Spring Clean Up

Spring has sprung. Days are longer and temperatures are climbing. Flowers are popping through and tree and shrub buds are swelling. And yes, the snow is melting.

While that does not mean that the ski and ride season is over with, it does mean that it is winding down. If you are, for whatever reason, already at the end of your ski and ride season, then it is time to do a couple very simple tasks to ensure that next winter your gear is ready to go.

The thing you do not want to do is simply chuck your boots and skis or snowboard into a closet, basement, attic, or whatever lonely space you chuck your gear into. They will be very sad come next winter. They will look like the image on the right side up above. Rust will form, ski or deck base will get a whitish, sickly color, and boots will be disfigured and maybe even kinda smelly.

If you want to avoid all that—and your gear looks like the image on the left up above—here are a few things to do that will keep a smile on your winter toys.


Lightly buckle your boots so they keep their shape. Take a damp rag and wipe the outsides and the metals buckles to remove dirt. Do the same with your skis or snowboard. Put them in a space that is NOT subject to lots of humidity. In other words, a dry, airy space.


Do everything under GOOD, plus the following. Pull the liner out of your boots and be sure it is allowed to completely dry and air out. After a day or two of freedom, put the boots back together and store them as above. Take your skis or snowboard to Avie’s Ski / Sports and have them do “The Works.” This will sharpen the edges, recondition the base and repair any major cuts and gouges, and put on a coat of wax. Put them in a dry spot for the summer and next season you are ready to go.


Do all the above, plus the following. While you have your boot liners pulled out, give them a spray with a deodorizing, non-scented boot/shoe product. This will keep them nice and fresh. Once they air out for a few days, put the boots together and store them in a dry spot. Bring your skis or snowboard to Avie’s Ski / Sports and ask for them to be “Summerized.” We do The Works as above, but iron on a coat of wax and leave it there. That wax protects the base as well as soaks into the base so that any wax applied after lasts that much longer. Put your skis or snowboard away for the summer. Come fall bring them back to Avie’s and we scrape off the wax and then brush the base out to a beautiful luster. It doesn’t get much better than this.

Sure, you can do nothing and chuck your gear into that convenient dank, dark hole for the summer. Yes, Avie’s can resuscitate your skis or snowboard come fall. But at a price to your gear—we have to use a pretty heavy hand to remove deeply embedded rust and to restore a base that is heavily oxidized. That heavy handed method removes a couple years of life from your gear. Sorry, but we cannot “de-stinkify” boots.

If you have relatively new gear, or gear that you really like, consider treating it to an Avie’s “Spa Day” at the end of the season. That gear gave you it’s all and put a smile on your face all season long. Giving it a nice tune up before letting it relax for the summer is a very, very nice way to pay-if-forward.


You walk into Avie’s Ski / Sports. A big smile on your face. You tell a story about the pair of skis you got for an incredible price at a local ski swap. A few minutes later the smile is gone. Replaced by a quizzical, skeptical look. Maybe an angry stare. Definitely one of frustration. You just heard the phrase “not indemnified” from one of the staff.

In easy terms, indemnified means that someone can be held responsible for compensation or loss in the event of some form of accident or failure. For a ski binding, this would mean the binding manufacturer.

Just What Is The Issue?

Let’s use the image of the binding here as an example. It clearly looks old, though it may not be. It most certainly is not in like new condition. Rust, oxidation, and dirt are obvious.

Metals and plastics make up ski bindings. Both are long lasting, but neither is eternal. Springs and levers, tensioning rods and screws. These make the binding function. A certified technician sets those springs and levers and rods to release the skier under certain circumstances based on skier age, weight, height, ability, and boot length. Rust, oxidation, dirt. All play into how well the binding will function, despite proper adjustment to manufacturer specifications.

The issue is that the manufacturer has no way of knowing how people take care of their equipment. Some do and some don’t. Most skiers really don’t give ski bindings much thought. They are viewed as part of the ski. And they are, but as a separate entity with a distinct purpose—keep the skier locked onto the ski; let the boot free as required. At the end of the day and end of the season the average skier stands the skis up in a corner of the garage or basement. Done till next season.

Binding Longevity

After a certain length of time the manufacturer will no longer indemnify—or hold themselves responsible—for a given ski binding. The manufacturer has a pretty good idea of how the metals and plastics in the binding will degrade over time given “normal use.” Lack of maintenance and/or environmental conditions (e.g., damp basement) hasten the rate of degradation away from “normal.” Manufacturers no doubt err on the side of caution when determining age for indemnification to cease. As they should.

So you walk into a ski shop, skis in one hand a ski boot in the other. You tell your happy tale and say you want the bindings adjusted to the boot. In return you hear, “We can’t work on the binding. It’s no longer indemnified.” You’re miffed. Even if at a bargain price you gave away dollars for something that cannot be used as anticipated. You can buy and install new bindings for a couple hundred bucks, but now your bargain is no longer the bargain you had in mind.

Sometimes people get angry when they hear we won’t adjust the bindings. Some get downright belligerent. Conspiracy theories are rolled out. “Dirty crooks” and sometimes much less nice things are said. Despite the tirade, we will not adjust the bindings.

For some reason with ski bindings people think they are indestructible. They look simple enough. And beefy enough. They ought to last forever. And they may indeed last forever. But they may not function as expected—or as desired.

