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.

Foggy Mountain Skidown

Soft snow on “Interstate” traversing Stratton

It was 8:45 AM Tuesday March 3rd and I was on the Ursa lift at Stratton on my way to the summit. I had just skied over from the Sunbowl. I got on early because the young lady at the Sunrise lift was, evidently, just stretching her arms. But it looked to me like she was waving a willowy “Come on over.” So I did. She laughed when I explained. Then she waved me onto a chair.

Looking uphill from my chair on the Ursa lift I could clearly see that I could not clearly see the summit. A thick blanket of fog cloaked the upper quarter of the mountain. Ugh.

As far as fog goes though, this one was pretty okay. It didn’t put a frozen glaze over my goggle lens, not even a wet mist. It did make the snow a bit one-dimensional as I took my first plunge down the “Get My Drift” trail. But as I said, as far as foggy mountain skiing goes, this was pretty okay.

The surface was a little crusty right at the summit, but softened rapidly with my descent. Once below the fog line visibility improved and the light on the surface not quite as one-dimensional. Temperatures back at the base were warm, despite not much sun.

By ten or ten-thirty in the morning the fog had dissipated and the sun was shining brightly. Temperatures soared with the sunlight. I had my helmet vents wide open, jacket unzipped and underarm vents zipped wide open as well. The snow was soft top-to-bottom. It was spring skiing at its best.

By late morning things were a bit sloppy back at base areas, and there was a growing abundance of those very annoying “sticky strips” as I call them. You know, those patches of snow that are waterlogged and grab the bottom of the ski or snowboard and try to jerk you to a stop. Very annoying. Very.

But the skiing was delicious. Big fat sloppy turns in the soft snow from summit to base. Exhausting, but so much fun.

While we are seeing a bit of warm up at the moment, temperatures drop for the weekend, with a bit of snow tossed in up north on Friday. There is still plenty of skiing and riding to be had.

Avie’s Ski / Sports is at Killington today, and those lucky folks will see a repeat of what I got to experience yesterday. There will be some very happy, very tired skiers and riders on the return trip.

This Sunday Avie’s Ski / Sports heads off to Loon Mountain in New Hampshire. Take this opportunity this weekend to get in a few more turns before you turn away from winter and look towards the coming of summer.

And don’t forget that Sunday March 15th is the Avie’s Ski / Sport “Customer Appreciation” trip. Ted and all the shop staff join in on this trip north to Mount Snow. Coffee, donuts, and snacks of all sorts—a few even healthy—are available. Ted plays “Santa” passing out lots of fun “give away” items he has collected over the season. Socks, hats, scarves, and only Ted knows what else, make for a fun and entertaining trip.

Get out and go skiing and riding while the turns are soft and sweet. I hope to see you on March 15th on the trip to Mount Snow.

Soft Turns at Stratton

From the top of the Sunrise lift at Stratton

I popped in to Stratton on Tuesday. That was yesterday. I didn’t get in a downhill adrenaline fix last week, so I badly needed some slope time.

It was the usual kind of Tuesday not busy. Actually, it seemed even a bit less busy than usual. If it weren’t for the junior racers darting around, it might have been downright lonely. But that suits me fine. That’s why I steal away to ski weekdays.

It was warm. And for it being February, surprisingly warm. Warm enough that there was meltwater in the parking lot at the Sun Bowl when I arrived at 8:30 AM. No ice. Just puddles.

I took my first run down Spruce, the trail just after you duck under the gondola. The surface was crunchy frozen up top and soft and buttery at the bottom. As the day wore on the summit and upper trails softened up, and snow at the very bottom was getting on the slushy side. Seemed more like late March rather than late February.

The weather may be crazy, but the skiing is crazy good. There is still lots of snow on the trails and in the woods. Sure, there were a few brownish patches here and there, but nothing too nasty. Except…

Scare of the Day

It was maybe my 8th run to the summit for the morning, and I decided to take a run down Polar Bear. Any of you familiar with that trail know that after a nice, meandering start there is an abrupt, steep drop off. Many times people stop there, right in the middle of the trail and gawk at the scenery. Some no doubt, wish they didn’t take Polar Bear after seeing the drop off.

