does this relate to skiing? Stay with me here, because it does.

I spent International Women’s Day doing something pretty cool: participating in an event sponsored by SheJumps.org at Magic Mountain, Vermont.

SJLogoI’ve written about SheJumps before. Started by Lynsey Dyer (I interviewed her here), Claire Smallwood, and Vanessa Pierce, SheJumps is dedicated to encouraging women to become involved in outdoor sports. If this sounds frivolous, let me assure you — it’s not. We’ve all heard about why physical activity is good for women: it reduces our risk for cancer, dementia, and osteoporosis, and decreases muscle loss. But there’s more, too. Studies show that girls and women who participate in sports have higher levels of confidence and self-esteem and lower levels of depression. They also have a more positive body image and experience higher states of psychological well being than girls and women who are not involved in  sports.*

You’d think that’d be enough to get us off the couch. Unfortunately, no. Each week, there are 1.5 million fewer women than men participating in sports or physical activity. Data show that over time, girls drop out of sports at twice the rate of boys — and at a younger age. Today’s girls are bombarded with images of external beauty instead of confident, strong female athletic role models. Peer pressure can be hard for girls at any age; when that pressure isn’t offset with strong encouragement to participate in sports and healthy physical activity, the results may lead girls to stop exercising entirely.

SheJumps.org seeks to reverse this trend with activities and educational programs geared to women and girls. In the winter, this involves events at ski areas around the country designed to get women out on the slopes. It’s a mission that’s near and dear to my heart. After all, one of the reasons I started TheSkiDiva.com was to give women skiers a way to connect with one another so they’d keep on skiing. The forum gives us a means to talk with one another about skiing in a way that we can relate to, discuss women’s gear with people who actually use it, and get the support we need to stay in the sport. Today we have more than 4,000 registered members, so it’s apparent that there are a lot of women who enjoy the site.

You might want to check out SheJumps and see what they have cooking in your area. It’s a terrific organization, it’s a worthy cause, and I encourage you to give them your support.

Besides, it’s just plain fun.

Here’s the SheJumps group at Magic (I’m fourth from the right, with a big smile on my face). Don’t you wish you’d been there?

Women at the SheJump event at Magic Mountain, VT

Women at the SheJumps event at Magic Mountain, VT

 

*Women’s Sports Foundation

 

 

 

 

 



Read full story · Comments { 2 }

The Divas Ain’t No Wusses.

I’ve just come back from Diva East, the annual gathering for members of TheSkiDiva.com in the eastern US.

As usual, it was fabulous. This year we spent a couple days at Stowe Mountain Resort, followed by a day at Sugarbush, both in Vermont.

A few years ago we had a meet-up at Sugarloaf, Maine, where temperatures plummeted to a teeth chattering minus twenty-something. It was so cold that on one of the days, they closed just about everything on the mountain. Then last year, a few of us Divas went on a memorable Ski Safari thoughout New England (ten mountains in ten days!); again, the temperatures sank to well below zero.

Temperatures at our gathering this year  year weren’t quite that bad.  Thanks to the return of the Polar Vortex, we skied in single digits with below zero wind chills. Still, we kept on keeping on.

My point is that some people think that women skiers are a weaker breed. That we’ll only go out under optimal circumstances, when the sky is blue, the temperatures relatively balmy, and the trails  groomed just so. I’m not saying that people like that don’t exist. They do. And yes, they’re both women and men.

But we Ski Divas will go out in just about anything, as long as skiing’s involved. The key: lots of layers, hand warmers, boot warmers, face masks, and anything down. It’s an extra plus if there’s a gondola on the way up.

Minus6


I scoff at you, Polar Vortex. A pic of my car thermometer during Diva East.

Anyway, here are some pics from Diva East. If you’re a Ski Diva living on the east coast, or a western Ski Diva who wants to experience eastern skiing, I hope you’ll join us next year. It’s always a blast (and no, it’s not always so cold).

From the summit, at Stowe:

Summit

 

Divas on the hill. Note how bundled up we all are:

Divas

 

From the base of Spruce Peak, looking toward Mount Mansfield:

IMG_0545

 

Thank God for the gondola at Stowe, which kept us out of the wind on the way to the top:

stowe-gondola_dark

 

 



Read full story · Comments { 0 }

Ten truths about skiing

We all have our own truths — things we believe to be definite and certain and irrefutable. It’s the case in every facet of our lives, and skiing is no exception.