Risk Rules

How about this example. You are going bungee jumping. The manufacturer says the big rubber band that keeps you from splatting on the landscape below are indemnified for 500 jumps. Are you going to be willing to be tethered to that bungee cord beyond the 500 rated jumps? Maybe if you were number 501, but how about at 520? 550? 600? Me? I would definitely wait for the new rubber band to be installed.

Technically, a ski shop could adjust non-indemnified bindings. Doing so would mean the shop accepts responsibility should anything go amiss during their use. Yes, the shop could have a lawyer draw up waivers to be signed so that responsibility is mitigated. But there is already a small mountain of paper work attached to every ski rental or lease, binding adjustment or mounting.

And we could predict the outcome of any lawsuit. It’s a real no-brainer. I can hear the judge saying, “Really? You are adjusting ski bindings that the manufacturer says may not be reliable? Seriously? The Court rules in favor of the plaintiff.” The gavel whacks the bench. Case closed.

Ski binding indemnification. It’s not a scam. Or a conspiracy. It’s about safety of the skier. Really. Stuff gets old. Plastics get brittle. Metals fatigue. Moving parts don’t move so good anymore.

Have A Plan

Ski shop employees do not get any satisfaction from having to tell customers—in as nice a way as possible—that their great ski gear bargain isn’t. And the worst part is, for that customer, they almost never can return the unusable gear for a refund. It’s a no-win situation in almost all directions (the seller of the skis does gain benefit).

Does that mean that you shouldn’t buy used ski gear? Of course not. But if the bindings on the skis look pretty beat up and old then be skeptical. If the bindings are more than 7 or 8 years old, even if in really good visual condition, you may want to think twice. In either case the binding may indeed work fine. But if no ski shop will adjust them, then it’s a moot point.

Your best bet is finding out if the bindings are indemnified before laying out any cash. How do you do that? Easy.

Build a relationship with a local ski shop if you don’t already have one. Buy stuff there. Have your gear tuned there. Ask them where you might find some bargains to keep the kids (and yourself) playing in the snow. Ask that if you do find a pair of used skis if they mind a call to determine if they are indemnified. It is very likely they will be happy to help.

In Conclusion…

Once you have your plan in place and find that great ski bargain, be prepared to get some specific information about the binding. You will need to provide the shop with the manufacturer and the model name and number of the binding. If the bindings are so worn that you cannot tell who made them or what model they are, don’t bother with the call. Walk away from the purchase. Or buy the skis and take your chances. But don’t berate the folks at the ski shop for your decision if you hear the phrase “not indemnified.”

We understand that skiing is an expensive sport. We sympathize with families trying to afford gear and lift ticket prices, and we realize cost is a huge barrier to entry to and continuing enjoyment of the sport. So please do look for good, used gear. But do so smartly.

Follow the above advice and you maybe can rewrite the opening lines of this article so that the smile never leaves your face. That really will be a happy ending. And a win-win for all.

If you want to learn a bit more about ski bindings see the Avie’s “Skier Need to Know—Bindings” page.

Roxa Element 120 I.R.

One of the benefits of working at a ski shop is that you get to see, touch, and learn about the wide diversity of equipment available to skiers and riders. There is a down side. It is tempting to acquire equipment!

This season I did acquire a few new things. And I thought it would be nice to share my thoughts about those items that I now have had the opportunity to try out. Here are my thoughts on one item.

3-Buckle Cabrio Boots

I am a bit of a sucker for 3-buckle Cabrio ski boots. I have fallen in love with the progressive flex from this style of boot. They also are a snap to get a foot into compared to traditional 4-buckle overlap boots.

For years I skied in Dalbello Krypton 130 boots, and loved them. But, at 98mm width, they were quite narrow. I do have a narrow foot, so they fit, and fit well. But while I can’t say they were comfortable, I also can’t say that they weren’t. They certainly weren’t painful. However, at the end of the day, it was sooooooo nice to get out of those oh so very snug boots.

Roxa Element 120 I.R.

Enter the Roxa Element 120 I.R. ski boot. This is a 99mm last (width) boot. But with adjustment of the toe buckle it can be expanded by a couple of millimeters. While that doesn’t sound like much, to your foot, it is. Enough so that this boot, for me, becomes “comfortable.”

Sure, I could jump up to a 100mm last boot. I tried that. And while I got the “comfort” in the toe box, my narrow foot had too much room everywhere else. That made for a slightly sloppy fit, which I did not like. The adjustable toe box on the Roxa Element 120 I.R. solved that dilemma.

Intuition I.R. Liner

The Roxa Element 120 I.R. boot comes with the incredible Intuition I.R. boot liner. This liner is a “wrap” liner, so called because it wraps around your leg. The wrap provides extra structure making for a stiffer, more responsive boot controlling the ski. The Intuition I.R. liner is also incredibly warm. Yes, warm. In a ski boot.

Finally, the Roxa Element 120 I.R. boot comes equipped with GripWalk. If you haven’t yet heard about GripWalk, you need to pay better attention! GripWalk is becoming the new standard for ski boot soles. GripWalk provides a bit of rocker in the sole, making walking much more natural feeling. And there are rubber grips on the sole instead of just slippery hard plastic. So the boots actually grip while you walk. GripWalk! Bindings not GripWalk compatible? No worries. Element 120 I.R. comes with standard soles you can swap out until you get GripWalk compatible.

