This coming weekend marks the closing date for final turns at many of the ski areas to our north. Not all, but most.
Bromely is already closed, as are most if not all of the smaller, more southerly ski areas.
Okemo, Stratton, Mount Snow, Loon, and Bretton Woods are all slated to stop operations this Sunday, the 14th of April.
Stowe and Sunday River have planned closing dates of Sunday, April 21st. Smugglers Notch the same, but not open weekdays next week, just open for closing weekend.
Sugarbush closed Mount Ellen already, leaving Lincoln Peak open, and hasn’t posted an official closing date, but there are hints of being open into early May if skiable conditions persist.
Killington and Sugarloaf are, as we know, open well into May, conditions permitting. Killington has some major on-slope events planned on weekends right into May. And with the depth of snow they have piled up on Superstar, you can be sure they will have that trail open deep into May.
Bottom line is, if you want to get in a few more turns on your favorite ski mountain, you better plan to get out there soon. Really soon.
And after you take that final slide down the mountainside, be sure to bring your skis or snowboard into Avie’s Ski / Sports for a final tune of the year. That final nicety will keep your skis or snowboard in fine shape through the summer, ensuring that you are set to ski or ride when that first lift spins next winter.
Sure, you can chuck your gear in the closet, or a dark corner of the garage or basement, but you won’t like what you see next fall. Do the smart thing — have your gear tuned at end of the season.
Better still, if you value your skis or snowboard, have Avie’s “summerize” them. The coating of wax saturates the base as it is applied with a hot waxing iron. The dividend this pays next season is that your skis or board holds wax better, longer. Meaning you beat friction for longer, meaning you slide along faster.
The transition to summer is happening right now at Avie’s. But there is still time to shop for winter gear. Stop in and check things out. You may find some bargains.
The curtain of cold falls with a grand “Ta-Da” closing this act in our annual seasonal play. When the curtain lifts, spring is here and summer not far ahead. Time to chase the spiders out of the kayaks, get some new tennis balls, find that paddle board paddle and leash, and get out and have some fun in the sun and warmth.
The 2019 ski and ride season turned out pretty good overall. The season got off to a wonderful start with a very snowy November and December. I got out on the slopes 5 times before the Christmas holiday rolled around. That was a very nice start to the season.
January and February, like they always do, brought along spates of bone-biting cold, splashes of warmth, and sporadic snow events all laced together with your run-of-the-mill winter weather. There did seem to be an overabundance of high winds this past season, with too many days when lift service to mountain summits was either restricted or curtailed.
Unlike last year, this March did not grace us with mega-snow storm after mega-snow storm. Snow did fall, enough keep things freshened up, but not enough to really dress the slopes off in white like March of 2018.
And so the season winds down. Ski mountains are shuttering all but the main lodges, turning off the power to lifts not servicing the main face, and shrinking open trail counts daily. It’s not over yet, but the season is most definitely on the wind down.
Season’s End “To Do”
If, for you, the season of playing in the snow is over, now is the time to do a few things that can make your return to the season of snow later this year vastly better. Here is the list:
Bring your skis or snowboards to Avie’s Ski / Sports for a tune up. Get the edges sharp, the base refreshed, and a coat of wax applied. Ask for “The Works” when you bring them into Avie’s.
Better still, ask for your skis or board to be “Summerized.” You get The Works, but we apply a thicker coat of wax to seal the base so it stays pristine, and holds wax better next season. Bring your gear back in the fall. We scrape off the wax and buff the base to a super slick, super shiny finish. If you love your gear, and want your gear to love you, Summerize.
Store skis and snowboards in a dry area with some decent air circulation. Don’t toss them in a corner of the garage or your cellar. Chances are that when you grab them next season, they will be full of rust and oxidization. Not only does it look nasty, it is ruining your gear.
Sure, Avie’s can remove the rust and oxidization, but we often have remove a lot of base material and/or metal from the edges. Both significantly reduce the lifespan of your skis or snowboard, and may affect performance characteristics.
