Published week of August 31, 2009
On the cover: Phil Meier at Verbier, Switzerland.
BUYER’S GUIDE 2010 VOL. 38 NO. 1
BUYER’S GUIDE 2010 by Marty McLennan, technical editor
There was once a time when going
to the mountains meant simply
that, going to the mountains.
Today, the experience has been reinvented.
And human fingerprints are everywhere.
Heading to the hills connotes everything from
corduroy grooming to electronically gated
off-piste to all-day tunage from the terrainpark
sound system. A skier’s lexicon now
includes terms like rails, features, sidecountry,
jibs, pow and big mountain (even in the
smaller ones!), but it will always include ice,
ruts, gates and hot chocolate. Skiing’s always
expanding dictionary suggests just about
anything you want it to be. You can make up
actions and inevitably somebody will say
they’ve done that, too. Skiing in short,
whatever you make it.
Empowered to ski beyond the boundaries
of what was once thought possible, today’s
skiers are backed by a nearly limitless quiver
of technologies. These same technologies
have been behind some of modernity’s most
important achievements, like finding the
human genome, building a space station, and
creating a delicious and nutritious gel that can
replace the four food groups three times a day
seven days a week.
Technology plus personality mean choice and
this year’s options are limitless. Consequently,
your gear-buying decision becomes more of an
existential matter. When faced with this season’s
choices, today’s consumers need to turn inside
to make their decisions. So the question isn’t:
What should I buy? Rather it’s: Who am I on the
slopes? Or who do I want to be? The answers are
there, blazed in colourful signature designs— and sandwiched onto laminate cores. You just have to ask yourself the right questions.
? Nobody likes to be pigeonholed, shrinkwrapped
and sorted on the rack. But as
with the constantly evolving language of the ski
industry, some categorization is necessary to
help you find your way. Below we map out the
personalities, and on the following pages we
examine each of these in detail and their
products. We suggest a five-part selfexamination
that goes something like this:
1. Look at yourself in the mirror.
2. Take a deep breath and close your eyes.
3. Visualize yourself on the mountain of
4. Read the categories below and find
where you best fit in.
5. Then turn the pages to find out which
gear is right for you.
Technology plus personality mean choice
and this year’s options are limitless..
* All-Mountain You fall somewhere between specialist and straitjacket. On a perfect weekend, you breakfast on a little powder Saturday morning, eat chopped crud in the afternoon and rip groomers all day Sunday. You want stability and grip on-piste, yet softer flex for flotation and absorption. You regularly ski and indeed like crud, bumps, fluff and ice—you’ll even take your knocks at the park. You could as easily order a diet-octogenarian-organic-tofu-wasabishake-hold-the-ice as a juicy T-bone. You want it all. You want it now. And hell or high water, you’ll get it.
* Women and Skis Manufacturers have picked sides in the debate. And they all agree: yes, women are different from men. Theirs is a biological argument, claiming a woman’s centre of mass is anatomically much lower than a man’s. Thus the all-important and complex issues of stance and ski geometry need reviewing. Several industrial corollaries, or assumptions, or biases (call them what you will) ensue: women tend to be physically lighter and correspondingly less strong than men. Coming up with skiable solutions to these differences often results in lighter skis, wider tips and waists moved forward (as in the case of K2 below) for quicker turn initiation, and softer tails for ease in exiting carves.
* Big-Mountain You sleep with the weather station on, dreaming of big, BIG snows. You eat acorns, shave every fortnight and hug trees—not necessarily on purpose—from time to time. If there was a human Abominable Snowman, it might be you. You think big, but you really want bigger and biggest. And that goes with wide, too. You love Janis, but don’t believe freedom means nothing left to lose. It’s everything to gain. It’s big air, big pow, big, fast turns, rocker, kicker and jibs out of the park. It’s beautiful. And it’s you.
* Frontside You gape at skiers ducking the off-piste ropes and ask: Why go elsewhere when you’ve got it all here? The frontside, with all its lifts, groomed trails and conveniences, is your domain. You’re motivated by words like carve, slalom, even moguls. Soft and fresh is the ultimate, as long as it’s not too much or heavy. You know your fetish for corduroy clothing is a Freudian sublimation—and you don’t care. It’s sublime. You get goose bumps just thinking of corduroy underwear.
* High-Performance Instead of buying a set of 20 Ginsu knives for 20 bucks, you bought a single Henckels at six times the price. And with it, you can carve an apple from its core in one slice. You sharpen it daily. On slope, you live for the groomers, the hardpack, the perfect turn. So much so, you once considered putting Crazy Glue on your boards for improved contact with the snow. You’re always on edge (of the skis, that is). Good vibrations to you mean no vibrations. You want smooth. You want precision. You want control. These give you confidence and the ability to turn on a dime. Love it or leave it, you’re a speed freak. And let’s face it, you look damn good skiing below the chairlift and you love every minute of it.
* Park, Pipe & Beyond You defy description, but you love those three “S” words: symmetry, switch and stick. Bad means good. Sick means fine. Your brain operates just as well upside down. You’ll take the punishment of landing with a steel bar between your legs—just because. Skiing forwards is like skiing backwards, only you’d rather be in the air. The more gnarly the terrain, the more risky the trick, the more you step up to the plate. When you fall, you get back up, shake off the snow, admire your skis (a few samples below), adjust your armour, shrug off the pain and rise to the challenge.
Take a look at the best of what’s new in skier footwear to make this your most satisfying season on the slopes.
Complete specifications and suggested retail pricing for every model skis and boots sold in Canada. Online posting soon.
Ski Cores: the heart of the matter. by Ian March
SKI CANADA TEST 2010
Big White played host again to North America’s longest-running ski test. written by Keith Harradence.
Charlie Locke’s return to the grande dame of Alberta ski areas was both unexpected and predestined.
By George Koch
Why are freeski stars like Shane McConkey so willing to show us how to live—and risk paying the ultimate price?
By Steven Threndyle
…without taking lessons. By Leslie Woit
The editor has his run.
By Iain MacMillan
Opening our mail bag. This issue: Reader Catches Shoulder in Chipper, Ms Powder, Missed Powder (Castle Mt.), and more.
‘Soup’s on’ Rent Chalets at Big White; ski tuning on YouTube; Record Drop 78m; Tour de France in Verbier; backcountry for beginners at Panorama
By Kim Thompson
CROSSHAIRS The best of ski photography
A skiers’ gallery.
Living the guide life. by Doug Sagar
Hoping for the big
By James Christie
Ski cores: heart of the matter.
By Ian March
A little something to add to
By Ray O’Reilly
CAUGHT & SHOT