October 04, 2010
More on Ski Pass Defender
Check out the news from Breck and Vail Resorts over their new RFID enabled ski passes:
Breckenridge inventor Jon Lawson, who recently started marketing and selling the Ski Pass Defender, was told by Vail Resorts that he would have to give up his association with the product if wanted to return to his Breckenridge ski teaching job for an eighteenth season this winter.
Lawson’s invention is a simple sleeve that lets ski pass holders decide when they want to allow the electronic chip to be scanned. For example, a skier could choose to use the pass only for access to a lift. Or, he could allow all-day tracking, which at some resorts then translates into getting access on vertical footage and other mountain stats that can be shared with friends via social networks like Facebook at Twitter.
That’s the idea of Vail Resorts EpicMix app, publicized several weeks ago as a new product for this season and generally greeted with favorable reviews from the ski press and from skiers eager to share their exploits in the online equivalent of an aprés-ski lounge...
“Last week I got an e-mail from Pat’s secretary inviting me to come in and talk about it,” Lawson said, referring to Breckenridge VP and chief operating officer Pat Campbell.
Lawson said when he went to the ski resort office to discuss the issue, there was someone from the human resources offices holding his personnel file — which perceived as an attempt at intimidation.
In a second meeting with resort officials, Lawson got the ultimatum — either opt out of his business or opt out of his employment with Vail Resorts.
He chose to quit the resort to pursue his new business, saying it was an easy decision after the second conversation with resort officials.
“I went in again this week and Pat said the product is in conflict with their initiative. She gave me a choice of either divesting my ownership interest in the business or not working for Breckenridge,” he said.
Lawson described a few details of the conservation, saying that Campbell questioned him about the nature of his feelings about corporations, asking him whether he had something against The Man, or against corporate America.
Based on Lawson’s own post on the Ski Pass Defender website, he doesn’t.
“I don’t have anything against Ski Corporations using these technologies, and their “initiatives” to grow revenues and decrease expenses. But I think there are enough people who prefer NOT to be watched and cataloged by a big brother to warrant $16 of protection,” he wrote Sept. 21. “It is simply a way to give the skier or rider the freedom to choose to be tracked or untracked from day to day or run to run. And we now know where Vail Resorts stands on that point. ’You can have any color you want, as long as it’s black.’ “
Lawson thinks the ski company will use to information for targeted marketing at some point down the road, and also believes the RFID technology could be used to enforce on-mountain speed limits. He also says he has some expertise in the area of identity theft risk management, and claims the RFID data from ski passes could easily be skimmed in the ski area environment.
Now, to make matters worse, they also have the ability to combine stored values card transactions with this information. Basically they can catalog your entire day electronically.
Imagine that you ski 30,000 vertical feet and pop in to the on mountain bar for a beer after a long day skiing. You have one beer, then drive back to Denver, but you are exhausted from skiing and you have a car accident. Suddenly, they can recreate every run you took down to the type of terrain you skied and where you went.
For our pothead friends, imagine you pop off the lift into the trees with a couple buddies to smoke up real quick. They can actually track you and pinpoint your location. Ski patrol can come find you.
Ski pass defender simply let's you opt out of this.
I don't smoke pot and I have never drank while skiing. I poach an occasional closed run or two, but I like my privacy.
Not sure I really like Vail collecting this data. They invested upwards of $10M into RFID technology. What is their ROI model? It might be targeted advertising or it might be selling your information. I don't want ski spam and I don't want non-ski spam from their partners based on my skiing preferences.
August 22, 2010
Avoid Altitude Sickness (h/t First Tracks Online)
Salt Lake City, UT - If you're one of those folks who routinely suffer from altitude sickness, a tiny, convenient fingertip pulse oximeter from Brooks-Range Mountaineering may be just the ticket.
This $90 device, which weighs only 30g (1 oz.) without its two AAA batteries, measures pulse rate both digitally and via a bar graph, and more importantly, blood oxygen saturation (SpO2). It does so without drawing any blood by using light and a photodetector. Simply slip your finger into the device, wait a moment, and your pulse and blood oxygen are displayed on the device's LED readout. Power is conserved by shutting down automatically after eight seconds, but an indicator on the display notifies the user when it's time to change the batteries.
Not exactly a revolutionary gadget since doctors have been using these for years, but a hell of an idea for altitude sickness.
Worst skiing experience I have had was when Erich and I got altitude sickness at Wolf Creek after hiking Alberta Peak. The trip down was horrible. When I got to the bottom, I recovered enough to ski again almost immediately, but Erich was done for the day. I was not right the rest of the day, but I was able to see straight unlike him. The headache lasted a couple days.
However, that weekend was also one of the best experiences too and thankfully the altitude sickness happened at around 2PM on the last day there. It would suck to ruin an entire trip over it. This device may help.
But why pay $90 for it? Just steal it from your doctor's office, right?
May 14, 2010
Alright, my brief complete break from skiing appears to be over. Yesterday I was at Ski-Pro in Phoenix just to check what they had going on. Five years in my Nordica Beasts has left them packed and left me swimming in them. I didn't notice it at first but slowly I noticed I was really struggling to make turns and using my quads a lot more than before. I felt sore and had trouble with balance in my turns that I never really had, especially in pow.
Liners just get packed over time. I was wearing a pair of 30.5 which translate to size 12 and I have always been a 30.5 and size 12. So I went in to Ski-pro because it was 5:30 PM and I was stuck downtown and didn't want to fight rush hour. What the hell, right? Great time to buy, got time to look, and I am just looking.
Famous last words. They started measuring and checking and I tried on several different brands. Turns out I am not a 30.5 size 12. I changed the kind of socks that I wear the last couple years and usually wear either microfiber ultrathin socks or in a pinch a pair of black knee high panty hose. I bought a new pair of ski socks (in part because I was wearing sandals and didn't want to use their "loaner test sock" program, but also because I want a good pair. When measured in my new socks I was between 29.0 and a 29.5.
Now mind you, I know you are supposed to wear tight boots for performance, but going that small is almost impossible if for some reason you have to wear cotton socks, which is a total no no, but some days you run out or don't have all your gear set up and don't want to buy a $25 pair of socks at the resort for one day of skiing. Get them sized to be ultra tight for thin socks and the damned things won't fit with any other socks.
So here is what sucks. I tell Jake I bought new boots and they are in the garage so check them. I did not specify that I bought me new boots, just that I stopped at Ski-pro. So Jake goes out and assumes "My Dad loves me (mixed on that) and bought me new boots." So he tries them on. They are his size. He was a 28.5 last year and is probably passing me now.
So here is what I bought--a pair of Nordica Hot Rod 105's in a 29.5. I put them on and it was like the pair of jeans that you have had for 7 years that are all worn out on the seams and the pockets and that you wash in hot water because if they shrink just a tiny bit they are perfect. You know that if you wear them a little bit, they break in to be the best jeans you have ever owned.
I tried Salomons and some other Nordicas and a couple other brands and nothing fit like these. Most I have ever spent on boots and it was an impulse buy, but they knocked them down to $450. I am sure I overpaid a little but for them taking an hour to talk skiing, plus fitting me, plus trying on several pairs, plus them being local, I figured I would just buy right there rather than ebay it.
I really noticed the boots were a problem on my last powder day of the year. I could not keep my tips up and had to get so far in the backseat that my quads died by noon. But my Beasts are like those holey ratty jeans that finally your wife throws away and two weeks later you wonder where they are and you consider where to dig the shallow grave.
Looks like Jake may inherit the Beasts because they still have plenty of life left in them for him when he is gigantor in another year or two. Damned kid grows so quick I cannot afford gear for him anymore. I loved the days of a set of skis, boots, poles, bindings, etc., costing $250 for a junior. Perhaps I need to wash Jake in hot water and shrink him back down. No bleach because he is already a Ginger.
Posted by Justin at 01:14 PM
October 19, 2009
PreSeason Gear Prices Take Their Toll
I came up to Brian Head for the second time in three weeks to get the condo ready for winter. The last things we have left to do are tiling the floor in front of the fireplace, rocking the fireplace, installing the mantle, and patching some drywall. I meet with the contractor tomorrow and the condo will be done by Thanksgiving.
But that is not the point. The point is that we are going to Wolf Creek for Thanksgiving and Lindsey has outgrown all of her ski gear. With a trip coming up, I am forced to pay full retail regular season prices. That meant $170 for a set of Dragonfly Bibs and a Jacket. I stopped at Sport Chalet in Vegas since the Phoenix stores do not have ski gear out yet and bought them for her last night. Pink bibs and a brown and pink jacket. Gorgeous, no doubt, but way more than I wanted to spend.
I went through all of the ski gear and have to have some bindings readjusted for Jarrett this season since they were set for Jake's larger boots instead of his smaller boots he wore when he was 8. Demo bindings for the kid's skis rock.
Jackson has outgrown all of his jacket, pants, skis, boots... It is going to be expensive to outfit a 15 year old and I am leaving it to my dad and Liz to do this season. Jake needs a new helmet and we are pretty much good.
Gradually getting things square. I took all the extra gear back to the condo and am putting it away now. One month until I head to Wolf Creek.