So here are ten things I’ve found to be true about skiing. If you have any of your own, I’d love to hear about them, too.

PolarVortex

1) Skiing is a cold weather sport. This is so obvious it’s hardly worth mentioning. I only bring it up because it’s been an incredibly brutal winter, with lots of below-zero days. Nonetheless, I worry about the effect that climate change is going to have on skiing. Yes, it is warming up. An occasional cold snap doesn’t change this. Winters in the US have been warming steadily over the past century, and even faster in recent decades. What’s more, global warming could be making extreme weather even more likely. So for now, buck up and put your warmies on. Who knows what the future will bring.

 

From SportsIllustrated

From SportsIllustrated

2) There’s always room for improvement. Just when you think you’re rockin’ the hill like Lindsey Vonn, someone goes by doing oh-so-much better. It’s okay. You don’t have to be the best one out there. But it’s still fun to try. There are loads of clinics around that make this a lot of fun. I recently participated in the Donna Weinbrecht Ski Camp in Killington. You can read about it here.

 

Ski Patrol at Mt. Bachelor

Ski Patrol at Mt. Bachelor

3) It’s possible to get injured. I know, I know; you can get hurt doing just about anything. I know someone who stepped off a curb and broke her leg in three places. But let’s face it — skiing does put you in harm’s way. You’re sliding down a hill on two boards, going very, very fast. It kind of amps up the odds. Every year in the US, an average of just over 40 people lose their lives in skiing and snowboarding accidents, according to statistics from the US National Ski Areas Association. And though it’s not directly comparable, 2,400 people drowned while swimming in public areas in the US in 2009, and 800 died while biking. Nonetheless, there are things you can do to stay safe on the slopes. Learn avalanche safety. Avoid tree wells. Don’t ski alone in the backcountry. Wear a helmet. Get your bindings checked. You know the drill.

4) The latest isn’t always the greatest. Ski companies do a lot to try to get us to part with our dollars, and new products are just part of the game. Sometimes it’s marketing hype, and sometimes not. Just remember, you don’t have to fall in love with everything that comes down the pike. In a similar vein, learn to be happy with your gear decisions. Because you know just as soon as you buy something, something supposedly better will come along.

 


5) Skiing is expensive. You can easily drop a thou on skis and bindings, another thou on boots, a few hundred on apparel, and so on. Then there are lift tickets (the walk-up rate is $139 at Vail!), lodging and food. Not to mention gas to get to the slopes. Luckily, there are lots of ways you can save. Buy at end of season sales or at ski swaps. Get a season pass. Pack your lunch. Buy your lift pass online at a site like Liftopia. It takes some effort, but it definitely pays off. I am by no means wealthy, and I manage. You can, too.

 

Parking at Loveland

Parking at Loveland

6) The distance you park from the lodge is commensurate with the amount of crap you have to carry. Never fails. The more you have to lug, the farther away you have to park. Tell yourself it’s good for you; that it builds character, as well as your muscles and your endurance. The alternative: bring less. Or arrive earlier to get a better space.

 

crash

7) The closer you are to a ski lift, the more apt you are to fall. Never fails. You can be doing great all day. Not one slip up. Then you’re in a very visible place — like in a run called “Exhibition” that’s right under a chair — and that’s when you fall. Oh, well. When you’re all got up in goggles and ski gear, no one knows it’s you, anyway.

 

ski_killington

8) Shopping for skis is way more fun than shopping for boots. Face it, boot shopping can be like going to the dentist: painful. That’s where a professional boot fitting comes in. A good boot fitter can carefully evaluate your foot and stance to find the boot that works best for you. This can be a long and complicated process. Ski shopping, on the other hand, is easy. You can try before you buy, and just like that, you’re in love. How can that be bad?

 

Glen Plake

Glen Plake

9) Helmet hair is a real bummer. If you could ski like Glen Plake, your hair wouldn’t matter. Then again, you couldn’t fit a helmet over it, either. Yes, helmets provide a measure of protection. The downside is when you have to take yours off. Important point to remember: NO ONE LOOKS GOOD. If that troubles you, carry a cute hat. Me, I find the best solution is to wear my hair in a pony tail. So maybe that’s the answer.

 

hottub

10) Not much beats an outdoor hot tub in the snow. Okay, this isn’t skiing, but it is aprés, so it counts. Ahhhhhhhhhhh.

