I decided to make a run up to Stratton this morning. I’m glad I did. It was Strattonspheric. That means it was other-worldly good. Outta-this-world good.
Look at the picture, taken from the summit near the top of the new Snow Bowl lift. I think that’s proof enough that my decision was a good one. A really good one.
That’s Bromely Ski area center right. Way off in the distance, not really noticeable in the image here on the webpage, unfortunately, you could see the snow-capped twin summits of Camel’s Hump. Stowe off behind that—I think. That’s how crystal clear a day it was.
Okay, so you give me a high-five for a great day of sightseeing in Vermont. What you really want to know is — How was the skiing?
It was phenomenal. Stratospheric even. Despite it being clear and sunny, it was cold. In the teens at the summit and mid-twenties at the base. And it stayed cold. With a breeze that wasn’t quite a wind. The snow stayed firm-and-fast on the upper mountain, with lower mountain trails softening up just a bit. Not so much as to be sloppy or “grabby.” Just nicely soft.
The snow they received over this past weekend gave the mountain operations folks a chance to make a major “reset” on the trails. The St. Patrick’s Day Avie’s bus trip to Okemo experienced “groomed variable surfaces,” which translates to “chopped ice.” Not that those conditions were bad, they were actually quite good. But the snow today at Stratton was delicious, good old packed-powder. It was spectacular.
Grizzy—a Double-Diamond to the left off the Ursa lift, was fully groomed top-to-bottom. First time I had seen it groomed this season. It was spectacularly fun. Multiple times. As was Polar Bear, Black Bear, Tamarack, Standard, Spruce, Drifter, Sunrise Supertrail, and Down’easter. To name a few.
Time to Act Is NOW!
Bottom line is that conditions are incredibly good right now to the north in ski country. Take advantage of it. Read this, then call in sick for tomorrow. Go skiing or riding. It will be worth the effort. You won’t regret a moment.
Some warmth creeps in towards the end of the week, which will make for some good spring skiing and riding, for sure. But if you like your snow-covered slopes to be firm-and-fast, go tomorrow. Leave tonight if you can so you can’t change your mind.
Yes, the ski and ride season is winding down. Resorts will be reducing access day-by-day, and trail counts will dwindle. All the more reason to get out there one more time. Or two. Maybe three?
There was a great turn out for the tuning clinic by Bruce Diehl from SWIX last week. And during the clinic he pointed out many things that would be excellent ski sock stuffers for a certainly holiday morning coming up next week.
First off, a nice SWIX Diamond Stone would be great to find in the toe of a ski sock. As Bruce noted, using one at the end of every ski day to lightly buff and polish edges on skis and snowboards keeps them nice and sharp, and rust free. Sharp edges cannot be stressed strongly enough as important here in New England. The snow can be crusty and even downright hard at times. Sharp edges keep you on course.
Bruce showed how to use SWIX F4 Liquid Wax, which would be an absolutely ideal ski sock stuffer. This liquid wax is super easy to apply, so your skis or snowboard slide more easily over the snow. Give the F4 container a few good shakes. Smear the liquid wax all over the base. Give it a half minute to dry. Then brush it out with a few strokes, tip-to-tail, using a nylon SWIX brush (blue or white nylon brush is fine for this). That’s it!
While F4 wax is not a long term replacement for a good hot wax—the best of course being a nice ironed in waxing—it is a great way to keep you moving gracefully (and quickly!) over the snow. And since when is that ever a bad thing? Never! According to Bruce Diehl, every skier and rider should have a SWIX F4 applicator in their boot bag. Avie’s Ski / Sports has a good supply of F4, so grab a few and drop them into every ski sock you see.
Avie’s Ski / Sports has lots of other great ski and ride related items that are small enough to be great ski sock stuffers. For instance—socks. Smartwool socks make great ski sock stuffers. What could be better than a sock-in-a-sock? Okay, maybe a sock and SWIX F4 in-a-sock. Avie’s has a big selection of Smartwool ski socks, snowboard socks, apres socks, hiking socks, and plain old warm socks.
How about a nice, new pair of gloves? Northface, Kombi, Gordini and SWIX gloves are in abundance in all sizes and colors at Avie’s Ski / Sports. Like mittens better? I do on really cold days. Avie’s has them as well.
Know someone with a pretty face? Help them keep it that way with a nice CTR face mask. You will find CTR Adrenaline and Tempest series head and neck wear at Avie’s Ski / Sports. I have the Adrenaline Pro and I love it! Pull it all the way on and I have full face protection from even the nastiest of weather. Slip the face mask down and under the chin when it’s not so bad. Slide the hood down to be a neck gaiter when it’s nice out. Check out the CTR line, it’s awesome. And they will absolutely make great ski sock stuffers!
How about a new pair of goggles? They most assuredly will fit in as a ski sock stuffer. Gordini and Zeal goggles are available at Avie’s Ski / Sports. Too many styles, colors, and options to even begin to cover them here. But they definitely will fit in a sock. And will be much loved by the owner of that sock.