Posted by Justin at 04:36 PM
October 02, 2009
Skiing on a Budget
I am in the process of setting the annual ski budget and this brings up the annual posts regarding affordability of the sport and to a lesser extent, of the economy in general. First, let me tell you my "wish list" of things that I want to do this season:
- Thanksgiving Trip to Wolf Creek
- Christmas trip to Utah, probably mostly Brian Head with a side trip to Alta
- MLK Day trip to either CO or UT
- President's Day trip to Brian Head
- Spring Break in Brian Head or Wolf Creek
- Easter at Brian Head
- 2-3 Day Trips to Sunrise and Snowbowl
- Possible trip to Summit County for a couple days
- Possible trip to Big Sky to see family that would include Jackson and some SLC skiing
- Maybe another couple trips to Brian Head or Wolf Creek as time permits
Obviously, if money were no object and I had no job plus the kids could take off school, I would do all of this and more. As things are, I have to plan around school holidays and work schedules, plus a budget. Here is what I am doing to keep costs down and my recommendations for like-minded folks that want to get more bang for the buck.
First, pick a resort and buy a season pass. Here are the economics for most passes. The break even point on an adult pass is usually 7-10 skier days. There are couple things to consider about that. You want to make sure that you will get those days in ***at that resort***. A season pass alters behavior in that it reduces the cost at one resort and encourages you to go there instead of to alternative choices. It locks you in, so if you want to ski a bunch of different places, it may not be for you. But the flip side is that it effectively reduces the marginal cost of a skier day which may encourage you to go more often because all it costs you to go for that extra trip is gas and food.
Youth passes for tweens and teens are especially good deals. For instance, a 15 year old pays the full adult ticket rate of $45 or peak $52 at Brian Head. A K-12 pass for your high school or middle school student runs $219, meaning the break even point is 4.5 days.
Finally, on the pass front, Vail Resorts offers the Colorado Pass and better yet the Epic Pass that provide unlimited skiing at all VRI resorts for $599 adult. Break even point is an unheard of 6 days. Plus you get access to half a dozen premier resorts.
Next up, is gear. If you shop any other time than April, you are getting burned. Well, maybe February to April because in February they start discounting and you get the best selection, but in April a lot of stuff is gone but you get the best prices. That is the time to start looking for your gear.
Rough estimates on gear are as follows:
$150 Helmet and Poles
$1050 Total investment
Make the assumption that you are getting Demo quality gear and buy brand new. You can eBay things and cut this number down closer to $750, so we will use a mid-range number of $800. Most places a good Demo set runs $40. That puts the break even point for good gear at 20 days.
Now, you start looking at your investment and how to maximize the useful life of gear. I am a huge believer that the single most important piece of gear is a good fitting pair of boots. If you own your own boots, you can get a custom bootfitter to do formed footbeds and to even mold the plastic exterior to fit your foot. I bought a $600 pair of Nordica Beasts for $289 from REI on clearance five years ago and paid another $150 for bootfitting. So my investment was a little high at let's say $500 counting shipping and tax. I have roughly 60-75 days on my boots and they are still like brand new. I take great care of them though and that makes a huge difference. I have another set of boots that I bought in 2003 that my dad uses that have over 100 days on them. They were $200 brand new and are getting worn, but that is $2 per skier day.
Skis are a different story. Edges get banged up, bindings break, new shapes and styles come out. I have kept my powder skis since 2005 but they are 2004 models with four going on five seasons on them. I have probably 30-40 days on them, but including bindings, I paid $400 off of eBay. I bought another set of skis two years ago at a clearance sale at Sport Chalet and stripped the bindings off of my 2003 skis adding a new set of skis for $200. I got them 50% off of a half price sale in March. Bindings will last you until they are no long indemnified if you take care of them and that runs around 10 years.
Kids skis are the same way, but the price of a boots are usually around $100 and skis and bindings another $250. You get far fewer days on them so it often makes sense to do a season rental for $100 that most shops do before the season starts.
So back to my plans--
My budget is as follows:
$500 Lodging for 5 days at Wolf Creek
$1000 for Lift Tickets and food at Wolf Creek
$1200 for Season Pass at Brian Head
$2000 per day for Jake, Jackson, Jarrett and me per additional skier day not at Brian Head $250 x 8 days
$2000 for Gas $200 per trip x 10 total trips
$1000 for annual gear replacement / new gear
$8000 total ski budget
Not counting the condo expenses for the year. And not counting all the incidentals like food, snacks, etc.
Now we start cutting the wish list down and Wolf Creek is a $2000 trip. I really want to take a nice trip somewhere this season with Jackson as he has only skied at Brian Head and Sunrise.
Like I said, the economics of this are pretty rough in a recession, but I love the sport and have two kids plus Jacko so it is the price you pay. This puts us on pace to hit 20-25 days. That is a good target.
Posted by Justin at 12:31 PM
May 23, 2009
Article on How to Care for Your Skis Over the Summer
Skis: At the very least, thoroughly wipe down skis (bases and edges) with a dry towel to prevent summer rust. I also strongly recommend applying a coat of wax to your bases so they aren’t deprived of moisture while they hibernate in your garage all summer.
However, if your skis were good to you this season and you’d like a repeat next year, I would suggest the following:
1 – Stone edges to remove burrs and rust that may have accumulated over the season. Sharpen with file so they are razor smooth and ready to rip next winter.
2 – Scrape any remaining wax from your bases, then clean with a base cleaner or citrus solvent (available at many ski/snowboard, bike, and automotive shops, or online)
3 – Apply a liberal coat of wax to bases using a hot iron (preferably not your mom/girlfriend’s clothing iron; waxing-specific ski/snowboard irons actually exist! Check it out). Lightly run iron over side edges to coat with wax to protect against rusting. No need to scrape skis; simply let the bases soak for the summer.
4 – Strap skis together and store.
Infinitely easier than caring for skis, but undoubtedly more important. (It’s possible to salvage rusty, dry skis, but there is no salvage for moldy, rotting boots.)
1 - Remove boot liners from shells.
Great read and good info.
Posted by Justin at 11:23 PM
March 14, 2009
Spy Optic Soldier Goggle Review
The Spy Soldiers are the newest goggles in the house for us to use and replace a couple pair of old Oakley A-Frame goggles.
The difference is remarkable. The Oakleys used to fog all the time when it was coldest and when you were wearing a mask, meaning you had to take the mask off to get them unfogged, and finally, at some point, they developed condensation between the lenses that never really came out. The Spys have yet to fog--either pair of Apollos or the Soldiers.
I will be honest about the Apollo and Soldier goggles--it is like comparing a Chevy and a Cadillac to go from wearing my Apollos back to the Soldiers because the Apollos are designed so well and are almost $200. The Soldiers start around $50-75 and go up to $150 depending on what you buy and where. All have the same frame in various colors, but the lenses we have are the highest end they make and offer great definition and control the light very well.
One big difference between the Soldiers and the Apollo is how they fit on helmets. The Apollo straps have a pivot point on the side of the lens designed just for helmet wear. The Soldiers do not have the pivot but are still very comfortable.
Jake is wearing the Soldiers until they die, but a year in and they are like brand new. That is a really good sign because the Oakleys usually only lasted one season by comparison. He has yet to touch my Apollos, but those are the breaks. They are brand new and don't have a scratch, but they are also used by a 34 year old that pays attention. That is why it is so surprising that Jake's are in such good shape.
Overall, Soldiers get five out of five stars and that is only because the Apollos get six out of five stars.
February 15, 2009
Review - Swany Gloves
I have been wearing a new pair of Swany X-Change Gloves for the first half of the season. In the past I have tried the local El-Cheapo gloves off of clearance racks, and several different gloves by Burton, etc. I am loving the Swany Gloves.
You cannot add too many new features that someone else doesn't have already, but the Swany has all the major ones. Glove Warmer pockets are of course included. Quick draw release strings to get them on and off. Glove holders.
What you can add is quality. Normally, I wear a pair of gloves out per year and these do not show any signs of wear at all. They are reinforced at all the key places and well stitched. And they are crazy warm. No more frozen finger tips. I have worn them in 0 degree temps and they have still been warm, even warmer with a glove warmer in the pocket.
All in all, the best gloves I have ever used. They are a tad more expensive than you can pay for el-cheapo or even some of the low end gloves by Burton, etc., but well worth the extra $$$.
December 28, 2008
Review - Apollo Goggles by Spy
I really got to ski with my new Apollos for the first couple times over the last week. They rock so hard. First, they have yet to fog on me at all and are crystal clear. Second, they are sick comfortable. I did not know about all the technology that goes into them, but this is pretty interesting:
In development over the last three years, the Apollo's groundbreaking and proprietary Mosaic lens creates maximum peripheral vision with a nominal frame profile. The unprecedented lens shape-neither spherical or cylindrical-contours sharply at specific points, seamlessly following the shape of the face to maintain a perfect and enormous field of vision with no distortion or internal reflection. The first of its kind, Spy's new multibase lens is the first new snow goggle lens shape developed in over a decade.
In addition, a new precise, self-positioning Magnesium/Grilamid hinge system turns 360 degrees with movement at any axis, allowing a comfortable and helmet-compatible fit. As with all Spy Optic goggles, the Apollo boasts our patented Scoop(r) ventilation system to conquer lens fogging, triple layer Isotron(tm) face foam featuring moisture-wicking Dri-Force(tm) fleece, and 100% UVA, B & C protection.
Received with great interest and fanfare at the January 2008 SnowSports Industries America tradeshow, the Apollo garnered not only excitement from dealers and media on the show floor, but won an Innovation Award in the Skill Category from the SnowPress Show Daily, the official publication of the SIA show.
Spy Optics goggles are all I will be wearing from here on out.
