The Intermediate Specialist

Want to Become an Advanced Skier?

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TECHNOLOGY TALK!!

SKIS: many people will have their own gear; some will not. If you plan on purchasing equipment, Howard can help and advise in your purchase. For skis, the best idea is to demo a few pairs to find the right one for you.

But first talk with the experts at one of the fine ski shops in any top resort to determine the type of ski that would suit you best, and then certain models within that category. This will narrow down your choices to just a few selections. Then you can demo those selections and make your choice.

BOOTS: It is essential that you find a good boot fitter from whom to buy your boots. Most of them, 99%, will be located in ski resorts. This is because a fundamental side of proper boot fitting involves you skiing in those boots and giving feedback to the fitter.

Bootfitters in ski resorts tend to be the most dedicated to their profession and live and breath boots and ski equipment every day. They are constantly abreast of the latest and best techniques.

If you are on a budget, then make boots your main priority – they are THE singular most important piece of ski equipment you can own. If necessary, put your money into your boots and rent the skis. You can always rent good skis but you can never rent good boots. Buying boots on price alone is the most destructive thing you can do to your skiing.

After your boots have broken in, you should get a boot alignment analysis from an expert bootfitter. This will check your fore-aft and lateral alignments as well as the ramp angle and how the bones in your legs align with the ski boots. Once you are properly setup in your boots, you will immediately feel the difference on the hill.

This is usually a Free! service and carries no obligation. However if you need or want new boots or fitting adjustments to your current boots, canting, heel lifts, toe lifts, custom insoles or footbeds, then the experts can accommodate you.

The importance of boots cannot be over stated. If you plan on buying boots this season, you are strongly urged to do so the first day you are in town and not from a ski shop in your hometown. This is because you will need a couple of days skiing time in those boots to fine tune them and discover any problems.

If you buy your boots here, then you will be able to get those things adjusted as part of the sale. Expert bootfitters guarantee the FIT for life. 

Custom footbeds inside the boot liners are equally as essential as good boots. Apart from providing a solid platform for your arch, ball, and heel to rest on, the footbed locks your foot into one place so that is doesn’t slide forward or back nor does it swivel sideways in your boot.

When your foot is steady, the liner can mold itself around your foot for a perfect fit. There are several brands of footbeds with their own loyal supporters, but they are all good. The real difference is the operator who makes them. Again, seek advice.

Heaters are also available for boots and ideally should be installed into the footbed during its making. But can also be added later if desired.

WOMEN SPECIFIC: Thankfully, over the last 6 years, there has been a tremendous advancement in the design and fitting of women’s boots. No longer are they simply small men’s boots with pink buckles, but are complete designs for the female foot and lower leg.

One of our biggest criticisms of women’s ski clothing is that sleeves are often too short exposing a small band of skin around the wrist. ANY exposure to the air around your gloves will result in cold hands no matter what glove or mitten you are wearing.

Make sure your jacket sleeves and gloves overlap – either the gloves go inside the sleeves or the gloves go snugly over your sleeves – some people even wear an additional ‘sleeve’ of some sort to cover the wrist area while others use longer snowboarding gloves.

But whatever you do, make sure there is no open space exposing your skin to the air around your wrists, or any passage for outside air to reach your wrists.

Also make sure that ALL layers overlap your wrists - no sense in only having the bottom layer covering your skin while all other layers come up short!

Don’t be afraid to use the chemical hand warmers. They really do work. Some people place the hand warming packet in their palm between the liner and the glove, others place it on the back of the hand near the veins. Either is fine. Experiment to find your preference.  Foot warmers should be placed on TOP of the foot just behind the toes and not under the foot as the directions suggest. But for real foot warmth, buy battery operated boot warmers - they are worth their weight in gold.

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The 5 Things You
Never Go Cheap On!

You can economize on most things in skiing – you can always rent good skis rather than buy – but there are some things which you must simply buy the best you can afford. Otherwise, they will be the things that will ruin your day. They are:-

1. BOOTS:
Custom fitted boots are ESSENTIAL for good skiing, especially at your level. Don’t buy boots just anywhere or by price. Buy from a reputable bootfitter (ask ski pros who are the best bootfitters in town). A good test is to ask if they guarantee the FIT for life! A good bootfitter will do so.

