Tag Archives | Ski Gear

16 quick tips for a better ski day

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The Princess and the Pea

You know the story The Princess and the Pea? It’s about how one little thing — a pea under a mattress — ruined an entire night’s sleep for an aspiring princess. The takeaway: sometimes minor things can have a major impact. This can be true for your ski day, too. So with that in mind, I thought I’d share some little things you can do to make your ski day a whole lot better.

Plan ahead for lift ticket deals: I don’t need to tell you how expensive lift tickets are. The walk-up window rate at Vail last season was $175.  That’s nose bleed territory. Sure, you can save a lot with a season pass. But if you don’t have one, don’t despair. You can save a lot if you…..
• Buy though a discount site like Liftopia;
• Buy off mountain at a place like Costco, a grocery store, or a local ski shop. Every resort has different discount outlets, so check around;
• Belong to a ski club. These can be a great source for low price tickets;
• Buy in advance at the resort’s web site.

Make sure you have everything you need before you leave the house. Then check again. I used to work in a ski shop at a resort, and I can’t tell you how many times people came in because they’d left their jackets/pants/socks/gloves at home. Trust me, your life will be so much easier — and so much less expensive — if you check and check again before you leave your house (and the car, too).

Eat a good breakfast. This isn’t always easy, particularly if you’re pressed for time and anxious to get on the road. But trust me; it’ll pay off. According to Diana Sugiuchi of Vertical Drop Nutrition, breakfast provides the fuel you need for a good ski day. “Our blood sugar drops overnight, which means that muscles and brain don’t have the glucose they need to function optimally,” she explained. “The only way to get this fuel is to eat a carbohydrate-rich breakfast, combined with some protein for staying power and not a lot of fat, since that slows you down.” What makes a good ski breakfast? Diana recommends oatmeal with yogurt, raisins and nuts, or eggs and a few pieces of whole grain toast with jam. And as a follow up to this…..

Bring along some snacks. Stash some in your pocket. You’re going to need a boost during the day. Here, Diana recommends carbohydrates with a little bit of protein, like PB & J on whole grain. Cut it up, put it in a plastic bag in your pocket. Easy, peasy.

Dress in layers. I get cold pretty easily. And once I’m cold, well, that’s pretty much it for me. So I dress in layers. It’s much easier to take something off than to be caught without a layer to put on.

Change your socks when you put on your boots: Wet feet are cold feet. So don’t start out with socks that are already damp with sweat. Your feet will stay warmer if you put on your ski socks at the same time you put on your boots.

Check your zippers before you begin. Are they all done up? Are the vents in your helmet closed? I can’t tell you how many times I’ve inadvertently skied with my pit zips open, and I couldn’t figure out why I was so cold. As part of this, close your powder skirt, too. It’s not just for chest deep powder; it helps keep the cold out.

Carry a map. Say you want to be waaaaaaaay over here on the mountain, and you end up waaaaaaay over there. Or say you want to ski blues, and you end up in a spot where there are nothing but double blacks. Keep a map handy so you can get where you want to go.

Put the number for the ski patrol in your cell phone. Just in case. Because you never know. And as part of that….

Keep your cell phone warm. Your cell phone battery drains a lot faster when it’s cold. So carry it in an inner pocket, maybe even next to a small heat pack. Even better, keep a charger in the lodge so you can re-charge your phone at lunch.

Use sunscreen. And lip balm. You gotta protect your skin. According to the Skin Care Foundation, skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States. More than 3.5 million skin cancers in more than 2 million people are diagnosed annually. And it’s getting worse. According to the Foundation, a new study reveals an alarming rise in melanoma among people aged 18 to 39. Over the past 40 years, rates of this potentially deadly skin cancer grew by 800 percent among young women and 400 percent among young men.

Avoid the crowds. Timing can be everything, so plan your ski day accordingly. Eat lunch either very early or very late. The trick is to stay on the hill when everyone else is in the cafeteria for their mid-day break.

Carry hand warmers. Or glove liners. or both. My hands get cold really easily, so for me, these can make the difference between staying out and skiing or heading into the lodge.

Go on a mountain tour: Many resorts offer these for free, and and they’re a great way to get oriented and discover great places to ski. If you’re skiing somewhere new, go for it!

Don’t drink and drive. Apres ski is a great way to unwind. But think ahead. Don’t ruin the day by drinking too much and pulling a DUI on the way home. Or even worse, getting into an accident. Drink responsibly or don’t drink at all, if you have to drive.

Remember to have fun. Sometimes we forget the essential element in skiing: having a good time. So don’t let the little things — even a little annoyance — prevent you from enjoying the day. And if you get to the point that it’s not fun anymore, call it a day. Go home. There’s always tomorrow.

 

 



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Ski Swaps, ’17-’18

We all know that ski gear ain’t cheap. If you have to have the latest and greatest, then sure, there’s no denying that’s true. But there are definitely ways to save, and one of the best is buying second-hand at ski swaps. Swaps are a great way to enjoy new-to-you gear without doing too much damage to your wallet.

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You can find ski swaps just about everywhere: ski resorts, ski clubs, high schools, and colleges. Swap season usually starts in the fall, so keep your eyes open; chances are there’s one near you.

