Saturday, March 27, 2010

SIA Demo Days.

This post is somewhat delayed. I actually tried all these skis back in February at the Snowsports Industry Demo Day at Stratton, Vermont, and then, well, I got busy skiing, living, etc., and neglected to post. My apologies.

The SIA Industry Demo Days is a fantastic event. Equipment manufacturers come together to display their gear for next season. And retailers and people from the press (that’s me!) get to try them out.

Unfortunately, I only got to attend for one day. A monster snow storm made driving to Stratton impossible for day #2. So sadly, there were a lot of skis that I wasn't able to try. A clear case of too many skis, not enough time.

SO. Here's my reaction to a few of the skis that I had the privilege of trying. Not all of them are new for next season, but they were new to me, so I guess that counts.

Salomon Diamond: This is the female version of the Tornado, and the highest end women's ski that Salomon has to offer. It's designed by Wendy Fisher, former Olympic skier and member of the US Ski Team. I found it very stable and easy to turn; a versatile ski that can take you all over the mountain.

Volkl Kenja: This is similar to the Aura but with an 88 waist, making it more of an All Mountain Ski. Unlike the Aura, the Kenja features the Biologic profile. This means that the tail is a bit more tapered so it can snap out of the turns more easily. This ski does it all – it skis the ice like it’s on rails, and it'll bust through powder, too. If you're looking for a ski that can take you everywhere, the Kenja will do it.

Dynastar Active: Even though the Active isn't new, I thought I’d try it, anyway. An intermediate ski with a 70 waist, the Active features Autodrive-W technology to concentrate pressure over the tips for better turn initiation, and under the foot for maximum edgehold. A definite recommend for an intermediate skier. It's lightweight, easy to turn, quick, and fun.

Blizzard Viva Magnum 7.6 and 8.1: Blizzard has a great line-up of women’s skis: the Blizzard Magnum 7.4, 7.6, and the 8.1. I skied the 7.6 last year and took it out again because, well, I could. I'm not sorry I did. The 7.6 is a fantastic ski. Blizzard hasn’t changed this at all from last year, which in this case, is a very good thing. The 7.6 will everywhere, do anything you want. However, they did change the 8.1; they removed some of the metal from it to make it a little less stiff. Nonetheless, it’s still a strong, expert level ski with terrific energy. Highly recommend.

Nordica Infinite: This was one my favs of the day. The Infinite replaces the Nordica Victory. It’s a little wider underfoot and has a new profile. I found this ski extremely energetic with great rebound, yet very stable, too. The Infinite is a little wider underfoot than the Victory and features a more modern sidecut profile.

Nordica Nemesis: These are great on powder, ice, crap, you name it. It's a terrific great all mountain ski. If I didn't have the Auras already (not that I'm unhappy with them), I'd get this in a heartbeat.

K2: News flash -- ALL the K2 skis for 2011 are rockered. This means the skis bend up a bit fore and aft of the binding. The result is supposed to be better performance in powder and a smoother ride in crud. The Lotta Luv is included it this. I've been hearing a lot about the Lottas from the women on TheSkiDiva.com, though I didn't have a chance to give them a try. These are definitely on my list, though.

Be sure to visit TheSkiDiva.com, an internet forum especially for women skiers, where women skiers can connect with one another to talk about everything and anything ski-related.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

The end is near.

I'm afraid it's just about that time. Ski season is definitely winding down here in Vermont. Bare patches are starting to appear on the slopes, and conditions are gloopy by noon. Yesterday I saw flowers blooming outside my favorite bookstore, Northshire Books in Manchester, VT (where, BTW, you can still order signed copies of my book, DOUBLE BLACK: A SKI DIVA MYSTERY. Just go here.).  And the snow has nearly disappeared from my front yard.

So it's just about time to address the question: what do you do with your skis during the off season?  Do you put them in your garage? Stow them under the bed? Hide them in the attic?