Take those ski or ride boots out of the closet where you tossed them. Pull out the liners and remove the foot bed. Mix up a bucket of cool water and a very little bit of unscented soap, then plunge in the liners and work the soapy water around really good. Rinse multiple times to get rid of all the soap, then leave somewhere with good air circulation to completely dry. This will keep the liners fresh and clean.
DO NOT put boot liners in the dryer!! Heat moldable boot liners—which is most all that are on the market today—will shrink significantly. Only put them in the dryer if you want new booties for your doggie.
Liner already “stinky?” Use an anti-bacterial soap. When completely dry, spray with a deodorizing shoe spray (there are several on the shelves at your favorite drug store), and let dry for a day or two.
After cleaning the liners and reassembling the boots, buckle or lace them loosely. This will help keep the shape of the outer shell intact so that when you slip into them next, they fit the same.
SKI JACKETS & PANTS
Take your ski jacket and ski pants, and put them through a wash cycle. Be sure to read the tag inside the garment first, and follow the directions. If your jacket or pants are waterproof, properly washing and drying them will refresh the waterproofing.
And I repeat, read and follow instructions on the garment tag—to the letter. Some garments, for instance, will lose their waterproofing if washed/dried using fabric softener/dryer sheets.
Seasonal Lease Packages
If you have a Seasonal Lease package from Avie’s Ski / Sports, we do ask that you bring all the equipment back to the shop at your earliest convenience. We need to clean up and service hundreds of pairs of skis and many, many snowboards, so we appreciate your returning them early. It’s our goal to get “winter” out of our system by closing the tuning shop before Memorial Day rolls around.
Not Ready to Call It Quits?
That’s great! We love die-hards! We do suggest however, that you bring in your skis or board for a quick wax job. With the snow softening up and getting super wet, having a coat of wax will help reduce the jolt you experience hitting those really wet patches on the trail. And the wax helps make the skis or board less “sticky,” giving you a better ride down the slopes.
If you wax your own skis or board, now is the time to stop in at Avie’s Ski / Sports and pick up a bar of SWIX “yellow” wax. It will make you slide along so much better during those lovely spring days on the slopes.
Avie’s Ski / Sports will be making the transition from winter to summer over the coming month. Stop in and look for some deals and steals on winter gear. If you buy it, we don’t have to move it to it’s summer home!
I decided to make a run up to Stratton this morning. I’m glad I did. It was Strattonspheric. That means it was other-worldly good. Outta-this-world good.
Look at the picture, taken from the summit near the top of the new Snow Bowl lift. I think that’s proof enough that my decision was a good one. A really good one.
That’s Bromely Ski area center right. Way off in the distance, not really noticeable in the image here on the webpage, unfortunately, you could see the snow-capped twin summits of Camel’s Hump. Stowe off behind that—I think. That’s how crystal clear a day it was.
Okay, so you give me a high-five for a great day of sightseeing in Vermont. What you really want to know is — How was the skiing?
It was phenomenal. Stratospheric even. Despite it being clear and sunny, it was cold. In the teens at the summit and mid-twenties at the base. And it stayed cold. With a breeze that wasn’t quite a wind. The snow stayed firm-and-fast on the upper mountain, with lower mountain trails softening up just a bit. Not so much as to be sloppy or “grabby.” Just nicely soft.
The snow they received over this past weekend gave the mountain operations folks a chance to make a major “reset” on the trails. The St. Patrick’s Day Avie’s bus trip to Okemo experienced “groomed variable surfaces,” which translates to “chopped ice.” Not that those conditions were bad, they were actually quite good. But the snow today at Stratton was delicious, good old packed-powder. It was spectacular.
Grizzy—a Double-Diamond to the left off the Ursa lift, was fully groomed top-to-bottom. First time I had seen it groomed this season. It was spectacularly fun. Multiple times. As was Polar Bear, Black Bear, Tamarack, Standard, Spruce, Drifter, Sunrise Supertrail, and Down’easter. To name a few.
