Jackson Hogen’s career encompasses many roles in the world of skiing: from freestyle competitor, instructor and extreme camp coach to ski designer, product manager, and marketing director. He has been testing skis and boots for decades. His list of best 2016-17 skis for older skiers is available free to SeniorsSkiing.com subscribers.

Jackson Hogan of realskiers.com
Jackson Hogan of realskiers.com offers in-depth reviews of ski equipment.

Your realskier.com bio indicates you’re a skiing everyman. You’ve taught, tested, written, and coached and created the site for in-depth equipment reviews. Are there other Yale grads who have devoted themselves so fully to the sport?

I believe there is an erstwhile K2 rep who is a Yale grad, Brent Mohr. As far as I know, he “only” served as a sales rep. I can’t think of anyone else with my range of background from Yale (or anywhere else).

What are your views on the role of big corporate destination entities vs independently-owned ski areas?

Corporate ownership of ski areas has helped to accelerate the flight of the middle class from the sport. I’m not a fan. No skier I’ve ever met asked for the homogenization of the ski experience. When run by families, ski areas tried to serve the public at large. As run by mega-corporations, they serve their stockholders and richest customers. The same reason why insurance-run health care in this country is an abject failure.

What more should the ski industry be doing to preserve winters?

Other than support initiatives to mitigate the effects of climate change, there’s not much they can do. They don’t mine or burn coal, and they tend to be very conscientious about water use. We should be cautious using the term, “ski industry.” There is no “ski industry,” just individual companies striving to serve their stockholders.

You are now in your 60s. What advice do you have for older skiers who want to continue in the sport as long as they can?

Don’t retreat into a shell of “I can’t do XYZ.” You certainly can’t if you start out by thinking you can’t. Like a lot of older skiers, I’m a hot mess of prior injuries, but one has to put such thoughts aside and just ski. I realize this sounds vain at best, but I’m still one of the better skiers on the hill no matter what hill I’m on. Take two Aleve, go ski as hard as you can and stop whining about your age. Here’s what you lose: explosive power. Big deal. You can ski very well without it.

We all know that the ski industry directs dollars and attention to the younger part of the market. Should executives be directing some of their budgets to older skiers, and, if so, why?

For starters, no one controls more assets in the U.S. than the population over 55. Seniors have money and are willing to spend it for a good return on investment, like a great ski experience. The focus on youth backfires in many significant ways, most importantly in diminishing on-slope safety for all. Also, catering to the youth market entails assigning a good chunk of the mountain to terrain parks (absurd on most big mountains, which ARE terrain parks) which works out fine on mountains like Mammoth that can accommodate the needed space and remove it from the basic traffic pattern. At other areas they can be at once obtrusive and largely unoccupied.

I don’t think I’m revealing any secrets when I observe that seniors are influenced by their past. They came of age when skiing was more accessible and less expensive. While they can’t continue to live in that world, they are still grounded in it. Point being, they’re committed to the sport, not just peripherally associated with it, as is often the case with America’s youth.

Any other closing nuggets of wisdom?

If you’re skiing in boots that hurt, stop. If you struggle to put your boots on, stop. If your skis seem to make every run a battle, stop.

Don’t stop skiing, for heaven’s sake, but stop putting up with the handicaps that come with lousy boot fits, cold boots and poorly maintained equipment. Yes, it will cost something to address these issues, but wouldn’t it be worth a few shillings to ski free from pain and in better control?

10 Comments

  1. I am a loyal Real Skiers subscriber. It is a great resource. Jackson is so knowledgable and passionate about the sport. I wonder what his thoughts are regarding ski length for seniors as well as appropriate conditioning for us.

    • Jackson Hogen says:

      Thanks for the kind words, Joe. Regarding ski lengths for seniors, keep three technical matters in mind: 1) depending on when you bought your last pair of skis, your next pair of skis will be shorter than what you may currently own, just because the market has shortened skis overall; 2) modern skis tend to have considerably less swing weight as an effort has been made to lighten extremities and 3) modern rockered baselines effectively shorten the running surface. Re conditioning: stretch every chance you get!

  2. Nice interview. I’m with Jackson. The biggest safety issue for older skiers is getting hit by wannabe “extreme” skiers blasting down intermediate or even beginner terrain. The last one who hit me asserted that I had skied into his “line”, 200 yds from the lift station!

  3. Jackson Hogen says:

    The safest route to collision avoidance is a 360 degree sphere of awareness. Once set in motion, every skier is potentially “in the line” of another. There is never a more important time to be totally present.

  4. Fred Behringer says:

    This all on point. I get the health care analogy. At 71, I take my Aleve, I stretch, and I train. I did my first skiing at Dartmouth for freshman PE .

  5. Paul England says:

    Hi Jackson – I love your comparison of corporate-run ski areas to health insurance companies running our health care system – well said! Just like the health insurance companies limiting our choices and at the same time charging huge amounts of money, we are paying $100 plus for lift tickets to a ski area with a base “village” that resembles a shopping mall. Kinda stinks. At least the mountains can’t be corporatized.

    • Peter McCarville says:

      Just you wait. The National Parks are slipping to corporate America in this 100th anniversary year (google the debate).

  6. Hi Jackson,
    Good stuff. It’s been a long time since we skied together at the Atomic intro at Sun Valley and both went home with 209 cm GS models. They are against the wall in my basement office where I still write my ski columns. My GS skis these days are 175 and 180 but I don’t need the Aleve even though I’m pushing 80. Keep em pointed down.
    All the best,
    Dave Irons

  7. Jackson, Thanks for your kind words about the Volant Chubb!!!
    “Every wide and wonderful….my signature ski 🙂
    “What do you do when you have 100 sq miles of Virgin Powder? Stick your Chubb in it!”
    Happy Trails,

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