So what’s your ski truth? Post it here.

 

 

 

 

 

 



Read full story · Comments { 6 }

Clinic Review: Killington’s Donna Weinbrecht Ski Camp

When Donna Weinbrecht gives you tips about skiing moguls, you listen.

killington-logoDonna’s a three-time Olympian who’s won 46 individual World Cup mogul events, two silver medals at the ’89 and ’97 World Championships, and the pièce de résistance: the first Olympic gold in freestyle skiing in the 1992 Olympics. She’s also the star attraction of Killington’s Donna Weinbrecht Women’s Ski Camp, offered for five days in January and two in February. So when they invited me to attend the two-day camp, I jumped at the chance. I mean, how often do I get the chance to ski with an Olympic gold medalist?

Which is how I ended up in Killington’s Snowshed Lodge early on February 18, booting up with 24 other women who’d registered for the camp. And it couldn’t have come at a better time. Killington had just had more than 2 feet of snow, and the first day of the camp brought even more. I was excited. I was ready. I was willing to learn.

The camp began with  a short welcome speech, after which we were split into four groups among four instructors, based upon our abilities and the skills we wanted to work on. My group wanted to concentrate on moguls. So we spent our first morning in the bumps, practicing drills and getting feedback from our instructor, Leslie, a Level 3 with a great personality and an infectious laugh. After a noon buffet lunch in the the Killington Grand Hotel, we were videoed for analysis later in the day. And after that, we were joined by Donna Weinbrecht herself. The idea is for Donna to float from one group to the next, throughout the course of the camp. She spent half a day with us, offering tips and showing us how it’s done. It’s pretty incredible to watch her ski. Her pony tail doesn’t even move as she glides — yes, glides — through the bumps. Oh, if only I could ski like that…….

Donna giving us some pointers.

Donna giving some pointers.

Day One ended with review of the video. Some people are pro-video, some aren’t. Me, I think it’s a good thing. I like how it allows me to see how I’m skiing and what I need to work on. The instructors gave me a good analysis……..which led to Day Two, where we spent the morning, again skiing the bumps, and the afternoon playing in the trees. Conditions were so good that we just couldn’t stay out. No, my group didn’t ski with Donna again. But we had the chance to work the great tips she gave us, along with those offered by our instructor, Leslie.

My group worked on the bumps.

My group worked on the bumps.

A member of my group won a free pair of Ramp skis!

And they had a drawing for a free pair of Ramp skis!
Here’s Donna with the winner.

So what were the pros of the Donna Weinbrecht Ski Camp?

• It’s for women only, with female instructors. Why is this a good thing? Go here to see what members of TheSkiDiva.com have to say about it. Bottom line: it’s fun to ski with other women in a testosertone-free environment.

Donna Weinbrecht! Need I say more? In addition to being a sweet, unassuming, and generous human being, Donna knows her stuff. It was a real treat to ski with her and get feedback from one of the best in the world! (BTW, you can see my interview with Donna here.)

• Accomplished, friendly instructors. The clinic offered a good mixture of fun and learning.

• Killington has good terrain for learning to ski bumps, trees, and just about anything else you want to work on. It’s The Beast of the East! A great venue for a clinic.

And what were the cons?

• It took a bit to get organized the first morning. I would’ve expected better, since this wasn’t the first time they’d had this camp.

• The video taping also took a bit longer than I expected. We were all videoed at the same time, and I think it could’ve been handled a bit more efficiently.

• My group had seven people in it the first day, five on the second (two didn’t show up). And though seven wasn’t really a problem, five was much better.

The bottom line:

Is it worth the money? Yes. The two day camp costs $299, which includes instruction, lift tickets, video analysis, and lunch. A good deal, in my book. Did I learn anything? Most definitely. I got some great tips that I’ll be working on in the days ahead. Was it fun? Absolutely. And that’s what it’s all about.

I think Killington’s women’s camps are done for the year. However, the resort is offering  a two-day mogul camp with Donna,  March 22-23. It may not be too late to sign up.

Me with Donna Weinbrecht

Me with Donna Weinbrecht



Read full story · Comments { 2 }

Snow Appreciation

With the Winter Olympics in full swing and ski season well under way, it’s all too easy to get caught up in thinking of snow as a means to an end: skiing.