As I said, there really weren’t many people around and there was no on the trail in front or behind me, and no one gawking at the middle of the trail. So I went right off the drop, right in the center of the trail. Why not?

As soon as my skis tipped over the crest I saw a big mud patch dead center in front of me. It was too close and I had too much speed. I tried a sharp, forceful skidding turn in hopes that I would just miss it. But didn’t.

The mud grabbed my skis like I landed on fly paper. By some miracle—I am truly convinced it was a miracle—as I pitched sideways, sure I was going into “yard sale” mode, the skis released from the mud and I managed to keep balance and ski away without injury or injustice. Guess I shoulda stopped and gawked.

“Hero” Trail

Everybody loves “Hero Snow.” That’s when the snow softens up just enough so that even the most rank neophyte can tip a ski into the snow and make some really nice turns. I confess, I love that “Hero Snow” as much as anyone. And I loved it the most on the Lower Downeaster trail in the Sunbowl.

Lower Downeaster is a super fun trail. It’s a Blue Square trail, so it’s not intimidating. But it has enough of a pitch to it so skiers and riders can pick up some speed, and enough width to let those skiers and riders bleed off the speed if need arises.

With so few people around, I lapped that trail 4 or 5 times, having so much fun in the soft, buttery snow, making big sloppy fun turns and carves from top to bottom.

More Snow On Order

The weather forecast shows a mixed bag, but the conclusion will be a snow event. Things start off a bit warmer than we might like, then cold settles in and Vermont and New Hampshire will see anywhere from 6 to 12 inches of snow. That ought to cover up that nasty mud patch on Polar Bear! And then some.

The cold then hangs around for a bit, so that newly fallen snow won’t be turning into meltwater anytime soon. So plan to take advantage of the snow while the getting is good.

This Sunday, March 1st, Avie’s Ski / Sports has a bus pointed north into New Hampshire with a destination of Waterville Valley. Add a foot of snow on Thursday and below freezing temps—but not bone-ratting temps—will keep all that delectable snow right there for use on Sunday.

Conditions are good and for the weekend they will be great. It might not be the “Hero Snow” I got to play in, but you can be assured it will be nice fluffy powder or nice soft packed powder on the groomers. If you really need “hero,” wear your Superman undies.

The Avie’s Ski / Sports bus trip list is getting short. Don’t put off having a fun time in the snow. Be on that bus to Waterville Valley this Sunday. You most definitely will not regret it.

Stratton Snowscape

Stratton summit from the Sun Bowl

Today I took the opportunity to dash up north to check out conditions. I stopped in at Stratton figuring it would be a good gauge for what conditions are like at least through the lower and central portion of Vermont.

This was not done with the intent of having fun. I did this so that you would enter into President’s Day Week having an idea of what to expect. Of course, I will admit that my scouting trip was indeed fun. Maybe even a lot of fun. But I tried not to let it.

Vermont Conditions

It was nice to see on the drive up that Vermont now looks like Vermont should look during winter. The hills are draped with snow and the sides of roads are lined with snow piles. Not massive piles, but at least snow. There is also snow in the woods now, so the landscape is a pleasing white everywhere you look. It wasn’t that way when I was up there last week.

Much of Vermont has received about a foot of snow over the past week. With more expected overnight tonight and into tomorrow. It looks like that should leave another half-foot or so of snow to play in. And predictions are for a major storm in the early portion of next week, bringing we hope a major dump of white stuff.

Stratton Conditions

I started my day at the Sun Bowl. A quick look up the hill showed that trails had been groomed, but another couple inches of snow fell post grooming operations. Groomers with a bit of fluffy frosting on top sounded pretty tasty.

I made my way over to the Snow Bowl area to stretch leg muscles stiff from the 3-hour drive. When I got to the summit I found that the wind was pretty stiff, and there were large areas where all the fluff had blown off. The uncovered groomers were crusty on top, a result of the small amount of wet precipitation that occurred between the morning and late day snow events of yesterday.