Time to Act Is NOW!
Bottom line is that conditions are incredibly good right now to the north in ski country. Take advantage of it. Read this, then call in sick for tomorrow. Go skiing or riding. It will be worth the effort. You won’t regret a moment.
Some warmth creeps in towards the end of the week, which will make for some good spring skiing and riding, for sure. But if you like your snow-covered slopes to be firm-and-fast, go tomorrow. Leave tonight if you can so you can’t change your mind.
Yes, the ski and ride season is winding down. Resorts will be reducing access day-by-day, and trail counts will dwindle. All the more reason to get out there one more time. Or two. Maybe three?
This Sunday, March 24th, is the official last trip of the Avie’s Ski / Sports Ski & Ride Bus Trip season. And that final bus is going to Loon Mountain in New Hampshire.
Right now, Friday morning, it is snowing at Loon. Snowing hard. In fact, they are expecting 5-8 inches of snow up there before it ends tomorrow morning. Then it stays cold through Saturday, meaning not much of it melts.
Sunday however, sees the temperature slide up into the mid-40s. And sunny.
That means some sweet, soft, buttery turns at Loon. Yes, spring skiing at it’s best. Nice fresh snow and nice warm sun.
The trip to Loon is a definite “Go!” There are some seats left, but given the predicted conditions, empty seats may fill quickly.
Get to Avie’s and get signed up for that trip! The last chance, last trip this season! Sad but true.
47 skiers and riders embarked on a bus from Avie’s Ski / Sports on Sunday March 17th—St. Patrick’s Day. It was also Avie’s Customer Appreciation Day. The bus went to Okemo. Ted and all the Avie’s shop employees were onboard for this special trip.
While there was no corned beef and cabbage, Ted had plenty of coffee and donuts to go around. Everyone was well fed and well caffeinated when the bus arrived at Okemo. While St. Patrick’s Day is known as a day of green, this one was white. As the bus pulled into the lot at Okemo, it was snowing. Hard enough so that you couldn’t see the upper mountain.
On the mountain, conditions were firm and fast throughout the morning. Okemo, true to its claim to fame, did an incredible job grooming the slopes. Recovery from the two previous days of temperatures nearly into the 60s was incredible. Everywhere on the mountain snow coverage was good to great. Great was found on most of the main mountain face trails.
The sun popped out in the afternoon and warmed things up a bit. This made for some nice soft turns, especially along lower mountain trails. The sun, the light breeze, and the soft snow was a reminder that spring is nearby.
All in all it was a great day on the slopes at Okemo. Skiers and riders had a fun time in the early morning snow and chill, and in the warm afternoon sunshine. Inside the lodge a leprechaun was greeting Avie’s skiers and riders at lunch. At days end, tired skiers and riders relaxed around the fire pit, swapping stories about the days adventures.
But alas the day closed and the group followed it’s leprechaun leader back to bus for the trip south.
Big smiles were everywhere. The great day on the slopes was followed by the leprechaun giving out some St. Patrick’s Day cheer. Drink koozies, warm knit hats—some with pompoms—T-shirts, goggles, and more. The leprechaun made what seemed like endless trips up and down the aisle of the bus bearing gifts. Clementines, cookies, string cheese, and more.
Finally the onboard movies flickered onto the screen, and everyone settled in to chill and relax for the last part of the ride back to Waterford and then Westerly. It was a long day, but a great day.
Usually the Customer Appreciation Day Trip is the last ski and ride bus trip leaving Avie’s Ski / Sports for the season. But not this year. There is one more opportunity to get on the bus from Avie’s. The final trip, Sunday March 24th, heads to Loon Mountain in New Hampshire. Seats are still available, so stop in and sign up if you want a day of fun on the slopes.
Ski country to our north is still covered in white. But it won’t last forever. Get out and enjoy that white stuff before it turns to water!!
Thirty patrons of Avie’s Ski / Sports ventured forth to Killington ski resort yesterday, Wednesday March 13th, for a bit of skiing and riding. And it was quite a day!