But there’s a lot more to snow than just being something to slide on. Snow is transforming. It covers the world’s imperfections under a pristine blanket of white. When it snows, the world seems to stand still. It deadens sound and calls our attention to things we miss when the world is full of color. Yet sometimes when we ski, we fail to see the beauty of snow. We’re so intent on getting down the mountain, or in making our turns, or in perfecting our technique, that we don’t really notice the beauty around us. I don’t know about you, but sometimes when I stop and look around, I get a catch in my throat. It’s that beautiful.

I’m by no means an accomplished photographer, but I thought I’d take a break from the usual blog posts about gear and resorts and the like and show you some pictures I’ve taken. Some are at ski resorts, some aren’t. But all celebrate the beauty of snow.

Late Fall, Camel's Hump, VT

Late Fall, Camel’s Hump, VT

 

First Snow, VT

Early season snowfall, VT

 

Big Sky, Montana

Skiing into the clouds, Big Sky, Montana

 

Big Sky, Montana

Big Sky, Montana

 

Powder Mountain, UT

Powder Mountain, UT

 

Morning in the Wasatch, UT

Morning in the Wasatch, UT

 

Looking down the lane, VT

Looking down the lane, VT

Light pillar in Whiteface, NY

Light pillar in Whiteface, NY

 

Vermont road

Vermont road

 

Vermont cemetery

Vermont cemetery

Sugarbush ski area, VT

Sugarbush ski area, VT

Green Mountains, Okemo, VT

Green Mountains, Okemo, VT

As skiers, we’re lucky to be out in some of the most beautiful landscape on the planet. Take some time to take it in. You’ll be glad you did.



Read full story · Comments { 2 }

A sneak peek at the 2015′s.

I have seen the future.

And no, I didn’t need a tarot reading, a crystal ball, or a time machine. I just went to the New England Winter Sports Representatives On-Snow Demo Days at Stratton, VT, where for three days, I oooohed, ahhhhed,  and yes, even tried  some of next year’s models.

Lucky me.

Needless to say, the Demo Days are a ski lover’s paradise. There are rows and rows of tents, each manned by a different company. My husband goes so far as to call it “Wendy Fest.” That may be a little overstated, but it is damn cool.

Demo Days at Stratton, VT

Demo Days at Stratton, VT

So. Much. Fun.

For me, the problem is over choice. There are simply so many skis that you can’t possibly spend any meaningful time on any one to get a true feel for how it performs. It’s more like “speed dating days” than “demo days.” Nonetheless, the event is a great way to see what’s new, talk to the reps, and get an idea for what they’re doing — and not doing — for the upcoming  season.

So here are a few things I learned. It’s not a lot, but it’s better than nothing.

Blizzard:

Blizzard Sheeva

Blizzard Sheeva

Blizzard’s had a great lineup of women’s skis for the past few years. I was fortunate enough to spend some time with the company’s Marketing Director, so I got a bit more info on these than on some of the other skis at the event.

Blizzard is still making skis using the “Flip Core technology” it introduced a few years ago. The idea: the wood core of the ski is inserted upside-down, so that the downward-facing, convex side of the core creates a natural bend. This natural rocker-shape is already built into the construction of the ski, so no additional re-pressing is needed. The company says the result is a  ski that’s smoother riding and easier to handle. (BTW, I found a very interesting article here about whether or not Flip Core technology is all Blizzard claims it to be. Check it out if you’re interested.)

Flip Core is available in the brand new Sheeva. This is 104 underfoot with tip and tail rocker. A fun ski for powder that can also handle the chop and bumps. Also new (and with Flipcore): the Cheyenne, a frontside ski that’s 78 underfoot (the much beloved Black Pearl has an 88 waist). I found it great for groomers, but also able to handle hardpack and a few inches of chop. Blizzard is also introducing the Viva 810, a frontside carver with a system binding. This is not made using Flip Core. Instead, it has a “Racer Tip,” which they say is 30% shorter for better stability and less vibration. The Viva 810 is a stiffer ski than the other skis mentioned here, with a construction that’s wood, titanium, and carbon. This is a groomer-zoomer that’ll hold an edge on the hardpack and make you fly. Very, very fun.

