Tag Archives | Ski Gear

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’re short, and we’re proud!

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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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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Focus on a Woman Entrepreneur: Sara Segall of Orsden

Companies in the ski industry that were founded by women are few and far between. Sure, there’s Title Nine and WinterWomen, retailers who specialize in women’s activewear and ski apparel.  There’s Outdoor Divas, which sells both women’s ski apparel and women-specific ski gear. And there’s Coalition Snow, the only ski company that designs and builds skis for women, by women.

The dearth of women entrepreneurs isn’t just limited to the ski industry. It’s prevalent throughout American business. According to the Kauffman Foundation, a foundation that focuses on education and entrepreurship, women tend to start businesses at roughly half the rate of men, particularly during the prime business formation years between the ages of 35 and 44 (I suspect there may be an even greater disparity in the male-dominated ski industry). There are many reasons for this. Kauffman researchers say that women entrepreneurs tend to face more significant obstacles when it comes to starting their own businesses than their male counterparts, even though they bring unique abilities to entrepreneurship, such as a more sophisticated approach to taking risks, not being overconfident, and not putting their employees at risk. 

So what,’ I hear you say. ‘Does the gender of the entrepreneur really make a difference, as long as they provide a decent product?’ Maybe not. But it doesn’t make sense, either economically or socially, to ignore the abilities, talents, and potential of a large segment of our society. What’s more — and maybe this is sexist of me — I think women have a better perspective on what other women want and need. A female-led company offers better control over meeting those needs. And as a woman, I think that’s a meaningful benefit.

sara

Sara Segall

Recently, I received an email from Sara Segall, founder of a small new ski apparel company called Orsden. Since I don’t hear too often about women-initiated start-ups, I thought I’d give her a call to see what it’s like to get a new company off the ground.

SD: So tell me about yourself. How’d you get started?
SS: I began working in politics in DC and discovered it wasn’t my passion, so I ended up going to business school at Columbia. While I was there, I worked at a luxury retail firm and in brand management for Revlon. I knew I wanted to go into retail and start my own venture, but I didn’t know exactly what my product would be. About a year after graduating, I was shopping for a new ski jacket at Stratton, and I couldn’t get over the high prices. It seemed like every jacket I liked — that I thought was flattering and stylish and also high performance — was at least $600, maybe $1,000-plus.  So I thought there was a real opportunity here.

SD: What makes your company different from other ski apparel companies?
SS: I’d seen the direct consumer model work in other places, so I thought I’d try it with Orsden. This is a unique model for the ski industry. We can offer an amazing high performance product at amazing prices by skipping out on the wholesale model and selling directly to the consumer.

I also think our products are a great marriage of style and performance. This isn’t easy to achieve. I had a pretty clear sense of what I wanted our jacket to look like. I didn’t want a women’s version of a men’s jacket — I wanted something that was  sleek, feminine, and tailored to look a little unique while offering the performance skiers want. It was a challenge to develop, but I’m pleased with the result.

SD: So tell me, why do you think there aren’t more women doing the same sort of thing you are in the ski industry? Why aren’t there more women entrepreneurs?
SS: I wonder about this myself. So much of the messaging in the outdoor industry is geared toward men; women are often overlooked. This is a shame, because there’s a huge opportunity here on both parts of the spectrum: women as customers and as entrepreneurs. Women have unique needs and perspectives. A huge reason I went ahead with Orsden is because I couldn’t find a ski jacket I liked, so I hope that a lot of other women take that risk if they have a great idea and try to make something better and design by women for women. I try to show women on the home page of my company’s web site. And our big email announcement of our launch shows a woman, as well. I’m trying to to show that there are women doing awesome, extreme things, just as there are men, and I’m hoping to make that more of a centerpoint of the brand. My husband’s aunt is Gretchen Besser, who’s in the National Ski Patrol Hall of Fame. She’s 87 years old and she still skis. We’re inspired by her example.