Upon arrival, 153 of 155 trails were open for skiers and riders. That’s an impressive amount of territory to play in. If you can’t find something to suit your fancy in that array of trails, time to think about partaking in a different sport.
Winds were light to non-existent, and the sun wanted to play hide and seek. Then it just decided to hide, at least until early afternoon. Temperatures were in the high 20s in the morning, jumping into the low 30s early afternoon. It was warm enough where you didn’t get cold, and cold enough where you didn’t get hot. Pretty much perfect in other words.
Conditions ran what I consider the typical New England gauntlet for this time of year. Firm and fast early, with those trails that were groomed having some nice crunchy corduroy ribs to sink an edge into. As the day progressed and warmed, the snow softened. Particularly in those areas that were in the sun when it poked through for a mid-day visit. Late in the day, since the sun went back into hiding, most surfaces refroze, providing for some fast last runs.
Overall, conditions were ideal. Fantastic even. And that was quite evident on the faces of the 30 Avie’s skiers and riders as they made their way off slope and onto the bus for the return trip. All smiles. No grumbles—other than wishing it didn’t have to end.
Snow conditions up in ski country continue to be incredible. While northern New England has not seen—at least not yet—the major March dumps of white stuff experienced last year, they have received multiple smaller but significant snowfall events. No bare spots, not many icy patches, and still a ton of snow on the trails and in the woods. It’s mid-March and most ski areas are, or nearly, 100% open!
The bottom line is—get out there and enjoy these incredible conditions while they continue. There is still lots of skiing and riding left, but we are indeed on the “downhill slope home” for this season.
Avie’s Ski / Sports has it’s well loved—and for good reason—Customer Appreciation Trip taking place this Sunday, March 17, heading to Okemo. Ted comes along and brings all kinds of ski and snowboard “bling” to give away. All of it interesting and all of it useful in some way or another. All the Avie’s staff are also along. Coffee and donuts for the ride up. Snacks and water for the ride home. All in all it’s a really fun time.
And there is still space available for the March 17 trip to Okemo. But those seats will not stay empty for long, so don’t dawdle too long over deciding to go or not. The weather looks to be in the twenties on Sunday the 17th, and Okemo is famed for their incredible groomers. Looks to be a good day for ripping up some corduroy!!
Join Ted, I, and the rest of the Avie’s Ski / Sports staff for a day of fun.
Allison and I stopped in at Okemo on our way back south. The day before at Killington had been epic. Three to four inches of powder in the morning, following by dumping snow all afternoon that led to late day “fresh tracks.”
How could Okemo beat that? We weren’t sure, but we were not disappointed.
The morning started out cold, about 5 degrees at the base lodge. But the sky was aquiline blue with nary a cloud to be seen. Just a hint of a breeze tickled the trees at the summit.
We scooted over to Jackson Gore to start the day. The run down Blue Moon to the lift warmed up the muscles. Then a drop down Quantum Leap under the lift made for an exhilarating start. Allison’s goal for the day was to break the 40 mph mark. That happened on Quantum Leap and her day was off to an even better start. Mission accomplished!
We hit all the trails at Jackson Gore, then picked our way back toward the main face, hitting all the trails in the Solitude area on the way. Chief, World Cup, and several others flew by under us as we hit the main face of the resort.
The day stayed cold but sunny, and the slopes stayed firm and fast.
Conditions were totally different than the day before at Killington. But in a very positive way. Okemo was 100% open, all 121 trails ready for skiers and riders. Most trails were groomed up in the exquisite style for which Okemo is famed. The firm base under the beautiful corduroy stripes made for delicious carving.
And carve we did. My feet were nested in Dalbello DS 130 boots, which were clicked into my Volkl RTM 84s. They are a beautiful couple. Carving—at any speed—is done with confidence, fearlessly, and with great joy. Allison was strapped onto her new Ride Saturday deck, carving her way down the slopes with ease and grace.
Our only regret was that the day had to end. Conditions up north in ski country are about as good as it gets. So get out and get some of those goods!
