The 4-leaf clovers make this early post card look like a St Patrick’s Day greeting. The wording is Hungarian for “Happy New Year.”


Valentino and I had an interesting conversation a few months ago. He’s my seven-year-old grandson, and we were walking back from his weekly skating lesson. He didn’t like his new skates.

He was making nice progress on the ice, but something happened during the lesson that left him frustrated. He blamed the skates. 

As we walked, I explained that when starting any sport, we need to experience a variety of tools in order to learn what we like. Then we talked about how quickly he’d grow out of those skates and be able to try something new.

It was a good conversation. He dropped the subject and over the past few months, with the same skates, has become a very good skater.

I grew up subscribing to the idea that a good craftsman never blames his tools.

But sometimes, the useful life of tools like skis and boots run their course and need to be replaced.

I started the season on an old pair of Rossignol B3s, a wonderful ski that gave me several years of great service. It was obvious I should not have taken them out of retirement.

Then I switched to my old Volkl Gotama‘s. Another great ski that saw a lot of vertical over numerous seasons. This season they were sluggish and worn out.

Both are about to make a trip to the boneyard.

In early February I skied a few different brands and models and was impressed with the Black Crows Camox. They’re such a good match for me on packed surfaces and those with a little chop.  They are 97 underfoot. I use my DPS Wallers (112 underfoot) for powder days.

To be honest, before these new skis, I was getting frustrated and tired turning the old boards.  The new skis made a world of difference. They remind me of being a kid with new sneakers. Liberated. Soaring. Unconfined.

I often see older skiers, especially people on their annual ski week, using out-of-date gear. Whatever their reasons, they should give the new equipment a try. Designs and materials just keep on getting better and making it easier to get more out of the day.

Valentino will be moving on to new gear because his feet are growing. For the rest of us, it’s a great time of year to purchase new equipment. Many shops still have substantial inventory and are selling at discount.

If it’s a knowledgeable shop, explain what you’re looking for and listen to their advice. Then, if you can, demo a pair for a day.

Always best to try before you buy.

Alterra Announces Capital Improvements

Alterra Mountain Company will invest $223 million in capital improvements for its 15 North American resorts over the coming year. Major developments: Deer Valley will receive $14 million, mostly for lodge improvements, the purchase of four snow cats, and snowmaking. Mont-Tremblant will get $8.8 million for a new beginners’ area, the new Timber Summit area, and improvements to lifts and buildings. Steamboat will expand by 355 acres. Mammoth will replace Chairs 1 and 16.

Impact of COVID-19 on the Season

Courtesy: Centers for Disease Control

Most Italian resorts are closed because of the virus. Areas in the Aosta Valley and the Dolomites have closed or soon will.

Additionally, the Italian winter sports federation (FISI) cancelled the alpine skiing World Cup finals in Cortina d’Ampezzo in the Dolomites. The event was due to take place March 18-22.

The Austrian state of Tyrol announced all of its ski areas will close Monday, March 16 because of the virus. Among the resorts are St. Anton, Kitzbuhl, Ischgl, and Solden.

Aspen is cautioning 60+ skiers with compromised immune systems or respiratory issues not to visit Colorado’s high country. That, after several people tested positive at the resort.

Activities at Michigan‘s Crystal Mountain are being scaled back to comply witht he governor’s guidance of limiting groups to no more than 100.

Catamount Ski Area in Hillsdale, NY, announced it and its sister area, Berkshire East in Charlemont and Hawley, MA, have closed for the season because “COVID-19 has been discovered in the surrounding hill towns and multiple people are being quarantined.” The GM’s statement is worth reading.

Here, again, is a brief hand-washing video from The New York Times. PLEASE wash your hands after touching public surfaces and, to the best of your ability, maintain the advised 6′ social distance. Many of us are older and want to keep skiing.

Sports Den: Salt Lake City’s Go-To Ski Shop

Visitors to Salt Lake City who stay downtown and take day trips probably miss out on Sports Den in Foothill Village. It’s one of the top ski shops in Utah and a mere 10-miunte drive from most of the hotels.

For 48-years, Sports Den has been Salt Lake’s go-to shop to buy or rent anything associated with the sport. They stock the best of everything, and their help is knowledgeable in ways that make the shop a true standout.

And they back up what they sell. A few years ago, my wife got fitted there for a pair of boots. It was mid-Winter, and she used them the rest of her season. The following year she felt they weren’t working well. Back to Sports Den, where her feet were reevaluated and the boots replaced. No questions. No pressure. No charge.

Another thing that makes Sports Den stand out from most of the other shops in the area is its consistently great selection of soft goods. Those who grew up in this community know that Sports Den is where they’ll find top ski clothing brands and beautifully styled casual wear, including an impressive shoe department. They also know that Sports Den is where they can score discounted lift tickets for most of the Wasatch areas.

What many of them don’t know is that the basement level, accessed through an adjacent entrance, houses Sports Den’s custom embroidery and silkscreen shop. It’s where the University of Utah and many local businesses go to personalize T-shirts, hats, bags, you-name-it. A few days ago a young woman walked out with hanging travel bags embroidered with her monogram.

Skiing in Utah? Staying in downtown Salt Lake? Have your own wheels? Give Sports Den a visit. It’s one of the best ski shops around.

Season Passes

This is time of year when next season passes go on sale.

We missed reporting on Mountain Collective’s three-day window for cardholders to re-up for for $449. Billed as a “secret sale,” the offer was good from March 6 through March 9. Current price is $469 and includes four more resorts: Grand Targhee (WY), Panorama (BC), Sugarloaf (ME), and Chamonix (FR).

Killington’s Beast 365, which provides unrestricted 4-season access to all resort facilities and includes the IKON Base pass, costs $1092 for those 65-79. At the time this was being written, I was awaiting a response from the resort as to what the price would be for those 80+. Killington’s regular season pass is $609 for those 65-79 and only $59 for those 80+. Way to go, Killington!!!

Move Over Shark Tank. New Mexico Does it on the Chair.

ABQid is the group promoting entrepreneur-led economic development in New Mexico. It holds an annual competition for start-ups to pitch their ideas to representatives of a panel of experts. Twenty  contestants are accepted, and one wins a check for $10,000. Instead of a boardroom, the pitches are made during a chairlift ride at the state’s Taos Ski Resort.





One Comment

  1. Regarding purchasing new equipment:
    I would recommend that folks read reviews of new equipment to identify which ski or skis would best suit their abilities and uses. After once identifying the appropriate ski the individual should demo the ski (often free of charge on demo days at their hill) to get a feel for the ski during various ski conditions. After demoing all the selected skis, purchasing a pair can be a more informed decision. Also, the ski companies often offer a discount price if the skis are purchased on the demo day.
    Even if I’m not in the market to buy a new pair of skis I demo them anyway because it’s fun!

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