Not only do your boots need to be professionally fitted, they also have to be aligned and/or canted. This allows for the different shapes of our leg bones and their angles when they meet the ground.

Some people have a knock-kneed stance while others have a bow-legged posture – it’s just the way our skeletons are designed. Proper alignment and canting will set you up so you are standing comfortably and normally on a flat ski! From this neutral position, you can approach Advanced skiing faster, safer, and easier.

2. BINDINGS:
This one should be a no-brainer! How much are your legs worth? Don’t buy cheap bindings! Always go for the top of the line taking into consideration your weight and experience. You do not need racing bindings but look at models 1 or 2 clicks below racing versions.

There are many good brands and 99% of them will offer the same level of safety as the others. Try not to use bindings which are more than 6 years old and make sure you have them checked each year by a good binding mechanic.

Although many people prefer step-in bindings, Howard recommends turntable heel bindings (some models of Rossignol, Look, and Marker). Turntable bindings have a rotary plate under the heel which rotates around giving you two pivot points under your foot – one under your toe and the other under your heel - doubling your release chances.

This means they have greater elasticity than step-in bindings, allowing your toe to move sideways up to 45 degrees before coming out of the binding. This reduces the amount of possible pre-release - and who needs their binding releasing when they shouldn’t. Many skiers on step-in bindings have them cranked down too tight in order to prevent pre-releasing thus increasing their risk of injury.

Turntable heel bindings also have a smaller footprint on your skis which means the screws attaching them into the ski are closer together thus reducing the flat spot under your foot. If a race plate is added under the bindings then the flat spot is all but eliminated. All this is not to say that some step-in bindings are not good – they are – but the turntable design is preferred.

3. UNDERWEAR:
You must have good long underwear against your skin. It must wick moisture away and keep you dry as well as add another layer of warmth.

Do NOT use cotton as it will remain wet against you and keep the cold in. Polypropylene or Merino wool is excellent.

On cold days, you can double or triple layer the long underwear you wear and even add climbing tights, fleece pants or other material to add to your warmth.

Warm dry legs, mean warm dry feet! Your blood must travel through your legs to get to your feet and the more warm blood you can deliver to your feet, the warmer they will be.

4. EYEWEAR:
Another vital element to your wardrobe. The importance of good quality sunglasses or goggles cannot be understated. The power of ultra violet and other solar radiation reflecting off the snow at Telluride’s altitude is immense and will cause not only skin damage but also affect your eyes.

If you are ever unfortunate enough to get sunburned eyes, it will be like sandpaper on the inside of your eyelids – OUCH!

Practicality should be your main concern and fashion second! Sunglasses should help the wind wrap around your face and prevent wind from coming up into your eyes; so avoid lenses which are too small.

Sunglasses should fit snugly so you are not worried about them falling off on the slopes. Goggles should also be snug fitting. If you have a small face, check out junior race wear or ladies goggles.

LENS COLOR: There are two types of people on the planet – those who see better through yellow lenses and those who don’t.

Find out which one you are through trial and error. Check out each pair you are interested in at the ski shop by looking at a bright spot on the snow outside. Yellow lenses work by brightening up everything, other colored lenses work by giving you more contrast.

If you see better out of non-yellow lenses, then red or rose colored lenses will often be the best for you. But also check out the gray, green, and other colors. If you are a yellow lens person, by all means stick with them.

5. GLOVES (or Mittens):
This should be self-explanatory, but you would be amazed at the number of people who turn up to go skiing with thin, cheap gloves or mittens. Women especially are guilty here because some don’t like the look of big bulky gloves.

Warmth is ALWAYS better than looks when it comes to your hands. Buy the best gloves or mittens you can – always go for the top of the line. Most glove manufacturers will have their top of the line glove or mitten available in two styles – leather or synthetic fabric. Either is fine.

Some people prefer to buy gloves one size too big for them and add fleece glove liners inside. This gives very practical options for variable temperatures.

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