To make your search a bit easier, here’s a list of some of the swaps you’ll find in the months ahead. Know of any that aren’t listed? Post ’em in the comments section:

NORTHEAST

Sept 22-23: Potter Bros. Ski Swap, Fishkill, NY

Sept 29-30, Oct 1: Potter Bros. Ski Swap, Kingston, NY

Sept 29-Oct 1: Pico Ski Swap, Pico Mountain, VT

Oct 5-9: Wachusett Mountain Ski & Snowboard Swap, Wachusett, MA

Oct 7: Ski Butternut Ski Swap, Great Barrington, MA

Oct 7-8: BBTS Ski Swap, Waterville Valley, NH

Oct 6-7: Killington Ski Club Ski Swap, Killington, VT

Oct. 18-19: Bousquet Mountain, Bousquet Lodge, Pittsfield, MA

Oct 21-22: Great American Ski & Snowboard Sale, Mount Peter, Warwick, NY

Oct 29: Greek Peak Hops & Swaps, Cortland, NY

Nov 3-5: Sundown Ski Patrol Ski Swap, New Hartford, CT

Nov 4: Gunstock Ski Club Swap, Gilford, NH

Nov 24-26: Pat’s Peak Ski Team Ski & Snowboard Sale, Henniker, NH

Nov 6: Brunswick Ski Swap, Brunswick, ME

Nov 15-19: Ski Haus Ski Swap, Brewster, NY

Nov 18-20: OMS Ski Swap & Sale, Okemo Mountain, Ludlow, VT

Nov 19-20: Cambridge Rotary Ski Swap & Sale, Jeffersonville, VT

Jan 7-8: Skirack ski swap, Burlington, VT

MID ATLANTIC

Oct 7-8: Mt. Pleasant Ski Swap, Cambridge Springs, PA

Oct 7-8, Nov 4-5: Alpine Ski Swap, Sterling, VA

Oct 11-14: Buckman’s Tent & Ski Swap, All stores, PA

Nov 4-5: Ski Roundtop Mega Sale, Lewisberry, PA

Nov 24: Wintergreen Ski Swap, Wintergreen, WV

MIDWEST

Sept 29-Oct 1: Buck Hills Ski Swap, Burnsville, MN

Oct 6-7: Welch Village Fall Ski Swap & Sale, Welch, MN

Sept 30-Oct 1: Granite Peak Ski Swap, Wausau, WI

Oct 7: Harbor Springs Ski Team Ski Swap, Nub’s Nob, MI

Oct 7: Skitoberfest, Boyne Mtn Resort, MI

Oct 7-8: Wild Mountain Open House & Swap, Wild Mountain, MN

Oct 6-8 & 13-15: Afton Alps Ski Swap, Hastings, MN

Oct 9-15: Boston Mills/Brandywine/Alpine Valley Ski Patrol Ski Swap, Peninsula, OH

Oct 13-14: Mt Kato Ski Patrol Ski Swap, Lake Crystal, MN

Oct 20-22: Giants Ridge Ski Swap, Biwabik, MN

Oct 27-28: Team Duluth Ski Swap, Duluth, MN

Oct 28: Ski Swap at Crystal Mountain, Thompsonville, MI

Oct. 28: Chestnut Mountain’s Open House and Ski Swap, Galena, IL

Nov 4: Snowstar Winter Park Ski Swap, Andalusia, IL

Nov 11: Central Wisconsin Ski & Sport Swap, Stevens Point, WI

Nov 11: Pioneer Ski Swap, Osseo, MN

WEST

Sept 22-24: Snowbird Sports Education Foundation Ski & Snowboard Swap, Snowbird, UT

Oct 7-8 & Nov 19-20: Larson’s Ski Swap, Wheat Ridge, CO

Oct 14-15: Winter Park Ski & Snowboard Swap, Winter Park, CO

Oct 22: Sac State Ski Swap, Sacramento, CA

Oct 20-21: Vail Ski Swap, Vail, CO

Oct 27-29: Sandia Ski Patrol Ski Swap,  Albuquerque, NM

Oct 21: Jackson Hole Ski Club Swap, Jackson, WY

Oct 28: San Ramon Valley High School Ski & Snowboard Swap, Danville, CA

Nov 3-4: City of Loveland Annual Ski & Sports Swap, Loveland CO

Nov 3-4, Red Lodge Ski Swap, Red Lodge, MT

Nov 4: Truckee Ski and Snowboard Swap, Truckee, CA

Nov 4-5: Bridger Foundation Ski Swap, Bozeman, MT

Nov 11-12 & 18-19: Helm of Sun Valley’s Ski Swap, San Mateo, CA

Nov 17-20: Ski Dazzle, Los Angeles, CA

TBD: University of Nevada Ski Swap, Reno, NV

PACIFIC NORTHWEST:

Oct 14: Skyliners Winter Sports Swap, Bend, OR

Oct 21: 49° North Ski Swap, Chewelah, WA

Oct 22: Leavenworth Gear & Ski Swap, Leavenworth, WA

Oct 19-22: Corvallis Ski Swap, Coravallis, OR

Oct 26-28: Eugene Ski Swap, Eugene, OR

Oct 28-29: Mt. Spokane Ski Swap, Spokane Valley, WA

Nov 3-5: Ski Fever & Snowboard Show’s Ski Swap, Portland, OR

Nov 3-5: Bogus Basin Ski Swap, Boise, ID

Nov 4: Lookout Pass Ski Patrol Swap, Coeur D’Alene, ID

Nov 10-11: Newport Ski Swap, Bellevue, WA

Nov 11: Schweizer Alpine Racing School Ski Swap, Sandpoint, ID

CANADA

Oct 6-29: Canada’s Largest Ski & Snowboard Swap, Toronto, ON

Oct 20-22: Calgary Ski Swap and Sale, Calgary, AB



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Do you need new gear? Here’s how to tell.

Hard to believe it’s almost Labor Day. And what does that mean, Ski Divas?

SKI SALES!

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Yep, there are a lot of great deals on ski gear over the holiday weekend. So how can you tell if you need something new?

Note I said need instead of want. Want is something entirely different. Plenty of us want something even though our equipment is perfectly fine. Maybe we think it’ll improve our skiing under certain conditions. Maybe there’s a new technology that promises to turn our world upside down. Maybe we’re just plain bored and have enough disposable income to say what they hell, I’m going for it.

All that’s fine. After all, there’s nothing wrong with expanding your gear closet just because you want to.

But I’m talking need here. How do you know your ski equipment is safe? If it can still give you the same great performance that stole your heart at the very beginning?