This Sunday, March 10th, the Avie’s Ski and Ride Trip heads to Okemo. You can have the chance to get out and lay down some carves, dodge trees, slide rails, and bounce some bumps. It’s all there and waiting for you. Don’t let great snow conditions slip through your fingers.
And don’t forget—Wednesday March 13th Avie’s heads to Killington. If you’ve not been to Killington on a weekday when the rest of humanity is at work or school, you are missing one of life’s great pleasures.
I am up at Killington for my annual father-daughter ski and ride trip with my daughter Allison. We arrived late Sunday afternoon and by the time we were done with dinner, it was snowing. And it snowed all night leaving behind 3 or 4 inches of snow.
The crowd factor was pretty typical for a weekday. No wait at any lift except the K-2 gondola, which had maybe 10 or 15 people in front of us the really busy time we took it to the summit. Lift lines at the other lifts were nonexistent.
Our first run of the day was Great Eastern, summit to base, non-stop. Despite being a beginner trail, with no one on it in front of you, and if you just point the skis down, it can be a fun ride. And it’s a great way to wake up those leg muscles. From there we roamed all over the resort, and there is plenty of space to roam around.
It was snowing lightly when we broke for lunch about noon. And the snow simply kept coming on heavier and heavier throughout the afternoon. Our last few runs of the day, over at Ramshed, were through untracked powder an inch or two deep along the edges of the trails.
At days end, the view from the Long Trail Pub was such that we could not see even halfway up the beginner slope as Snowshed. It was dumping snow at a prodigious rate.
Needless to say it was an incredible day on the hill. According to Allison’s tracking device, we skied more than 25 miles and over 31,000 vertical feet with top speeds of about 40 miles per hour. I honestly don’t know if the numbers are impressive or not, but we sure had lots of fun making them.
Bottom line is that conditions are absolutely incredible up here in ski country. Killington was 100% open. All 155 trails ready for someone to play on. It really can’t get any better than that. Toss in the new Snowdon 6-pack bubble lift, a few new tunnels on Great Northern to remove those previously nasty congestion areas, and Wow! is the word.
My recommendation is to come get some of this stuff. Luckily enough, Avie’s Ski / Sports is running a ski and ride bus trip up here to Killington this coming Wednesday, March 13th. Remember, March is historically the snowiest month in Vermont. And conditions are already phenomenal.
Tomorrow we head south. But there is a stop at Okemo on the way. That helps reduce the separation anxiety that I am sure both Allison and I will have leaving this incredibly snowy, incredibly fun winter playground.
I’ll be sure to update you on conditions at Okemo, where they got even a bit more snow than that which fell up here in Killington. In the meantime, check your schedule, then free it up so you can be on the bus to Killington next Wednesday,
The title sounds like a cyber-style remake of a “Rocky” movie, or the next sequel to one of the many super hero type movies out there. But it’s not that far fetched. And more importantly, it’s about skiing.
Last fall I had a post titled “Ski Boots—Year of the Boot.” In that post I made mention that I would get out another post about differences between 3-buckle cabrio and 4-buckle overlap boots. So here is that post.
So you better understand the starting point, both boots were used pretty much “out-of-the-box.” The liners in the Krypton Pro boots were heat fitted. I did not heat fit the DS 130 boots because they felt great right out of the box. In each boot the factory provided footbed was replaced with a Sidas 3Feet custom footbed, sold at Avie’s Ski / Sports.
For the past few seasons I have been skiing in a pair of Dalbello Krypton Pro 130 boots. These are a 3-buckle cabrio boot with a 130 flex rating. They are very snug fitting, high performing boots.
Cabrio style ski boots have 3 buckles, making for very easy foot entry, and exit. It is almost as easy as slipping into a regular pair of shoes. Seriously. No grunting or groaning or twisting and turning of the foot to try and jam it into the boot. Pull apart the liner and in the foot goes.