Grilamid Poly

Sure, you never heard of Grilamid. Neither did I. Until I hefted an Element 120 boot. I looked at Ben, the Avie’s rep for Roxa and said—”This boot is feather light! What’s missing?” His response—”Good for nothing extra weight.”

Roxa is using some incredible state of the art plastics in making their boots, and Grilamid is one of them. This “super plastic” is incredibly strong and rigid. But unbelievably light in weight. Because of the strength, less is used. Add less plastic used onto the fact it is lighter, and you get a boot that is feather light. Need an extra benefit? Grilamid is NOT affected by cold. So it does not get brittle, despite it being thin and light.

In summary—3 buckles, easy entry, comfortable, warm, super light weight, great for walking. But how do they ski?

On The Slopes

Clicked into a pair of skis, Roxa Element 120 I.R. boots perform spectacularly. The buckle above the bridge of the foot locks the heel snuggly into the heel pocket of the boot. No slipping, no lift. Nestled in the I.R. liner the leg is directly connected to the ski via the boot so great control can be exercised.

What I can say is that the Roxa Element 120 I.R. ski boot is a comfortable, powerful, controlling ski boot. Because the boot is Cabrio-style, the flex is progressive rather than immediate. Personally, I like the progressive power application when I am skiing around the slopes mixing things up between carving and just goofing around. The skis can be driven with as much or as little power as I want in a very controlled fashion. They allow me to ski in a much more relaxed manner than if my feet are inserted into a similarly stiff 4-buckle overlap boot.

Undeserved Bad Reputation

I have heard comments that 3-buckle boots lack power and can’t drive the skis. That is indeed a true statement when applied to 3-buckle—not Cabrio-style—ski boots. 3-buckle boots are often seen in rental boots, where there are simply 3 instead of 4 buckles to make it easier for novices to get feet in an out. But these boots, while having 3-buckles, are NOT Cabrio-style 3-buckle boots. They are 4-buckle overlap boots that are missing a buckle. See “3-Buckle vs. 4-Buckle” for a more detailed comparison.

Because of the very incorrect comparison noted above, a lot of misinformation has been spread about Cabrio-style ski boots. As a result many skiers shy away from some really great ski boots when they see 3-buckles. And that’s really too bad. They are missing an opportunity to find some new magic in how they ski. Indeed, some may not like the progressive nature of a 3-buckle Cabrio boot. It is a different feel. But if you don’t have the open mind to try it, you will never know. I am glad I did.

The difference, by way of an analogy, might be the difference between an incredibly loud alarm to wake you up in an immediate and reactive fashion versus an increasingly louder alarm until the response of wakefulness is achieved. While sometime we need that loud alarm, maybe we don’t want it all the time.

Some Final Thoughts

In closing, Roxa Element 120 I.R. ski boots are great companions for my feet. I can slip into them quite easily and back out again at days end. In between my feet are comfortable. And warm. They provide the progressive power control I prefer when free skiing, and they have the ability to provide plenty of power to drive a ski into a carve without effort.

Those looking for a bit more stiffness should look at the Roxa R3 TI I.R. boot series. Ray Gomes, another Avie’s staff person is skiing those boots. He is a very powerful skier who takes his skis and boots everywhere there is to go on the mountain. He recently was at Waterville Valley skiing on many of the skis we will have in the shop next season. Ray skied everything from big, fat powder skis to skinny slalom skis over 2-days. I asked how his Cabrio boots worked, and specifically how he liked the Roxa R3 TI I.R. boots. His response—”They are incredible! They drove every ski without issue no matter what ski and where I took them. And 3-buckles? Why have one you don’t need? I love the power strap buckle up top. Great feature.”

Is there a downside?

Yes, but a minor one. At days end, once I am back home or wherever I am spending the night, I pull out the liners to let them completely dry. I know most folks do not do this, but I do. When the liners get pulled out, the tongue of the boot tips out and completely over the toe of the boot. That’s kind of nice as then everything is open and getting the liner out, and back in, is a snap. The problem is that the buckles all end up under the tongue as you pull it back up to the front of the boot. If I had at least 3 arms and hands, maybe I could gracefully reassemble the boot. So far I have not been able to do that. It takes less than a minute to move buckles and tongue around and get things all squared away.

But there is a fix. Hook the toe buckle up on the last tooth of the stay but don’t snap it closed. You can get the liner out, and back in, but it takes a bit of force and good alignment of the liner to get it to slip back in. If you don’t regularly remove your boot liners, this is not an issue. You can do this same “trick” when slipping your foot in and out of the boot. It works quite well for feet but is a bit more effort for liners.

While annoying, I don’t find it a game breaker for wanting to take part in all the great assets of clicking Roxa Element 120 I.R. boots into my ski bindings. The comfort, warmth, and performance all quickly make up for that minor distraction.

A final word on the Intuition I.R. liner

Generally, when we fit boots at Avie’s we tell people we can “cook” the liner for a great fit. And then we recommend not doing that unless there is something that doesn’t feel quite right. The Intuition I.R. liner really wants and needs to be heat fit to the wearer before hitting the slopes. In this way best fit is ensured. At Avie’s we can do this right in the shop once you decide these boots are “for you!” This will give a near perfect fit, which will become truly perfect the first time you wear them out on the slopes. The heat you generate in the boot will finish the custom fit process naturally.

Don’t shy away from 3-buckle Cabrio boots. Give them a close look. They have much to offer.

