The Right Stuff; Ski/Snowboard Gear for Beginners
We’ve all seen them. Those big yellow buses pulling into the parking lot in front of the lodge, opening the doors, and unleashing a torrential wave of high strung, brightly colored ski-clubbers. Amped up on Mountain Dew and candy, these kids come out to take over the slopes, screaming, crashing, laughing, snowball throwing, and having fun. And now your kid wants to join the club. “Uh oh!” you think, “We need to get you some gear first.” But where do you start?
Following is a list of gear any new skier should think about purchasing before their first time on the slopes:
Socks. In the words of Lieutenant Dan, “There’s one item of gear that can make the difference between a live skier and a dead skier. Socks.” These babies, usually cotton, can truly make or break your day and many people make the unfortunate mistake of wearing ill-fitting, or doubled-up socks and have to spend the day in cold, aching pain. “Doubling up,” the popular practice of wearing 2 pairs of socks, actually restricts circulation, holds water, and causes blisters which ultimately make your feet colder. Technical socks such as Smartwool or Point6 are designed specifically for skiers and boarders to wick away moisture and help the skier/boarder’s boot fit better. Always remember, happy feet mean a happy rider.
Jackets/Pants. Many beginners tend to hit the slopes in their street clothes which are typically not breathable and not waterproofed. Many beginners also tend to fall a lot. Rocking the 80’s jeans-tucked-into-ski-boots style may look fantastic, but it makes for sore, wet buttocks especially while trying to learn to ski or ride. Invest in a coat and pant that are waterproof and breathable and I guarantee your experience will be much improved. Again, staying warm and dry are two of the most important aspects of having a fun day in the snow and without a good coat and pant combo, this is tough.
Gloves/Mittens. The choice between gloves and mittens is mostly personal preference. Gloves allow for a better grip than mittens do, while mittens keep your fingers closer together and warmer than gloves do. Skiers usually choose gloves for the advanced grip they allow on their ski poles. No matter which you choose, make sure they are waterproof. This is extremely important as beginning skiers and snowboarders crash and push off the snow with their hands. Gloves purchased from large retail stores typically are water resistant only, so make sure you are aware of your glove’s level of waterproofing.
Goggles. Goggles are more than just a pair of giant stylish sunglasses. They help protect your face from wind, snow, Mad River’s snow blowers and hard landings. Ski and snowboard goggles should be 100% UVA/UVB protected and should increase depth perception on both sunny and cloudy days so that you can spot moguls and terrain variations before you run over them. The brighter the lens, the brighter your vision, the darker the lens, the more glare reduction. On bright days, you should wear dark lenses and vice versa.
Helmets. Ski and snowboard Helmets are a personal choice, (if you personally choose to not use your brain) and are typically mandatory for ski club members. In addition to increasing safety helmets also come packed with cool stuff like insulation and headphone ear pads. Adult Giro ski and snowboard helmets start at $49.95, kid’s helmets starting anywhere between $39.95 and $59.95. Get your beginner a helmet.
Base Layer. Many beginning skiers choose cotton as an under-layer and don’t realize their mistake until their undershirt is soaked from sweat and then becomes frozen when the cold air hits that perspiration. Intense temperature changes from hot to cold result, creating severe discomfort for the wearer. Technical material base layers wick away moisture keeping your torso warm and dry. Fleece and smart-tech materials work the best.
Accessories. There are many other ski and snowboard accessories available for your beginner skier that will help him have a most excellent time on the hill. One important accessory is a ski or snowboard bag for easy travel and bus transport. These are a must for airline travel and Aspen Ski and Board offers a High Sierra ski and boot combo bag priced at $39.95. Our professional staff is ready to help you find wrist guards, crash pads, neck gators, ski and snowboard tuning supplies, fleeces, and anything else that will help your beginning skier have a safe, comfortable day.
Skis/Snowboards and Technical Equipment. Last, but certainly not least, are skis, snowboards, and technical equipment. Whether renting, leasing or purchasing, your beginner needs the essentials. For skiers: A pair of skis, a pair of ski bindings, a pair of ski boots, and a pair of ski poles (optional). For snowboarders: a snowboard, a pair of snowboard bindings, and a pair of snowboard boots. Skis and snowboards complete with ski/board bindings, ski/board boots and ski poles can be leased for the season (at a special ski club price) for $99.95. Looking to buy? Ski packages including skis, bindings and ski poles are available starting at $269.95. Boots can be season leased for $40.00. Snowboard, snowboard binding and snowboard boot packages begin at approximately $289.95.