Comfortable, helmet compatible--check and then some. It is like not even wearing anything. It was all kinds of cold and my helmet fits well even with my North Face mask underneath it. Just plain comfortable and the look kicks butt too. A little spaceman'ish, but cool.
Posted by Justin at 07:36 PM
December 02, 2008
Apollo Goggles by Spy
I am working on some new Apollo goggles from Spy that seriously rock. I have not used them enough to offer a full review, but they are so comfortable that I almost forgot I was wearing them.
I got Jake a pair of Spy Soldiers that are just as cool, but he has dibs'ed them so I gotta steal them back to review them later.
Will do a full review when the snow gets deep enough to actually ski.
November 12, 2008
Article on Footbeds
After you've spent thousands of dollars on new skis, boots, poles, pants, parka, helmet and logged hundreds of hours in ski school, there's one $40 item that is almost guaranteed to make you ski better - custom footbeds.
Footbeds (also called orthotics) are custom made insoles that you insert into your ski boots. They are designed to support your foot and transfer the movements from your hips, knees, and legs directly to your skis. They also can cure a number of common problems such as pressure points and sore feet. Without them, you may not be able to ski your best.
Unlike other sports, skiing depends on providing your feet with solid platforms. Think of footbeds as the foundation of your house and your feet and legs as the studs that support the building. As you apply pressure to your feet by standing and moving your knees fore, aft, left and right, your feet are designed to absorb pressure by flattening, or "pronating." While that may be a good thing when running or walking in tennis shoes and sandals, it can work against you while skiing.
Footbeds are designed to support the bottoms of your feet so that as you flex your ankles forward or to the side, they transfer the movements directly to your skis so you can make those perfect turns. Your feet will flex and flatten, making it difficult to control the edges of your skis without footbeds.
Make sure your boots fit properly by visiting a boot fitting technician at your local ski shop before you invest in a pair of footbeds. Some of the best places to find qualified boot fitters are in towns located near ski resorts. Assuming that you do have a good fit, ask the technician about the types of footbeds his shop sells. Most sell a wide variety that cost $40 to $200. While you can buy less expensive, pre-made footbeds, you'll get more benefit from having them custom made to your feet.
I had my footbeds made by the Deep Powder House at Alta and also had them take out some hotspots in my boots where the shell put pressure on my Cankles. They were awesome and it made all the difference in the world to have my boots fitting like a glove.
I have had my Nordica Beast boots for going on 5 seasons now and have had my footbeds since the beginning. I paid $300 for the boots on end of season sale and paid $150 for the footbeds. Seems pricy until you feel the difference. These are high performance and very stiff boots and need to fit precisely. When I wear my old boots, they seem loose and sloppy.
November 03, 2008
I got my Swany gloves that I need to demo. They are seriously pimpin'. Jake wants a pair too.
Can't do much to try them out in PHX right now, but am ready to give them a workout at Brian Head. They are very well made and probably better than the Burtons that I have been using for the last two years. Warmer pockets. Double stitched.
They fit me like a glove--ok, and no OJ jokes either.
October 24, 2008
SHWAG from Swany Gloves
The guys at Swany Gloves offered me a free sample pair of gloves to take for a test drive for the season. I am going with the X-Change II gloves in a olive-beige. I love the colors they have and the gloves look pimped. They make a new bluetooth glove that looks awesome, but they do not have a glove with integrated iPod controls yet. That is what I am really waiting for.
Anyway, expect a review on the gloves and I am stoked about some free stuff. It ain't like I get a lot out of blogging, but I love getting occasional stuff to demo and review. That is a hint to readers to send me free stuff.
January 31, 2008
Modifying the Xbox 360
Not really ski gear, but gear nonetheless. The Xbox 360 is phenomenol, but what to do when the kids smudge your new $60 game. This mod offers the ability to back up your games to dual layer dvds and play backups on the Xbox 360. Note, this voids your warrantee and may violate laws in your locality. I am not posting it to condone in any way violating the law or any kind of software piracy.
I found this while I was searching for the Xbox 360 dashboard update released in early December that allows the 360 to play divx avi files. I have been converting my dvd collection to divx so that I can compress them and so that I have backups in case my dvds get scratched. I compress them to play on my iPod.
I post this because it is fascinating the advances that have been made. MP3s and MP3 players. DVD players for vehicles. Noise cancelling headphones. Stuff that makes travel so much easier and more productive. Anyway, enjoy the video.
Posted by Justin at 01:55 PM
December 26, 2007
Got a request for a review of the new Air Drives earphones.
First impression was they took a little getting used to. I had to take off my Skull Candy Giro helmet phones. Minor issue. Then I had to get used to wearing something other than earbuds (which I cannot wear when I ski because they block out the stuff I need to hear and they hurt my ears because of their shape).
I got on the lift with Jackson and kept my iPod down at a moderate volume. Not a lot of bass, but that is due to the fact that they are over the ear, not in the ear. The sound quality other than that was great. But the best part was that I could have a conversation and have some background music too.
I was seriously impressed. I can use them in the gym (which I am not going to because I am lazy and busy). I can use them while I am working so I can hear my wife bitching at me about never paying attention to her, but I can also conveniently claim to not be able to hear her at the same time. Best of both worlds, I can ignore her selectively and have an excuse.
They are a little pricier than iPod earbuds, but comparable to my over the ear noise cancelling headphones (that I can't wear except on road trips and planes). I am stoked because they are awesome and because I GOT THEM FOR FREE. Thanks Romeo for letting me check out the new technology.
December 12, 2007
Phoenix Ski Pro was a Rockin' Last Night
Went down to Ski Pro in PHX last night to get a ski bag for Jake's new Juvy's. I have gotten into this habit of storing everything in bags in my condo closet and labelling them so that I can just grab the bag instead of fighting with figuring out whose poles go with what skis and digging everything out when we go skiing.
Anyway, Ski Pro was the busiest I have seen in a while. Tons of folks getting jackets and gear and getting stuff tuned that hasn't been used in a while.
For all the doom and gloom about La Nina, the snow has come awful early to AZ and southwest Colorado. Let's hope that it keeps it up because this is good for Flagstaff, Sunrise, and all of the businesses that sell us gear.
Posted by Justin at 09:23 AM
October 30, 2007
Preparing the Kids for the Season
Went to the condo a couple weeks ago with Jake and Jackson. Every year they outgrow their stuff. I keep buying stuff big and even then they outgrow it. Both hit a major growth spurt this year but it looks like both are good on the boots for another year or two.
Here is my gear checklist:
- Skis - both are in 150's this year with Jake on his new K2 Juvy 150's and Jack on his Salomon 1080 Thruster 150's. Jarrett is gonna either be on Jake's K2 125's or on the 1080 Fish 130's.
- Boots - Jake has new Nordica Supercharger 26.5's and Jack has a year old pair of Rossi 26.5's. They actually have the same size feet. Jake is gonna be a big kid. Jarrett is rolling in Jake's Nordica GTS 23.5's.
- Jackets - Question is whether the trickle down effect from Jack to Jake to Jarrett happens this year or next. TBD.
- Helmets - Jarrett needs a new one, but again trickle down may happen. Jack and Jake both have Giro Bad Lt. helmets and all of us have the Skull Candy headphones to go along with them.
- Thermals - again, gotta check. We got tons of them, but it depends on how much the kids have grown.
- Gloves, misc... - All should still work.
I have dropped 45 lbs since last season. I got pretty big at 275. I was a high school O-lineman and wrestler and it finally caught up with me that I needed to drop considerably. I am down slightly under 230. I have been a 2XL guy for forever but went in to Sports Authority and was trying on XL pants and jackets and they were the right size. My 2XL stuff is like a tent. Debating what to pick up, but got the new Skiing Mag with all their gear stuff and I may spring for some new gear... Just that I can't use it.
This is the nice thing about being a regular. Maybe I have to buy a Jacket, helmet or some thermals and I have three kids outfitted. With almost brand new gear. Every year it is a little bit of stuff, but with three of them, hand-me-downs rock. Plus I e-Bay all the equipment in April when prices are rock bottom. That helps. It certainly keeps costs manageable.
I just can't wait to get Lindsey geared up and skiing. Girl stuff is so cool. I hate to say it, but it really is. Even for women. It used to be that everything was unisex or else it was the old school one pieces in hot pink or jackets with huge fur collars. Now, they have more and more cool stuff.
September 20, 2007
New Gear for Jake - K2 Juvy's
Jake is now officially a "tween". Almost 11. 4'10". 90 lbs. Size 8.5 feet.
He is at the very end of "kids" ski gear. Most skis only go up to a 140 and most boots only go up to around a 25.0-25.5. I found him a nice set of Nordica Superchargers in a 26.5 which is an almost unheard of youth size and yesterday while returning Jarrett's season rentals from last year, spotted a brand new set of K2 Juvy's in a 149 for $219.00 at Ski Pro.
Jackson is skiing a set of Salomon 1080 Thrusters in a 150 (adult ski) and now Jake is in a 149. Jarrett just graduated to the big kid's school of skiing and gets to move up to Jake's old K2 Escape 125's or maybe the Salomon 1080 Fish 130's Jake was using last year.
But the best part was Lindsey was with me and grabbing skis off of the kids shelf. The skis for Girls rock. I am so stoked to go ski shopping with her in another couple of years. They have some seriously cool stuff. But for now, Jake's Juvy's rock pretty hard.