Beneath the Sea

Slings, Points, Bags

One of the great joys of summer is getting in the water. And one of the great joys of being in the Watch Hill area is the abundance of marine life.

Avie’s Ski / Sports has everything you need to slip beneath the surface and enjoy New England’s underwater glories.

Wet suits, masks, fins, snorkels, and scuba tank fills. Avie’s has all you need to get in and underwater.

Interested in spearfishing for dinner? Spear guns, roller guns, and pole spears are in stock to help you do that. Rubber weight belts get you neutrally buoyant, and long-blade fins propel you quickly and efficiently to the bottom in search of dinner. Or to just look around at the sea life.

Stop in to Avie’s Ski / Sports and pick up new gear, replacement gear, or replacement parts—bands, tips, weights, dive flags. It’s all here for you.

Summer is here and the salty waters beckon. Scuba and free-diving are excellent ways to spend some quality time doing something fun, interesting, and rewarding.

Avie’s Ski / Sports is open Monday through Saturday, 10:00AM to 5:00PM.

Lurking In The Closet…

The Highwayman…in your closet?

It’s July. The day is hot. So hot that even the act of getting out of bed in the cool of morning makes you break out in a sweat. And worse yet, the air is so water-filled with humidity that you really think you should have gills instead of lungs.

To seek any form of refuge, you go down into the basement where you know it will be at least a few degrees cooler. As you step down the stairs you notice an odor. A dead mouse?

At the bottom of the stairs the odor is stronger. Bigger. More malodorous. Hmmm, maybe a deceased rat?

You head towards the closet on the far side of the room. Each step of your approach finds the disgusting reek getting stronger and stronger. You realize it can’t be a rodent. It’s something far worse.

You get to the closet door where the stench is nearly overpowering. You grasp the handle wondering if this is the doorway to the River Styx and if the Highwayman awaits to take you across.

Terrified, but determined, you throw the door open. There, in the dark corner of the basement closet is the source of the most imaginably horrible smell you have yet to smell.

It’s the family collection of ski and snowboard boots tossed aside at the end of the winter season.

You slam the door and race up the steps to fresh air. The heat and humidity hit you like a sock filled with sand. You hop in the car to go purchase an air conditioning unit so you needn’t go down in the basement again. You make a mental note to not volunteer to gather the gear for the first ski and ride trip of the season.

A Better Way

While the above may be a bit imaginative, it is close to reality in many cases. I work in a ski shop. I know the truth because it cannot be easily hidden. But it can be easily prevented.

And there is no better time to stop the Highwayman from taking up residence in your basement. The end of the season is near, and for many, already here. Before tossing those boots into the basement closet, reconsider. Avoiding the scenario above is not as difficult as you might imagine. In fact, it’s easy. Here’s how.

Step 1

Go get your ski or snowboard boots. Hold your breath if you have to, and take the boots outside if need be. Now the gross part…..stick your hand in the boot, pull out the liner, pull the footbed out of the liner, and place both downwind. Take a deep breath, grab the other boot and repeat the process. You survived the worst of it.

Step 2

Get a 5-gallon bucket and add a couple of drops of a mild, anti-bacterial dish soap. Yes, the liners are gross but a few drops of soap will do the job. Fill the bucket about two-thirds full with cool/cold water. Insert the liner into the soapy water, being sure to immerse the liner entirely. Get your hand back inside the liner and gently agitate the soapy water inside the liner for 30-seconds or so. Remove the liner, empty out the water and put aside. Grab the other liner and repeat. Gently wash the footbeds when done with the liners.

DO NOT use bleach. It will destroy those liners faster than you can say “OMG” the long way. Then again, if you really want a new pair of boots…

Step 3

Fill the bucket back up, but this time with no soap, just cool/cold water. Or take the liners to the bath tub. In either case, rinse the liners very, very well. There should be no soapy residue or soap bubbles after rinsing. Then rinse the footbeds.

Step 4

Take those nice clean boot liners and footbeds, and put them somewhere in the open where it is dry and where they receive lots of air circulation. If the day is nice put them outside. But take them in before the dew settles in the evening. Leave the liners in that dry, air circulating space for 2 to 3 days to ensure they are absolutely dry.

Step 5

Get a shoe deodorizing spray. There are a ton of them out there to choose from, but you may want to focus on organic/all-natural sprays. It is possible that a chemical-based spray could lead to a break down of the liner foam, so going organic/all-natural will be safer. Give the liners a spray, let them air dry for a day and you are almost done.

Step 6

Take your nice, clean, non-stinking boot liners and slide the footbeds in. Then insert the liners back into the boots. If ski boots, lightly clamp all the buckles. If snowboard boots, lightly tie/BOA tighten the laces. Why? Because this will help the boots, whether ski or snowboard, hold their shape. This will ensure that they fit the way they are supposed to next season. This is especially true of newer boots constructed of lighter, thinner materials that may take on odd shapes if left unattended.

The final act of your boot maintenance project should be to store them in a dry spot. Don’t toss them back in that damp, nasty basement closet. And don’t go to the opposite end of the spectrum and toss them in the attic. The extreme temperatures may destroy the integrity of the plastics.

Keep your ski or snowboard boots someplace where humidity can be kept in check, and where air circulates on occasion. You will be much happier this coming winter when the snow falls and you start prepping for that first trip up north. Your companions will be much happier too; they won’t need to try to hide their gag reflexes when you pull out your boots!

