Category Archives: Gear Knowledge

SWIX Tuning Clinic

Mark your calendars! Avie’s Ski / Sports will be having Bruce Diehl from SWIX coming to the shop on Thursday, December 13th at 6:00 PM. Bruce will be running a SWIX tuning clinic for Avie’s ski and snowboard customers.

If you have been thinking about tuning your own skis or snowboard, now is the time to put your thinking into action. Mark your calendar with the date and time above. The SWIX tuning clinic will take place at Avie’s Ski / Sports at 100 Main Street in Westerly, RI.

The SWIX Tuning Clinic is FREE

Bruce Diehl from SWIX will demonstrate the following tuning tasks:

  • Shaping, sharpening, and maintaining edges
  • Using the SWIX Eco Pro Tuner
  • Cleaning the ski base
  • Applying prep/conditioning wax
  • Choosing and applying the proper “wax of the day”
  • Proper scraping technique
  • Hand and roto-brushing 

New England Skiers Need To Be “In Tune”

Here in New England, having sharp edges is a real necessity. Much of our time on the slopes sees crusty, hard pack, and even icy surface conditions. Sharp edges set at the correct angle will help your ski or snowboard bite into the snow surface. Bruce Diehl will demonstrate during the SWIX tuning clinic how to get your edges in shape to handle the often harsh New England conditions.

Too many times I see ski and snowboard bottoms that look like the image on the right. They should look like the image on the left. It’s a shame. Skis and snowboards without wax just don’t slide well. What’s the purpose in that?

Bruce Diehl will demonstrate how to properly clean the base and apply a conditioning wax. The base is then ready to accept a wax designed for a given range of temperatures. Sound complicated? Not really. Especially after Bruce walks us through the SWIX line of “designer” waxes and their proper use and application.

Waxing Is Critical 

During the SWIX tuning clinic, Bruce will show how to remove the wax properly by scraping. That will be followed by a demonstration of how to buff the base—using a hand brush and when using a roto-brush tool—to a super slick, super fast finish.

Waxing is critical. When you see me go flying by you on a flatter section of the ski slope, it’s not because I’m such a wonderful skier. It’s because I’m such a wonderful ski waxer! Wax makes a huuuuuuuge difference!

So be sure to get to Bruce Diehl’s tuning clinic. It’s at Avie’s Ski / Sports. It’s FREE.

Thursday December 13th at 6:00 PM. 

Plan on the SWIX tuning clinic to last for about an hour or so. Actual length will depend on how many questions get posed as Bruce Diehl from SWIX works through the process of tuning a ski or snowboard to perfection. 

To help us gauge interest and get the shop set up to accommodate those that plan to attend, please RSVP to: tuningshop@aviesskisport.com  You may want to also check out Avie’s Ski / Sports Do-It-Yourself web page on ski and snowboard maintenance as a primer to the SWIX tuning clinic.

For those who attend the clinic, Avie’s Ski / Sports will offer 20% discount on SWIX tuning tools and supplies directly following the clinic. 

See you there.

AlanD

Race Ski

Right now there are several pair of Blizzard Firebird Race Ti skis at Avie’s Ski / Sports. A lot of folks, myself included, don’t really think about getting race skis. If you don’t race, why bother thinking about getting a pair of race skis? I sure wouldn’t. But I did.

Here’s my race ski story

I have a pair of great carving skis—Volkl RTM 84—that are my “go to” sticks. They are great all over the mountain. But at 84 mm in the waist, I admit they are a bit tiring on busy days when lots and lots of sharp, tight turns are being made. In other words, they are a bit of pain on those slope-side days when it’s more like people dodging than skiing. Namely, weekends.

I have a pair of lighter, wood core skis—Nordica NRGy 90—that are pretty good on a powder day and great on the slopes when the corduroy is soft. But they aren’t so good on hard pack and because they are wider still, even more tiring on a busy day of people dodging.

So last year I was thinking about a new pair of skis. I wanted something a bit shorter in length and definitely narrower at the waist. I wanted something that would be good on the hard pack. They had to be able to make lots of sharp, fast turns. They had to be good at people dodging.