But this year Dalbello came out with the new DS line of boots, whose design is taken right off the mechanical drawings for their DSR race boots. The Avie’s sales rep for Dalbello, Scott Heald, took us through how DS boots are put together from different injection molds to add stiffness while reducing weight. Scott had been skiing in Krypton Pro 130s and made the jump into DS 130s. So I figured I would try the same, see what I thought, then pass that along to you.
Krypton Pro 130 is a 3-buckle, cabrio-style, freeride, 98 mm last (width) ski boot. The boots are stiff, narrow, and high performance. They provide progressive flex as the tongue of the boot is pressured by the skier. The progressive flex allows the skier a great deal of finesse in how power is applied to the ski. The boot and liner are also designed to be more impact absorbing. These are great assets for those playing in the park, the bumps, and the woods.
DS 130 is a 4-buckle, overlap-style, 100 mm last (width) ski boot. They are a stiff, high performance boot designed after the Dalbello DSR race boot. That little bit of extra width provides for a little bit more comfort. Power transmission to the ski is nearly immediate, and precise. These are great assets for corduroy carving control freaks who want a bit more comfort than that provided by traditional race boots.
In The Shop
Entry | Exit
The first difference I noticed is that the DS 130 boots, like all 4-buckle overlap boots, were way less fun to get my feet into. I admit I was a bit out of practice after sliding my foot oh-so-sweetly into that pair of KryptonPro boots for the past few years. Round One—ease of entry and exit—definitely goes to the KryptonPro. Hand downs, no questions asked. Not even a close comparison.
Fit | Comfort
Once in the DS 130, the fit is quite nice. The newly redesigned liners are plush and comfortable. Despite the extra 2 mm of width—which I thought might be too much space—the boot fit incredibly well. I always had just a bit too little room in the toe box of the Krypton Proboots, especially for my left foot, which is a bit bigger than my right foot. It’s not that Krypton Pro is uncomfortable, but they are not comfortable. The DS 130 fit was quite comfortable. That made up for the struggle to get into them. Round Two—comfort without any fitting—goes to the DS 130 boot.
Heel Hold | Positioning
While the DS 130 boots were very, very comfortable—no worries about keeping them on all day long—I did wonder if that extra 2 mm would be too much once clamped in and I was flexing into the front of the boot and tongue. But once I clamped down and adjusted the micro-adjusting buckles for a snug fit, I found my heel to be nestled nicely in the heel pocket of the boot. When I flexed forward and tried to lift my heel, it felt no different than the response in the Krypton Pro boots. Round Three—foot position and heel hold down—was a tie.
Standing around in the lodge or living room or ski shop in a pair of ski boots is a bit different than having them out on the slopes and clicked into a pair of bindings attached to skis. So off I went with the Dalbello DS 130 boots to the slopes to give them a workout.
On The Slopes
I have skied the DS 130 boots a couple times now. Each session was on my “go to” Volkl RTM 84 skis so that I had a good reference point for comparison to the Krypton Pro 130 boots. I skied on beginner, intermediate and expert trails. In all instances a big focus was on carving, and how the boots would make the skis respond and perform. That’s how I normally play on the slopes, so it makes for a fair comparison. Conditions were typical New England conditions—packed powder groomers that had hard crust underneath, with patches of ice here and there on the trail.
On slope, a first, and quite noticeable difference was that the DS boots put me up over the skis more so than the Krypton Pro boots. This is likely due to the slightly different forward lean characteristics of each of the boots. The stance puts the skier in a more positive position for controlling the skis quickly and powerfully, as a ski racer would want and need.
There is a distinct and definite difference in how the boots make the skis respond. Krypton Pro 130 gives a more subtle command to the skis to respond, reducing that subtlety in a progressive fashion as pressure into the front of the boot is increased. DS 130 produced more or less immediate response from the skis when pressure was applied. Increased pressure to the front of the boot pushed more power into the response of the ski, but in a very immediate way with the DS 130 boots.
