Category Archives: Gear Knowledge

Ski Helmet Brain Trust

Many years ago I would look down from the chair lift and wonder how those folks could stand to wear a helmet. That form of head protection was just beginning to rise in popularity. A ski helmet brain trust movement was taking shape. But I wasn’t a part of it.

I understood the head protection part. But I assumed that helmets were hot, constricting, and uncomfortable. And they just seemed weird out on the slopes. I just couldn’t see my way to laying out money for a “hard hat” to wear on the slopes. My wool cap was just fine thank you very much.

Then my daughter Allison started snowboarding. On one of our first trips out she took a flip and whacked her head. She was wearing a helmet so she was fine. And I was glad she was wearing a helmet. Kids really should.

Children, as they should, challenge authority.

But then she started giving me the “hairy eyeballs” about her having to wear a helmet while I didn’t. How was that fair? Why was my brain less important? And then came the questions. And challenges. If I didn’t have to wear a helmet, why did she? Why was I such a hypocrite?

I did believe helmets were a good idea for kids. Proven right by Allison whacking her head. I just didn’t see why adults needed a helmet. But I had a choice. Continue to get serious push back on her wearing a helmet when I didn’t, or change my ways to silence the onslaught.

I changed my ways. Got a helmet. Wore the helmet.

And I found, quite quickly, that I liked it. It was really warm, not hot. Where wind cut through the wool cap, it couldn’t with a helmet. It wasn’t constricting either. Just nice and snug. And actually, it was quite comfortable. 

I found that the air flow pattern built into the helmet helped keep goggles from fogging. That was a really nice benefit! We all have experienced frost on the inside of goggles, knowing that the only fix was time in the lodge to thaw and dry them out. Wearing a helmet however, kept fogging to a minimum, if it happened at all.

I put a couple of brewery stickers on the helmet to give it a bit of personalized panache. Secretly, I was quite pleased with the new head gear.

Accidents happen

Then one day at Killington, over on Bear Mountain, I came up to a quick stop at a fork where the trail split. I wanted to check with my brother to see which way he wanted to go. But seconds after I stopped I found myself on the ground.

He was looking ahead and didn’t see me pull up short. He crashed. Into me. Into my head. Helmet-to-helmet. I was fine. Because of the helmet. Without the helmet, who knows? It may not have been so lucky an outcome. Thank you Allison.

There have been a few times on chair lifts when the safety bar coming over from the rear has rapped me in the back of the head. Especially the Snowshed chair at Killington. The helmet took those whacks. None of them were skull-breakers, but they sure wouldn’t have been pleasant. Killington seems to have something against me. Or is trying to knock sense into me.

Helmets are ubiquitous 

Today you see few people on the slopes not wearing a helmet. And when I see those few, I wonder why. The benefits of wearing a helmet far outweigh the negatives. At least on my ledger sheet. I’ve got a few notations in the plus column to bear that out.

Helmets on the market today are phenomenal. Light in weight. Vented with adjustable vents so you can precisely apply climate control to the noggin. And they pair with goggles to keep them fog-free on almost all occasions.

Personally, I like the quiet of the slopes. The click and swish of skis over snow, crust and ice, to me are a soothing symphony. Many helmets however, come with ear flaps that accept speakers so you can plug in and tune out, should you so desire. And many skiers and riders do. 

New technologies offer great head protection

The past few seasons have seen a new internal “honeycomb” fabrication that is much improved for absorbing the shock associated with a whack to the skull. Many helmets on the market that have the honeycomb internal structure rebound after an initial hit, ready to absorb a second impact, and more, should they occur. Not such a bad thing.

Given the benefits associated with helmets—warmth, goggle fog prevention, tunes, and head protection—why would you not wear one? 

Marker and Triple Eight helmets available at Avie’s

Triple Eight helmets offer a minimalist, just want the basics, approach. But they provide head protection at industry standards. Helmets by Triple Eight are for those wanting a simplest approach to head protection. If you want the least expensive approach, Triple Eight helmets deserve a look. As one nod to “frills,” Triple Eight offers an audio version for those who want to plug in and tune out.