Here are a few things you should look at:

Skis: Like everything else, ski performance diminishes over time. A ski with 80 days on it won’t feel the same as it did the first day out. The wood inside will lose its snap, the fiberglass break down and become less rigid, the edges lose their grip. Regular maintenance helps, of course, but time and use do take their toll. Give your skis a good inspection. Are the top layers delaminating? Are the edges pulling away from the top layers? Damage like this lets water seep into the core, which can cause it to rot and swell. Now check the bases: are there gouges and nicks? These can hurt your skis’ performance. What about the camber, the portion of the ski that arches into the air? Is it starting to flatten out? If that’s the case, your ski will lose its ‘pop’ and be less responsive than it was in the past.

Some pretty bad edge damage here.

Some pretty bad edge damage here.

If you’re skiing’s improved, you may need new skis, too. Did you buy beginner skis and now find they’re chattering? Do they feel noodley? Are they refusing to go faster? You may be in need of an upgrade.

Bindings: These are hard to separate from skis, but still, don’t forget to take them into consideration. Each year manufacturers release a list of  indemnified bindings, or bindings that they continue to support. If a binding doesn’t make the list, the manufacturer no longer backs it. This is important because most retailers won’t service a binding that’s not indemnified. How do you know if your binding is on the list? Bring your bindings to your ski shop for an inspection and a tune-up. They’ll let you know.

Boots: Depending on how much abuse they’ve had, most ski boots in the $399 – $599 range will last about 120 days of skiing. For maximum performance, your boot should fit like a snug handshake. But if your foot is moving around a lot, your boot may be packed out and ready to be replaced. Check your boots’ sole, too. A toe or heel that’s too worn will allow too much movement in the binding. This can cause you to release when you don’t want to. And that can be dangerous.

Helmets: I know, your helmet looks great. But manufacturers agree that a helmet must be replaced after a significant impact or collision. Even if you haven’t had a crash, they also recommend replacing it every 3 to 5 years. Why? The useful life of a ski helmet with an EPS liner varies based on use. The outdoor, dry environment in which helmets are used can cause the liner to deteriorate. Storing it in a humid environment like a basement can cause it to degrade, too. Bottom line: if there’s any question, get a new helmet. Your head is worth it.

 

 



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What to do with your old skis.

Got some old skis you don’t know what to do with?

You have plenty of options:

• You could sell them on ebay or at a ski swap;
• You could pass them along to someone who needs them;
• You could do something that I think is super cool: repurpose them into amazing items you can use around the house.

I love the last idea. Parting with skis isn’t always easy, particularly if they took you through some really great times. I mean, why abandon an old friend, just because something new comes along? This way, you don’t have to. You can keep them around to remind you of the great times you had, yet enjoy them in an entirely different way.

The off season is a prime time for ski-related crafts. I found a number of terrific ideas on the web you might want to try your hand at. Take a look:

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Announcing TheSkiDiva’s Best of the Year: Our 2017 Mountain Top Picks

It’s the season for awards. This past weekend the US Ski Hall of Fame inducted its Class of 2016, which included three women: Ellen Post Foster, Marion Post Caldwell, and Gretchen Rous Besser (for more about them and the other inductees, go here). Congratulations, one and all.

MTP-2017But that’s not the only award that’s being handed out right now. Because at TheSkiDiva, we’ve come up with our Mountain Top Picks — our selections of the best of the best in skiing for the past year. Sure, there’s no fancy-dancy ceremony, no gold statuette, and no certificate with ornate Latin script. And no, you won’t see any celebrities posing on a red carpet with paparazzi taking pics. Instead, our winners just get the satisfaction of knowing they’re a favorite of all of us at TheSkiDiva.com — which by itself, is pretty darn cool. And yes, they can even use the logo here, if they want. S’okay.

So now, for your reading pleasure, here are TheSkiDiva.com’s Mountain Top Picks for 2017:

[Drum roll here]

Ski Gear
Favorite ski for groomers: Volkl Kenja
Favorite ski for deep snow: Nordica Santa Ana
Favorite all mountain ski: Blizzard Black Pearl
Favorite ski boot brand: Lange
Favorite Ski Goggle: Smith IO/S*
Favorite Helmet Brand: Smith Vanage

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Favorite Helmet Brand: Smith Vantage Helmet

Ski Apparel
Favorite Brand of Baselayers:  Smartwool
Favorite Brand of Socks: Smartwool*
Favorite Jacket Brand: The North Face
Favorite Brand of Ski Pants: Arc’teryx*

Favorite Base Layer: Smartwool

Smartwool Base Layer

Ski Resorts
Favorite Eastern Resort: Sugarbush
Favorite Western Resort: Mammoth
Favorite Resort, eastern Canada: Mont Tremblant*
Favorite Resort, western Canada: Whistler-Blackcomb*
Favorite European Resort: St. Anton
Favorite Women’s Clinic: Okemo Mountain Resort
Favorite Kids Program: Smugglers Notch

Favorite Eastern Resort: Sugarbush

Sugarbush

*Second win in a row! For a list of our 2015 Mountain Top Picks, go here.

Congratulations to all!



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Gear Review: Kulkea Tandem Ski Duffle

I’m often asked to do product reviews. Which is fine, except when there’s a product I really can’t use. Enter Kulkea Tandem Ski Boot Duffle, a bag especially designed to hold kids ski gear.

You see, I don’t have any little kids. So to do the job properly, I called upon Emily Bryk, a mother of two who has lots to carry to the ski hill. Emily agreed to put the bag to the test, and here’s what she had to say:

When you’re skiing with young children, a lot of the challenges have very little to do with what happens on the hill. There are the snacks. There are the bathroom breaks. Adjusting the boots. Adjusting the boots again. But for me, one of the hardest things is just managing all the gear. The most difficult part about a ski day is sometimes getting to the mountain in the first place.

My 5 year old son has been skiing for two years now. He’s excited about skiing and, in the manner of all kindergarteners, he’s very confident, but he’s still a little guy and he can’t yet be relied upon to pack or to haul his own equipment. My daughter is two and this winter was her first time trying out skis. She’s just going out on some little Lucky Bums toy skis, but she wants to keep up with her big brother. Between the two of them, I’m swamped before my husband and I even start to pack up our own things.

Enter Kulkea’s Tandem boot duffle bag. This bag makes everything easier. It’s a double duffle, large enough to hold two kids’ ski gear and with enough specialized storage to keep everyone organized all day long.