Krypton Pro 130 allowed for a bit of relaxation; I could get in the “back seat” a bit and not have the skis decide they could have their own way. Not so with the DS 130 boots; there was a definite “tipping point.” When I backed off, relaxing just a bit too much in my stance over the skis, control was diminished, and quickly.
I thought I could carve a ski pretty good in my Dalbello Krypton Pro 130 boots. And I could. But not nearly as well as when my feet were slipped into the Dalbello DS 130 boots. The 4-buckle overlap style boots gave complete and immediate control so I could tip the ski and bury the edge into the snow quickly and with great power. In the Krypton Pro 130 boots, tipping the skis into the snow was a slower, more progressive action that ended in a carve, but one that was not nearly as forceful and complete as from the DS 130 boots.
Krypton Pro 130 is a winner because of their ease of entry and exit, and because of their progressive flex nature. They allow me to totally control, with a great degree of finesse, how I want to power the skis.
DS 130 is a winner because of their greater width and comfort, and for their ability to power the ski the way I want immediately and forcefully.
So which boot wins Round Four—Control? Each boot handles control in a rather different fashion, so it would depend on any individual skier to make that judgement. That’s a good thing because it gives skiers some interesting options.
You can already see the endpoint of this debate—there is no single “winner.” Because the contest really isn’t equal. The winner will be whatever boot style best fits your style of skiing. But how might you decide which boot style—cabrio or overlap—is the best for you?
What’s Best For You?
Check out Avie’s Ski / Sport website page for ski boots: “Skier Need To Know—Boots.” This page will help you think through and then find the ski boot that might be best for you.
Which Is Best For Me?
After all this, what’s best for me? Honestly, I don’t know. I have worn the Krypton Pro 130 boots for several seasons, and so they feel like an extension of my legs at this point. Not so for DS 130 because I have only skied them a few times. So I know I need more time in them to really get a feel for how they behave, and how I get along with that behavior, in a broader range of conditions.
I love the snug fit of the Krypton Pro boots, and the easy going but highly responsive nature they show across the mountain, in all conditions. I adore the ease of entry and exit. But they are not what I would call a “comfortable” ski boot.
I love the comfort provided by the DS 130 boots. And I adore their ability to quickly and powerfully drive the skis into deep, graceful, powerful carves. They leave me speechless in that department. But I am not a fan of putting them on, or taking them off. But once the feet are in them, oh such comfort!
I am going to keep the DS 130 boots close by, and use them as much as possible over the remainder of the season. I am very much looking forward to clicking them into my Blizzard Quattro RS race skis. That ought to be a match make in heaven. But I don’t intend on making planters out of the Krypton Pro 130 boots. I plan to take them out here and there to refresh my memory, and to compare.
But my feet sure do love that comfortable feeling…
Stratton was my skiing destination on Wednesday. I needed some slope time.
Conditions were great. Fast and firm on most trails, with some a bit softer where there had no doubt been some man-made snow mixed into the corduroy stripes. The ungroomed trails, from my view of them as I rode the chairlift, were lumps of hard snow with troughs of ice in between. I didn’t venture into the ungroomed territory.
I was a bit hesitant about going because it’s a holiday week with lots of schools being on winter break. But it sure didn’t look like a holiday week. There were 4 cars at the Sun Bowl when I pulled in shortly before 8:00 AM. It was about 3 degrees when I arrived. But without a whisper of wind to be felt, the temp was quite bearable.
For the first few hours there were very few skiers or riders out and about. A number of trails were closed, or partially closed, for various free-style and race training events. So there were lots of school kids on the slopes, but they were all clustered in those areas where the training sessions were being held. That left more than enough mountain to play on.
I’m heading off on an annual trip to Killington with my daughter Allison in a couple of weeks. We hit the slopes long and hard, with numerous unofficial challenges to see who gets top-to-bottom first. Each year the challenge, for me at least, gets tougher and tougher. Last year was the first year she beat me down the hill. Not by much, but a clear and clean, unofficial win.