August 30, 2007
Ski Sales Season Kicks Off
The first sign of winter is upon us — the Labor Day ski sales. Actually, the traditional opening day for the Utah ski season is roughly 80 days away in mid-November. But now is the time when skiers and snowboarders and would-bes take an accounting of their equipment, or lack of, because now is a good time to buy new. And skiers and snowboarders know it.
The three Sports Authority locations expect to see more than 30,000 people over the weekend, pulled in by promises of ski and snowboard gear "up to 70 percent off." It's also a good time for parents to take inventory. Unfortunately, skis, boards and boots don't grow. Taller kids with longer feet need to upgrade. When buying taller and longer, do it in inches not feet.
I'll never forget my time selling ski gear at a now out-of-business ski shop. A buyer I was helping couldn't understand why I argued so strongly against him buying 7-foot skis for his 3-foot-tall daughter. His argument was why pay for the shorter ski when he could get the taller pair for the same price, "and she can grow into the skis."
It's a fact of skiing, though. Old equipment needs to be replaced. Binding parts start to wear and become unsafe; boots wear, especially the toes and heels, which work in cooperation with the bindings; and skis, well, if not new ones then at least get them tuned before the season.
What comes after the sale are the annual ski swaps, at least a half-dozen good swaps Snowbird and Park City. Starting it off this season will be the Snowbird swap, scheduled for Sept. 21-23. Smart sellers mark their gear, some only slightly used and some new, to sell rather than go to the trouble of having to reclaim it.
The argument has long been that skiing and snowboarding are expensive sports. With a little preseason effort, starting with the Labor Day weekend and extending to preseason passes, skiing and snowboarding suddenly become far less expensive.
Dead on. I bought Jake's boots last week. I probably need to get him some 150's and maybe some new bindings, though I have a couple of pairs. I might stick him on Tera's skis that have rarely been used because despite my efforts to coax her into skiing, she steadfastly refuses. She prefers to shop while we ski. No, she prefers to stay home while we ski actually.
Posted by Justin at 11:45 AM
August 29, 2007
Gear List Revisited
One of my first posts on the site was a gear checklist for my 2005 season. Just cause I am a worthless plagarizer, I am gonna reprint the best parts of it. (plus I am lazy and out of fun stuff to talk about)
A few ideas for you from a seasoned traveler on items that you may want to keep around for the trip. First, though is having the right rig for the trip especially if you drive any major distance. My Chevy Avalanche's 4x4 works great and the heated leather seats warm up the backside after a rough day on the slopes.
My basic gear list
- Sleeping bags - Just in case the roads are closed or hotels are full. Or in case you want to extend the trip that extra day or two. Plus they come in handy when three of you split a hotel room with only two beds. You guys get the cot this time?
- iPod or other MP3 Player - And rip the CD collection.
- Sirius Satellite Radio - Never miss an NFL playoff game again.
- Motorola handheld radios with external mic/speakers - for taunting your buddies as they try to pick up their hats, skis, and poles halfway up the mountain after going yardsale? or for calling your buddies to tell them to pick up your ski if you were leading the pack.
- DVD Player and car charger
- Warren Miller videos for the trip
- Garmin GPS
- An assortment of pain killers, muscle relaxants, and anti-inflammatories, plus a well stocked emergency kit.
- Sunscreen, lip balm, etc.
- Avalanche beacons, etc. for backcountry skiing
- Oh yeah, and always prep the car for winter driving -- Keep blankets, flares, water, etc. on hand. Winter driving is dangerous as evidenced by the cow that I hit at 2 AM on my way to Wolf Creek last March.
And most important? Don't forget the damn key to the ski rack or the condo.
OK, add in the following:
- Camelback - hydration systems work great and often I don't drink enough during the day to stay hydrated.
- Plenty of cold weather gear - you can never have too many gloves, mittens, scarves, thermals, etc. And keep some in the car. If you ever get stuck, they will keep you warm in a pinch.
- Energy Bars, snacks, etc. - These things are pricy at the resort. Stop by Sams or Costco and grab a case of granola bars and oreo cookies, etc., for a quick energy boost during the day.
- Extra socks - I know it is lame to say, but ski socks are not all made the same and wearing my white cotton crew socks in my ski boots sucks. They bunch up. Ski socks make the day so much more comfortable, but keep a spare pair around in case you don't have time to dry them.
- Lotion - skin gets chapped and you never want to buy stuff like that at the local market because they have crappy selections and it is overpriced. Bring your favorite with you.
- Swimsuit - The kids forget theirs from time to time and it sucks to be them. Swimming in boxers sucks. We do it on really slow weekends, but folks frown on it.
- Earplugs - Have someone in the condo who snores? Even if they don't normally, getting completely run down after a day of skiing will make the best of us snore.
I bought some really cool new stuff like my Skull Candy earphones that fit in my helmet and let me listen to my motorola radio and ipod at the same time. I never ski without my helmet and usually use a skull cap or a headgear during the day. So always keep a ballcap around so you don't have skier head. Same with gym shorts. I always wear them under my ski pants so that I can drop trow if need be. And last year, my buddy Carson ripped his ski pants and was running around in his long underwear. We made fun of him mostly for his skiing ability though so that he left with absolutely no self esteem. And no pants.
August 26, 2007
Ski Buying Guide Tips
While we are on the topic of gear shopping, check out the advice at skiernet on ski buying. I liked this paragraph a lot:
You're at a big sporting goods store, looking at two different Rossignol skis side by side. One pair is $600 and the other is $150. Fact: If you don't know the difference, you don't need $600 skis. The entry level ski will work just fine for you, even if you regularly ski black diamonds. You probably ski 3 - 6 times per year, and while you want to ski well, you aren't about to tackle the super steep double black diamond mogul field. Fact: The $150 pair (before bindings) is a well constructed ski that will perform very well for any skier. But...
As you ski more and more, and become more and more interested in the sport -- reading, trying new things -- your skills may advance to a higher level ski. Do you know what you need? A midfat? All-mountain? Freeride? Intermediate carver? Big Mountain? All-Mountain Expert? Take Advantage of Demo Programs at Ski Areas. Try different skis. Take notes. Do your homework...if you rush out and buy a high end ski that turns out to be unsuitable, you are buying an expensive lesson for yourself. Until you know the difference, and understand your needs, stick with the entry level to intermediate models...Rossignol Axium, Volkl Carver, K2 Escape, Elan Integra...all are excellent, well-constructed skis suitable for the majority of recreational skiers. As for kids, those Alpinas you see on sale will work just great.
Buying for teenagers can be a nightmare. Their friends have Rossignol Bandits...your budget says Rossignol Axium. Fact: Your teenager will be fine on Rossy Axiums, but their fragile teen ego is easily bruised. The solution is to provide enough funds for the lower priced ski, and let them fund the difference if they want the style-du-jour.
Personally, I never buy anything off of e-Bay that isn't new in plastic or NIB (new in box). Usually used stuff sells for about the same price as new stuff because the buyer originally paid retail and by the time it is used, it will be an outdated model. If you are going to buy an outdated model, why not buy a new one that is overstock from a retailer looking to close out last year's inventory?
Pre-Season Deals - New Ski Boots for Jake
I am a little late to the party on buying new gear, but Jake is wearing a size 8.5 mens shoe now. He went from a 5.5 to an 8.5 in a year. Pretty soon his voice will start dropping and he will be borrowing the car.
So I jumped on REI.com. Kids boots are a little tricky to find for tweens--kids 10-14ish. They are not really adults (though his smart mouth implies that he thinks he is) and are not really kids either. So buying gear can be tricky. I found an absolutely awesome deal on the largest kids boot size available 26.5--or 8.5 in a Nordica Supercharger at REI.
$99. I jumped all over it. I am looking at some Nordica Speedmachine boots next season, but my Beasts are still rocking for me. Nordica boots have always treated me well and Jake loved his GTS from two years ago.
Here are the old Nordicas that the Superchargers are replacing:
Posted by Justin at 06:57 PM
July 30, 2007
New Car - VW Passat
Live Earth didn't impact my decision to by a car that gets 32 MPG. Global Warming didn't factor in trying to cut the use on the big SUV down. But gas prices sure did.
That my friends is the free market. Gas prices rise and people have economic incentive to cut back on their fuel usage. Problem is that this means we have three cars instead of two.
DETROIT, May 25 — With gas prices well over $3 a gallon nationwide, many drivers are lining up to buy small cars.
But hundreds of thousands of consumers aren’t giving up anything to downsize. Instead, they are simply adding pint-size transportation to their driveways, parked alongside their S.U.V. or pickup.
In households that own a small car, the family fleet is close to an average of three vehicles, according to CNW Marketing Research, which tracks industry trends (the national average is just over two cars per household; America was a one-car-per-family nation a generation ago).
These growing fleets suggest an approach to conservation that is more addition than subtraction.
What environmental statement does this testiment to our wealth send? Did I really do the environment a favor to cut gas consumption without cutting the miles that I drive and by having an automaker produce another vehicle that undoubtedly requires far more greenhouse gases to mine the metal, produce the electricity to build, transport across the Atlantic, and eventually save a few miles to the gallon?
I am gonna say that this is a net negative to the environment. Every single SUV that is traded in for a Prius is gobbled up by some family in the suburbs. They aren't retired and recycled. My Avy has 150k miles on it and I have no intention of selling it (but then again, I couldn't if I wanted to with 150k miles).