Oh, and don’t worry, Black Pearl lovers. It’s still available, but with different — and I think improved — graphics:

Blizzard Black Pearl

Blizzard Black Pearl

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nordica:

News flash: Nordica is discontinuing the Hell’s Belles! I got this ski this year and absolutely love it. According to the rep, Nordica is changing the widths of the rest of the Belle line, making the Hell’s Belles superfluous. And I guess I can see why. Next year’s Nemesis is 98 underfoot, the Wild Belle is 88, and the Belle to Belle is 78. Since the Hell’s Belles is 90 underfoot, I can understand why they decided it was unnecessary. The Belle series features wi-Core construction that reduces weight by about 25%, as well as camROCK technology, which pulls the traditional contact point of the tip back about 25%, creating slight tip rocker to aid the camber under foot. Nordica claims this provides increased floatation, velocity, and maneuverability in soft snow as well as easier turn initiation in any condition.

All I know is that these are fun skis. I skied the Wild Belle and the Nemesis, and I’d be happy with either one.

 

Nordica Wild Belle

Nordica Wild Belle

Volkl:

Volkl has redesigned its Aura, a longtime Diva favorite. It’s now completely rockered (no camber at all!),  increased the waist width to 100 mm, and tapered the tail for better release out of the turn. To be honest, I’m concerned that the lack of camber is going to take away some of its hard snow performance. That was one of the things I loved about the ski. You could take it anywhere and it’d perform beautifully. But this could  be circumvented by the metal  inside. The Aura is still fairly stiff, so that could make it beefy enough to handle the hard stuff. I had it out in about a foot of heavy New England chop, and it cut through it like butter.

Volkl is also offering a new women-specific powder ski, the One. It’s 115 underfoot and features early taper in the tip and tail. Unlike the Aura, the One has no metal in it for a light, playful feel.  I took it out for a spin, and yes, it really does float. I think this would be a great ski for fluffy, western powder.

That’s the Aura on the left, the One on the right:

Volkl Aura
OneAura

Head:

Head has a completely new women’s ski line called the Joy series: The Big Joy (110mm), Great Joy (98mm), Total Joy (85mm), Super Joy (75mm). All feature Head’s balance-boosting Libra Technology, which is a blend of women’s-specific rocker and stability enhancing Intellifibers. The skis are made using a material called Graphene, which Head says is stronger and lighter than metal and reduces the weight of their  skis by 20%. I tried the Total Joy and found it very impressive. The graphics are nice, too: simple and elegant.

Head Joy Series (photo from powder7.com)

Head Joy Series
(photo from powder7.com)

Atomic:

Atomic has had its Cloud series for a number of years. The skis feature soft, lightweight foam cores, tip rocker to improve turn initiation, and a narrower tail for better turn release. In 2015 the company is introducing the Cloud 11, a frontside cruiser that’s 74 underfoot. I took it out for a spin on the hardpack, and found it quite pleasing.

Salomon:

Salomon has two new offerings in women’s skis for 2015:

The Quartz, a fully cambered ski with an 83 waist. It combines a lot of sidecut with a compliant tip and tail, and an “X-drive” carbon chassis under the foot for greater power when you ski on harder snow or when you’re in the apex of a turn.

Then there’s the Quest Myriad. This is a curvy, free ride ski with an elongated sidecut for enhanced carveability. It’s 83 underfoot, the shovel is rockered, and it’s cambered under the foot with a flat tail. A nice ski that busted through the chop I encountered when I gave it a try.

Salomon Myriad

Salomon Myriad

Rossignol:

The only ski I managed to get on here was the Saffron 7, Rossi’s new powder ski for 2015. This is the women’s equivalent of the men’s Sin 7; just a bit lighter and in women’s sizes. The Saffron 7 has a tapered tip and tail for easy turn initiation and better turn release. What’s more, the tip and tail are honeycombed with air pockets that reduce swing weight by concentrating the mass of the ski underfoot. The ski has a 98 mm waist with camber underfoot and rocker in the tip. Though I found the ski quite impressive, I just can’t get behind the graphics. I dunno — too Barbie for me, I think. It’s enough to make me pass.

Rossi's Saffron 7

Rossi’s Saffron 7

I tried some other skis over the course of the event, and though I made notes on my iPhone, I somehow managed to delete them all. OOPS!  So in the interest of keeping this as accurate as possible, I’ve chosen not to post about them. Sorry ’bout that.  You’ll just have to demo them yourself!

PS: Ain’t this a purty ski? The (unfortunately named) Ramp Beaver:

Ramp Beaver

Ramp Beaver

 

 

 



Read full story · Comments { 1 }