From Carver to Racer

I knew that meant carving skis. Shorter and narrower however than the Volkl RTM skis. I had skied a pair of Blizzard Quattro 8.4 Ti skis a couple of times, and was quite impressed and liked them a lot. So I was prepared to pick up a pair. Maybe 174 cm or so in length, and maybe 76 mm or 78 mm at the waist.

So I dropped into Avie’s Ski / Sports and told Ted about the new skis I was interested in getting. His response was, “Get a pair of race skis.”

“Why?” I asked. 

“Full camber for more fun,” was the reply. “And they’re race skis.” 

I just wanted something fun and easy to ski on busy days. I thought that race skis would be total overkill for what I wanted. I really had no intention of racing. I was skeptical.

But Ted has never really given me bad advice. At least so far as ski gear is concerned. So I considered what he suggested. But I still thought it was overkill to be on a pair of race skis simply for dodging people. 

After some further thinking, I decided, what the heck. If I really didn’t like the race skis, I could sell them and go with my original idea for the Blizzard Quattro short and narrow option. So a pair of Blizzard Quattro RS skis were ordered—174 mm in length, 69 mm in the waist. 

Smile A Mile

The skis arrived. I waxed them up nice and slick and headed to Okemo to give them a try. When I saw Ted the next day, he asked “How were they?” “Okay,” was my response.

Yeah, my first time out on the race skis was not the best. I had picked up some kind of bug and probably shouldn’t have gone skiing. But I did. Needless to say I got the kind of day on the slopes I deserved for being so stupid.

So I took the skinny little Quattro RS skis back to Okemo the following week when I was healed and hale. At the end of the day my face hurt. From smiling such a big smile. A smile as wide as a mile. For so many hours on end. 

Skis On Steroids

The thing about skis designed to race, is that they’re designed to race. That means they perform in ways unbeknownst to normal mortal skis. They truly are skis on steroids. 

For starters, the bindings are designed differently. They are beefier and shock absorbing. Yeah, spring-loaded to completely dampen out vibrations. That means little to no chatter. That means superb grip all the way through the turns. No matter how tight or how fast. 

The ski itself has carbon fiber layers from tip-to-tail. Laid down bi-directionally so that the ski has lots of liveliness. And the skis handle the transmission of power from boot-to-ski instantaneously. What all that means is they are fast into and out of the turns. They bite deep and hold fast.

In true race ski styling, the Quattro RS is a full camber ski. No rocker in this pair of sticks. 

It took one run to figure them out. And only one run. My short description is—Light and lively. Powerful and performing. Graceful and gratifying.

What it’s like to own race skis

It had a been a while since I had been on a pair of full camber skis. Rocker has been all the craze and I had forgotten how responsive full camber skis are in the turns. And with such a narrow ski, I honestly could not believe how fast they went into and out of turns. With the race-designed bindings, coupled with the carbon fiber inlays, there was no hint of chatter at the tips, and no slipping in the turns. None.

But a word of warning. They really don’t like to go slow. They turn at slow speeds, obviously. But they feel sluggish and weird. Not very responsive is an adequate descriptor. Dormant also does it. Once you get a bit of speed under them though, their mood changes completely. You need to be ready to let them run, and you need to have the ability as a skier to put them on edge. 

With the Quattro RS skis connected to my ski boots, it didn’t matter where I went on the mountain. I do admit however, that they were most fun on the steeper slopes. At Okemo, Chief offered a really fun run. So I skied it run after run after run. On another day I skied every black diamond at Okemo—except mogul runs. The Quattro RS skis were pure joy on every single run.

Confidence Booster

The biggest difference I can state about skiing on race skis is this—Confidence. I love my Volkl RTMs. They are great skis. But there are times when I need to put on the brakes because I know they will slip in a turn. With the Quattro RS skis, once I had used them a couple times and knew how they responded underfoot, I never even considered that they would slip in a turn. And they didn’t. 