And best of all, you won’t have to risk meeting the Highwayman in that basement closet ever again.

The Coming of Age

I was at Stratton taking another lap down Lower Downeaster, the trail you see pictured above. My feet were tucked into a pair of Dalbello DS 110 boots. Those boots were clicked into a pair of Volkl Kanjo skis. And I was loving life.

The Past

Towards the end of last ski season I found myself struggling a bit, and having too many days coming off the slopes feeling defeated. Or at least confused about why things weren’t clicking like they always used to. Skis didn’t respond like usual. Or worse, they seemed to have a mind of their own, wanting to go somewhere other than I wanted.

This season started off the same. I knew the reason. I just didn’t want to face it.

As I cruised into my mid-60s, I knew that I wasn’t as strong as I was a decade or so earlier, and what strength there was ran out quicker. And it took longer to recover that spent strength. Sure, I could ski in my Dalbello DS 130 boots atop the Blizzard Quattro RS skis, and ski really well. But after a couple hours of euphoria on that pairing, things degenerated. Rapidly.

Skiing is my winter release. The snow covered slopes are where I bleed off stress, forget the rest of the world and its associated problems, declutter my mind, and simply relax. To the max.

The Present

I needed to find a new set up that wouldn’t sap strength quite as quickly and would let me stay in that “happy zone” for as long as I wanted or needed. So as this season progressed I skied various demo skis Ted has available at Avie’s Ski / Sports. I really liked the Nordica Dobermann Spitfire 76, as well as Blizzard Brahma 82, and Volkl Kanjo.

The Spitfire 76 skis were great carving skis, and they were a blast on the groomers. But they were a bit heavy, and stiffer than what I felt I was looking for. And maybe a bit too skinny. If I went that direction, why not just keep the Quattro RS skis?

The Brahma 82 skis were great all over the mountain, but again were a bit heavier and stiffer than desired. What I was gravitating towards, it seemed, was something lighter and livelier.

Kanjo was great all over the mountain, had a lot of pop, and were incredibly light. They seemed for me to be the most fun of the three. But were they really the ski I was seeking? I thought they very well might be.

My Future

So, I bought a pair. I pondered bindings, and Ted suggested Marker Squire (instead of Griffon) to keep things really light. I also picked up a pair of Dalbello DS 110 boots.

I sharpened the skis so they would cut into a firm, hard-pack surface, and waxed and buffed them to a perfect high gloss shine. Then I took the new set up to Stratton to give them my undivided attention for the entire day.

Like I noted earlier, I was loving life. I skied until late morning without feeling fatigued and beat up. I took a short break to hydrate and refuel. Then went back out for another couple hours of fun with my new best friends.

I will miss the exhilaration of tipping down a steep slope with feet in super stiff boots clicked into race-worthy skis. That outfit is now in the hands of a younger man who will put them to good use in actual race conditions. So I feel good knowing those great skis and boots will continue to do what they do so well.

I admit, I am starting to feel my age. But that doesn’t mean giving up something as fun as skiing. It just means I need a new way forward that adjusts better to a new, aging, and changing me.

If fact, out on the slopes in my new set up I feel like a kid again, discovering the magic of sliding downhill over snow in the cold mountains on a pair of sticks with an enormous smile plastered on my face.

Your Future?

The new ski gear available today is simply magic. Boots are incredibly light, and with GripWalk, easy to walk in. Skis are available in so many configurations that it is truly impossible not to be able to find a pair of skis that make you feel like it’s the first time out all over again. Except this “first time” you will actually spend time skiing instead of falling!

And there are many options for trying before buying. Demo skis are there for the trying. Talk to shop employees who have skied the skis—like those at Avie’s—and let them help you find your new best friends.

Same for ski boots. New boots are so light, so warm, and so easy to get in and out of, that you will wonder why you didn’t upgrade sooner. No matter the size of your foot, there is a ski boot width and stiffness combination that will put and keep that smile on your face.

A Word About Volk Kanjo

For me, Volkl Kanjo paired with Dalbello DS 110 was the answer. For you it may be some other ski, some other boot. Regardless your age, if you are looking for a really lightweight, lively ski that holds turns wonderfully, carves as well as they do short quick turns, Kanjo is a pretty darn good choice.

I skied Kanjo on big, wide, groomed trails, as well as on narrower, windier trails. These skis carved incredibly well on the big groomers. They also made short carves on narrow trails, as well as jumped side-to-side quickly and effortlessly.

I even took them over a couple of ungroomed trails to see how they would handle more lumpy, crusty, crummy conditions. They didn’t chatter or slip. They sliced their way through the crusty crud, loving every moment. And so did I.

Though I haven’t taken them there just yet, I think Kanjo will play nicely in both the bumps and in the woods. These are a lively set of sticks that perform well beyond their price point. There is a demo pair at Avie’s if you are considering getting a new pair of skis.

A Word About Dalbello DS 110

The new Dalbello DS line of boots are phenomenal. For a 4-buckle overlap boot, feet go in and out about as simply and easily as can be imagined. Not like a pair of slippers—lets’ be serious! But wicked easy.

The change from a 130 to a 110 stiffness boot was not as traumatic as anticipated. The response from the ski is not as forceful or immediate, but I still was able to drive a ski—even stiff skis like Nordica Enforcer—without much problem (other than taking more effort, as is normal regardless the boot stiffness).