Kulkea (the company name comes from the Finnish verb “to go,” appropriately enough) has designed exactly the bag that every ski parent needs. When I started to open up the Tandem, I understood why: the cooler top means that the entire top of the bag opens, which allows access to every part of the bag. No more twisting and angling to fit boots or helmets and no more wondering exactly which wrinkle the chapstick fell into. With the entire bag opened up wide, it’s easy to load up fast and to check out your gear at a glance.

Kulkea Tandem Bag, all packed and ready to go.

Kulkea Tandem Bag, all packed and ready to go.

And there’s a lot you’ll want to keep track of inside the Tandem. This bag is B-I-G. It holds a startling 64 liters – that’s 13” tall, 32” long, and 12” wide. It could be easy to lose things in that amount of space, but it’s not. The bag has four large interior compartments. Two are designed to hold helmets and boots (they’re ventilated, thank goodness!), and two more designed to hold snowpants, extra layers, and other clothing. On top of that, the lid has two mesh pockets, perfect for smaller items like hats, gloves, or (if you’re me) snacks.

As I was loading the Tandem, I worried that all the gear packed inside would make it too difficult to carry. Honestly, though, this isn’t a problem. The adjustable shoulder strap is padded enough to distribute the load nicely, and the messenger-style structure kept it easy to carry.

In fact, this bag is so big that I used it for my gear as well as my kids’! The Tandem is so adaptable that it got all three of us to the mountain. While the bag promises to fit only boots up to 22.5, I actually fit my 24s in there without a hitch. Want to know how much I could carry?

  • 1 pair of women’s boots in a size 24
  • 1 pair of kids’ boots in a size 19
  • Three (three!) helmets: two kids’ and one adult
  • Three pairs of goggles
  • Three pairs of mittens
  • One pair of toddler snowpants
  • Sandwiches, oranges, and bananas for one and all
  • Gaiters

On the way home from the mountain, things got even better. Those boot compartments? They have grommets for drainage, so damp boots don’t stay damp for long.

So do you need a Tandem? If you have small kids, absolutely. This bag’s size and features make it easy to pack, easy to carry, and easy to organize. I’m not going skiing without it.

Emily with her Kulkea Tandem Bag.

Emily with her Kulkea Tandem Bag.



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Highlights for Women from the 2017 SIA Show.

Since they haven’t yet perfected human cloning, I wasn’t able to attend the annual SIA Show in Denver a couple weeks ago. In case you don’t know, this is the snow sports industries’ biggest trade show, showcasing the latest trends, innovations, product lines, and styles. But the winter season is short, and there’s just too much going on for me to be everywhere at once.

Fortunately for me, Bobby Monacella, who writes  DC Ski Mom  and the SIA blog Snow Source, came through with her take on the highlights for women at this year’s show. So take it away, Bobby!

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New Women’s-Specific Technology and Design are Among the Highlights From the 2017 SIA Snow Show

The SIA Snow Show takes place every January at Denver’s Colorado Convention Center. It’s where over 80% of all ski and snowboard manufacturers and apparel makers come together to display their lines for the upcoming season to retailers from across the country. I got a sneak peek of some of the best gear, apparel and accessories for women that will be available for the 17/18 season and I’m excited to share my favorites with you!

Ski companies are really starting to wake up to the fact that women make up 41% of the market, and that we do 95% of the decision making about where the money gets spent in our families. Each year, ski companies are realizing more and more that they need to keep women happy. This means admitting that women are not small men, and that we have specific needs and performance demands from our gear.

“The bottom line is that if mama’s not having fun, no one’s having fun,” says Kim Walker, owner of Outdoor Divas in Vail, CO – the only woman-owned, women’s-specific ski shop in the country. “And each year we have more opportunity to offer equipment for women that allows them to truly have a great experience on the hill. Finally, women’s boots are made for women’s feet, and women’s stances, and allow women to be comfortable and warm, which then helps them want to stay out all day and return again and again. This is what manufacturers are finally realizing – that if you keep mom on the hill and keep her happy, you gain a whole family of lifelong customers.”

For 17/18, lightweight is definitely the trend in women’s boots and skis. Along with women’s-specific fit, this allows more control over your equipment, and therefore better performance, which equals more fun!

In boots, comfort is key for 17/18 with moldable liners and walk-to-ride tech that makes getting around the lodge a lot easier. A few standouts include:

  • The K2 W-SP Spyre 100 Heat has an integrated Therm-ic heat system built into the liner which you charge with a USB cable. It also comes in a softer flexing version, the Spyre 90 Heat.
  • The Tecnica Mach 1 Pro WLV, which was developed by a panel of top bootfitters and female testers, features a pliable upper cuff heated to fit the calf and merino wool in the liner for extra warmth.
  • The Roxa R3 Series is one of the lightest high performance alpine boots available for 17/18. It’s available in a freeride hike/ski model, a freeski model for all mountain performance, and the R3 105 W TI, a high-performance 4-buckle model.
 L to R: Roxa R3 105 W TI, K2 W-SP Spyre 100 Heat, and Tecnica Mach 1 Pro WLV

L to R: Roxa R3 105 W TI, K2 W-SP Spyre 100 Heat, and Tecnica Mach 1 Pro WLV

 

For skis, the focus for 17/18 is on new shapes that offer front-side carving performance but also allow for all-mountain versatility. My favorites included:

  • The Blizzard Sheeva 10 is a lightweight, completely women-specific design that won the SKI Magazine Hot Gear Award for its innovative technology. Blizzard is heavily invested in developing women’s technology with its Women-to-Women Initiative, which involves women in the design process from start to finish. It really shows with the Sheeva 10, which is getting consistent accolades from women testers.
  • The Nordica Astral 84 has new materials and a race-inspired shape, with a rigid tail and wider tip, that allows for superior performance while keeping the ski lightweight and easy to turn.
  • The Elan Ripstick 86W has a women’s-specific tube-filled wood core for lightweight performance and a rocker/camber profile which allows for easy turning.