I can honestly say that 2017 was the most fun I have had skiing in a while. The Blizzard Quattro RS skis made that happen. The feeling of standing at the top of a steep slope looking down over the ski tips, knowing that I could—and would—go down with grace and ease at high speed, was exhilarating. 

Because the skis were fast and nimble, and because I didn’t have to fight them through turns, I didn’t get nearly as tired. So I could ski harder for longer periods of time. Which is a pretty good trade-off in my ledger book. 

A Whole New View On People Dodging

I never did take out the Quattro RS skis on a weekend. Which is funny because that’s why I was in the market for a new pair of skis. I wanted something “turny” for those crowded weekend-day trips to the slopes. And I found that in the Blizzard Quattro RS skis. But I found myself driving up weekdays—skiing the day then driving home—so I could point them down slope and carve my way to the bottom. Unimpeded. 

So I don’t really know how they are at people dodging. My guess though, is they will be pretty awesome. I am however, already thinking about mid-week trips where they get a chance at unbridled freedom on the slopes. They honestly are that much fun.

If you are in the market for a new pair of skis, and you love carving up the slopes, give race skis a bit of thought. Several pair of Blizzard Firebird Race Ti skis are hanging around Avie’s Ski / Sports waiting to introduce someone to a whole lot of fun.

Try Before You Buy

If you’re not sure about having a pair of super skinny sticks underfoot, you can grab a pair of Firebird “demo skis” at Avie’s and try them out. If, after a trial run with them, you love ’em—and you likely will—you can deduct the rental fee from the cost of the ski. That’s a pretty sweet deal. 

I admit I never really gave race skis much thought. It was a mistake on my part, and I’m glad Ted pointed me in a good direction. So I am passing that tip along in hopes you might take heed and give race skis some thought. Better yet, just take them out on the slopes and let them help you decide. 

There are lots of great skis at Avie’s Ski / Sports right now. Blizzard Firebird Race Ti is just one of many. If you are thinking about new skis or ski boots this season, check out the new “Skier Need To Know—Skis” and “Skier Need To Know—Boots” pages. These new Avie’s resources will help you think about what might be the BEST ski or ski boot for you.

AlanD

Avie’s—New & Improved

If you haven’t been to the Avie’s Ski / Sports website in a while, you may want to check it out. Click the Avie’s button way down bottom. That will get to the newly redesigned Avie’s Ski / Sports home page. But first, read on just a bit farther to see what’s in store—pun intended.

For the past few years Avie’s has been displaying skis in an online store. We felt this was an easy and effective way to display gear and pricing. But we really don’t encourage people to buy ski equipment online. So it was a bit of and ideological conflict. 

Buying online hurts brick-and-mortar stores, like Avie’s Ski / Sports. In person is where you get service and build a relationship. Buy online, you still have to go to a brick-and-mortar shop to have bindings mounted and adjusted. If something goes wrong with your online purchase? You need to deal long distance with the issue. Sometimes with less than great results. Had the purchase been made at a brick-and-mortar shop, like Avie’s Ski / Sports, the problem would be resolved quickly and amicably.

While you could buy ski boots online, why would you? They are just way too personal a piece of equipment. You need to walk into a shop where you can try on multiple pairs, sizes, and styles, to find the one just right for you. And you get a knowledgeable boot-fitter. They help you get into the right kind of boot for your ability and style as a skier. Can’t do that online.

Avie’s Online Store is lights out, doors locked.

Our intent with the website redesign is to give you much more information about the equipment. With a focus on what’s new for the season. That does not however, mean that the only gear in the store is what you see online. There is lots more gear at Avie’s Ski / Sports. You just need to stop in to see it all, live and in person. Which is just the way we like it.

For all the skis, snowboards, and boots, there is a page listing all the new gear for the 2018-2019 season, and pricing. Click on the brand name of the item you are interested in. Click BLIZZARD if interested in finding out more about Rustler 9, for instance. A new page will open with more detail about that ski. In almost all cases, there will be some input from Avie’s Ski Testers who have actually skied on the skis or in the boots.