Bottom line? No matter age, ability, or desire, there is a match up of boots and skis that will be your soul mate. All you need to do is explore some, and find them.

Pico Pleasures

I had the pleasure of attending the dealer 2020 On Snow demo convened at Pico Mountain in Vermont this past week. This consists of two days of trying out the new ski and ride gear that will hit the market next season. And an opportunity to familiarize oneself with existing product.

The bottom line is that we get to give you first-hand experience using the product, for real, on the snow. This includes boots, skis and snowboards, goggles, poles, helmets and other stuff. Despite being an awful lot of fun, it is a very educational experience.

What’s Trending?

For next season don’t expect to see any massive upheavals in the realm of skis and ski boots. Certainly there are a few new models that will hit the shelves and racks, and there will be some reconfiguration of existing skis and boots; and a few known models will be retired. Pretty much a typical new season in the Land of Ski Gear.

The Ski Boots

In the world of ski boots, expect to see a continuation of the trend in making ski boots better fitting. Also expect to see a continuation of the trend in providing more responsive boots that provide better control over the skis across all boot widths. Gone—thankfully—are the days when it was difficult to find performance-oriented ski boots for those with wider feet.

Do expect to find that traditional 4-buckle boots actually allow easier entry and exit of your foot. This year I am sliding my feet into the newly redesigned Dalbello DS 110 ski boot. I can honestly say that my feet slide into these boots—redesigned with a new opening that actually does work to facilitate ease-of-entry—about as easily as they did into my previous 3-buckle Cabrio-style boots. This is a definite win for all feet!!

And do expect to continue to see ski boots that are lighter. Rapidly receding are the days when ski boots literally felt like lead weights. Newer boots are phenomenally light in weight. Again, a win for all. Toss in GripWalk so that you can pretty much walk normally in ski boots, and life on the slopes and in the lodge is looking pretty darn good.

The Skis

As with boots, don’t expect any sweeping changes in the world of skis. Some ski series will disappear, and a few new ones will be birthed. There is a trend towards seeing previously defined all-mountain skis take on many attributes of race skis. And there is a trend for making freestyle skis able to carve turns more easily. This is a good thing for those that love to sink a ski into carves all the way down the slope.

There also seems to be a trend towards redefining side cut, which determines turning radius and turning behavior of the ski. The trend is seeing side cut redefined in a way such that skis can readily take on a long, sweeping carve, then hop right to into a series of shorter, quicker turns. Sure, you can make any ski do this. But the new side cut technology facilitates the change so it is easier and more natural.

The Skiing

Conditions are actually pretty good up north. Granted, there isn’t an awful lot of snow in the woods, and not all trails are open due to thin cover where snow-making is minimal or not at all. Most trails have pretty good cover and are pretty much typical of New England ski slopes. Packed powder and loose granular surfaces with an occasional patch of glacier ice peeking through in heavily trafficked areas.

Fortunately that nasty, predicted precipitation beginning with “r” didn’t occur over this past weekend. A bit of mixed up weather passed through, but left temperatures cold enough to freshen things up with man-made snow. And continued flurries keep adding some natural fresh stuff, an inch or two at a time.

So get out and hit the slopes. The weather has been seasonal up to the north, though a bit on the warmer end of the scale. No bone-rattling cold like last January. So enjoy the somewhat moderate weather while you can. It’s New England. You know it won’t last.

In fact, threats of a Nor’easter are in the air for the coming weekend. I say bring it on, as long the type of precipitation does not contain the letter “r” I will be happy.

Super Bowl Sunday at Mount Snow

Just a reminder that if you want to get out on the slopes on Super Bowl Sunday—that’s this Sunday, February 2nd—then sign up for the Avie’s Ski & Ride trip headed to Mount Snow. Super Bowl Sunday is historically less crowded than your average Sunday on the slopes. And by early afternoon the crowd is so thin you might think it’s a weekday.

Get out and enjoy the slopes!!

Sunapee With Nordica

Matt Knittle, the Avie’s Ski / Sports representative for Nordica skis and boots, sent an invite to join him at Mount Sunapee in New Hampshire. The invitation included a day on the slopes trying Nordica gear. It was a great invitation, so I accepted.

The last time I had been to Mount Sunapee was on an Avie’s trip. I went with my new-to-snowboarding daughter who was at that time 13 years old. She just turned 27 this past November.

So it had been a while. With no particular reason other than Vermont destinations felt closer. They aren’t, as I discovered when I pulled into the parking area at 8:30 AM yesterday morning. It took about as long to get to Mount Sunapee as it does to get to Mount Snow or Stratton or Okemo. Maybe even a couple minutes less than Stratton or Okemo. But not enough to be significant in any meaningful way.

I met up with Matt, and jumped onto a pair of Navigator skis to start my day. I wanted something light in weight and fun in soft snow. Mountain ops had groomed, but then it snowed a couple inches post-grooming. That left a nice layer of fluff on top. Not enough to float a ski, but enough to make the first few runs softer and slower.

I had forgotten what a nice ski mountain Mount Sunapee is. The trails are not what you could label adventurous or really challenging. They do however, offer a wonderful opportunity to relax and enjoy well manicured, moderate grade trails winding through the New Hampshire woods.