 

 

 



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Ski Swaps, ’16 -’17

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.

skiswap

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:

NORTHEAST

Sept 30: Potter Bros. Ski Swap, Kingston, NY

Sept 30-Oct 2: Pico Ski Swap, Pico Mountain, VT

Oct 6-10: Wachusett Mountain Ski & Snowboard Swap, Wachusett, MA

Oct 8-10: Ski Butternut Ski Swap, Great Barrington, MA

Oct 8-10: BBTS Ski Swap, Waterville Valley, NH

Oct 9-11: Killington Ski Club Ski Swap, Killington, VT

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

Oct 28-30: Greek Peak Ski Club Ski Swap, Cortland, NY

Nov 4: Sundown Ski Patrol Ski Swap, New Hartford, CT

Nov 5: Gunstock Ski Club Swap, Gilford, NH

Nov 6: 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 18-19: OMS Ski Swap & Sale, Okemo Mountain, Ludlow, VT

Nov 21-22: Cambridge Rotary Ski Swap & Sale, Jeffersonville, VT

MID ATLANTIC

Oct 1-2 & 8-9: Mt. Pleasant Ski Swap, Cambridge Springs, PA

Oct 7-10: Alpina Ski Swap, White Haven, PA

Oct 10-15: Buckman’s Tent & Ski Swap, All stores, PA

Nov 5: Ski Roundtop Mega Sale, Lewisberry, PA

Nov 25: Wintergreen Ski Patrol Ski Swap, Wintergreen, WV

MIDWEST

Sept 23-25: Buck Hills Ski Swap, Burnsville, MN

Sept 30-Oct 1: Welch Village Fall Ski Swap & Sale, Welch, MN

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

Oct 1: Harbor Springs Ski Team Ski Swap, Nub’s Nob, MI

Oct 1: Skitoberfest, Boyne Mtn Resort, MI

Oct. 1-2: Wild Mountain Open House & Swap, Wild Mountain, MN

Oct 2-11: Afton Alps Ski Swap, Hastings, MN

Oct 10-16: Boston Mills/Brandywine/Alpine Valley Ski Patrol Ski Swap, Peninsula, OH

Oct 14-15: Mt Kato Ski Patrol Ski Swap, Lake Crystal, MN

Oct 21-22: Giants Ridge Ski Swap, Biwabik, MN

Oct 28-30: Team Duluth Ski Swap, Duluth, MN

Oct 29: Ski Swap at Crystal Mountain, Thompsonville, MI

Oct. 29: Chestnut Mountain’s Open House and Ski Swap, Galena, IL

Nov 12: Central Wisconsin Ski & Sport Swap, Stevens Point, WI

WEST

Sept 30-Oct 2: Snowbird Sports Education Foundation Ski & Snowboard Swap, Snowbird, UT

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

Oct 16: Sac State Ski Swap, Sacramento, CA

Oct 21-23: Vail Ski Swap, Vail, CO

Oct 21-23: Sandia Ski Patrol Ski Swap,  Albuquerque, NM

Oct 22: Jackson Hole Ski Club Swap, Jackson, WY

Oct 22-23: Marin Ski & Snowboard Swap, San Rafael, CA

Oct 24: North Tahoe Ski/Sport Swap, North Tahoe, CA

Nov 4-5, Red Lodge Ski Swap, Red Lodge, MT

Nov 5: San Ramon Valley High School Ski & Snowboard Swap, Danville, CA

Nov 5: Truckee Ski and Snowboard Swap, Truckee, CA

Nov 5-6: Bridger Foundation Ski Swap, Bozeman, MT

Nov 7: Hesperus Ski Patrol Ski Swap, Durango, CO

Nov 10-12: Beaver Mountain Ski Swap, Garden City, UT

Nov 11-12: University of Nevada Ski Swap, Reno, NV

Nov 11-12 & 19-20: Helm of Sun Valley’s Ski Swap, San Mateo, CA

Nov 23: Larson’s Ski Swap, Wheat Ridge, CO

Dec 2-4: Ski Dazzle, Los Angeles, CA

PACIFIC NORTHWEST:

Oct 12: Skyliners Winter Sports Swap, Bend, OR

Oct 22: 49° North Ski Swap, Chewelah, WA

Oct 23: Leavenworth Gear & Ski Swap, Leavenworth, WA

Oct 20-23: Corvallis Ski Swap, Coravallis, OR

Oct 27-30: Eugene Ski Swap, Eugene, OR

Oct 29-30: Mt. Spokane Ski Swap, Spokane Valley, WA

Nov 1–2: Tacoma Ski Swap, Tacoma, WA

Nov 2-6: Ski Fever & Snowboard Show’s Ski Swap, Portland, OR

Nov 4-6: Bogus Basin Ski Swap, Boise, ID

Nov 5: Lookout Pass Ski Patrol Swap, Coeur D’Alene, ID

Nov 11-12: Newport Ski Swap, Bellevue, WA

Nov 12: Schweizer Alpine Racing School Ski Swap, Sandpoint, ID

Nov 21-22: Olympia Ski Club Ski Swap, Olympia, WA

CANADA

Oct 13-16: Canada’s Largest Ski & Snowboard Swap, Toronto, ON

Oct 21-23: Calgary Ski Swap and Sale, Calgary, AB



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10+ Tips for Taking Care of Your Skiwear.

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We Ski Divas love our ski clothes. In fact, TheSkiDiva forum has an entire thread on jackets we’ve loved and bought (over 100 pages long!), and one on ski pants, too. But ski clothing is meant to be played in, and that means it can get pretty dirty. Stains, dirt, sweat — they all find their way into the fabric and definitely need to be removed.

I know: a blog post about laundry? But really, this is important. No one wants to smell your body odor. Not even you.

Luckily, one of our forum members is Penny Schwyn, a technical clothing expert. The owner of Specialty Outdoors  in Spokane, Washington, Penny has been working with outdoor apparel since the 1980’s, and is factory authorized to repair items from The North Face™, Helly Hansen™  and TREW Gear™.  She gave us some tips for taking care of your ski clothes:

• I run into people all the time who think washing will damage their outerwear. Honestly, you get more damage with a build-up of grime, body oil, sweat, dirt, and all the other stuff that accumulates through use. Ever seen a 15 year old parka that’s never been washed? Ewwwww. No matter what, the DWR (Durable Water Repellency) is going to wear off over time; it depends more on environmental factors than laundering. In fact, not washing regularly will cause something called “masking”, which causes it not to perform properly.

• Wetting out (surface fabric soaking through in rain) is a sure sign that your DWR needs to be reapplied. Putting jackets in the dryer at a moderate temp will help reactivate the DWR, though it does need to be reapplied every so often, no matter what the brand or how much you paid. You can also reactive the DWR by touching up the garment with an iron.

• Washing your shell is a multi-step process. You have to clean it first and then retreat the surface with a DWR application. Start by checking the manufacturer’s tag for any special instructions. To get your garment really clean, pretreat any grimy areas, wash it with a regular liquid detergent, and then rinse it THREE times before using G-wash or Tech-Wash. G-Wash and Tech Wash are vehicles for getting the DWR to adhere to your item, more than an actual cleaning product. This is why it’s suggested to wash it in regular detergent first, rinse extremely well, then use the G-Wash, followed up with DWR application according to the directions.

• Do not use fabric softener on wicking or technical fabrics. It coats the fibers and reduces their action.

• A too-hot dryer can cause all sorts of problems from delamination of the face membrane or seam tape, to actually melting zippers.

Woolite is too harsh for sweaters and similar items; it has added chemicals to make them feel “conditioned.” Baby shampoo does the same thing and is a lot cheaper.

• According to Gore-Tex, you can use Shout and other products on grease and grime. I’ve also used a mild Simple Green solution, but your results may vary. If you’ve got a white coat with grease on it, don’t expect perfection. The best way to prevent nasty grime at the collar and cuffs is with regular launderings. We do our coats twice a season, and I re-treat them in the spring before I put them away.

• For garments insulated with down, declumping as you dry is critical. People send me things to repair that have damp clumps in them. I know it’s tedious, but it’s very important. Dry your down items on an extremely low or air setting, adding tennis balls to break up clumps. You may also need to do some manual declumping.