You get more detail, and more perspective, by hearing what Avie’s Ski / Testers thought of a particular ski or ski boot. That’s the other bonus to coming to a brick-and-mortar shop, like Avie’s Ski / Sports. The folks working there are skiers and riders. They have tried out much if not most of the gear being sold. And we have in-store clinics where the reps from the brands come down and help us better understand the new technologies going into ski and boot creation. We pass that knowledge along to you, so you make better, more informed choices about what you buy. 

All the winter sports pages have been updated (the summer pages will slowly get updated as well). And there is lots more information on each page to help you in your decision-making. There is also a new page, dedicated to Do-It-Yourself gear upkeep. We hope you find it both interesting and useful. But you won’t know until you check it out.

So, Avie’s found a new way to display all the new equipment and fun stuff that emerges on the market each and every fall season. Go ahead, check out the new website. Click the Avie’s button below. Then click SNOW SPORTS on the menu and go from there. 

We will see you soon. When you stop in at Avie’s Ski / Sports. Let us know what you think of the website redesign. But mostly…

Take me to Avie's Ski / Sports HOME PAGE

THINK SNOW!!

Ready For Winter!?

This summer I built a woodshed

Though not considered winter snow sports, our next door neighbor built the Taj Mahal of chicken coops last season. Complete with multi-colored lighting, flowers, and other enticing egg-laying decor. Secretly, I think the Taj Mahal coop is equipped with air conditioning and a home theater. The chickens love it, and lay dozens upon dozens of eggs. And then for no apparent reason, egg production slowed. 

I thought it might be the rusty chain link fence surrounding my wood pile. It did look pretty shabby all of a sudden. The ripped and tattered blue tarp on top didn’t add much either. Maybe the horrid sight depressed the hens.

I did need wood for the coming winter. So I decided to upgrade rusty fence for a classy and classic lean-to-style woodshed. I hoped that would put “The Girls,” as neighbor Lisa refers to them, back on the nest.

The Shed—Taj Mahal chicken coop in background

The new shed looks great with the Taj Mahal chicken coop in the background. And it looks better still with a couple cords of split, seasoned hardwood in it. 

I’m  about  set  for  winter.                 Are  you?

Farmer’s Almanac is saying that for New England, expect snow. And lots of it. Their predictions are for greater amounts of snow than is usual. They are also predicting that significant snow will be seen by, and in, December. To be sure the snow sticks around, Farmer’s predicts colder than normal temperatures throughout the season. This is a great prediction for all us winter snow sports enthusiasts. 

Oh yeah, I’m all for that!

It would be great to get in a half dozen or more days of skiing before Santa slides down the chimney. And I would be thrilled to see abundant snow continue all the way through until late March. I’ll even wish for the below normal cold. Provided that doesn’t mean the marrow-freezing cold we experienced last season between end of December and mid-January. That kind of cold put the damper on winter snow sports. It was so cold even ski lifts became belligerent, with many refusing to spin! No thank you. Keep that kind of cold up at the North Pole for the reindeer to enjoy.

So, are you ready? Ha ha. I know you aren’t. Temperatures have been floating into the 90s, even along the shore. So I know the only cold you are thinking about is the rapidly melting ice diluting your Dell’s.

The days however, have grown noticeably shorter. And the sun, while still hot, doesn’t carry the same fiery intensity it did a month ago. Yellow school buses have replaced out-of-state license plates. But the most telling change, is the morning bird song having been replaced by the evening chorus now provided by the End of Summer Insect Ensemble.

Winter snow sports enthusiasts take note!

This is not a cause for sadness! New ski and ride gear is beginning to show up at Avie’s Ski / Sports. While still in boxes, it won’t be long before the new “winter crop” of The North Face, Smartwool, and other apparel hangs from the racks. A rainbow will splash across the walls of the shop, made by the colors of this years bounty of new skis and snowboards, boots and poles.

While still it’s too early in the fall season to not stop in and pick up a new stand up paddle board—fall is perfect paddling weather—it’s not too early to start thinking about ski and ride season.