 

L to R: The Nordica Astral 84, Blizzard Sheeva 10, and Elan Ripstick 86W

L to R: The Nordica Astral 84, Blizzard Sheeva 10, and Elan Ripstick 86W

Base and Mid Layers

This is my favorite category because some of the best brands are women-owned or women-centric, and have great corporate ethics as well as super cute designs.

Krimson Klover, owned by the amazing business powerhouse Rhonda Swensen, makes fabulous traditional ski sweaters, merino dresses and capes, but the base layers are my favorites because the prints are amazing and they’re super soft. The Mikaela Top and matching Victoria Bottoms have a fun Scandinavian design and are 100% merino.

Kari Traa is another base layer favorite mainly because the prints and colors are so great. They have a fun, energetic feel that reflects the personality of Kari Traa herself, a Norwegian Olympic freestyle skier who started the company as an antidote to the “boring black base layers” her sponsors gave her. Many of her designs echo her Norwegian heritage with plays on traditional prints in super fun colors. The new Akle LS Top features Henley snaps and extra long cuffs for a cozy feel. Kari Traa is also introducing a great new midlayer jacket for 17/18, the Svala. It has dry release technology to keep you warm, dry and looking awesome.

Another fun midlayer/apres ski/athleisure – I’m not actually sure what to call it – layer is SmartWool’s Urban Upslope Cape. It looks like it’d be really comfy and easy to throw on after a day on the mountain and it’s a fun alternative to your traditional down vest. It has quilted wind-resistant poly-fill on the outside, and is reversible to a grey camo print merino on the inside. The cozy hood and wool lined pockets make it a great apres-ski option. Plus I love SmartWool because they have a staunch commitment to gender equality and women’s leadership in the company.

Clockwise from top left: Krimson Klover Mikaela Top, SmartWool Urban Upslope Poncho, Kari Traa Akle LS Top, and Kari Traa Svala Jacket

Clockwise from top left: Krimson Klover Mikaela Top, SmartWool Urban Upslope Poncho, Kari Traa Akle LS Top, and Kari Traa Svala Jacket

 

Outerwear

Kjus introduced a new knitted technology for 17/18, with the Freelite Jacket. It’s an incredible ultra-stretch jacket with fully knitted shell, insulation and lining layers. It feels like you’re wearing a sweater, but it’s a totally weatherproof coat that looks amazing.

L to R: The Obermeyer Double Dare 4-in-1 Jacket, Strafe Scarlett Bib, and Kjus Freelite Jacket

L to R: The Obermeyer Double Dare 4-in-1 Jacket, Strafe Scarlett Bib, and Kjus Freelite Jacket

The Obermeyer Double Dare 4-in-1 Jacket won SKI Magazine’s Hot Gear award for its good looks and zip-out primaloft liner that can be worn alone or with the shell layer. It’s a great year for the win, since Obermeyer is celebrating its 70th anniversary. 96-year-old Klaus Obermeyer was on hand at the Show as always, and delivered his traditional yodel at the closing bell.

Bibs are still on-trend for women’s bottoms, and the Strafe Scarlett Bib got a lot of attention for its innovative halter design. The design allows you to heed nature’s call without having to remove your jacket, so it’s a plus for backcountry pursuits or generally hassle-free potty stops. The eVent shell membrane keeps you warm and dry and the styling is feminine with a great range of colors.

Accessories

Okay, I admit it, I have a thing for hats. I have so many favorites – but I’ll try to pare it down to a bare minimum!

One of my all-time favorites is Skida, founded by the fabulous Corinne Prevot. As a Nordic skier in high school she began sewing the hats for friends and now the brand has exploded and is sold across the country. She employs women in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont, where garment sewing was a tradition for generations until the mills and factories closed their doors. Now they put those skills to work on the super fun hats and neck gaiters that Corinne designs. She also launched a cashmere line a few years back, and employs women knitters in Nepal where she did a semester during her Middlebury College years. Her latest creations for 17/18 are just as colorful and energetic as always, and are a perennial favorite.

L to R: Sh*t I Knit fur pom pom hat, Skida’s 2017 Snow Show booth, Turtle Fur Reflective Beanie

L to R: Sh*t I Knit fur pom pom hat, Skida’s 2017 Snow Show booth, Turtle Fur Reflective Beanie

A newcomer at the Snow Show this year, Christina Fagan introduced her Boston-based headwear company, Sh*t That I Knit. The name was just a tongue in cheek title for the website she started to share her knitting creations with friends and family. Eventually the designs caught on, and she was selling more than she could knit on her own. She moved her production to Lima, Peru, where she sources her merino and employs moms and other women knitters who work from home to create her beautiful designs.

One more great new hat design that I have to mention is the Turtle Fur Reflective Beanie. It has a fully reflective design built into the flower print, so it’s an incredible addition to any runner’s, dog walker’s or night-time Nordic skier’s ensemble. During the day the flowers sparkle, and at night they’re reflective. I’ve never seen anything like it, and I thought it was too cool to pass up.

My hands are always cold, so of course my favorite glove offering for 17/18 is the new Seirus HeatTouch Hellfire Glove. Thanks to a lithium battery, it touts 12 hours of heat at the touch of the button, which sounds like a dream come true to me. Plus I love their company because CFO Wendy Carey is such a strong force for women’s leadership within the snow sports industry.

L to R: Giro Ella Women’s Goggles, Seirus HeatTouch Hellfire Gloves, Zeal Portal Goggle

L to R: Giro Ella Women’s Goggles, Seirus HeatTouch Hellfire Gloves, Zeal Portal Goggle

I’m a Giro gal when it comes to helmets, so I was excited to see the new Giro Ella Women’s Goggle. It’s a frameless design with quick-change magnetic lenses. It’s also co-branded with Zeiss Optics so they have superior optical clarity, and all for a really reasonable price.

Another cool new goggle option is from Zeal, with their newly launched Rail-Lock technology. The Portal Goggle has rails on the sides of the frame that allow you to slide, click and lock interchangeable lenses without ever touching the lens surface.