• Dry cleaning is not recommended for outdoor gear, but if you must dry clean, ask for a clear rinse.

• People complain their Gore-Tex items leak in the rain. This probably isn’t the case. More likely, condensation is building up on the inside. Gore-Tex and similar fabrics are designed to work in cold, drier conditions; not wet humid ones. Those billions of microscopic pores can only move so much vapor. If it’s really wet out, or if you’re perspiring heavily, you are overtaxing the ability of the fabric to function and you will be wet. Gore-Tex and similar garments do have a finite lifetime. The lifetime warranty you get from a manufacturer is product lifetime, not your lifetime. With good care, you should get many years of use out of your investment.

Thanks for the great advice, Penny!

And now, for the million dollar question: how do you remove chair grease from your jacket or pants? I got the following procedure from the kind folks at Okemo Mountain Resort (thanks, Okemo!), and have used it with considerable success.

1. Spray each stain with WD-40 and let set for half an hour or more.
2. Put a small amount of Joy dish soap on each stain and scrub it in with a toothbrush.
3. As the stain begins to release, blot off with paper towels.
4. Continue until the stains are no longer visible.
5. If the stains are still visible, do steps 1 – 4 again.
6. Wash off the affected areas with cold water in the sink.
7. Wash the item according to its instructions.
8. If the stain is still visible, do not put it in the dryer. Instead, begin the process again.
9. When the stain is out, apply a DWR treatment and head for the slopes.

 



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Putting ’em to Bed, or Getting Your Skis Ready for the Off Season.

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Good night, my pets.

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.

This year, it’s a little different. I’m actually not that sorry to see it go (gasp!). Sure, I’ve had some great times. I spent two weeks out west, which was pretty fantastic; even now, some areas are still going strong. But here in the east, we’ve had one of the worst seasons in years. Yeah, there were some fine days. But I’m hoping ’16/’17 is better.

Nonetheless, ski equipment ain’t cheap, so 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.

7) Go through the pockets of your ski jackets. Not just to make sure you remove that half eaten PB&J, but you might find some forgotten treasure. Last year I hit the jackpot: $104., split between five jackets. Woo hoo! I’m rich!

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.



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Highlights for Women from the 2016 SIA Show

SIA Show Overview

SIA Show Overview

Since they haven’t yet perfected human cloning, I wasn’t able to attend the annual SIA Show in Denver a few 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, help was on the way. I was lucky enough to be contacted by Bobby Monacella. Bobby writes the SIA blog Snow Source, and offered to provide her take on the highlights for women at this year’s show. So take it away, Bobby!

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Women’s-Specific Apparel and Gear Led the Trends at the
2016 SIA Show

by Bobby Monacella

Here are some solid facts for ski and snowboard manufacturers to chew on: women influence 95% of household spending and decision-making (SIA Research proves it, but we already knew that, right?), we represent 42% of the snow sport participant base, and last season we spent a total of $1.6 billion on gear and apparel. Thankfully, many companies are waking up and producing some amazing gear and apparel that goes way beyond the shrink-it-and-pink-it style of yesteryear…or actually, three years ago.

At this year’s SIA Show, I was able to see some of the great things that are coming down the pike for women. In apparel, SIA’s trend forecaster, Jessica Kaplan, called for the emergence of muted tones over the neon that’s been featured in the past few years. But I’m a color kind of gal. I like fun prints and colors because they fuel my energy when I’m out on the hill. So see below for a mix of both worlds:

Outerwear

i.N.i. Cooperative

i.N.i. Cooperative

Dakine Beretta

Dakine Beretta

Under Armour

Under Armour

 

Women demanded more performance from their outerwear, and the manufacturers listened! Bibs and stretch are the key performance trends I saw on the show floor in women’s outerwear. Women’s bibs with drop seats were very big this year, with Dakine’s Beretta bibs, i.N.i Cooperative’s Bibster Bibs, and FlyLow’s Foxy Bibs, all debuting for 16/17.