No Confidence & Self-Doubt
As I have said, I needed some slope time. For some reason, and I don’t know why, I have been struggling to ski well this season. Actually that’s not true. The struggle part is true, but not that I don’t know why. I just lost confidence in myself, creating huge self-doubt. That’s the “I don’t know why” part.
I ended last season skiing a pair of Blizzard Quattro RS race skis, skiing stronger, faster, and more confidently than ever that I can remember. What happened between now and then to shake my confidence to the point it toppled over and shattered? Like I said, I don’t know. But it happened.
So there I was at Stratton. I took a first run down Black Bear, caught an edge and almost fell. Next run I ducked under the gondola and went over to the broad, gentle “meadows” trails for beginners. Caught an edge and almost fell. I wondered if I should head home before I got hurt.
I took a quick break in the lodge and had a hot chocolate. This whole thing was idiotic. The problem was in my head, and only my head, and the question was how do I get it out of my head? I could not stomach the thought of an oh-so-disappointing trip to Killington where I would be afraid to ski. There had to be some way to unknot that part of my brain saying “can’t do this.”
I decided I would go back to the summit and ski my most favorite, and least favorite, single trail at Stratton. How can a single trail be both most, and least, favorite simultaneously you ask? And just what trail at Stratton might that be? That trail would be Kidderbrook.
Upper Kidderbrook is big and wide with a few nice steep sections where you can ski a real “fall line” because the trail is basically straight up-and-down. Lower Kidderbrook is a narrow, twisty-turny, not very steep section of trail taking you back to the chairlift. Right at the end, just when you think it’s over, you have to scale a small hill to get up to the lift.
It’s my favorite trail because of the exhilarating plunge down the upper portion. My least favorite because you have to wind your way along the long, slow runout back to the lift, then scale a hill to actually get to it. Fun on the upper. Fun-sucking on the lower. Technically it’s two trails, but functionally it’s one. If you ski the upper, you must ski the lower.
Why Kidderbrook? It’s a confidence builder. Kidderbrook is the trail I have brought daughters, nieces, and friends onto as they progress from beginner to confident, advancing intermediate. I take them when I see that their skills are good enough, but they are convinced they just aren’t ready ski or ride a black diamond, expert trail.
I hustle them past the trailhead sign which clearly says “Experts Only” and shows a black diamond (or two) in front of every trail name. The trail starts easy. On the first plunge, the width of the trail makes it seem more manageable somehow. No woods or twists and turns to worry about on the steep plunge down. And then, at the bottom of the second drop off, you stop and have them look back up the hill.
From that vantage, Kidderbrook looks as steep and challenging as it actually is. All I say, as they gaze back up the hill in awe is, “That’s a black diamond, and you just came down it.” They then realize they just slid down a really steep, expert, black diamond trail and didn’t die! The newly found “expert” basks in that great feeling all the way back to the lift and says. “Let’s do that again!” I of course say, “Let’s find another black diamond to master.”
That’s why I was sliding over the snow at the start of Upper Kidderbrook trail at Stratton. For some reason, and I don’t know why, even before I hit the first headwall on Upper Kidderbrook, I felt that focus come back into my head. The thick, nasty miasma rooted in my skull thinned like morning fog over water as a gentle breeze begins to blow. And the body responded. The skis tipped into the snow, the edges bit deep, and we carved our way down the fall line. Confidently.
I went back to the summit and skied down Tamarack. Then down Upper Standard. And then anywhere and everywhere, that was groomed. The skis responded as they should. As I knew they could, as I knew they would.
I don’t know how the fog of “no-confidence and self-doubt” got into my head, but I hope it doesn’t come back. It’s so very frustrating a thing to feel like you can’t do something that you darn well know you can. The nasty no-confidence, self-doubt thinking creates a self-fulfilling, self-feeding cycle of doubt that takes solid root and blossoms.
Fortunately, there’s Kidderbrook, confidence builder. I got my mojo back and working. Now I can look forward to Killington, knowing that I can at least keep Allison in sight as she rips down the slopes in front of me. If she is in front of me that is.