Marker has a more expansive array of helmet offerings. From the top of the line Phoenix MAP to the no frills Clark, there is something for everyone. Even those wanting the “plug in, tune out” option. 

“MAP” helmets by Marker are those that contain the honeycomb-style internal structure that can handle multiple impacts. If you are looking for the ultimate in skull protection, look for the “MAP” designation on the Marker helmet. 

Lightweight Carbon Fiber

If you seek the lightest of weight, find the Marker Phoenix Carbon MAP. I swear, if you put on this helmet and leave the chin strap undone, it may just float off your head while just standing there. Seriously light in weight.

Granted, Phoenix Carbon MAP is a bit pricey. But if you want a helmet you will forget you are wearing, while still giving the ultimate in protection, Phoenix Carbon MAP is it. Given that it will last nearly forever—provided you don’t run it over with the car or truck—it’s a pretty good investment.

On the slopes, wearing a helmet gives me warmth, fog free goggles, and head protection. In the lodge, it’s my carry-all. Face mask, neck gaiter, and gloves all fit right into the helmet nicely. No trail of dropped gear behind me! 

Spring Skiing

One fine spring skiing day I decided to leave the helmet behind. It was warm and I figured it would be more fun to ski in a wool cap. Like in the old days.

I put on the wool cap. It just felt weird.

The wool cap went back in my pack. I pulled out the helmet and nestled it onto my head. I opened the air vents fully, and walked out to the chair lift. 

AlanD
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Ski Tuning with SWIX — December 13

Just a reminder that Avie’s Ski / Sports will be hosting Bruce Diehl from SWIX this Thursday, December 13th at 6:00 PM, for a tuning clinic.

Hear from SWIX—the folks that make ski and snowboard tuning tools and wax—how to keep your gear in tiptop shape.  

If you have been thinking about tuning your own skis or snowboard, this Thursday is the day to turn thought into action.

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
  • Cleaning the base
  • Choosing and applying the proper wax
  • Proper scraping technique
  • Hand and roto-brushing

Waxing Is Critical 

During the SWIX tuning clinic, Bruce will show how to apply wax, then remove it properly by scraping. That will be followed by a demonstration of how to buff the base to a super slick, super fast finish. 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!

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

Thursday December 13th at 6:00 PM. 

See you there.

AlanD
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RIDE Snowboards

RIDE snowboards are a staple on the slopes. There is good reason for that—RIDE makes some pretty awesome products and is a leader in the industry.

The Boot

For instance, RIDE makes the liner for each boot in its line specifically for that boot, even to the half-sizes. That means you get incredible fit for your foot size right out of the box. But wait! There’s more!

The Liner

Did you know that RIDE snowboarding boots come with Intuition™ liners? And did you know that Intuition™ liners are made from THE most heat retaining foam on the market? Intuition™ liners are also fully heat moldable. It all boils down to this—you get really great fit right out of the box. You can have Avie’s Ski / Sports heat mold the boots—it’s a FREE service—for a super custom fit to your foot. You get to hit the slopes in a ultra-warm, ultra-fit snowboard boot.

The BOA™

A unique feature of RIDE snowboard boots it the “tongue-tied” BOA™ lacing mechanism. This side mounted BOA™ wheel locks down your heel into the boot. This seemingly simple action puts you in total control over the snowboard.

The more snuggly your foot is nestled into the boot, and the better your heel is locked down into the rear pocket, the better control you have over your snowboard. That means better carves, deeper slashes, tighter turns, spins, and flips. This is a hallmark of RIDE boots.

The Boards

RIDE snowboards and bindings follow the same path of greatness as RIDE boots. Blends of wood, metal, and carbon produce a line of snowboards that go anywhere and everywhere. And do everything.

On RIDE high performing boards, 3 or 5 carbon inlays at tip and tail provide incredible strength. Carbon fiber strips run the length of the outer edge of the board, stiffening things up for incredible edging and stability. 

The Slime

Slimewalls that is. RIDE uses urethane on the sidewalls of their snowboards rather than traditional ABS plastic. Why? Because urethane is more pliable, even in New England deep-freeze temperatures. So you get a more progressive flex over the length of the board. The urethane Slimewalls are also shock absorbing, so you get jarred just a bit less when hitting rails in the park. 