Now that you know how to protect your beginner properly from the elements, get him suited up and on the slopes. Outfitted with only the best Aspen Ski and Board has to offer, your little shredder will be tearing up the slopes in no time.
Zach Lloyd- Staff Member
Aspen Ski and Board
Polaris Parkway, Columbus Ohio
Ski Boot Buckling for Everyone
Upon closing for the season every April, Aspen Ski and Board staff members pick a destination for a week long vacation to celebrate a successful year and seek out some deep snow conditions and big mountain riding. Mount Bachelor, Oregon is always on our radar, having spent our shop trip there in the spring of 2007. The mountain had received incredible amounts of snow starting in March and made the decision to lock the trip up. We were NOT disappointed. Shredding occurred in such quantity and excitement that most other visitors to the mountain simply stopped in their lines to marvel at our steeze. Rails were thrashed. Kickers were kicked. Cliffs were hucked. Powder was pillaged. We love sharing our time on the mountain just as much as hearing the wonderful tales from all our customers about their experiences. Below are a few of the more memorable pictures from our recent trip.
- Avoid putting cold ski boots on your feet. For one, low temperature makes the plastic of the ski boot much stiffer, effectively making you work harder just to get your ski boots on. The more obvious reason is a cold boot reduces the temperature of your feet, stacking the odds against you of getting cold before you get in the lift line. Bring your boots into the lodge and make them the last thing you put —by then they should have adjusted to room temperature.
- Skiers and snowboarders exert too much energy trying to get their ski boots on. Many people believe that pulling the tongue straight out is the correct method for inserting your foot into the ski boot. This actually decreases the distance between the instep and the heel. This can make it especially difficult for people with high insteps to get their feet it. Instead of pulling the tongue of the ski boot directly out, move it to the side as hard you are able (you won’t hurt the tonque) and pull out to create a larger opening in the lower shell of the boot. More space to work with makes it easier to get your feet in and keeps exhaustion levels intact
- You’re in your ski boots—now what? This is where the important stuff happens. The best bootfitters in the world (like us) ’t jump into buckling your boots tight for the day right off the bat.
- First you need to make sure that your insole isn’t crunched or your socks didn’t fold up—because anything else we do after definitely won’t remedy those two things.
- Before we go any further, note that even amongst life-long professionals of the sport, no ONE buckling method has been agreed upon. The following is what we suggest as a great way to make sure fit and comfort are attained in a sequential manner.
- If all feels well (and assuming you are in a four buckle ski boot) the next step is to begin buckling. A war rages on the correct buckling theory to this very day. Our education from the world renowned Masterfit University sees one of the current trends is to buckle from the bottom to the top. Other bootfitters will start at the third buckle from the toe. For those that battle with buckling across the calf, we suggest using the power strap at the top of the boot to help make buckling easier. The goal is to buckle to a tension that is relatively easy to bring the buckle to the closed position.
- Stop right there. You will need to be standing for the next part. Go ahead and “flex” the ski boot; by this I mean drive your knee forward so that it hovers directly above your toes. This action of getting in a common ski stance facilitates heel movement to the back of the boot and is crucial to avoid over tightening. Flex the boot several times until the heel feels comfortable inside the liner.
- Now it is time to close the remaining two buckles of the boot. Again, you are buckling to a point of minimum tension. It should be relatively easy to close the buckles down. Flex the boot several more times to make sure the instep buckle has not inhibited your heel from going back in to the ankle pocket. If you have a power strap on the top part of the boot, you may tighten that down to a tension appropriate to the rest of the boot.
- It is at this point where many skiers make the mistake of continuing to tighten down their buckles. Instead of traveling down that road of pain, do a warm up run when you are ready and begin to tighten down as you go. Once your heart rate is higher than its resting state, you’ll be pumping more blood to your feet—making that warm up run (or two, or three) well worth the time. It is at this point you should buckle your boots to your desired tightness. Most people that switch to this method find a huge drop of constant cramping, numbness, and cold feet.
It is important to realize that skiing on “loose” boots is just as big of a mistake as clamping down the moment you set foot on snow. The key point to remember is steady progression. Dealing with varying temperatures and intense physical activity are enough to deal with. Don’t throw another wrench in your day by turning your ski boots into makeshift tourniquets.