But all that said, the thing is pimped. Way better than our Jetta. More HP, bigger interior, and surprisingly even better mileage than the smaller Jetta. I will post pics shortly.
July 14, 2007
Hacking the RAZR
I have a Motorola V3C RAZR that is pretty cool (though it is kinda 2005 old school now). But Verizon Wireless are a bunch of punks with disabling most of the cool stuff it can do. Can you hear me now?
My buddy Chris at Brian Head turned me on to this site that has all the hacks that are necessary to enable you to create and load your own ringtones from mp3's and to use your PC to sync data files, pictures, music, etc. with your phone.
You gotta get Motorola Phone Tools and do what is called a seem edit which is kinda like what Tera had to do to my favorite Levis last week when they got snagged in the dryer door and ripped. I trust her to edit those seams, but messing with the firmwear on my phone is probably out of her league. But the walk through is pretty simple and well documented on the site.
So now I have created two ringtones, synced up my Outlook calender with all my football games (Wick, ASU, Cardinals) in the phone, and in general played around with it. Ringtones loaded are Judith by A Perfect Circle and Beer by Reel Big Fish. I am still playing, but at $2.00 per pop or more from Verizon, I see why they lock down their phones. I am glad that there are folks out there smarter than me that hack things like that. You can even change the animations when it starts as well as the backgrounds, text, etc., of the main screens.
BUT BE WARNED--Seem edits violate the warrantee on the phone and can hose it for you. Considering that a RAZR is like $75 on e-Bay now, I can take that change as opposed to buying ringtones.
Posted by Justin at 06:43 PM
New Link - OuterSports
In mid-December of that year, the mountains received quite a dumping of new snow, and my friends and I decided to make the trip to Vail to enjoy the fresh powder. While carving down one of the resort’s legendary bowls, I accidentally caught an edge and ended up sliding face first down the steep incline. By the time I managed to stop myself, a good couple feet of snow had jam-packed my jacket and pants. I was soaked to the bone, freezing cold, and standing in an almost full whiteout blizzard. When I finally reached the lodge, my Wal-Mart thermal underwear was soaked beyond repair, and I had managed to catch quite the nasty cold. Needless to say, I traded the snowboard for a warm bed and a couple gallons of Ny-Quil for the remainder of the weekend.
The following season, I decided that it was time to invest in some quality thermal underwear. Something warm. Something waterproof. At my local sporting goods store, a young salesman recommended the store’s featured product, Under Armour cold gear. I must admit I was a little skeptical at first. I was under the impression that Under Armour was created to keep you dry, not necessarily to keep you warm. However, the young man swore by the new cold gear, and claimed that it was the driest and warmest cold weather protection on the market today. Taking his advice, I purchased a crewneck, pants, socks and an outdoor hood. Although the gear came to over $200, I felt it was worth it to keep my body warm and dry during the next ski season.
The first couple weeks of the season were great! The cold weather gear kept me warm and dry in the mountains, and seemed to be serving its purpose perfectly. Then right around the end of December, we made the trip to Vail. Once I reached about 12,000 feet, I could no longer feel any of my appendages due to the bitter cold. The remainder of the season was miserable. The weather got colder and colder, and my new Under Armour cold gear, although doing a great job to keep me dry, was no match for the cold mountain winds. For the rest of the season, I was forced to wear my old Wal-Mart thermals on top of the Under Armour to keep warm. Once again, my thermal underwear had failed me.
This year, I was determined to solve my problem and enjoy what was predicted to be the coldest and snowiest season yet. After running some Internet searches, I found a product known as military thermal polypropylene underwear. Apparently, the military uses unique cold weather technology to develop a special kind of clothing, known as polypropylene, to keep their troops dry and warm in combat situations. According to my research, polypropylene thermal underwear was only recently approved for use outside the military, so I decided to see what the stuff was all about. Again, I purchased a polypropylene crewneck, pants, socks and neck warmer. To my astonishment, my total price was under $70, less than one third what I had paid for my Under Armour cold gear. At this price, I honestly didn’t expect it to work very well, but decided to give it a try anyway.
Over Christmas weekend, my friends and I once again decided to make the trip to Vail to enjoy some of the best snow Colorado has received in years. Again, we dropped back into their legendary back bowls, and again I took a nosedive right down the steep incline. Once again jam-packed with snow, I sadly stood up, waiting for the cold wetness to sink into my skin. I waited. And waited. All day long, I took falls in pile after pile of fluffy powder. And all day long I remained dry and warm.
Seriously, this stuff is dirt cheap. I have some Hot Chillies that are getting ratty and the boys have UnderArmor thermal pants that cost a fortune. I am probably going to load up on new thermals this winter. Cotton is getting old. Outersports explains it this way:
Polypropylene is hydrophobic meaning it is water hating or does not absorb water. So unlike cotton, the polypro fabric repells the water spreading it evenly across the fabric. This allows it to dry very quickly. When I say quickly, I mean within minutes. It also allows the fabric to stay dry next to your skin keeping you dry and comfortable.
Polypropylene also has the lowest thermal transfer rate of any other fabric. This means that it retains the warmth your body produces keeping you warmer than other thermal underwear material. Polypropylene's ability to retain heat works even when it's wet. So the bottom line: Even if your polypro thermals get wet, they will still keep you warm and dry making them the ideal thermal for skiing and other mountain sports. As a side note, the US Navy and Coast Guard are required to wear polypro under their wetsuits to keep their body temperature up in the cold ocean water.
Posted by Justin at 11:55 AM
February 15, 2007
New Gear - K2 Silencer Twin Tips
After the recent thefts at the condo complex, I have taken pictures of all of my gear. This is important because if my stuff gets jacked, the insurance needs proof of what I had stolen.
Now, on another note, since I didn't want to leave my Valentine's Day present up to my wife, I stopped by Sports Chalet before buying her new earings and bought myself a little present. (nope, no Ferrari or pump action this year)
These are the new K2 Silencers in a 179. Twin Tips with a black top side and fat pistol w/ a silencer on the base. I have a set of Atomic Stomp 186's that run 118/88/114 and are sick heavy and too wide. Not enough sidecut for groomers. But man are they awesome in pow. These new K2's run 112/80/108 or thereabouts and are shorter. I wanted something lighter (and they are not as stiff or as thick as my stomps) so that I can cruise groomers and maybe hit the park. I will throw a 180 here or there, but you gotta have twins and my others take too much effort to really spin. So this is pair number 3 of skis for me. A set of Powder skis, some Groomer carvers, and a nice set of twins.
Best part--$209 end of season deal. It was like stealing. Her new earings were more than that, so she still came out OK.
Posted by Justin at 11:13 PM
January 20, 2007
Skiers versus Snowboarders - Brian Head Horror Story
I am talking to Cynthia, my neighbor down the hall at Brian Head. Way cool lady from Vegas who we run into most busy weekends including over Christmas and this last weekend.
Turns out that some jerks broke into her ski storage closet between Christmas and MLK weekend. Get this--they stole two Burton boards, but left about $2500 worth of skis behind. They didn't even want to waste time with the skis, just the boards.
I pulled my powder skis into the condo and brought the Burton board into the condo too. Sure, they can get stolen from the condo too, but I have double deadbolts on both the condo and the storage closet. She only had one lock. I checked my closet and some jerk with a screwdriver had tried to break into mine too.
So not to sound like a two plank wank, but why the hell do all the gear thefts involve snowboards, not skis? Cynthia didn't have condo insurance, which double sucks. I do, so if someone steals my gear, it isn't going to hurt as bad. I left the old kids skis in the gear locker, so if you want a four year old of K2 Jr. Escapes in a 125 or a pair of crusty Rossy 109 kids skis, have at it. I hope you have fun busting into my locker and wish you well if you want to tote them down the three flights of stairs.
If you dig on stealing stuff or if you need to steal to afford your snowboarding habit, I offer three alternatives to fix the situation--charge the kids on the football team a little more for their reefer; get into the more lucrative side of theft and crime; or stop wasting your money on the ganj unless you are willing to make a career out of being a lowlife.
Disgusting. Gear thiefs are the lowest form of life their [damn that grammer and my inability to use there and their] is and I hope that karma bites you for it. I hope that you steal an avalance beacon from someone's locker and it is defective while you are in the backcountry and that a freek sluff sends you to meet the ski Gods who will punish you for your lack of faith. There is no repentence for being a gear thief and eventually the punishment will catch up with you.
January 17, 2007
Gear on the Cheap
Got an e-mail from Gear Samples.com about what they do. Pretty cool deal.
I suspect you meet a number of people who are just getting started on the slopes and we both know that the gear can be expensive. My wife and I run a small website that sells new sales rep samples from Marmot, Cloudveil, and Arc'Teryx for 40%-70% off retail. I'd appreciate it if you'd check it out at: www.gearsamples.com and if so inclined recommend it to folks.
If you know anything about sales reps, it is that if you play it right and they think you are worth the trouble, they have all kinds of cool free stuff to hand out. Maybe it is pens or some other cheesy promotional item. I get stuff all the time from folks that want me to pimp for them on my site. Note that I don't do a lot of pimping on my site. I try stuff out and will shill for stuff that rocks like the Colorado pass, ski discount sites, and things of that nature.
I checked out the prices and this is a great way to save some cash. Lots of folks sell their samples on e-Bay for almost full retail and usually, the samples that come out are for stuff that has not even been released yet and is the next year's model. Check out the site.