And this winter, there will be much to explore at Avie’s

Expect to see some twin tips and race skis available. There will be new brands, as well as the tried and true. While it’s always exciting to ogle the new skis and boards of the season, the real change up will be found in the ski boot section. Recent changes throughout the industry will be bringing along some great opportunities for your feet, especially those of you with wider feet.

AlanD

Stay tuned to the Avie’s Ski / Sports Blog page as we help you prep for  the upcoming season. New gear. New brands. New styles. And a new ski boot universe.

Oh yeah, the shed upgrade was well received. “The Girls” are back to filling the Taj Mahal to overflowing. 

Avie’s Newest Ski – Meier Ski Breakdown

It’s tourist season here in the Westerly area. So it makes sense that Meier Skis came to visit while on vacation.

Meier skis play on a theme of the wild west during the gold rush days. Titles like Quickdraw, High Noon, Double Barrel, and Calamity Jane grace the Meier ski line. While the names may be whimsical, the skis are not.

Meier Skis are hand crafted in Denver, Colorado. But these are not your ordinary factory skis. Meier skis are all about sustainability. The skis are wood core from locally, sustainably harvested Colorado trees. The glues that hold the wood laminates together are distilled from pine and vegetable oils—no petrochemicals involved. Even the ink used in the top sheet graphics is non-toxic.

So if you want a pair of skis that keep your carbon footprint as teensy as possible, a set of Meier skis just might be something you want to consider. But how do they ski you ask?

Like I said, they just stopped by on their vacation here in the east. Ted convinced several pair to hang around at Avie’s Ski/Sports until the snow flies. In the meantime, you may want to stop by the shop and meet some of these interesting, good looking skis. While I don’t know and can’t say how they ski—because I haven’t yet had the opportunity to jump on and try them out—have to admit I like what I see. And more importantly, I like what I feel. The three pair I will introduce all have a certain solid but playful feel to them. Being solid wood core, I expected a lot  less rigidity than the skis express.

So I am quite intrigued by these western visitors. And I look forward to an opportunity to take them out for a few laps on the slopes. But let me introduce them to you.

Quickdraw is a men’s frontside carver. Made for the groomers, but with the lightweight wood core I am guessing these sticks would be a fun run in the woods. At 88 mm in the waist, they would float powder fairly well is my guess, making them an all mountain kind of ski.

Calamity Jane is a ski for the ladies. This ski has a wide shovel and a narrow waist—78 mm. That combination makes it look like it will be powder-capable, but the tip design says carve-worthy. This ski has woods, powder, groomers written all over it. The super lightness, because of the wood core, leads me to believe you can ski this hard all day and your legs will never say “enough already!”

The Bangtail has captured by attention quite strongly. This narrow-waisted set of sticks—73 mm—has a look about it that says “fast!” This past season I spent a lot of slope time on a narrow-waisted set of race-style skis, and I can’t remember when I had more fun on a ski. Sure, “fat” skis on a powder day. But you can’t beat “skinny” on the groomers.

The Meier trio of skis visiting Avie’s Ski/Sport are all designed with a bit of rocker in the tip (Calamity Jane has a bit of tail rocker as well) but with traditional camber underfoot. Camber underfoot means a lot of “pop” in the ski. That means to me, lots of fun and liveliness. Camber helps quick, lively transitions side-to-side in the turns. I think these will all be fun skis.

And I think you will find them intriguing. I know I do. The graphics are bright and cheery. The skis themselves are light but not at all wimpy. Let’s just say they present themselves well. And the folks at Meier Skis also present well. Sustainable and eco-friendly. That’s a great business model.

If you are in the area, stop by and meet the new skis in town. You may find out that you want to be the one to introduce them to east coast skiing.

Time to Stow It

While Killington is still open with a couple of trails off the Superstar lift, most of us are now getting our summer time play gear ready for action. I’ve tuned up my road cycle and mountain bike, and am chasing the spiders out of the kayaks. But what about ski maintenance?