Well that pesky fluffy snow had to go somewhere, and indeed it lay in patches and drifts on the windward side of the exposed slopes. Trails that were tucked between trees and out of the wind had a nice dusting of fluffy stuff.

The nice thing was that there was plenty of snow. Everywhere on the trails. Not a hint of glacier ice did I see. Conditions were fast and firm, with the firm part being a bit crunchy. If edges were sharp however, which you can bet mine were, then the groomers were a very fun thing.

As the day wore on the wind dropped off a bit and snow got distributed all across the trails, making for some very, very fine skiing and riding.

Skiing and Riding Conditions

Right now conditions are very, very good. The couple of recent snowfalls have topped off the trails quite nicely. Yes, there was a little bit of wetness that hit the slopes then froze, but it was just a little. And, as noted earlier, if your edges are sharp you will have lots of fun.

Dull edges? This is New England! You should always have sharp edges. Always. The every single time you go out kind of always.

Another moderate snowfall overnight tonight and into tomorrow will make things even better still. And there is no warming in the forecast either, so all this wonderful snow will stay around for a while.

The bottom line is, if you are planning on heading north to play in the snow during the coming school holiday, you will be met with great to excellent conditions. If you haven’t been planning on heading north, you may want to start making a plan.

Bromley On Sunday

Just a reminder that the Avie’s Ski / Sports Sunday Ski & Ride trip on February 16th heads to Bromley Mountain. That’s right next door to Stratton, so conditions will be equally as good. By Sunday, probably better.

Got Snow?

I went up to Stratton yesterday for another day on the snow. My next couple of weeks are a bit hectic, and I wanted to capture another day on the slopes when I could. So I did.

Everyone must have slept in post-Super Bowl. When I arrived at the Sun Bowl parking lot at about 8:30 AM I was the fourth car. At the summit a short time later, I pointed down Upper Tamarack for my first run, and noticed only one set of tracks on the trail. No doubt that was ski patrol.

A Changing Snowscape

A lot had changed since I was at Stratton this past Thursday. This time around there was much more glacier ice present. And the patches of glacier were more extensive in size than last week. Conditions were fast-and-firm once again, but a bit more crusty and icy. And less trails were groomed. A few that were groomed, like Upper Kidderbrook, were covered with a teeth rattling blanket of chunks the size of ice cubes. Snow coverage was thinner than the past week as well.

I guess that’s to be expected given that no significant snowfall has occurred in some time. You can only redistribute the same snow so many ways. Since some gets kicked off trail at the edges each and every day, it’s a cumulative loss. That said, the trails not groomed with ice cubes were fast and fun.

A pesky “ice fog” hovered over the summit the entire time I was there. That made for some challenging, if not difficult visuals. I did a few more runs up top then settled into hitting trails on the lower mountain. By late morning the snow was softening just a bit on the lower mountain. That made for some easy cruising and fun carves. I made multiple laps on Sunrise Supertrail enjoying that soft snow. Then about noon the nasty summit cloud descended to the base. Adding insult to injury a nice light misty mix of water and ice came with it.

I did a few more runs hoping the cloud would get legs and walk back uphill. It didn’t so I called it a day.

Snow On The Way!!

The forecast is calling for precipitation up north over the next couple of days, though a question mark remains about what form it might take.

The good news is that even if a mix starts things off, it sounds like it will end with a nice blanket of snow. And predictions are for another snow event to crop up this weekend, leaving another nice blanket of snow. Let’s hope the forecasters are on target with white instead of nasty wet.

Even better news is that New Hampshire slopes, Loon Mountain for instance, is forecasted to get all white stuff from both the first and second set of storms. So if you have been pondering getting on the Avie’s Ski / Sports trip this coming Sunday, January 9th, you may want to commit.

While ski mountains have been struggling to keep it together this snow-starved season, there is some good skiing and riding to be had if you go. And by weeks end things should be better still. Get out on the hill and have some fun.

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…