January 03, 2007
What to Remember on Your Ski Trip - from Jon Lawson
Jon Lawson at mysnowpro.com has a list of what to remember on you ski trip and how to prepare and pack. I posted a similar article from Megeve Mike earlier this year. From mysnowpro:
So now after I told you of my personal issues, you may ask yourself, "why should I listen to this guy". Well, I used to forget more, and I am better now. Also, if you were to pick up my instructor jacket you may be amazed at the weight. Lip balm, sunblock, cell phone, space pen, class list, neckgator, camera, ipod, trail maps, canting shims, accident forms, snacks, sometimes lunch, etc... You get the picture. A good instructor is always prepared.
So here are some ideas to get ready for your first ski day of the year.
Make a "clothing man". Have some fun with this. The night before (or week), dress an imaginary person on the bed. Jackets, vests, softshells, pants, hat, gloves, socks, gloves, long underwear, boots, goggles, glasses, and neckgator. Perhaps even put your skis and poles next to everything. In the pockets of your jacket, put your sunblock, lip balm, and SKI PASS or ticket. Then lay your next outfit on top of the previous one. You may not need an extra jacket or pants, but please have extra socks! BTW, long thin socks are the best. Thick socks or two pair make your feet sweat, freeze, and fall off. Not a pretty sight.
I am going to add helmet in my case and my sons and brother's case. I ski trees a lot and like to get off piste. I have this major fear of hitting a rock or stump and going down onto something and smashing my grape. It would totally suck to end up brain damaged or something. Drooling and slurring my words. I would be like Lou Holtz on ESPN's College Gameday. Better yet, I picked up some new earphone pieces called "Tune Ups" for my Giro helmet and they have a built in Motorola microphone and headset that doubles up for playing my iPod. I also will add that a Motorola Radio and Portable GPS are good to have. The GPS is good for tracking where you went and better yet, when combined with the Radio is good in case you get lost. Especially helpful if you load it with trail maps which are becoming increasingly available.
I always keep a neck gator in my pocket, regardless of whether it is 40 degrees out. This last week, I left my fleece liner for my jacket and a crazy windstorm showed up at around noon. I had my neck gator and my neck and legs were warm, but my torso was seriously cold.
Two things not to bring--zig zags and or a pipe, and a flask. Keep in mind that drinking and skiing or smoking up and skiing numb your senses and extremities and are just bad news. And never forget your bathing suit. You gotta pack it if you want to hit the tub after a long day. Worse yet, it is winter at the resorts and they are kinda tough to find in the winter. We have a public sauna and hot tub at our condo and they generally frown on wearing boxer briefs or going commando in the tub. Especially when you are as white and fat as I am. So I bring my European speedo and normally wear my chest and back hair out with a good gold chain around my neck. Italian style baby.
October 06, 2006
Ski Bargain Hunting Advice Online
An absolutely awesome article on about.com regarding ski shopping and bargains that can be had. Couple of quick nuggets, but read the whole thing at the link above:
Become familiar with the skis you are checking out online. If possible, find a pair of skis in the brand and model that you are looking for, and make sure you are comfortable with the heft and feel of the skis. Remember, buying online you give up the touchy, feely part of ski shopping, but the money you save may very well counter the hugs and rubs you usually give a new pair of skis before you buy them. ... More than a few skiers buy skis in lengths recommended by the testers in ski publications. A lot of this is strictly a fad that can go out of style the following year. If you don’t mind being seen on a super ski that is a leftover in 167cm when everybody that’s anybody is skiing in 160cm, you can save big money. A rule of thumb is the longer the last year’s ski the cheaper you can buy it.
I have posted several times about e-Bay'ing equipment and the deals that can be had. You usually won't find the hotest, greatest stuff for a bargain, unless you time shopping just right. Honestly, if you are not already geared up for this season, you missed the best opportunity that comes along as shops clear their inventory in April. By now, the prices start rising again and there are less choices. It is like going to a yard sale--and that is a reference to the places where old folks hang out on Saturday morning to buy your old crap, not to following me down the mountain--the early risers pick through all the good stuff first thing, so if you want a deal, get there early.
For point of reference on skis, let's compare the skis I am currently using--Atomic AFT Stomp Mid Fat Twin Tips. These are a hybrid somewhere between a Park and a Powder ski. This is the guy that sold me mine on e-Bay:
Now I am not saying that these are the best skis in the world, but essentially, the only difference between the 2003-04 and the 2005-06's is the graphics. I normally don't care all that much about the graphics, but about the performance. If you are willing to ski with a 3 year old graphic, why buy the latest greatest? Save the $200 or so for lift tickets. You need Powder skis, make sure you have enough money for the powder days.
Honestly, you have to know what you are looking for. You have to know the differences and do the research. Talk to people. Demo stuff. Then check e-Bay for bargains. That is my approach. And get there early... just like when I go Yard Sale.
Posted by Justin at 12:01 AM
September 07, 2006
Helmet Usage on the Rise
This is from the Demographics Survey Conducted each year (h/t First Tracks):
An increase in helmet usage was also noted, an ongoing pattern illustrated in previous years data. Helmet usage continues to remain most prevalent among those under 15 and those 55 years old and older, as well as among advanced and expert participants. Overall, 38 percent of survey respondents were wearing a helmet when interviewed, up from 33 percent last season.
Everyone that I ski with except Jeremy rides or skis with a helmet. Last year, we were hitting a nice drop and my buddy Tim had a guy basically come over the edge of a small drop off and not paying attention, clip him with his snowboard across the helmet. I have had several nasty falls that my helmet has at very least prevented a major headache, let alone a possible major injury. I bought Jeremy a helmet last season, he just doesn't like to wear it.
Use good safety gear. I know it is cheesy and lots of guys think they are invincible. I would really like to see some more respected folks like Shawn White, Bode, Tanner Hall, Jeremy Bloom, etc., come out with a stronger pro-helmet campaign, but I guess Bode should start with a "don't get drunk while race skiing" safety campaign first.
I dig my helmet because on cold days, especially with my skull cap underneath, it keeps my head warm, plus keeps my goggle straps from digging into the back of my head. I wear a Bad Lt. helmet that ironically is used as a costume piece on BattleStar Gallactica by their Marines.
Posted by Justin at 03:18 PM
August 28, 2006
An Excellent Point About Skis
Check the comments on the previous post and I want to discuss them in some more detail. Not the literal one about me having a money tree, but a hypothetical conversation to have:
"I already own my gear, boots, skis, etc., so why would I want to demo or buy new gear?"
Well, let's assume that you are not in hotpants from the 80's and skiing straight as an arrow 210's from back in the day. Generally, most ski shops are going to sell an average weekender skier a nice set of carvers. I personally bought my first set of Atomics that were a Beta Carve 8.18 and had a very nice sidecut and are like glue on packed powder, ice, groomed, and crud. They are 190's, so a little on the big side, but great skis. I still use them in early and late season and since my dad is roughly my height and wears the same size shoe, he gets my old boots and uses my groomers when we go out. BTW, he actually has bright red hotpants and a powder blue 80's ski jacket. We almost ditched him over it. Chicks hanging all over him all day made it hard. They thought he was a rock star.
Let's compare a good all around ski with lots of sidecut to a powder ski. First thing you will notice is the width, especially in the middle, but also in the tips and tails. The powder ski is just plain wider. Of course it is. That is for float. But you will also notice less sidecut. It makes the ski a little less stable on packed runs. The skis perform radically different, and the honest truth is that unless there is some major fresh out there, a pure powder ski sucks. A carving ski is a much better choice.
What you have to ask yourself is what do you ski most. And for almost everyone, it is packed slopes. I mean, how many powder days with more than say a foot of pow do you get to ski? So it does not make sense to own a powder ski unless you live close to the slopes or have the freedom to chase powder. Basically, you either have no job (Jeremy) or have a job that let's you blow off work whenever you want, yet provides you enough money to pay your rent (me). Rent demo skis on the deep dumps. Just make sure you get to the rental shop early or they will be gone on the days that you really need them.
So let me answer Jake's question... what do you need a third pair of skis for. I don't have a really good answer. First, everyone should own groomers. Those should always be your first ski. Then, if you are a jibber, own a set of park skis. Or maybe a set of powder skis if you can get in enough days to make it worth it for your second set. I have a hybrid fat twin-tip that works for powder and is OK for the park. But they are a little heavy and so I am looking at park skis that will be somewhat narrower and definitely shorter than my current ones. They will never see powder since I have a powder ski, but will be purely for hitting the park. Biggest reason I am interested is so that I can learn some tricks and hang with Jake and Jackson. They are both riding a more park ski since they are pre-teens and jibbing is where it is at.
OK, so that is ski buying 101. Now, the next step is getting enough time on your skis that you can honestly feel the difference and know how to make your different skis perform under your feet. Truth is that skis are like a hammer. You gotta know how to swing it or all you do is smash your thumb. But as you progress, you honestly will see the pluses and minuses of different equipment. Each ski has its own strong and weak points.
So let me sum this up by saying, when you get up to the mountain, demo two or three sets of skis. Even if you already own gear. Spend at least a day or two a year on new Demo skis. Technology is not progressing super rapidly, so there are no massive changes, but this will let you try out new stuff. And if you have straight as an arrow 210's, once you ski shaped skis, you will take the old ones to Play it Again Sports or throw them away. Most shops on the mountain will let you demo multiple skis during the day if you ask really nicely and know or sweet talk the guys behind the counter. Then you will have a feel for what suits your style and your body.