It’s all these nuances that RIDE inserts into their gear that makes such a difference on the hill. Durable, classy, high performing. These are Class A descriptors of RIDE snowboarding equipment.

The PIGS

A couple years ago RIDE debuted the “PIG” snowboard—WARPIG. It was a huge hit. But RIDE wasn’t very careful and PIG boards were breeding in dark corners of the warehouse. Now, a whole bunch of little piggies have made their way onto the market this season.

Wider. Weirder. Wonderfuller.

  • WARPIG—Go anywhere. Crush anything.
  • TWINPIG—Ride switch. Spin in the park.
  • MTNPIG—Loves it fast and steep.

These PIGS don’t wallow. They cruise, crush, carve, and cavort. The RIDE reps say step down a few centimeters in board length from your normal if you really want to bring out the charms these PIGS have to offer. Check out these pigs. Get piggish.

RIDE a PIG

The Bindings

To finish things off, RIDE bindings are now equipped with urethane straps. Impervious to cold, they bend regardless the ridiculous temperatures you decide to play outside in on the mountain. New larger buckling mechanisms take up the slack faster. And they are all metal so they won’t break. Binding chassis’ are also metal. Power transferred from the boot to the board is not lost as it would be in a plastic chassis. RIDE knows their stuff. They give you the goods.

That’s it. And it’s a lot. Nearly everything has been upgraded by RIDE in some form or fashion for the 2019 season. For seasoned riders looking for a new deck, the PIG series of boards is “oinking” for you to take a look. I’m not a snowboarder, but if I was, I would be looking for a PIG.

AlanD
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Ski Scene 2019

The ski scene for 2019 is an exciting one. A shift from “big & fat” skis is underway. Though the big-fats aren’t actually going away. They just are not a focal point for the upcoming season. 

And that’s a good thing for us Eastern skiers. Sure, we get powder days. And for those lucky few who live next door to a ski area, and have the opportunity to take advantage of those powder days, big and fat skis should be on-hand. 

But for most of us who frequent Avie’s Ski / Sports, we find ourselves confronted with groomed slopes. Which is not such a bad thing. But it does mean that big and fat skis aren’t really a “go to” ski. Of course you can ski them on the groomers. But it’s not the forte for powder skis.

What appears to be a trend throughout the industry for 2019 is a focus on slimmer models of some of the big-fat skis. Another trend is taking these medium-width skis and making them a bit more “carve worthy.” And last, though hardly least, is a resurgence of full camber race skis.

True “All-Mountain” ski choices are appearing

I own a pair of Nordica NRGy 90 skis, so I will use them as an example. The NRGy 90s are light, have lots of “pop” in them, and are just wide enough to float powder pretty good. Not great, but pretty good as long as the fluff isn’t really deep.

Nordica changed them to the Navigator series a season or two ago. The major change was redistribution of the titanal mesh, modifying it to provide a bit more pop without reducing stiffness. The Navigator series also offered new widths and new top sheet graphics. 

For 2019, Nordica altered the side cut a bit, so that the ski carves a bit better on the groomers. I jumped on several pair of Navigator skis as an Avie’s Ski Tester, and liked what I found. The newly designed Navigator skis retained all the fun characteristics that I like in the NRGy series—light and lively, powder float-worthy. But, they tipped easier into the groomers and carved a bit better. And that’s a really nice characteristic. Especially for Eastern skiers.

Other ski brands that you will find at Avie’s Ski / Sports—Armada, Blizzard, and Volkl, are messing around similarly with their ski models. Volkl Kendo and Mantra have been retooled a bit, and Kanjo hit the market as a new intermediate width ski last season. Blizzard came out with the Rustler series. Armada was already in this mode, but their new Tracer series of skis fits this same pattern of improved carving ability. 

A “One-Ski-Quiver” Is Possible

With these changes, a true “One-Ski” that does it all on the mountain is a near reality. There are and always will be some trade offs, but by and large some of the new all-mountain skis get “one-ski” within reach.