From The Man Cave

After a few warm up runs on the Navigator 85s, I clicked boots into a pair of Enforcer 88 followed by Enforcer 93 a few runs later. Any Enforcer ski by Nordica is pretty amazing. Just looking at them you can see them oozing strength and power. Tip and turn, slash and skid. They do it all and do it well. Enforcer is a great all mountain ski that has the backbone to give high performance top to bottom regardless the conditions. Nordica hit a Grand Slam with Enforcer. It is the #1 selling men’s ski in the U.S., so I guess they know that already.

I had to jump into a pair of Spitfire 76 RS skis for a couple laps on the beautiful groomers that make up Mount Sunapee. The Spitfire skis are simply put, fun. Full camber makes them very, very lively. Dobermann race ski heritage makes them quick in and out of turns, and very, very “grippy” in those turns. Spitfire 76 RS is one of the more fun front-side skis I have had the pleasure of clicking my boots into this season and last.

Time With The Ladies

Every year I say I am going to ski women’s skis so that I have a better idea on how they relate to their equivalent men’s ski. I then would have better knowledge to pass along to women looking to pick up a new set of sticks. This year I mean it.

I clicked boots into a pair of Nordica Santa Ana 88 women’s skis. I wanted to try out a pair of the 93 mm width skis, but they were never available when I was swapping out one pair for another.

Given that Santa Ana skis are the women’s version of the venerable Enforcer men’s ski, I assumed similarities would be apparent. And they were.

First off, Santa Ana handle incredibly well. While lighter in weight than an equivalent length men’s Enforcer ski, the Santa Ana ski did not wimp out in performance and control. They tipped into turns as nicely, and held the turns without slipping or chattering or misbehaving at all. Because they are lighter, they were much more nimble than the men’s Enforcer counterpart. Which is not really surprising.

On the drive back from the Nordica sponsored event, I had a chance to reminisce on a few things. I was very glad that Matt invited Avie’s to join Nordica on the slopes at Mount Sunapee. I found that I really liked the slopes there, and figure I might try to spend more time at Sunapee in the future. It wasn’t very busy, even by weekday standards, and the slopes are very, very well maintained.

Favorite of the Day

I also realized that my favorite ski for the day was the women’s Santa Ana 88 ski. Because they maintained all the high-performing characteristics that the venerable men’s Enforcer ski is so well noted for, there was no way you could not like them. But when you toss in the extra lightness inherent in the women’s Santa Ana, I found them to be so much more fun because they were so much more nimble.

As a final disclaimer, let it be said that the Enforcer skis I tried out are slightly different than those on the market this season. The Enforcer sticks I got to ski on are the ones that you will see on the market next season. There isn’t a huge difference, but there is some and those nuances in technological changes do make the skis a bit different. But more on that next season.

And the Santa Ana skis are a totally new redesign, technologically, from those on the market this season. Since I did not try out past versions, I can’t point to differences. I can say, if you are in the market for a new pair of women’s skis next season, don’t overlook the Nordica Santa Ana series. They are amazing.

First Laps

There was great snow on the ground up north in early December, and I readied my gear to head up there. Then work got in the way. Life got in the way next. A four letter word (rain) befell the north country. The holidays were on the doorstep. So despite great early season conditions—and intentions—I never made it to the slopes prior to the New Year ringing in.

Yesterday I went north to Stratton. It was a beautiful sunny day with temps to start in the low twenties. The wind was a bit stiff at the summit, but not so strong as to affect lift operations. Crowds were light, at least until late morning when things got a bit busy.

It was only busy because the entire mountain was not accessible. Skiers and riders congregated on open trails, making it seem busier than if 100% of terrain were available.

The snow was quite good on open trails. Sure, there was a patch of glacier ice here and there, and an occasional sparsely covered piece of ground. But overall conditions made for good skiing and riding.

New Boots

I started this ski season with two new gear items. The foremost was a new pair of Dalbello DS 110 boots. I have been in Dalbello boots at a 130 stiffness for quite a while. And while I love the control they provide, they tire me out too quickly as the years click over into the future, making age numbers higher and higher.

The DS 110 boot is a traditional 4-buckle overlap boot. Dalbello reengineered the liner to make entry easier. And it is. Once my foot was slipped into the boot, I can say they were (and are) extremely comfortable. They are also quite warm. But yesterday was not a great test for warmth since it was not really very cold.

This less stiff boot let me still have great control over the skis, but did allow me to relax—be a bit sloppy that is—without actually getting sloppy controlling the skis. I can now ski longer into the day than when my feet were tucked into the 130 stiffness boots. All this was exactly what I hoped to see happen.

New Skis

The second new item was a pair of Nordica Dobermann Spitfire 76 RB skis. This ski is brand new this season, and I can tell you they are a lot of fun to click boots into.

Modeled after the Nordica Dobermann line of race skis, Spitfire 76 RB inherits the basic traits of a race ski. Titanal inserts for stiffness with light weight. Full camber underneath makes the ski very lively in and out of turns. High quality metal in the edges that keep sharpness longer. Narrow waist and 16 meter turn radius make Spitfire 76 RB a great ski for those narrow, windy trails typical of New England ski resorts.

Needless to say, I had a blast on the Nordica Spitfire skis. If you are intrigued by these skis—and you should be—they are available as a demo ski at Avie’s Ski / Sports. I took them out for an extended spin yesterday to see how they performed. Last year I tried them out during an “on-slope” retailers demo show, but only took a few laps on them. I remembered liking them, but needed an update to my memory chip.