With so many new designs and so much innovative technology focused on women’s products at the Show, it’s hard to stop gushing about all the amazing new offerings for 17/18. These highlights are definitely the cream of the crop that caught my eye, and I’m sure they’ll be well worth the investment when they hit stores next fall.

Until then, here’s to a great end to the 16/17 season – cheers to all the ski divas hitting the slopes and loving life! As Klaus Obermeyer told me, “Life is great because of skiing; it should always be fun and make your life wonderful!”

 

Bobby Monacella is a freelance writer who focuses on the subject of raising outdoor kids. She also writes about the business of snow sports, with the occasional update on the perils of climate change and craft brewery reviews thrown in here and there. As a former ski patroller, instructor, and eventually marketer at Breckenridge, Sugarbush, and Stowe, Bobby brings over 25 years of industry perspective to her writing. You can find her at DC Ski Mom and at SIA’s Snow Source blog. View her profile at LinkedIn.



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Renoun Skis: The Best Ski You May Not Have Heard Of.

Cyrus Schenck doesn’t let any grass grow beneath his feet. Or snow pile up, for that matter. That’s because he’s too busy traveling from here to there to here again, holding demos and spreading the word about the small ski company he founded in 2011: RENOUN skis.

Cyrus Schenck, RENOUN Skis

Cyrus Schenck, RENOUN Skis

Back then, he and his friends were engineering students at Clarkson University in Potsdam, NY, driving back and forth to ski at Jay Peak, and talking about what they could do to build a better ski than the big guys. Then one day, while sitting in an engineering class, Cyrus learned about a non-Newtonian polymer — a polymer that doesn’t follow Isaac Newton’s third law of motion, which states that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Instead, the polymer responds to an action — in this case, impact — by becoming stiffer; more rigid. It’s the basis for RENOUN’s hyper-dampening, or HDT Technology, which RENOUN uses in the core of its skis.

For a small company, this is creating some pretty big buzz. In 2015, RENOUN  captured the coveted world-class ISPO GOLD Award in Munich, Germany, in recognition of its pioneering technological design. And in December, 2015, the New York Times put it on its list of the year’s hottest ski gear.

Sounds like a gimmick, right? Does it actually work?

First, let me tell you more about HDT. All skis tend to chatter at high speeds, or over terrain that’s unforgiving, such as ice and hardpack. According to Schenck, the HDT core minimizes that by constantly changing its density, adjusting in real time to the skier and snow conditions. Put simply, when you ski on a stiffer surface, the ski becomes more rigid and damp. And when conditions become more forgiving, such as powder, the ski becomes softer, less damp. Instantly.

Here’s how the NY Times put it: “The more the skis get deflected because of uneven terrain or a high speed, the damper they become, allowing them to absorb the vibrations. At lower speeds or in powder, the core remains lively and flexible for quick turning.”

RENOUN has two lines: the Z’s, which are performance carvers, and the Endurance, which are freeride skis. Both come in two different widths: the Z’s in 77 and 90 mm, the Endurance in 98 and 104 mm.

RENOUN sent me the Z-77 to review. And yeah, I was pretty excited to try them out. So here goes.

RENOUN Z-77

RENOUN Z-77

First, a bit about me:

Size: 5’1″, 112 lbs
Skier type: Advanced
Where I ski: Mostly in Vermont. Which means I see it all: a lot of ice (aka hard pack), packed powder, sometimes powder on top of ice , and once in a while — but not too often — some actual powder.

And now, the skis:

157 mm, 123-77-111
Core: Canadian Maple and 8-layers of HDT™ inlays (15% core volume).
Reinforcement: Carbon fiber, metal and tri-axial fiberglass

So how do they ski?

My first day on them was ideal for putting them to the test: 2-3 inches of fresh powder that was eventually scraped away to reveal a surface of alternately packed powder and ice. This was great; I got to try them in everything from the sublime to the miserable. And in every instance, these skis rocked.

If I had to reduce it to one word, I’d say they were smooth. No, let me change that to two words: smooth and stable. No, let me change once again: smooth, stable, and OMIGOD THESE ARE SO MUCH FUN.

Okay. I got carried away. But it’s true. These are frickin’ great skis.

Seriously, they didn’t feel like any other ski I’ve ever skied before.

I’ve tried to put my finger on a way to describe them, and it hasn’t been easy. They’re just that different. But here goes, anyway: You know the feeling you get when you transition from one type of surface to another — like from ice to packed powder to hard pack to fluff? It’s not really a jolt; it’s more like a measure of vibration that travels from the ski to your feet to your legs, depending on the surface you’re on. In general, it’s not a bad thing — unless there’s too much of it. Then you get thrown around and your ride can be somewhat uncomfortable.

Most skis have some vibration, and that’s fine. It keeps you on your toes and provides the feedback you need to adjust your skiing to the conditions at hand. The skis that don’t are generally quite damp, and can have a dead, heavy feeling to match.

This isn’t the case with the RENOUN Z-77.  The company says its HDT Technology reduces vibration by 300%. I don’t know if that’s the exact number, but I will say this: the vibration is gone. Yet the skis don’t feel dead, heavy or plank-y. Instead, the Z-77 is responsive, fun, and quick edge to edge. These babies carve. Take them on the groomers and you’ll feel like Lindsey Vonn. But what happens when you slow them down? Do they start to chatter? In a word, no. They’re still very, very fun.

So what else did I find about these skis?
Turn initiation: easy
Long turns: no problem
Short turns: ditto
Smeared turns: why not

In short, these skis do whatever you want them to, and they’ll do it so easily that you’ll wonder how your skiing improved so fast.

Any cons, Ski Diva?

Yeah, a few.

The first is pretty minor — and you could chalk it up to a matter of taste — but I think the graphics are sort of meh. If RENOUN is going after a subtle look, well, they’ve succeeded. And I guess that appeals to a lot of people. But this ski is so super cool that I think it should have some super cool graphics, too. Not that I get skis based on graphics — I don’t — but still, it’d be nice.