One of my favorites as an Avies’ Ski Tester this past season was the Blizzard Rustler 9. While this ski is 92 mm at the waist, they ski quite easily. Even on the groomers. In fact, they carve quite nicely. And because they are wide, they float pretty well in powder, which is helped along by the bit of tip rocker Blizzard designed into them. And they bash late day crud without hesitation.

Volkl Kanjo and Kendo are similar, but not clones. Both play well all over the mountain. Kanjo is a bit thinner at the waist than Kendo, making it a bit more fun overall on the groomers. Both are great choices for a “one ski” approach.

And let’s not forget Armada, who offers the Victa and Victus ski series. These skis provide some really fine all mountain performance for a very reasonable price. I have skied the Victus several times, and they are just great skis from start to finish. Light, fun, grippy, and stable. What else might you want?

Or Meier Calamity Jane or Quick Draw. While neither has yet been tested by an Avie’s Ski Tester, both have all the makings of what should be great all mountain skis. We will confirm once we take them north for a bit of play on the slopes.

More Camber for Carving

Carving skis, while not radically changing this season, are overall seeing a bit of reduction in rocker application. That means a resurgence of more camber in the design. Camber underfoot leads to a more playful ski with more “pop” in and out of the turns. Tip rocker continues to be prevalent, making the skis a bit easier to tip into turns. It also gives them a bit of extra “crud busting” power, which is nice late day when the groomers are all a big heaped up, chopped up, smeared up mess. 

Another interesting trend seems to be an emergence of race skis. It’s obvious that if you race, then you really would like a race ski. But what if you don’t race? Race skis, no surprise, are outstanding carving skis. Full camber makes these not only great carvers, but great fun carvers! But the emergence of new race ski models is not targeted at World Cup athletes. They are targeted at your average skier that loves to carve the groomers.

Last season I picked up a pair of Blizzard Quattro RS race skis to see what they were all about. See my recent BLOG post titled: “Race Ski.” All I will say here is that if you really love to carve the groomers, and aren’t afraid of a bit of speed, you definitely need to look into a pair of race skis. Avie’s Ski / Sports has several pair of Blizzard Firebird Race Ti skis in stock. There is even a pair available to try out as a High-Performance Demo Rental. Check them out, they don’t disappoint.

2019 is a season of change

The 2019 season sees a big swing in ski boots—check out the recentBLOG post “Ski Boots—Year of the Boot” for the full story. 

The 2019 season sees some subtle but substantial shifts in ski design. A bit of a roll back in the Big & Fat category. A new focus on “carve-worthy” skis designed to be more fun on the groomers. An emergence of race skis for those who truly love the art of carving. And maybe a bit of speed.

This change is great for Eastern skiers

All in all, 2019 is a winning season for skiers. Especially Eastern skiers. The emphasis on better carving, and a boost in application of traditional camber, both mean more fun on the groomers. Look for  that “one ski” that plays in the woods but still carves. You just might find it this year.

Whether you need boots or skis, or both. Or need neither but would like an upgrade, 2019 is a great year to take action. The innovations making their way to skiers is phenomenal. Check out the “Skier Need to Know” web pages for SKIS and BOOTS. You may find them helpful in thinking through your choices in a pair of new boots or skis.  

Stop by Avie’s Ski / Sports and check out the 2019 ski and boot offerings. Let us help you into a new pair of boots or skis that will “light up” your time on the slopes.

Hope to see you soon.

AlanD
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Ski Boots—Year of the Boot

Ski boots are critical gear. And this ski season should be known as the Year of the Boot. Why? Because this year marks a watershed of change in ski boot design.  

This season, when you walk into Avie’s Ski / Sports to check out new ski boots, you will find several pleasant changes. The first is that most boot manufacturers have pulled together their boots into a single “family.” For instance, Nordica now has three variations of boots under the “machine” family name. Previously they had 3 or 4 different boot models with different names and differing attributes.

Using Nordica again as an example, they have Pro Machine, Speed Machine, and Sport Machine. Each boot style is modeled after their Dobermann race boot. Each boot style differs in boot last, or width in common terms.

Pro Machine is the narrowest boot, and comes in a variety of flex options. Pro Machine is also “tricked out” with the most bells and whistles focused on high performance for transferring power from skier leg to the ski through the boot. 