Posted by Justin at 11:52 AM
August 27, 2006
New Skis and Ski Sizing Advice
Went down to the local shop and was talking gear with one of the guys there. I am debating about getting some new sticks and wondering how big I want to go. I am riding 186's now in a twin tip which work out to 183's approximately. But they are a mid-fat and run 118-88-110 and are more of an off-piste ski than a park ski.
Here is the problem. I am 6'2" and 250 on a light day. It is really tough to figure out what to ski. If I step down to a narrower twin tip, then I need the length for stability since I am fat. I really want something that I can use in the park, but don't want to give up the performance on pow and on groomers.
It is so tough. I have my groomers and I have my mid-fat twins. I am trying to decide on what to go with for my third ski. I figure I am set for powder days with my Atomic Stomp 186's. Early season, I have some older Atomic Beta Carves in a 190. I am thinking more of a pure park ski and am leaning towards the Salomon 1080's, but still debating model and length.
I will get back to you on what I decide. I am going to try demo skis if I can find anyone that has these in demos just to get a feel for length and model. We shall see what I go with.
BTW, isn't it a little early for me to be worrying about what to buy as my third set of skis?
August 13, 2006
Buying Gear--Now is the Time
Alright, the time to buy was really in April, but if you didn't already stock up on the stuff you need, now is a good time. The 2006-07 shipments are just arriving, so most places are liquidating any remaining 2005 stock before the new stuff arrives. It is a good time to look for deals.
Wait another month and the deals on last year's stuff will be gone. Now if you love the latest-greatest, well, first go to Aspen and show it off with all the other rich folk. An '05 set of skis ain't any different from the '06, and usually you can buy a model or two up the ladder in last year's models for the same price as an entry model for '06. Hence why I paid less for my Nordica Beasts that were turning a year old than the next year's Beast 10's cost.
Spend your money on lift tickets and ski days, not on overpriced gear when you have a limited budget. And two years from now, I will have a well used set of three year old equipment while your gear will not get nearly the number of days, but only be two years old. E-bay is a skier's best friend.
August 08, 2006
More Offseason Purchases
So my little brothers and my sons are my most frequent guests at Brian Head. My brother Jeremy is 29 and my brother Jackson is 11. Last year Jacko was riding a set of Atomic SL:9's that I had left over for Jake as a groomer and race ski, while Jake was throwing 180's on the twin tip Salomon 1080 Fish Jr.'s that I hooked him up with.
It took a couple illfated 180 attempts by Jacko trying to keep pace with Jake to realize the value of twin tips. And mind you that Jeremy and I were talking trash to get Jacko to pull 180's on non-twin tips.
Well, it came down to this from big brother Justin. I would buy Jackson twin tips if he did two things. 1. Never take up snowboarding. Don't even ask to try it. Go the Tanner Hall route. The kid has bleached blonde locks. Plus twin tips are a statement since everyone snowboards. Be a rebel and do something different. 2. Make fun of Jeremy.
I didn't even have to ask on either. He said he planned on that already. I am gonna have to get him a subscription to Freeskier and his twin tips just arrived and are getting bindings mounted as we speak. Salomon 1080 Thrusters in a 151. Probably a bit long for the dude right now, but he is growing like crazy, so they should last until he is 14-15ish. Jake is gonna be jibbing on them before I know it. I bought the little dude a pass for the season since he is becoming a regular at the condo.
I am just hoping that he doesn't end up as worthless as the other little brother that wastes time on my couch. I get the feeling that he is going to turn into the ski bum that offers to "take care of my place" during the winter at Brian Head. Probably for room and board plus a season pass.
Nah, if he did it would take away the feeling of superiority and the ability to make fun of Jeremy. Plus he and Jeremy would have to fight over the spot on the couch anyway in 8 years. I think I just busted on both of them in one post. I guess it don't matter since they can't read anyway. I will tell them the post was about the awesome 540's they will be throwing this year.
Is it November yet?
Posted by Justin at 01:13 AM
March 01, 2006
Helmets are a Good Idea
I broke down and bought Jeremy a helmet yesterday at Sport's Chalet in North Phoenix. They are having a crazy sale and I figured that for a whoppin' $40, I could save caring for a vegetable for the rest of his life. Not a lot to damage in there anyway, but I try to set a good example for Jake and Jackson and wear mine. Now Jeremy can be an uncle and brother that the kids look up to because he is safe and responsible... hahahaha... He is probably going to read this and smack me now.
I went night skiing in 2003-04 and fell hard when I caught an edge. I was dizzy the entire drive home and had headaches for a week. It was bad enough that I completely destroyed my goggles and was literally seeing stars (but it was night skiing afterall). I wear mine almost all the time and for kids, especially when you are anywhere near the terrain park or newbie skiers or boarders, they are a good idea. You can be the best skier on the mountain, but a helmet protects you from the other idiot that runs into you.
That was my helmet safety course. =)
Posted by Justin at 12:36 PM
December 21, 2005
New Case to Protect 5G Video iPods
Snowbliss had a post on the new iPod case for 5G iPods. I am still using my old 4G case for mine, but the headphones hole is in a different spot and the window for the display is not as large as it needs to be.
This looks like it will fix my problems and provide some protection for an occasional yard sale or two. I think I am going to pick mine up today.
Check out the EVO site to get yours.
Posted by Justin at 10:40 AM
December 02, 2005
Bootfitting Article of Interest
My last pair of boots have not seen their last days, but certainly were not performing as well as I wanted. First, I bought them over three seasons ago and they were starting to get packed down. Second, the liner was starting to seperate and would occasionally clump up meaning I had to undo the boot and smooth it out. Long and Short, I needed some new boots.
I shop around a ton, especially on the Internet for deals, and wasn't about to go to the local shop and get ripped off. I found the exact boots I was looking for, the Nordica Beast--not Beast 10 or 12, but the full Beast, at REI.com on discount for $289. Local price even with sick end of season discount was over $500.
I have read about bootfitting a little bit, but thought it was mostly custom footbeds and that sort of thing, and I'll be damned if I am spending 3 days worth of lift ticket money to get a footbed. Boots are boots, right?
Seems that lots of us make that mistake. I had major problems with my boots that are taking a week to heal completely. After four runs, my ankles and feet were shot. I took my boots in to Deep Powder House at Alta and it took them less than an hour to make my performance boots MINE and shape them to my feet and ankles.
In case you want more information check this article on bootfitting. My boots retail for $700 and though I got a deal on them, it is not much of a deal if they are uncomfortable. I figured I just needed to break them in. Now they are dialed in and the rest of the season and the next several on them should be much better.
Posted by Justin at 10:31 AM
November 13, 2005
More gear to add to the shopping list
Today I broke down and bought a new PDA. I picked up a VX6600 from Verizon that is compatible with their "BROADBAND ACCESS/NATIONAL ACCESS" wireless internet and data service. Let me give you some details:
- For $45.00 per month I get unlimited data transfers
- The PDA connects via either high speed wireless in metro areas or what is about the equivalent of ISDN in other areas
- The PDA has built in MS Outlook, etc for e-mail
- Is compatible with my corporate VPN solution
- Brian Head has awesome Verizon signal\
- With a little bit of hacking, you can hook a laptop up to it and surf via broadband or higher speed internet anywhere Verizon has a tower.
So I take the PDA on the slopes with me and keep it wirelessly connected to my work's VPN solution so I can get my instant messages and e-mails. And all this for a wallet busting $300. Works as a Phone, PDA, Wireless broadband modem, and does all the e-mail, etc. over the high speed connection. Perfect for roadtrips so that you can check your e-mail or update your blog from right on the mountain.
Check it out from Verizon.
Posted by Justin at 12:51 AM
October 31, 2005
My poor second child. It seems that big brother who is 9, gets all the good stuff. Take for instance these new Salomon Ten-eighty Fish skis and Nordica boots. (see extended entry)
I picked the boots up right after last season ended from REI.com for under $80 plus shipping. The skis I bought on impulse from the local ski shop this summer since they had a package deal. Including bindings and mounting, the skis and bindings were under $300.
Jarrett (child number 2) is stuck on three year old K2's and wearing Jake's old boots. Jake got the ski, boot, and binding replacements this year and did quite well I might add. Since Jarrett is such a newbie, he doesn't realize what a bum deal he got, but the good news is that I was looking into my Crystal Ball and I saw him getting a pretty nice pair of Ten-eighty Fish in about three years.
And then it hit me, Jake has a brand new pair of Atomic SL-9's that I bought on clearance two years ago that were too big for him last year. Stinkin' kid has two brand new sets of skis. Those cost me around $100 for the skis at end of season and were new in shrink wrap so I couldn't pass it up. They are 140's though so he had to grow into them.
Here is the problem with having a 9-11 year old. They are "tweeners". My son Jake has big feet but is tall and skinny. Now he has an adult boot (23.5), but is still not heavy enough to be in a purely adult ski and binding. I bought the Atomics, but they require an ADULT Atomic binding since they are predrilled 140's and at 140 there is a cutoff between kids skis and adult skis. Most adult bindings' DINs only go down to 3 and he is barely heavy enough or tall enough to set it at 3. It is like Tetris trying to mix and match and adjust to get the right combination. And on top of all that, you never buy a kid's ski for only one season. It has to last him at least two and preferably three.