To keep your skis in the best possible conditions, there are a few measures you should take when you put them away for the season:

  • Clean your bases to remove any old, hard wax, make sure they're completely dry, and then cover them with a heavy coat of wax so they don't dry out over the summer. If you don't want to do it yourself, find a ski shop that will do it for you.
  • Avoid storing them in any environment that experiences temperature extremes and moisture, like an attic, basement, or garage. Instead, put them some place where the temperature is fairly constant.
  • Separate your skis, but don't lay them flat. And this is very important: Do not bind them closed with the camber compressed.
  • Be sure they are not in contact with a concrete floor because there can be a reaction between the chemicals in concrete and the aluminum in skis.
  • Lock the heel of the binding in the up position and lower the release setting to the lowest setting. This will take the tension off the springs in the binding and allow it to recover from the stress of a season's use.
  • Store your boots with the buckles closed. Plastic has a memory, so this is important to help them retain their original shape. 
  • Make sure your boots are completely dry, then stuff them with paper towels. This will prevent mice or spiders from using them as a summer home.
Even after I've put my skis away, I'll still be thinking about skiing all summer.  If you're a woman, you can join the rest of us ski addicts who talk about skiing all year long at TheSkiDiva.com.


Monday, March 15, 2010

On the Edge.

There are a few women in ski racing who become household names: Andrea Mead Lawrence, Picabo Street, Suzy Chaffee, and more recently, Julia Mancuso and Lindsey Vonn.

But if you're an American, you may have missed someone else who really stands out:

Nancy Greene.

In Canada, Nancy Greene is a pretty big deal. With good reason, too. Nancy won Gold and Silver medals at the 1968 Olympics in Grenoble, France, and overall World Cup titles in '67 and '68. Her total of 13 World Cup victories is still a Canadian record, and she's won 17 Canadian championship titles in all disciplines. Since retiring from racing shortly after the Olympics, Nancy has been instrumental in promoting ski tourism in Canada, and in 1999 was named Canadian Athlete of the Century.

Not bad, right?

Not bad at all.

I just finished watching a very interesting documentary called "Nancy Greene, On the Edge." The movie traces her racing career and has a lot of terrific old footage (how did they race on those long, skinny skis and leather lace up boots?), along with some fascinating interviews with Nancy and her coaches, family, and teammates.

For me, the best thing about the movie was the way it showed Nancy not just as a racer, but as a human being, as well. Her competitive drive, her concerns, her spirit are well documented, giving us a more rounded picture of a person who's more than just an athlete. It was also an interesting portal onto a different era. Seeing how she raced on that equipment is pretty incredible. But more than that -- after she won the Gold, the City of Vancouver gave her a ticker tape parade. Children were given a holiday from school. I can't imagine this happening today. Times have definitely changed.

Nancy was also one of the first Olympic athletes to capitalize on her Olympic medals. This is pretty standard stuff now, but groundbreaking when she did it back in the late '60's. The movie addressed this and showed how she grew into the businesswoman she is today.

There's no question that Nancy was, and continues to be, an inspiration to skiers everywhere -- more particularly, to women skiers. You might want to check out "On The Edge." If you're not a Nancy Greene fan, I think you'll become one.

Be sure to visit TheSkiDiva.com, an internet forum especially for women skiers, where women skiers can connect with one another to talk about everything and anything ski-related.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

NASTC clinic, revisited.

I know I've been out of touch for a while.

Well, there's a very good reason. I was in Tahoe, skiing with members of TheSkiDiva.com during our annual Diva Week, and attending the first ever TheSkiDiva/NASTC clinic.

All I can say is WOW.  Meeting members of the forum that I've only had the chance to communicate with online was an absolute delight. These are athletic, empowered women who love skiing as much as I do, and who aren't afraid to get out there and kick some skiing ass. If you're a woman who loves to ski and you're not a member of TheSkiDiva.com, I strongly encourage you to join.

I also have to announce the beginning of a new love affair. Yes, this Vermont skier absolutely fell head over heels  with Tahoe. So much to ski, such terrific terrain. We managed to hit Alpine Meadows, Sugar Bowl, Northstar, and Squaw, each one incredible in its own special way. I'd have loved to have skied Homewood, Heavenly, and Kirkwood, too, but those will have to wait for another trip. And I WILL be back.

And the clinic was everything I hoped it would be. We spent three half days with instructors from the North American Ski Training Center, a first rate ski clinic headquartered in Truckee, CA.  Run by Chris and Jenny Fellows, NASTC has a reputation as one of the world's foremost ski clinics. We worked in small groups of four or five skiers per instructor, tackling one task at a time, each run building on the one before it. We were even fortunate enough to get a huge dump during our day at Squaw (mid-thigh, people!),  which our instructors took as an opportunity to turn into a powder skiing lesson.

Here are pix from this amazing trip:




This was truly an incredible experience. Hope you can join us next year!

Be sure to visit TheSkiDiva.com, an internet forum especially for women skiers, where women skiers can connect with one another to talk about everything and anything ski-related.