In jackets, highlights included Under Armour’s ColdGear Reactor jacket, which features a breathable insulating layer, cool graduated quilting and a feminine shape. i.N.i Cooperative’s brand-new women’s insulated 4-way stretch jackets also made a big splash. Another stretchy standout was Bergan’s of Norway’s Kongsberg softshell jacket with 4-way stretch and bluesign approved insulation.

Baselayers and Accessories

More than in any other category, fashion meets function in baselayers and accessories, as women’s-specific brands continue to meet our demand for technical items that look great, too. There was a dizzying array of fabulous offerings at the show, but the women-owned brands really stood out because you can tell they get it.

The new Choucas hat company really takes the fashion meets function idea to the limit with blinged-out hats that breathe and look great on a trail run, on the mountain, or in town. Owner Mona L’Heureux told me the brand was born during a ski trip to the Dolomites, and was named after the raven-like birds that nest there. And no worries, the sparkles are flat so they can go comfortably under a helmet.

Skida hats, headbands, and neck gaiters in breathable poly and fleece are great for Nordic skiing as well as alpine. Former Nordic racer and Skida founder, Corinne Prevot, said she began sewing the hats for her teammates, and the business grew organically from there. It was important to her to offer energetic prints and colors to portray the adventurous spirit of the women who wear them. Skida’s newest addition is a Nepalese cashmere collection which is more town-oriented, with muted colors and super-soft feel.

Choucas Hats

Choucas Hats

Skida

Skida

Kari Traa, the Norwegian Olympic freestyle gold medalist, debuted her merino wool baselayers in fun colors and prints at last year’s show, and since then the brand has exploded in the US. “I’m a sporty girl,” Traa told me. “Always when I was training the sponsors gave us boring things, but I love to have some color. So when I started my brand I wanted it to be something different, and I think women really love that.”

Kari Traa

Kari Traa

Kari Traa4

The 16/17 Collection

At Krimson Klover, splashy prints and super soft merino are the foundation of next year’s baselayer collection. Founder Rhonda Swensen said, “I think that women like to see that we’re women-owned and women-run, and that we have women-owned factories. That’s a really strong appeal, but at the end of the day we also have to have a product that they like and that works for their lifestyle.” I love Krimson Klover because it truly is one of those brands that hits it on all fronts: fashion, function and ethics.

Krimson  Klover

Krimson Klover

Mountain Life

Call it athleisure, call it mountain-to-town, call it what you want, this trend continues to grow by leaps and bounds. There are two big reasons brands and retailers are embracing it. First, they know we’re looking for cross-over pieces we can use on the mountain as well as after yoga class. But also, in this era of unpredictable weather patterns, they want something they know will sell. They need the assurance that comes with pieces that can be layered and worn in a variety of conditions.

It’s in Mountain Life where the muted colors and wool really come into play. Beautiful wool pieces were everywhere at the show, seen in high fashion luxury capes and ponchos from Jail Jam and Krimson Klover, fair-trade sweaters and knit skirts from Laundromat, and sustainable Colorado-raised merino wool vests and jackets from Voormi.

Laundromat

Laundromat

Jail Jam

Jail Jam

Hardgoods

In my opinion, Coalition Snow is one of the best stories from the SIA Show. As far as I know, it is the first and only woman-founded, women’s-specific ski company in existence. CEO Jen Gurecki started the company because she felt that the moment had come when the industry needed a women-owned hardgoods company.

“The past few years have seen a lot of growth in women’s-specific gear. It’s been a real shift. I’m passionate about the mountains, so I thought now was the time for me to jump in and do this,” she explained. “You don’t come to a party you’re not invited to, you know? Having a women-owned ski and snowboard company lifts all women up, and helps us all see that we have a place on the mountain.”

I can’t wait to try the Roz G freeride skis, which were developed in cooperation with Olympic freeskier Roz Groenewoud, and which she recently rode to 6th place in the X Games. Coalition also debuts a new backcountry ski for next year called La Nieve, designed by Coalition team rider, Jillian Raymond.