Second, yes, you get what you pay for, and these skis are a bit pricey. They do come with a 100-day back guarantee, which is pretty awesome. But still, the price is a bit steep. I’m hoping that’ll come down, as time goes by.

Three, they’re not easy to find. You have to get them directly from the company right now. So if you want to give them a try, you’ll have to catch them at one of their many demo days across the country. Follow them on Facebook and you’ll see where they are when.

And four, I wish they were available in shorter lengths. I know, I’m a pipsqueak. But just so you know, Cyrus is 6’6″, so he’s coming at this from a totally different perspective. Hey, look down here, Cyrus! We may be little, but we need skis, too!

Bottom Line:

Awesome is a word that gets tossed around a lot for just about anything these days (‘Man, that’s an awesome cheeseburger.’ ‘Oh, your shirt is so awesome.‘). So let’s not go there. Instead, let’s call these skis something else: exceptional. These are skis that will make your ski day better than it’d be if you were skiing something else. Skis that will make you grin. Skis that will make you fall in love with skiing all over again. And really, you can’t beat that.

I can’t wait to try to Z-90’s.

Final rating: Two ski poles up!

 



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Building Better Women’s Ski Gear: Blizzard’s Women to Women Initiative

Listen; do you hear that? It’s the sound of money talking. According to the SIA (Snowsports Industries Association), women spent $1.4 billon on women-specific gear during the ’15-’16 season (through February, anyway). That’s 31% of total sales — a pretty hard number for gear companies to ignore.

All the same, not all companies are fully committed to the women’s market. Some still treat it as an afterthought – a backseat to the unisex (read men’s) gear they already produce.

This isn’t the case at Blizzard Tecnica. Well known for its outstanding skis and boots, the company reaffirmed its commitment to the women’s market a little over a year ago with its Women to Women Initiative.

So what is this, exactly? I spoke to Leslie Baker-Brown, Blizzard Tecnica’s US Marketing Manager, to find out.

SD: Blizzard has been selling women’s skis for a long time. What’s the Women to Women Initiative, and how is it different from what you’ve already been doing?

Leslie Baker-Brown, Tecnica Blizzard's US Marketing Manager

Leslie Baker-Brown, Tecnica Blizzard’s US Marketing Manager

LBB: That’s a good question, because the Black Pearl is the best selling ski in the country, so you’d wonder why we need to do anything special. Yes, it’s true we make great women’s products, but we believe we can do better. Our objective is to create authentic, relevant products that work for women. But we also want to improve the way we communicate with, engage, and educate women, too. This includes setting up a platform where we not only bring like-minded skiers together, but bring more women to the sport and get them to say ‘Omigod this is so much fun! Look at the people you meet, the connections you make.’ It’s a two-fold effort.

SD: So what’s the shape of this initiative?
LBB: The first phase has been focused on product — looking at what we have and figuring out what we can do better. In November, 2015, our parent company held a focus group in Italy where we brought together a variety of women to talk about equipment, determine what women value, and explore solutions. The next month, we held a North American focus group in Park City, Utah. And we had another one this past December.

During the first group, we spent a lot of time on the hill skiing our skis along with those of our competitors’. We talked about what we liked, what we didn’t like, and what we’d like to see changed. Then we spent a day talking about the issues women have with boots, whether it’s fit or stance or alignment.

On Mountain Focus Group

On Mountain Focus Group

SD: What came out of the boot portion?
LBB: We have a separate initiative called Project 165 — 165 is the Pantone color of our Tecnica orange – which we started a while ago. It’s made up of five of the people we think are the best bootfitters in the country. Four years ago we put them in a room and said, ‘Okay, blank slate. Design your dream boot.’ The end result was our Mach 1 collection of boots, which has been on the market for three years and has been hugely successful. We work with them on our other boots, too. So at Park City, we sat around and came up with all these different issues that women have with boots, and then brought in the guys from Project 165. They fit a lot of women’s boots so they see a lot of the same things. We all talked about the issues women have, as well as what women want. Then they went away and worked with our product development team to develop solutions.

SD: And what about skis?
LBB: Honestly, we started working on these sooner. We’ve always worked with a number of our athletes on projects and had a lot of success with that. Last year we introduced a women-specific design that basically takes what we’ve learned about carbon to make a ski that’s lighter without compromising performance. And this year moving forward we’ve got some new shapes and side cuts that are a littler more user friendly in terms of initiating a turn — not that they were hard in the past. You wonder, ‘How can they make this better?’ But they just keep doing it. It’s kind of fun.

SD: Have you learn anything from these groups that surprised you in any way?
LBB: Well, here’s something interesting. Everyone knows women’s calf muscles seem to be larger lower down on the leg than men’s, so fit can be an issue. For example, this prevents some women from getting their foot all the way to the bottom of the boot. But we had one woman in our focus group who had a skinny calf and couldn’t get her boots tight enough around her leg. That’s something you don’t generally think about. So we came up wth inserts that a boot fitter can use to fill in space around the calf to make the boot fit a skinny leg.

SD: So is W2W an ongoing project?
LBB: Ongoing. Corporate has hired a woman full-time to spearhead this project globally. She’s a young, Italian former ski racer, but she spent four years in the US, which is helpful for us because it gives her an understanding of the US market. She’s super energetic and fun. And I can tell you that as long as I’m here, we’ll be continuing this effort.

We’re also going to keep having focus groups; we’ll probably hold two in 2017. This past August we did a women’s-only athlete trip to Portillo, Chile. We took four of our athletes – a very diverse group – along with our brand creative manager, and brought in a bunch of prototype skis to get their feedback. We also did a lot of talking about the product, but since the next phase of the project is building out, we also discussed how to engage women, how to speak with them, what sort of information they want to know from us as a brand, and how to connect with them better. One conclusion we came to is that we all love sharing our skiing experiences, so we want to determine how we can we do that better so other women can come to love it as we do.