Speed Machine is a medium width boot, also coming in a variety of flex options. This boot is slightly more comfort-oriented, but in the stiffer flex models, still a highly performance-oriented ski boot. 

Sport Machine is a wide boot, with a variety of flex options, but oriented very much towards comfort. But again, in higher flex value models, the boots offer plenty of performance for those with wider feet. 

The other brand boots you will find at Avie’s Ski / Sports, Dalbello and Tecnica for instance, have followed the same basic pattern for their ski boot lines. A single family of boots, modeled after their brand race boot, with various styles reflecting boot width. Each boot-width series has a variety of flex values offering a range of performance and comfort options to skiers.

So what’s the big deal about this?

The “Big Deal” is that it makes much more sense from both consumer and boot-fitter perspectives:

  • Boots are grouped under a family heading, in consideration of fit and performance options, is both more logical, and easier. 
  • Boot-brand “families” have been designed based on race boots, so all are highly performance-oriented. More so than ever before.
  • Each brand-family is lighter in weight, making them much less clunky when clomping around.
  • Skiers with wider feet have real options for performance-oriented boots, and at lighter weight than ever before.
  • Prices have remained relatively stable, despite significant upgrades in performance, design, and reduced weight.

A Good Year To Boot Shop

The bottom line is that it is a great year to shop for ski boots. Never before in my experience has there been such a significant change in ski boot availability and performance at an industry-wide scale. 

This Avie’s Ski Tester could only say “Wow,” “Incredible,” and “Amazing,” as I  stepped into and tried out several boot brand families. I liked the the level of comfort found in the Dalbello DS ski boots so much, I bought a pair. In the ultra-high performance DS 130, the toe box offers just enough room to be comfortable, but at no loss in performance characteristics. The boot feels molded to my foot, but with just a bit of wriggle room for the toes.

I had the opportunity to ski in a pair of Dalbello DS 130, Nordica Pro Machine 130, and Tecnica Mach 120 LV ski boots. While each had their nuances, I can definitely say each was amazing. So much lighter in weight than in previous boot models, and so very performance oriented. I ended up in a pair of Dalbello DS 130 boots because that particular brand and model provided a best fit for my feet. Performance was outstanding in all three brands tested. So was overall comfort.

I have skied in a pair of Dalbello Krypton 130 3-buckle cabrio-design boots for years. So I am interested to see how the Dalbello DS 130 4-buckle overlap design boots perform relative to the Kryton boots. Once I get on the slopes a few times and have a chance to compare them, I’ll get back to you with my thoughts. Keep an eye on the Avie’s Ski / Sports BLOG. Sometime in late January most likely. That should give me a bit of time to do a fair comparison.

All the boots have liners that are heat-moldable. Some—and I think this will soon be an industry-wide standard—have heat-moldable shells to facilitate boot-fitting for those with more “difficult” feet.

If you have been considering new ski boots, 2019 is a great year to take action. The options are just amazing. Of all the new gear and changes in the industry this year, ski boots are at the top of the heap. At least in my opinion.

Boots are the heart and soul of your ski gear outfit. They are the “transformers” that move energy from your legs to the skis. If you want to improve your skiing, new boots are the first upgrade to consider. Not skis. Ski boots do the steering. Skis simply respond accordingly. Think of boots as the rack-and-pinion gearing. Skis as the tires.

I suggest you take a look at the Avie’s Ski / Sports web page titled “Skier Need To Know—Boots.”

Just click the link. You will find some good information about ski boots, and how to think through what will be a best option for you for new boots. There is a lot to consider, but it’s not confusing when broken down into logical blocks. We help you find that logic on the “Need To Know” pages of the Avie’s Ski / Sports website.

There is a “Skier Need To Know—Skis” page to help you think through new skis. Check that out as well if you are thinking of buying a whole package of ski boots and skis. 

Take a look at the “Need To Know” pages. Stop into Avie’s Ski / Sports and check out the ski boots. And maybe some skis. Talk to Avie’s staff. Let us help you find that perfect pair of boots, and skis.

Hope to see you soon.

AlanD
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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
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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
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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!!

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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. 

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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.

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