The four days at the SIA Show reinforced my feeling that it’s a great time to be a woman skier or snowboarder. With the explosion of gear and apparel made just for us, we have the ability to push our limits like we want to, and look great at the same time. I’m not saying this shouldn’t have happened sooner, but hey, the great news is that the guys are catching on and the women are stepping up. And for that, I raise a glass and say, Cheers, girls! Let’s get out there and rip!

Bobby Monacella is the editor of SIA’s blog, Snow Source. She writes about the business of snow sports, with the occasional craft brewery report 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 Snow Source and view her profile at LinkedIn.



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The Great Ski Pole Mystery.

SkiPoles

Ski poles are the Rodney Dangerfield* of ski gear: they don’t get no respect. After all, they’re not sexy like skis, with splashy graphics, a wide range of shapes, and high tech materials. And unlike ski boots, they don’t require someone with specialized knowledge or mastery to get you fitted just right. Ski poles are basically long sticks with grips on one end and baskets on the other. They come in different sizes and a few different materials, but that’s about it.

ancient carving

ancient carving

Nevertheless, ski poles have been around for eons. According to Wikipedia, the earliest ski pole was found in Sweden and dates back to 3623 BC, while the earliest depiction of a man with a ski pole was found in Norway in the form of a cave painting, dated at 4000 BC.

But despite this long history, a lot of people still find ski poles a bit of a puzzle. Many can’t figure out what they’re used for or how to use them. And some disregard them entirely: little kids, for instance (unless you count whacking each other or engaging in fake sword fights), or even ski luminaries, like Andrea Mead Lawrence, two-time Olympic gold medalist.

Then there are those who think they use poles when they actually don’t. They just carry them down the mountain, one in each hand — like a rose or a can of beer — with nary a flick. This has always puzzled me. I mean, why hold onto something you’re not going to use?

So why do we have ski poles? Do we really need them? What the heck are they even for?

Glad you asked, because it’s a good question.

According to Dave Beckwith, Director of Killington’s Snowsports School, ski poles are indeed useful. And for a variety of reasons:

  • Propulsion. You can use ski poles to push yourself along the flats.
  • Balance. When you’re not moving, poles can be extra points of contact to facilitate balance.
  • Timing/rhythm. The pole swing/touch aids in the rhythm and timing of a sequence of turns. It can act as a trigger or turn initiator.
  • Blocking. The pole touch also aids in blocking or slowing the momentum of the upper body vs. the momentum of the lower body. When the lower body turns across the fall line and creates a countered relationship to the upper body, the upper body still has directional momentum. This can  be slowed — or blocked, as we call it — typically in moguls or steeps. You can do this internally through the body and externally through the pole touch.
  • Proprioception. Poles create added points of contact to provide information that can aid in your spatial relationship with the mountain.
  • Deflecting. You can use a pole to navigate through areas by pushing off things to redirect yourself while moving.
  • Unweighting. By applying pressure on a pole, you can help unweight yourself to jump over obstacles such as ice, dirt spots, or rocks.
  • Visual aid. By observing your pole swing, other skiers may be able to better understand your directional intentions.

So is skiing without poles a bad idea? Dave says no. “Some folks just like to ski without poles. And some coaches like to teach students without poles. Often, the reason is to develop good habits and movement patterns within the body rather than relying on external input too early through improper pole use. Typically, you’ll see coaches teach young kids without poles because the poles can be a distraction. I’m an advocate of teaching with poles from the outset. I want to give students all the tools they need for success right from the beginning.” 

Katy Perrey, a member of TheSkiDiva forum and a Level 3 Keystone instructor who often teaches in the mountain’s women’s clinic, agrees. “Ski poles can be a disadvantage at lower levels because people don’t learn to balance on their skis and feet. They’re always trying to balance using their poles. At the upper levels, when used properly, poles can help with timing in turns, bumps, and steeps. The swing of the pole should make you move forward into the direction of the beginning of the turn. That said, we should all be able to ski all types of terrain without poles because of a balanced stance.”

What’s the biggest mistake people make using poles? According to Katy, it’s having your hands all over the place, as well as bad timing. “When you watch super-skilled skiers, you don’t notice the poles or the pole swing/plant. With a lesser-skilled skier, the poles are much more noticeable because their arms and hands are moving all over the place. This causes serious upper body rotation, which is very bad.”