SD: So what are some of the things we can expect from Blizzard in the future?
LBB: We’re going to get this first phase of product out, and we’re going to launch a website in the next month or so that’s associated with the Blizzard Tecnica website. You’ll be able to go there to learn things like what to expect when you go into a store to buy a ski, what you should be looking for, how you should expect a boot to fit, how to in get shape for skiing. We have athletes we can tap into for expertise; who can act as a resource for women. So the next phase is pushing this out to the female sking community — educating, empowering, and drawing them into the sport. It’s a more 360 degree approach. It’s not just ‘Here’s a boot, we’re done.’ It’s a lot more than that.

 

 



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TheSkiDiva Holiday Gift Guide ’16-’17

Wait! Did you hear that? Yes — it’s the sound of sleigh bells in the distance. And each day they’re getting closer. Which means it’s time to post the annual TheSkiDiva Holiday Gift Guide, filled with lots of great things you might want to ask Santa to bring down your chimney or the chimney of someone you love. So without further ado, here are some great gift ideas for this year:

Ski Art Prints

breckenridge-colorado-backcountry-skiers-57debdb21-600x477arapahoe-basin-art-print-57debda61-600x477

What skier wouldn’t want to decorate her home with unique ski art prints from WildBlueDream.com. Available prints feature a broad range of ski areas in a variety of designs and colors, all printed on high quality, heavy-weight paper using archival inks. Some can even be personalized with your family’s name.

 

Vintage Graphic Top

screen-shot-2016-11-07-at-4-58-22-pm

This. Is. Adorable. And sure, it shows snow shoeing instead of skiing, but hey, there’s snow, it’s an outdoor winter activity, and it’s amazing. A mid-weight zip neck that’s a blend of a blend of silk, Merino and Lycra. From Titlenine.com.

 

Cold Weather Cell Phone Survival Kit

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If you’ve ever had your phone run out of juice on the mountain, you’ll know why I love this. The Cold Weather Mobile Phone Survival Kit by Therma-Phone keeps your phone working under extreme temperature conditions. It actually acts like a flexible stainless steel thermos, retaining heat when it’s cold and reflecting heat when it’s hot. *Here’s an extra bonus: Therma-Phone has provided a special discount for members of TheSkiDiva: $11.95 off plus free shipping. Use coupon code skidiva2016, and the discount will show up after you place your order.

 

Ski Wine Glass Charms

charms

These are cute and inexpensive: charms you can put on the stem of a wine glass to identify whose glass is whose. Let’s see, are you difficult, average, or easy? Or do you need help? Available at TheConvertibleGirlShop on etsy.

 

Boot Glove

bootglove

A long time favorite of the members of TheSkiDiva.com, Dry Guy’s Boot Glove provides an extra layer of insulation over your boots to keep your feet warm. I’ve been a user for years. Highly recommend.

 

Ski Diva Sweater Fleece

sdsweater

Show the world you’re a Ski Diva with this full zip sweater fleece. I have this exact garment and wear it all the time over a lighter layer and under a jacket. A great layering piece that’s comfortable, stylish, and warm. Go here to order.

 

Sorel Joan of Arctic Winter Boot

boot

For anyone who’s a fan of warm feet, Sorel’s Joan of Arctic boots are the bomb! Featuring waterproof, full-grain leather and suede upper, super-soft faux fur around the cuff with a removable, recycled felt inner boot to ensure that feet stay warm, dry and comfortable.

 

Razor Carbon Pro Ski Poles

screen-shot-2016-11-13-at-10-27-43-am

Anyone who skis the backcountry deserves these poles. If you fall or get caught in a slide, normal pole straps can anchor you facedown in the snow. These poles feature breakaway straps that give you power when you need it and keep you safe when things go awry. The adjustable flick locks and low swing weight are bonuses. From Black Diamond.

 

Ski Poster Puzzle

screen-shot-2016-11-16-at-1-42-42-pm

In a digital age, it can be hard to remember how much fun it is to spend a happy evening working on a puzzle. Here’s one the whole family will enjoy: White Mountain Puzzles Ski Posters Puzzle, featuring vintage posters of North American and European ski areas. Which ones have you skied?

 

Adventure Weekender Bag

screen-shot-2016-11-13-at-11-03-37-am

The perfect bag for a weekend getaway with the girls, the Adventure Weekender Bag from Neve Designs features limited edition artwork inspired by vintage ski posters. Fully lined and made with canvas construction, the bag is finished with leather handles, and has a removable leather shoulder strap.

 

Beartooth Device

beartooth-radio-device2

I’m giving a qualified recommendation for this, since it’s very, very new. Still, it looks so cool that I couldn’t resist including it here. The Beartooth Device is great for when you’re on the hill and don’t have cell service or internet — because it doesn’t require either. What it does is convert your Smartphone into a two-way radio, so you can communicate with other Beartooth users by either voice or text, up to ten miles away. It can also serve as a back-up battery for your cell phone.

 

 

Ski Diva Mystery Books

DBPBCover   FTW Cover copy

Shameless self-promotion alert: Both of these are by me. First published by Minotaur Books in 2010 and 2011 respectively, Double Black and Fade to White are fun mysteries for skiers and non-skiers alike.

Here’s a description of Double Black:

In DOUBLE BLACK, Boston’s twenty-something Stacey Curtis ditches her cheating fiance and heads for a Vermont ski town. She’s looking for the life she’s always dreamed about, but she stumbles instead into financial intrigue, bitter family warfare, and murder. Populated with quirky characters, loaded with New England atmosphere, and starring a young woman with nerve, spunk, and a sense of humor about it all, DOUBLE BLACK is an exciting run down some treacherous mountain trails.

And here’s Fade to White:

Hollywood has-been Harper Stone arrives in Stacey’s little Vermont town to shoot a mouthwash commercial, and he’s anything but happy about the downward spiral his career has taken. When the ornery actor turns up dead a few days later—and the last person to see him alive turns out to be Brian Russell, Stacey’s jealous ex-fiancé—things start getting complicated. 

You can get the softcovers and e-book at Amazon.comB&N.comKobo.comiBooks, and of course, at wendyclinch.com.

If you’d prefer a personally signed hardcover, you can get that at wendyclinch.com, too.

 

 



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