But let’s not forget the one ski sock stuffer that will please anyone and everyone, and you don’t have to take the heat for wrong color, wrong size, wrong style, wrong whatever. What is this magical ski sock stuffer? A Gift Certificate to Avie’s Ski / Sports. The recipient can use them for anything in the shop. Even, heaven forbid, something NOT ski related! That of course would be rare, but I suppose possible. And don’t forget that an Avie’s Gift Certificate can be used to get a seat on an Avie’s Ski / Sport Ski & Ride Trip. The first in on January 6th, to Okemo. Great gift. Think about it.
And if you really have someone special. I mean really, really special. Then consider this as the most amazing ski sock stuffer ever—a pair of skis. Yeah, a pair of skis. They will slip into a ski sock so very, very easily. Granted, it will only cover the tail of the ski up to the binding. But I think the recipient might overlook that issue.
I am hoping to find some Avie’s Ski / Sports winter sports related item(s) in my ski sock. There ought to be a bit of room in between the lumps of coal. Maybe not enough room for a pair of skis. But maybe enough for some of that sweet SWIX F4…..
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.
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.
Ski resort changes are rampant for the upcoming season. And at least from what I can see, all of them good. Some of them fantastic. Here we give you a quick rundown of what changes we see coming up at the ski resorts that Avie’s Ski / Sports visits on ski and ride trips.
Killington has some exciting changes for this season. New for this year is a high speed bubble chair at Snowdon Mountain. Tunnels have been constructed along Great Northern so that skiers and riders on that trail go subterranean. Now folks coming down those very fun blue square trails at Snowdon can proceed downhill without worry of dodging crossing skiers and riders on Great Northern. That’s really nice.
Killington this year follows suit and will be using RFID lift ticketing. Many ski resorts have converted to the use of RFID ticketing. Personally, I love the RFID system. It is quick and easy. No liftie chasing after you to scan your pass. No standing around when the pass won’t scan until the 14th try. Some may miss the giant, bristling wad of lift tickets and wire wickets hanging off their jacket zipper. I won’t be one of them.
Killington has also installed a new lift in the South Ridge area. The new lift will bring skiers and riders to a point near Killington Peak where they can access the resort in most any direction. This will really help with traffic flow and allow much better access across the resort.
This year will be a very exciting year for skiers & riders.
Okemo has been purchased by Vail Resorts, Inc. Mount Sunapee in New Hampshire and Crested Butte in Colorado were also a part of that deal. No details or hints of change have been released at this point, though there are rumors of a bubble quad on the South Face in the near future. Given the sale just happened at end of September, we may not see any massive change for the upcoming season.
Mount Snow has a new lodge that will be open this season at the Carinthia area of the resort. New snow making guns will be firing up to blanket the area with snow made from a huge new water retention project that will improve snow making considerably. The one other tidbit for Mount Snow is that some portions of the Long John Trail, a beginners trail, are being significantly widened to improve skier and rider flow.
Stratton, keeping with the trends, has been purchased by Alterra Mountain Company, which owns 12 ski resorts. Stratton is their only New England holding. With this is coming a new high speed lift to the Snow Bowl area. This will be a great addition, reducing a 15 minute ride back to the top to only 4 minutes. Pretty sweet.
Loon has replaced their gondola cabins with new ones. No other changes on the mountain that I could find.
Resort changes are just the tip of the iceberg.
All these resort updates will bring some nice changes to our skiing and riding experiences this season. For sure. But that really is just a small part of what is really exciting for the 2018 – 2019 ski and ride season. Especially for skiers.
Skis are trending towards improved on piste performance and better carving on the groomers.
Based on race boot designs, ski boots are trending towards improved performance and fit.
Follow the Avie’s Ski / Sports blog so you don’t miss out as we report on what’s new. And there is lots. I will be posting something new every week. Hopefully this will help get you as excited for the new ski and ride season as I am. And that’s lots!
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.
This past February I got to have a second Christmas. I got to go to the On Snow Demo in Vermont and try out all the skis that are now out and about for sale this ski season.
Now that the snow is falling up north and the bull wheels are hauling lifts to the tops of ski mountains, I got to thinking about all the skis I tried out. A few things boiled up to the surface that I thought I would pass along. …more
The Season of Giving is here. Thanksgiving leftovers stuff the refrigerator and the newspaper is thick with flyers and ads. If you have skiers or riders on your gift list—and that list should most definitely include YOU—then check out Avie’s Ski / Sport for some ideas. …more
It is so very exciting to tap into my web browser every morning and, using the “snow spy cams” at various New England ski mountains, take in the beautiful sight of landscapes growing from green and brown to lovely, lovely, whiteness!! It is, other than actually being on the slopes, the best way for me to start a day. I have a great view of lower Narragansett Bay from my office, but it doesn’t rate with the flash of excitement that comes with seeing a snow covered ski slope.
But I digress. The past few posts have taken a look at this season’s crop of skis and boards from Capita, Blizzard, and Volkl. This post takes a look at Nordica, and the next will focus on RIDE snowboards. …more