But I haven’t forgotten my winter toys, and neither should you. Now is the time to “summerize” your ski and ride gear. Don’t wait until November when the edges are caked with rust, the bindings infested with spiders, and the bases looking like they were whitewashed. Bleah!

The easiest way to keep your gear in tip-top shape is to bring your skis or your board to Avie’s and ask to have them “summerized.” That means a full tune up—we repair and grind the base, sharpen the edges, and then lay a thick coat of wax over the base and rub wax all along the edges. This will keep the base fresh and not allow it to oxidize, or the edges to rust.

Yes, your ski or board base can “rust,” though it is referred to as “oxidized.” Ozone and other atmospheric chemicals attack the dry base, bleaching it out and making it have a chalky, powdery feel. And that’s not good. The base no longer holds wax very well, and more friction is created meaning you go ssssllllooooooooooowwweeerrrr on the slopes. And really, who wants to do that?

If you want to keep your boots in good shape, clean the liner. Pull it out of the boot, remove the footbed / insole and clean it with cold water that has a little bit of anti-bacterial soap dissolved in it. Swish it around real good then rinse extra good with cold water. Put them somewhere where they can completely dry. Outside is great if its a nice day. Once completely dry add a dash of foot powder, if you want, then put them back into the boots and loosely buckle them up so the shell keeps its shape.

And don’t forget jackets and pants. Launder them as per instruction on the tag that you never bother to look at, sewn into a seam somewhere on the inside. Most outerwear that is waterproof or water repellent needs to be cleaned and dried in order to refresh and maintain its water repelling properties. Read the tag. Follow the instructions. Its easy.

Now you will be all set for next season. Once the temperature tumbles bring your “summarized” gear to Avie’s and we will scrape off the summer wax, hand brush the base to a nice shine, and send you on your way for some fun in the white stuff.

Have questions? Want to learn how to wax and sharpen? Send an email to tuningshop@aviesskisport.com as we are always ready and willing to assist.

Santa’s Picks

This past February I got to have a second Christmas. I got to go to the On Snow Demo in Vermont and try out all the skis that are now out and about for sale this ski season.

Now that the snow is falling up north and the bull wheels are hauling lifts to the tops of ski mountains, I got to thinking about all the skis I tried out. A few things boiled up to the surface that I thought I would pass along. …more

Ticket to RIDE

RIDE snowboards continues it’s legacy of great gear for riding the mountain, with a few tweaks and revamps to make 2018 season RIDE snowboards, boots, and bindings even better.

Like many, if not most ski and snowboard manufacturers for 2018, RIDE has messed around with carbon fiber technology. Most of the snowboards produced by RIDE for this season are not brand new, but instead are upgrades to existing gear with carbon. Using carbon fiber technology allows for the removal of weight while maintaining stiffness. This of course makes for a more lively deck while not giving up ability to tip into and hold turns. …more

Nordica in November

It is so very exciting to tap into my web browser every morning and, using the “snow spy cams” at various New England ski mountains, take in the beautiful sight of landscapes growing from green and brown to lovely, lovely, whiteness!! It is, other than actually being on the slopes, the best way for me to start a day. I have a great view of lower Narragansett Bay from my office, but it doesn’t rate with the flash of excitement that comes with seeing a snow covered ski slope.

But I digress. The past few posts have taken a look at this season’s crop of skis and boards from Capita, Blizzard, and Volkl. This post takes a look at Nordica, and the next will focus on RIDE snowboards. …more

First Frost

It was great to wake up this morning and see a nice heavy coat of frost. It has snowed a couple of times up north. Ski areas are working snow guns overnight as they begin to build up the base we will ski and ride on this season. Killington and Sunday River have lifts spinning taking eager beavers up for some early season turns.

If you haven’t turned thoughts towards skiing and riding, this ought to help you get focused. Last post focused on What’s New from Blizzard and Tecnica, and the one before that on new Capita, Union, and thirtytwo snowboard gear. Check those out if you missed them, but first read on as we check in on Volkl and Dalbello. …more