Dave sees two mistakes. “Either people don’t use them at all — the poles are just along for the ride — or their pole plant timing is off. This can keep the skier from getting the best response from their gear or the smoothest ride possible.” 

So don’t dismiss the lowly pole. Embrace it. Give it the respect it deserves. And use it in a way that helps your skiing. That’s what it’s for.

BTW, check out a thread on skiing without poles on TheSkiDiva forum. Go here.

*Late 20th century stand-up comic and actor

 

 

 



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Got cold feet? Here’s what to do.

I’m not talking about being too afraid to do something, as in “I was going to huck the cornice but I got cold feet.”  I’m being a bit more literal here. As in “My feet feel like they’re encased in ice; I have to go inside right now to warm up.”

A real wet blanket on a great ski day. And no, not an actual wet blanket.

Cold toes can be a bummer, but there are things you can do to keep them warm. (I’ll fill you in on my super-effective-OMG, it’s minus 20 and my feet are still warm-combo later.)

So let’s start from the top.

Make sure your boots fit: Believe it or not, cold feet can be caused by ill-fitting boots. Something could be cutting off your circulation, and determining if that’s the cause is a worthwhile endeavor. A good boot fitter can  help.

Wear proper socks: I know it seems counter-intutive, but thicker socks will not make you warmer. All they’ll do is 1) make your feet sweat, which will make your feet colder, or 2) bunch up in  your boots and either give you blisters or  interfere with your boot fit, thereby cutting off your circulation and making your feet colder (see above). You really want a thin ski sock. Trust me on this. And be sure to avoid cotton. Cotton stays damp. You want socks made out of merino wool.

Keep your boots dry and warm: This is pretty obvious, but if you store your boots in the car overnight, they’re going to be plenty cold when you put them on in the morning. So keep them inside. Also, dry your boots out from one use to the next. Sweat can make the liners damp, and once again, a damp boot is a cold boot. Use either a boot drier or remove the liners to dry. But let’s say you do leave your boots in the car overnight (hey, everyone makes mistakes). Here’s a tip: stick a couple hand warmers in each toe for a quick warm up. And an extra boost, put them next to a heater for a few minutes.

Keep your feet dry, too: Dry feet are warmer feet. I spray mine with anti-perspirant before I head out to ski. Not only are they drier, but they don’t stink, either. :)   I also wear different socks over to the mountain, and put on my ski socks right before I put on my boots. Some folks even change their socks at lunch, to keep their feet extra dry.

Heat your feet: Heaters can do a lot to keep your toes toasty. You use use either disposable heaters that stick to your socks or the interior of your boot (some people swear these work better when they’re stuck to the underside of a boot glove; I’ll talk about these next). Or you can use a  battery-operated heater, like Hotronics. The former are very cheap, the latter, not very. The way you go is up to you. I prefer the latter.

Wear Boot Gloves: If you thought gloves were just for your hands, think again. Boot Gloves are neoprene covers that fit over the outside of your boots. Added bonus: they keep your boots drier and prevent snow from invading any cracks, too.

Replace the liners: Some boot liners just aren’t that warm. You can replace yours with a custom moldable liner, such as those made by Intuition. Not only do they keep your feet warmer, but they feel great, too.

Keep your core warm: The warmer your core, the less blood flow you’ll need to keep it warm. Which means more blood flow to your extremities — your hands and feet. So wear those extra layers and that warm jacket. It’ll help your feet.

Any one of these things may work for you. Or more than one. Which leads me to my extra-special-heavy-duty-works-like-a-charm method for warm feet. I’ve had success with this even in temperatures down to -20°F: I dry my boots each night, keep my boots indoors, and even spray my feet with anti-perspirant. On top of that, I use the triple threat: battery-operated heaters, Intuition Liners, and Boot Gloves. Okay, maybe it seems like overkill. But if my feet don’t get cold in those condition, they ain’t never going to be cold.

Remember, dry feet are happy feet. And happy feet love to ski.



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