If like me you best enjoy carving up the groomers, give the Nordica Spitfire 76 RB a trial run over the snow. They are fantastic on the big, wide groomers for setting out big, wide carves. And they are lively and fun on those narrow trails twisting and winding their way through the woods.

I am looking to down-size from the Volkl RTM 84 skis I have been on for the past 5 or so years. I am looking for a ski a bit narrower and easier (less exhausting over a day of skiing) to tip into and out of turns. Something with more camber so that they are a bit more lively underfoot. Nordica Spitfire 76 RB just might be the ski I am looking for.

Conditions to the north are not phenomenal, but not bad at all. The bad part is that the resorts are not 100% open. The trails that are open however, are all in good shape.

It looks like incoming weather may start up as a bit of a mixed bag up north, then changing over to snow. Depending on where, it sounds like 6 to 8 inches, and maybe more, could get dropped upon New England ski resorts up north.

Let’s keep our fingers crossed for lots and lots of snow, and the dropping of many, many ropes that yesterday were keeping trails off limits to skiers and riders hungry for more terrain.

When the opportunity comes, get out there and hit the slopes. If you are a skier, stop by Avie’s Ski / Sports and take the Nordica Dobermann Spitfire 76 RB skis out for a day on the slopes.

Unless of course I have my ski boots clicked into their bindings…

Warm Hands

Warm hands. What can be better? Especially for a day on the slopes. Or out hiking or snowshoeing. Or even just around town doing the things we still do despite freezing temperatures.

So you need to find some gloves. But does the row after row, bin after bin of gloves, mittens, and liners make your head spin? Not to worry.

Avie’s Ski / Sports certainly has a head-spinning array of gloves and mittens, but selection is simplified. There are super insulated gloves and mittens for those days on the slopes. Moderately insulated for hiking, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing. Lightly insulated for around town.

The North Face and Kombi are familiar to Avie’s shoppers, and offer a diversity of ways to warm your hands. New this year is Auclair.

Auclair hails from the north in a land where winter cold means really, really cold—Canada. Gloves and mittens manufactured by Auclair all use premium insulation materials, have durable outer layers—many using leather—and just plain look good. Check out the Auclair line of gloves and mittens, you will be sure to find something that you—or that someone you are gift hunting for—will simply love.

Mitten or Glove?

Got kids? Go mittens. Easier to get on and off, and warmer overall. Avie’s Ski / Sports has a wide palette of kid-friendly colors in mittens. Kombi provides a great selection at really great prices. Get 2-pair. And get bright colored—easier to find when they get tossed or dropped. That 2nd pair is for when you hear “I don’t know where I put them.” Not that kids do that…

Got teens? Skip the mittens and go to gloves. Teens look at mittens like they are for kids! That’s because you had them wear them as kids! You may have a practical-minded teen who knows mittens are warmer, and craves warm hands, and if that’s the case no worries. Otherwise think style.

Teen guys might like the workman-like looks of the Auclair “Mountain Ops” gloves. They resemble (and might be) the gloves that the lift attendants, ski patrol, and other mountain ops folks at the ski resort wear. Or maybe race inspired gloves. That’s a look few teens can resist.

Those young ladies are looking for fashion. And you will find that at Avie’s Ski / Sports for sure. Leather is classy. Bright colors and color ways are showy. And fashionable. But don’t rule out mittens. Teen girls tend to be more level-headed than your average teen male, and know that mittens are warmer. And by the way, you can find good styling mittens. That way you can feed their enhanced sensibility at the same time as their sense of style.

Got adults? Lots to choose from at Avie’s Ski / Sports. Auclair has a great selection of adult gloves and mittens covering the gamut of fashionable to working-man. The North Face provides the same. But mittens or gloves?

Glove or Mitten?

Personally, I am not a fan of mittens. I don’t like the feel of my fingers hanging around together in that big open space. It just doesn’t feel right for some reason. Their extra bulk and loss of dexterity are other downsides, for me. But I also know that mittens are much warmer than gloves, mainly because my fingers are hanging around together in that big open space. Maybe it’s some latent dislike from having to wear mittens as a kid. Would therapy help?

I found a solution—without therapy. The North Face “Montana” mittens. They have finger sleeves inside so I feel like I have my hand in a glove. And they are much, much warmer. I still don’t like the loss of dexterity and the extra bulk, so I only wear them on days when it’s really, really cold on the slopes. Those days when temperatures are single digit, for instance. Auclair has mittens with finger sleeves as well, so be sure to check them out.

Personally, I like gloves best, and I like leather gloves best of all. I like the suppleness they provide, and the great grip leather provides. I like the durability also. One thing I always do with new leather gloves is warm them in the oven, then treat them with “Sno-Seal,” and let them stay in the warm oven a while. The Sno-Seal penetrates the leather, making them extremely supple, and waterproof. Retreating them at the start of every season keeps them that way. Check out some of the Auclair leather gloves. And guess what? Many have a packet of Sno-Seal included so you can waterproof and soften those new gloves.

Regardless your preference—mittens or gloves—or who they might be for, Avie’s Ski / Sports has a large diversity of hand-warming apparel in stock. They make incredible gifts, and yes, they fit nicely into that holiday stocking.

Auclair, The North Face, Kombi. If you can’t find a glove or mitten you like at Avie’s Ski / Sports, or that will be liked by that someone you are gift-hunting for, then it simply does not exist.