Lovin’ Loon

Went to bed Tuesday night and it was snowing hard. Woke up Wednesday morning to 5 or 6-inches of fresh white stuff on the ground. Fortunately, the bed was in Lincoln, NH. About 2 miles away from the lifts at Loon Mountain. I had the feeling it was going to be a pretty good day.

Temperature in the morning was about 30 degrees. By the end of the first two runs I had every zipper unzipped that could be unzipped. Well, almost every. We didn’t want to get too risqué on the slopes.

The conditions the day before were great, and the addition of fresh snow made things just perfect. The mountain ops team left a few trails ungroomed. Most trails however, had a nice mix of options. Groomed corduroy was striped down one-half to two-thirds the width of the trail, the remainder was ungroomed. So you could play on either surface. Or both if you wanted to dash in and out along their intersection. I thought that was a really nice touch.

A group of “ski testers” from Avie’s were at Loon, testing skis. And then of course there was Matt, the lone “snowboard tester.” But he wasn’t complaining. In fact, he had a huge grin on his face every single time we crossed paths on the slopes.

On Tuesday, later in the afternoon, I clicked my boots into a pair of new for next year Nordica Soul Rider 87 twin tips. I stayed on those skis for the rest of the day. They were amazing skis. Light, fun, turny, lots of “pop.” Just plain old big time fun.

The Soul Rider 87s took me down the edges of the trails. As it often does late in the day, the edges of the trails are where the snow has piled up. The Soul Rider 87s had me doing super twisty-turny-tight cuts and carves. It was a blast. I couldn’t believe how playful the Soul Rider twins were.

At the same time though, they were serious skis. When we went out to the center part of the trail, onto the ice and crust that was scraped clean of snow, I expected them to slide and chatter their way across. But they didn’t. The edges bit in and held in carves across the ice. Wow!

The down side of all those tight, twisty-turny carves was a black toenail at days end. It was painful to get my foot into my ski boots the next morning. Very painful. But, we were at “Demo Days” where all the manufacturers are there with gear to try. So I left my boots in the car and went to Dalbello to try out the newly redesigned Panterra ski boots. They had the Panterra 120 in my size, so I slipped into a pair.

Demo Days dealer tents at Loon Mountain.

The first thing I noticed was that the boots were significantly lighter than previous models. And I do mean significantly lighter. Like maybe a third lighter. Another unique feature of the redesign is that the new Panterra has an adjustable last from 100 to 102 mm. Last is the width of the boot, if you forgot. I liked that adjustable width feature a lot.

My Dalbello Krypton 130s are a 98 mm last, so the Panterra boots gave my hurting left toe a bit more room. And because they are adjustable width, I let that toe box be a bit wider than the right foot, which I snugged up more tightly. The result were boots that I could ski in without being tormented by the injured toe.

And the Panterra 120 boots were very nice to ski. They sport a 4-buckle cabrio design, so there is a nice progressive range of flex and response to the skis. That was particularly nice when jumping back and forth between the groomed and ungroomed parts of the ski runs. Back off a bit in the powder, and drive into the boots harder on the groomers. They worked really well and I give them a big “thumbs up.”

Panterra 120 also comes with the new GripWalk system. This was my first experience with GripWalk on the slopes. Yes, they do make walking in ski boots more natural, and the grippy soles were actually quite nice outside on the snow covered walkways. In fact, they were nice inside as well. The grippy soles never once felt slippery on wet concrete or tiles. They were a bit harder to clip into the ski bindings. But the ski tech at Nordica (yes, I clicked into Soul Rider 87 again—I couldn’t resist, they were too much fun) said that would vary with the fit of boot to binding, and that once the GripWalk pads broke in a bit more, they would slide in more easily. So I would give GripWalk a “thumbs up” as well.

The really big news, for right now however, is not about gear for next season.

The BIG NEWS is that with the new snowfall up north conditions are really, really good. Bordering on great.

Temps look to stay on the cold side up north, which will hold the snow. And it looks like they may get a few small-scale snow events. Just enough to keep things topped off. Just enough to keep the groomers consisting of beautiful packed-powder corduroy stripes.

So get out and ski. Get out and ride. Go this weekend. There is still some room on the Avie’s Ski & Ride trip headed to Okemo in Vermont this Sunday, February 17th.

If you can—and I highly endorse this—break away on a weekday. Avie’s has a trip to Loon Mountain slated for Wednesday February 20th. I can tell you, first hand, conditions are pretty sweet up there in Lincoln, NH right now.

Don’t think about going on one of the Avie’s Ski & Ride trips. Just go.

AlanD
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