The moral to the story--If you didn't buy your gear at the end of April, last year, you are gonna get hosed. Check my other articles on gear recommendations, especially the links to EBAY. The alternative moral to the story--I buy way too much crap. I need to stop buying stuff off of E-bay and clean out the closet of all the extra stuff I have.
Posted by Justin at 09:47 AM
October 25, 2005
The Powder Road
I read a brief review of The Powder Road in one of the many ski magazines that I keep on the coffee table to remind friends and family why I never show up at the annual Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners. Easter is hit or miss depending on the snow conditions, but my work tends to shut down from the end of November until the first of the year while everyone is closing out their annual books and taking their vacations. It saves time and answering stupid questions. =)
I got a note from the publisher asking me to come by and have a look at their site--www.powderroad.com--and if I would preview the book. Let my readers know what I think, so to speak. Well, the book is not here yet, but the web site is up with four episodes online for you to watch. I will have a review of the book shortly, but the website was so awesome, that I cannot imagine not loving the book. I wanted to recommend the site as a must read now even before the book comes out. Here is the premise:
Four friends take their snowmobiles north to Canada chasing endless powder. Forget heliskiing. Try heliskiing every day for three months and you better be named Paris Hilton to afford it--or have videographic evidence involving Paris Hilton that you can blackmail her with. We all need a rich daddy.
The first four episodes of the short videographies are phenomenol. The book comes out in Early November and I have already pre-ordered my copy. This is a must have. The scenary is breathtaking. Plus, you just have to support anyone that is ambitious enough to take on Alaska via snowmobile for three months. The site is releasing videos each week for the next few weeks, so go by and catch up on what they are doing.
Now I need some cheesy ratings system. You know, "I give the website 4 out of 4 snowflakes" or something idiotic like that. Two thumbs up, whatever. Nah, no rating system forthcoming, but based on the website, the book will be sitting on my coffee table and the website is in my bookmarks. My rating system is that I am forking out $30 to buy the book and that is worth almost a lift ticket. If a book is worth a lift ticket, that should say enough about my ratings system. =)
Posted by Justin at 02:40 PM
October 01, 2005
A Friendly Reminder about Fall and Spring Skiing
I did it again... A little different circumstances but same result. Last spring, I had a conference in Boston, MA, to attend that started on a Wednesday morning. I planned to fly all Tuesday and my boss thought I was in the conference "all week". A day when I am completely unaccounted for and assumed to be working. Where do you think I would be?
So it is low 40's and young Jake and I head up to Sunrise. The only problem with impromptu trips is that you tend to forget things on your checklist.
- Boots, Poles--check
Mid 40's combined with bright blue skies combined with 6 hours of direct sunlight plus the reflection combined with ski goggles... I sported and interesting pigment pattern for my conference where I happened to be presenting. Thankfully like OJ, I overcame conviction for my crime, but for the educated and ski knowledgeable folks in my class, they knew what I was guilty of. If the ski goggles fit or something like that.
My son Jake on the other hand had played hooky from school to go skiing. Perfect attendance August through November 1st and from April until the end of school. I usually blame doctors appointments or illness for the days he misses in between. We were so busted.
Well, I have another trip to the East Coast tomorrow and instead of skiing, I engaged in my other favorite past-time. Since I did not have to skip work, I made it known to the office and the folks I work with that I was unavailable from noon until 7 or 8 PM today because I was going to the ASU vs. USC game. 100 degrees, not a cloud in the sky, and not a drop of sunscreen. 5 hours straight and nice metal bleachers to get the reflection really going. At least I wore a hat.
I have two marks that I get to carry with me this week on my business trip to Pennsylvania. The mark of shame that is shaped like a boot on my ass from the whipping that USC gave us in the second half and the dark crimson pigmentation from just below my eyes (thanks to the hat) gradually forming a V on my jersey neck.
When does it start snowing?
Posted by Justin at 10:15 PM
September 26, 2005
It is about time to start the preparations for the upcoming season. I am slowly building my supplies up?which certainly includes building up the playlist for my new iPod.
Last week, I snuck out of work early on Thursday to head to the condo and start preparing the residence. Spending the 20+ hours last week that I did in my truck reminded me of midnight drives on icy roads to get to the slopes and be the first on the lift. I packed up the sleeping bag and slept at the base of Brian Head since the condo is torn apart. Many a night have we spent slumming it in the parking lot of a resort.
A few ideas for you from a seasoned traveler on items that you may want to keep around for the trip. First, though is having the right rig for the trip?especially if you drive any major distance. My Chevy Avalanche?s 4x4 works great and the heated leather seats warm up the backside after a rough day on the slopes.
My basic gear list
- Sleeping bags? Just in case the roads are closed or hotels are full. Or in case you want to extend the trip that extra day or two. Plus they come in handy when three of you split a hotel room with only two beds. You guys get the cot this time?
- iPod or other MP3 Player?And rip the CD collection.
- Sirius Satellite Radio?Never miss an NFL playoff game again.
- Motorola handheld radios with external mic/speakers? for taunting your buddies as they try to pick up their hats, skis, and poles halfway up the mountain after going yardsale? or for calling your buddies to tell them to pick up your ski if you were leading the pack.
- DVD Player and car charger
- Warren Miller videos for the trip
- Garmin GPS
- An assortment of pain killers, muscle relaxants, and anti-inflammatories, plus a well stocked emergency kit.
- Sunscreen, lip balm, etc.
- Avalanche beacons, etc. for backcountry skiing
- Oh yeah, and always prep the car for winter driving -- Keep blankets, flares, water, etc. on hand. Winter driving is dangerous as evidenced by the cow that I hit at 2 AM on my way to Wolf Creek last March.
And most important? Don't forget the damn key to the ski rack or the condo.
August 16, 2005
I nominally have a day job. I hate to admit it and erase the mystique of being a "ski bum" so call me "ski marginally employed". I get progressively more useless during ski season because I start suffering from mysterious illnesses triggered by an acute reaction to weather conditions. Some refer to it as "Powder Fever". One of the worst symptoms occurs when I am exposed to sunlight without sunscreen and develop strange pigmentation patterns around my eyes.
Occasionally, my two lives intersect. Like some sort of Superhero with special powers who fights crime at night, my secret identity as a ski bum might intersect with my public identity of IT Consultant. I got a call last year to travel to a little company in San Jose last year to do some IT work. EBAY needed some consulting and I spent any free time I had while doing the consulting gig testing "system performance" by shopping for various items--many used by my secret identity. Imagine Batman buying his "wonderful toys" on Ebay and you get the picture.
Last year I bought four sets of skis. I bought some twin tip Atomics with an 88mm waste and 115 and 112 tips and tail respectively. Twin tips for the park and fat as all hell for the powder. I will explain more on that story when I write about Wolf Creek. Bought my wife some new Atomic cruisers. My son Jake a pair of Atomic race skis. And just recently bought him a pair of twin tip Salomons. Also bought several sets of bindings including three different Atomic bindings. Finally, I got a fat set of Nordica Beast boots for me and my son a pair of Nordica GTS boots.
If I paid retail, I would need to take out a second mortgage. Every bit of the gear was brand new and I spent under $1200 for all of it. That is what a high end pair of skis run now days retail. But I know a secret. EBAY. And most specifically, I have a couple of Ebay storefronts that I do most of my shopping on and Tom Ingve's Denver Wholesale Skis is my favorite. Almost half of the gear I bought last year was from Tom and the rest was from other deals that I found either through E-bay of through Google's search feature "Froogle".
Couple of tips--
- Never buy boots without trying them on at a retailer. And often times if you have a price on gear, especially boots, from online, it is worth the extra $20-50 to haggle with a retailer to get them to come down on their price to make sure you get a good fit. If you try them on at your retailer and you like the fit, new boots bought online are going to fit the same.
- Buy from online sellers with solid reputations. Read feedback and look at the number of sales that the person has done. Look for Power Sellers. You have better luck buying new gear from a power seller than used gear from someone that has hardly any feedback.
- Ask your questions up front. If you have questions, ask before you guy, not after.
- Check with regular retailers Online Store fronts. Check online at the end of season for leftovers. Last year at REI's Online Outlet Store I bought a pair of Nordica "The Beast" boots brand new in the box for $289.00 that normally retail for over $700.00. Bought them in April and REI had them to me next day.
- Remember that most times you do not pay SALES TAX by buying online. This saves an additional 5-10% off the price and offsets most shipping charges.
- Remember that the hottest gear is also going to be the least likely to be marked down. And a year old model will have a much larger markdown than the latest greatest. But also remember that 2005-06 skis are not so vastly superior to the exact same model's 2004-2005 ski as to warrant paying double for. Look for bargains and be somewhat flexible and you save even more.
- Sometimes the folks at the E-bay Storefronts can custom order or find hard to find items. Not everything that they have for sale or can sell is listed in the store. Sometimes they have connections and can get you a specific product via their back channels with the manufacturers. It never hurts to ask and usually they can save you a ton on these items too.
Finally, never feel cheap about taking in skis that you bought online for half the price the local ski shop charges to the local ski shop to have work done on them. Just don't brag about all the money that you saved. Most folks are cool and understand that you are looking for the best deal, but they are in business to make a living too and you are taking food out of their kids' mouths by not paying their 100% markup. =)
BTW, went in to the local ski shop last week and bought my son his Salomon 1080s since things like kids' skis in a twin tip are harder to find than an adult all mountain cruiser from 2004. If I could ski on a 135, I would be beating him down and stealing the skis.
Posted by Justin at 04:19 PM